Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Because the nation’s Highway Trust Fund – which provides funding for state, local, and national transit programs across the country – relies on fuel taxes, the Fund is constantly on the verge of running out of money. Currently federal infrastructure funding is scheduled to expire on October 29, 2015, which puts Congress, once again, in the difficult position of deciding whether to authorize a long-term solution to the lack of infrastructure funding or to rely on short-term fixes. One such alternative that has been offered is the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act), which has been passed by the Senate. The House currently disagrees on funding specifics and has not yet passed the bill. Nonetheless, the trucking industry supports DRIVE Act, saying that the “six-year federal funding commitment to prioritize and invest in our aging infrastructure and safety needs is essential to … keep pace with growing demands.” Unfortunately, the DRIVE Act doesn’t necessarily invest in infrastructure nor does it promote safety. In fact, according to an article on The Pop Tort, “in many ways, it’s the exact opposite of that. With all the talk about money and politics, few are paying attention to what the trucking industry (for one) has been up to these past few months – slipping into this bill so many anti-safety trucking provisions that it frankly would be better if no long-term bill passed at all.” Some of the problems with the DRIVE Act include:
- A reduction in the interstate age requirements from large commercial truck drivers from 21 to 18 years of age. With statistics showing that drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are 66 percent more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 21, this change could be disastrous for highway safety.
- Potential increase in truck driver fatigue. Late last year, Congress “temporarily suspended” hours-of-services regulations pending further study. Specifically, Congress suspended the requirement that truck drivers incorporate a “two-nights off weekend” into their schedules, in effect, added an additional work day to the work week of a truck driver. If the DRIVE Act passes, reinstatement of the two nights off “weekend” requirement is because the DRIVE Act includes the new aforementioned hurdles that must be overcome before new rule-making can be implemented.
- Additional hurdles must be overcome before new safety rules can be implemented. Accordingly, critical safety regulations about hours of service, driver training, and safety monitoring would be more difficult to propagate.
- Safety information regarding data alerts, scores, and rankings would be removed from the FMCSA website and not made publicly available until a “corrective action plan” is implemented to ensure data sufficiency.
At Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish, our Chicago trucking accident attorneys are committed to keeping Illinois motorists safe and keeping risky truckers off the road. If you were injured or a loved one died in a trucking accident, contact our office at (888) 325-7299 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible personal injury lawsuit. Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.