On August 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a proposal to eliminate the daily paperwork requirement for professional truck drivers. The move, which follows on the heels of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) elimination of a similar requirement for truck drivers operating intermodal equipment trailers used for transporting containerized cargo shipments in June 2012, is expected to save the industry an estimated $1.7 billion annually.
Currently, federal regulations require commercial truck drivers to conduct both pre-and post-trip equipment inspections. In addition, drivers must also file Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) after each inspection, regardless of whether or not an issue requiring repairs is identified. According to the news release issued by the USDOT, under the proposed change, though commercial truck drivers would be required to continue conducting pre- and post- trip inspections, the truck drivers will no longer need to file DVIRs if their daily inspections do not yield any defects. Therefore, government officials, including Secretary Foxx, note that the proposal is a “win-win” because it simultaneously reduces the paperwork burden, saves the industry billions of dollars, and maintains the USDOT’s commitment to safety.
While the trucking industry is pleased with the elimination of the safety inspection report requirement, the industry is not as pleased with other recent changes. More specifically, on July 1, 2013,the FMCSA’s Hours of Service Final Rule took full effect. The new regulation is designed to improve public safety by reducing truck driver fatigue. Notably, only commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers are required to follow this new final rule. Generally, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits at least one of several other factors relating to gross vehicle weight, the transportation of passengers, and/or the transportation of hazardous materials.
The FMCSA’s new hours of service regulation institutes the following changes:
• Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours;
• Allows truck drivers who reach 70 hours of driving within a week to resume only if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least 2 nights from 1:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m.; and
• Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift.
The State of Texas has also taken recent steps to reduce commercial motor vehicle accidents. For example, the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”), protects state highways from unnecessary damage by, among other things, securing compliance with state laws regulating the weight of commercial vehicles and ensuring payment of commercial vehicle registration fees. In fact, as part of Roadcheck 2013, the DPS inspected more than 9,200 commercial motor vehicles during a three-day inspection effort in June 2013. During this time, about 21% of the 18-wheelers, buses and other commercial vehicles inspected were placed out of service as a result of safety violations. Most commonly, these infractions involved issues with brakes and defective vehicle lighting. Additionally, 248 drivers were placed out of service as a result of failed compliance with Texas state and federal laws.
Despite the recent efforts to increase vehicle and driver safety and reduce the commercial vehicle fatalities, accidents are bound to occur. If you are injured or suffer a loss in a trucking accident, the San Antonio truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Carabin & Shaw can help. While we aim to protect individuals where litigation is necessary, we also provide resources to help educate the public when injuries are caused by the negligence or carelessness of trucking companies, in hopes of increasing road safety. Contact us today at 1-800-862-1260 for further information.
Secretary Foxx Announces Proposal to Save Trucking Industry $1.7 Billion Annually by Eliminating Major Paperwork Burden, U.S. Department of Transportation
New Hours-of-Service Safety Regulations to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue Begin Today, U.S. Department of Transportation
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Texas Department of Public Safety
Roadcheck 2013 Inspects 9,200 Commercial Vehicles, Promotes Roadway Safety, Texas Department of Public Safety