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FMCSA research projects coming down the pipe

Written by Steve Gursten Posted February 6th, 2014

I’ve been writing about some new truck safety rules that will soon be proposed by the FMCSA.  Overall, the Truck Roundtable Attorneys believe these are positive steps that will make trucking companies safer and will help prevent accidents.

One is a proposal to require logging devices in all trucks, and the other is a proposal that would establish a clearinghouse of positive drug and alcohol tests for truck drivers. As an attorney and safety advocate, it is hard not to be enthusiastic about proposed improvements.

These rules are being mandated in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21 Act), another topic that our lawyers frequently discuss on this commercial safety and litigation blog.

In addition to these rules, MAP-21 called for FMCSA to complete a number of research projects. Among the research projects was a field study of the agency’s changes to the 34-hour restart provision of the hours-of-service rule, and a reexamination of the current insurance requirements for trucking companies.

With these rules, and additional research projects coming down, you could say that the traditional model of the commercial transportation, bus and trucking industry is now under increased scrutiny by the FMCSA. You may recall that one of our own Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable founding members, Michael Leizerman, authored a blog post calling for reevaluation of the insurance requirements in the trucking industry.

Congress and the FMCSA must have been listening, because the FMCSA is finally considering the virtue of changing the insurance requirements for commercial transport operations. This may be the single most encouraging piece of information I’ve ever heard come out of the FMCSA.

Higher insurance policy limits and thus increased scrutiny by the insurance carriers who are insuring these companies will force more trucking companies to pay closer attention to safety matters than lawyers filing lawsuits ever will.  These companies might not care much about safety, but they do about profits.

It’s a simple solution: Unsafe companies pay more, safer companies pay less, and everyone wins – including the good trucking companies that now have a more level playing field to compete with the trucking companies that take safety shortcuts.

The FMCSA could make other rules to address the dangerous business model that the trucking industry is based upon. The pay-by-the-mile model gives truckers incentives to speed, drive over hours and cut corners on safety and inspections. As both an attorney and a safety advocate, I am eager to see what lies ahead.

These new rules, and the reevaluation of the insurance model behind the industry, could fundamentally transform the trucking industry. Hopefully dangerous trucking companies will begin to realize that breaking the rules is not okay or acceptable.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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