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Deadly Truck Crashes Surge, as Safety Regulations Stall Under Trump

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Fatal crashes involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks spiked sharply in 2017, a trend that’s likely to continue as the Trump Administration works to reverse vital safety regulations intended to reduce the potential for fatigue-related crashes and other preventable accidents.

Big Truck Deaths Up 9% in 2017, Despite Overall Drop in Traffic Fatalities

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents involving large tucks (10,000 lbs. or more) killed 4,761 people in 2017, representing an increase of 9% over the previous year.

Truck accident deaths were up 41% over 2009, the year with the fewest number of fatalities since 1971.

Most of those killed in connection with a fatal truck crash were occupants of other vehicles. However, the number of truckers who died as a result of an accident rose 16% compared to 2016.

The recent increase in deadly truck crashes along the nation’s roads and highways is especially concerning, given that the overall rate of traffic-related fatalities fell by roughly 1.6% in 2017.

Trump Administration Targets Rules Meant to Keep Fatigued Truck Drivers Off the Road

Unfortunately, the situation is likely to become even more dire, as the Trump Administration continues to undermine many of the vital safety regulations that govern commercial trucking in the United States.

For example, shortly after the President took office, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) killed a proposed rule that would have required truckers and other commercial drivers to undergo medical screening for sleep apnea, a disorder that greatly increases the odds that a driver will fall asleep at the wheel.

The Obama Administration had proposed the rule after a deadly crash between a tour bus and an 18-wheeler killed 13 people outside of Palm Springs, California in October 2016.

The National Transportation Safety Board later determined that the bus driver – who died in the accident – may have fallen asleep just before the collision. Both drivers likely suffered from undiagnosed, Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Most recently, the FMSCA unveiled a proposal to weaken Hours of Service Regulations, which limit the number of hours commercial drivers can stay on the road

Trucking Industry Has a Friend in President Trump

The Trump-era is unlikely to see the enactment of rules that would require truck drivers to activate speed-limiting equipment that has been standard on big rigs since the 1990s, as well as others that would mandate crash avoidance and automatic emergency braking systems  for all large, commercial trucks sold in the United States.

Well aware that it has a friend in the President, commercial trucking interests continue to target other federal regulations, including a rule that requires the use of electronic devices – as opposed to easily-falsified paper logs – to track drivers’ hours of service.

The trucking lobby has also pushed the Trump Administration to lower the minimum age for interstate truck drivers from 21 to 18.

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If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a negligent trucking company or truck driver, and you would like to learn more about your legal rights and options, please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form.

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