National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records for 2013 show 3,964 fatal semi-trailer accidents and 95,000 others resulting to injuries. Despite this alarming numbers, the government remains cautious on imposing too many restrictions on trucking companies and truck operators due to the major contribution their huge vehicles give for the growth of the U.S. economy. In other words, imposing additional laws and restrictions on truckers may only cripple the country’s ability to do business.
The U.S. government has always shown its reluctance in burdening truck operators with higher taxes or in mandating that drivers be given higher wages. Well, let this be the case, at least for now. However, what it should never do is let its guard down against trucking companies’ lobbyists who are seeking and fighting for reforms on laws that will have a direct effect on the safe operation of big rigs, like, reforms on requirements on the qualification of applicant drivers, number of hours or service, safety standard for truck parts, size limit of double trailers, and, maintenance of a record that will show regular truck inspection. This is because specific proposals by trucking companies’ lobbyists include:
The extension of working hours from the already-exhausting 70-hour per week limit to 82 hours a week.
Trucks be allowed to haul loads heavier than the present federal limit, which is 80,000 pounds (one way to do this is to allow trucks to have longer double trailers); and,
Labor costs be reduced through the hiring of lower-paid drivers – those as young as 18;
Many trucking companies and truck operators face the problem of completing job runs and ensuring timely deliveries due to shortage in the number of qualified drivers. To keep their business in operation, many operators and employers now hire unskilled drivers, no longer screen applicants for past records or driving violations, take no action in punishing drivers who incur traffic violations, and require some drivers to drive longer than the allowed number of service.
Errors committed by drivers behind the wheel can have catastrophic results; so too are the errors committed by trucking companies and employers. Trucking companies are legally responsible in making sure that laws regarding employee hiring and safe vehicle operation are strictly observed, as this will greatly affect the well-being of everyone on the road. If and when trucking companies fail to uphold these standards, then they can be held financially responsible for their failure to act in accordance with the dictates of the law.
As explained by the Hankey Law Office, even the smallest abnormality in the operation of a semi-trailer can result in a multi-vehicle accident. Thus, truck drivers must absolutely be qualified and able to control these large trucks in any circumstance or situation. Trucking companies who put unqualified employees behind the wheel put the lives of all other drivers at risk and this is one blatant disregard for the safety of others that the law should never allow to go unpunished.