The trucking industry in Hollywood and South Florida is responsible for significant economic contributions and creates many jobs in the area. Large trucks bring consumer products to stores, haul raw materials and products from the port of Miami, and otherwise transport the goods we all rely on across the state and around the country.
While the trucking industry is important, there’s also no doubt it causes severe injuries each year. Truckers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, and their rate of workplace injury is higher than that of most industries. In addition, more than 80,000 Americans are injured each year in trucking accidents and more than 4000 each year are killed in commercial truck collisions.
The high rate of injury has shone a spotlight on the trucking industry and has many asking what can be done to prevent crashes and serious injury. Will 2016 mean a reduction in trucking accidents or an increase in collisions? Will it mean legislative changes? In 2015, a number of changes were made to the trucking industry, including controversial new hours of service changes.
New proposed rules spark controversy
The trucking industry is looking to make three key changes in the industry in the New Year:
1) Allowing younger drivers on the roads.
It’s no secret that the trucking industry is facing a labor shortage. There are fewer qualified truck drivers, and as older truck drivers recover there aren’t enough younger workers to take their place. This is a potential safety as well as work issue, since it can put pressure on current truckers to drive for extended periods of time. Some even argue it creates a more relaxed attitude towards safety as truck carriers have less choice when hiring.
Some people in the trucking industry would like to permit younger drivers to get commercial truck licenses, arguing that this would help truck companies get the staff they need to offer reasonable hours while offering improved safety as well. Others, however, argue that more needs to be done to ensure that truck driver education is strict. Some experts believe that allowing younger drivers behind the wheel could be a potential hazard.
2) Allowing larger trucks on the roads.
The trucking industry has long been interested in allowing larger, heavier, and longer trucks on the road. Commercial trucks capable of caring more per individual cargo load could be easier on the environment and could reduce transportation costs.
Some argue that allowing larger and heavier trucks on the road could also improve safety. Since larger trucks could potentially mean fewer trucks on the road to transport the same amount of cargo, it could reduce traffic congestion and could mean that drivers have to drive shorter hours to deliver the same amount of goods.
Other safety experts, however, believe that allowing larger and heavier trucks on the road would increase the chances of serious injuries, since these types of larger tractor trailer are more difficult to maneuver and would require greater driver skill. They also believe collisions involving larger trucks would be even more likely to lead to fatalities and serious injury.
3) Limiting access to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) database
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains the CSA database and allows the public to search the information. The database contains information about truck company safety ratings, driver drug violations, vehicle maintenance, crash reports, and more. The trucking industry would like changes made to the database, and before those changes are made they would like to see access to the database not made available to the public. Safety experts claim that this would allow unsafe companies to hide their safety violations and the poor safety rankings from consumers.
Do you believe that these changes requested by some in the trucking industry would lead to improved safety – or would they increase your chances of a trucking accident? The attorneys at Flaxman Law Group are closely following developments in the industry to ensure we can bring the most current knowledge to our clients. If you are injured in a trucking accident, you can always contact our legal team for a free, no obligation consultation.