Truck safety highlights of 2012
The past year was a busy one in the truck safety community. Congress and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed new regulations, implemented new studies, and re-examined all the issues.
Truck accident attorneys should familiarize themselves with these issues, in order to properly protect injury victims and highlight motor carrier negligence.
- Changes to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. The CSA program is a database of trucking safety information for each motor carrier in the United States that the public can access over the Internet. At the request of the trucking industry, the FMCSA made changes that include incorporating cargo data into the vehicle Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC), change the Cargo BASIC to the Hazardous Material BASIC, removed speeding violations of 1 to 5 mph, and renamed the fatigued driving BASIC to the Hours Of Service BASIC.
- Congress passed, and Pres. Obama signed into law, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). MAP-21 is a two-year transportation reauthorization bill that authorizes a little over a billion dollars in expenditures in 2013 and 2014. Part of the reauthorization includes the mandate for the FMCSA to examine the current minimum insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles, which have not been increased since 1980.
- The FMCSA passed a regulation that limits the use of a truck drivers 34 hour restart provision. Starting in July 2013, drivers can only restart their hours of service once every seven days and that restart must include two rest periods between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
- Safety advocates continued to insist that the maximum number of safe driving hours is 10 hours, as opposed to the current 11 hour rule that is in effect. Even more important is the enforcement of the hours of service regulations are currently in effect. The best way to do this is through electronic log devices (ELDs).
What 2013 hold for truck safety?
The highlight may be an ELD regulation that requires all motor carriers to use electronic logs. In 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the FM CSA’s electronic log regulation did not take into account potential harassment of drivers. Since then, the FMCSA has opened a new comment and I believe we will see a new regulation in 2013 that takes into account driver harassment, keeps drivers and companies honest, and hopefully gives clear guidance on the technical requirements so that companies can quickly implement any new regulation.