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As Fatal Truck and 18-Wheeler Accidents Rise, FMCSA Proposes New Study

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is launching a new study to pinpoint the underlying causes behind fatal truck and 18-wheeler accidents.

Fatal Truck Accidents Up Nearly 6% Over Last 3 Years

The potentially groundbreaking research – entitled The Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study (LTCCFS) – was announced via a Request for Information document posted to the Federal Register on January 15th.

“Over the last three years (2016- 2018), fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.7 percent,” the document states. “This study will help FMCSA identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes, and in both injury and property damage only (PDO) crashes. These factors will drive new initiatives to reduce crashes on our nations roadways.”

The LTCCFS would replace a 15-year-old crash causation study that the FMCSA has used to back some of its recent policy decisions.

“Since the study ended in 2003, fatal crashes involving large trucks decreased until 2009, when they hit their lowest point in recent years (2,893 fatal crashes),” the regulator said. “Since 2009, fatal crashes involving large trucks have steadily increased to 4,415 fatal crashes in 2018, a 52.6% increase when compared to 2009.”

Trump Administration Has Targeted Vital Trucking Regulations

While the FMCSA’s decision to study the causes of large truck and 18-wheeler crashes is encouraging, under President Trump, the agency has actually worked to delay, weaken, or eliminate some of the most important safety regulations governing commercial trucking in the United States.

Shortly after the president took office, for example, the FMSCA abandoned a proposed rule that would have required all commercial drivers to undergo medical screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a frequently undiagnosed condition that increases the potential for a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.

Last year, the agency also moved to significantly weaken the Hours of Service Regulations, a set of rules that aim to prevent fatigued-related crashes by limiting the number of daily and weekly hours interstate commercial drivers can work or operate a vehicle.

Other Trump-era proposals include lowering the minimum age for long-haul truckers from 21 to 18 and easing rules that govern the development of self-driving trucks and buses.

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