Due to their immense sizes and weights, trucks have the potential to cause a lot of damage if involved in a crash. Unfortunately, it seems these collisions are only going to get worse. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck crashes increased by 2 percent between 2012 and 2013, which is the last year information was available.
From equipment failure to driver error, there are a number of reasons why truck drivers routinely get into collisions. While every situation is different, there will be no real progress until Congress changes current truck driving laws. Congress has dragged its feet with those endeavors in recent years.
The goal of H.R. 3095, which Congress signed into law in 2013, was to help trucking companies screen drivers for potential cases of sleep apnea. A common reason for crashes is that drivers fall asleep at the wheel. This type of accident occurred numerous times in the past.
Congress passed a bill to prevent these accidents, but it was quickly rushed through Congress. They passed it when there was the looming threat of a government shutdown. As a result, the law did not do much in the way of giving trucking companies the tools they need to help drivers with sleep apnea.
In 2013, Congress passed new laws stating what hours truckers could work and how much sleep they needed. A main part of the bill was that truckers could not work between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Shortly after it went into effect, lobbyists from the trucking industry fought to change it.
The efforts ended up being successful, and funding for the new laws was later limited in a provision added in a future spending bill. Since the spending bill needed to go through to avoid a government shutdown, it passed without much of a fight. While drivers need to be accountable while on the road, lasting change is not going to be possible with government oversight.