Truck safety advocates celebrated this past summer when Congress authorized a new bill that included many provisions to enhance truck safety and prevent trucking accidents. The bill is called MAP-21, which stands for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 st Century.
Improving Road Safety
Not only does the bill enhance safety for the truck drivers themselves, but it also protects everyone driving on America’s roads. One provision of the bill calls for a two year study to look at the impact truck size and weight has on safety and infrastructure. An earlier version of the bill sought to simply increase the size and weight limits of commercial trucks. Instead of this, the study will be performed to analyze the potential impacts of such changes.
Strengthening Oversight of Commercial Carriers
The bill also enhances enforcement of the current rules. For example, part of the law will improve oversight of motor carriers with a focus on preventing reincarnated carriers. Reincarnated carriers are companies that were cited for safety violations but form new companies under different names to avoid the negative repercussions of the violations.
Further, there are provisions affecting vehicles that transport hazardous materials, or “hazmat vehicles.” Criteria will be developed to increase and enhance oversight of hazmat transportation. These provisions will increase enforcement of hazmat transportation rules and stiffen penalties for hazmat violations.
Increasing Oversight of Truck Drivers
Drivers have specific rules regarding the number of hours they can work in a certain period of time to make sure they are not too fatigued to be on the road. Currently many drivers use written logs to record their hours worked, and pressures to meet deadlines may result in drivers not accurately reporting the number of hours they are behind the wheel. Under the new law, all commercial vehicles are required to have electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). This will hopefully ensure truck drivers are alert and prevent truck accidents due to driver fatigue.
Another major change is the implementation of a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for screenings of commercial drivers. This rule has been pursued by the industry for a long time. It will require that trucking companies screen all driver applicants along with all drivers annually.
With so many deadly truck accidents each year many of these changes are long overdue. Hopefully, these new regulations will make commercial carriers and truck drivers safer, and improve road safety for all motorists.