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Call to repeal trucking safety regulations silenced in wake of fatal truck accident

Traffic accidents in which large commercial trucks are involved are among some of the most serious and deadly of all motor vehicle accidents. While truck drivers are often highly experienced drivers who are accustomed to working long hours and trained on how to safely operate a tractor-trailer, they are not superhuman.

Like any driver, truck drivers often encounter many challenges while operating a commercial vehicle. Heavy traffic, road construction and inclement weather can all greatly impact a truck driver's ability to safely carry out job duties. Additionally, truck drivers are often under strict deadlines imposed by their employers to deliver goods on time. As a result, many truck drivers work long hours and fail to get adequate amounts of rest and sleep.

Last summer, new trucking regulations which were proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, went into effect. One of the new regulations that drew a lot of criticism among those within the trucking industry related to the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to work. The Hours-of-Service rule requires that truck drivers take mandatory breaks and rest periods and cut the maximum number of weekly hours a driver was allowed to operate a commercial truck from 82 to 70.

Controversy over the Hours-of-Service rule prompted some within Congress to recently take action to attempt to repeal some of the safety requirements. However, a recent fatal truck accident that has gained national attention may stop Congress from taking further action.

The comedian and actor, Tracy Morgan, was involved in a pile-up accident last weekend when a tractor-trailer truck crashed into the back of the limo bus in which he was a passenger. Traffic ahead of the truck had dramatically slowed and the truck driver failed to respond accordingly. He crashed into the back of the limo bus causing it to travel violently forward and flip over. Morgan was critically injured and another passenger in the bus was killed.

Police continue to investigate what factors may have contributed to the fatal truck accident, but there's speculation that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck may have been overly fatigued and operating the large truck in violation of the Hours-of Service rule.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Just Days Before Tracy Morgan Accident, Senate Moved To Weaken Trucker Fatigue Rules," Melissa Jeltsen, June 8, 2014