House Bill Strengthens Truck Safety, But “Misses Key Steps”

The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed legislation to strengthen truck safety, but didn’t include several recommended steps, as reported by NJ Advance Media. The truck safety improvements are part of a $547 billion bill that will set federal surface transportation policy for the next five years.

The House bill only addressed improvements for the heaviest trucks – those at 26,000+ lbs. – which must have automated braking systems and stronger rear under guards to prevent cars from getting stuck beneath truck trailers. The bill also requires studies on side guards, on driver sleep apnea, and current hours of service rules. Included in the bill is $1 billion to address the shortage of parking spaces for truckers who have met their hours for the day.

As reported in our previous blog on the subject, recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) appear to have been largely ignored, possible due to industry opposition. NTSB recommended automatic braking systems for all trucks as well as devices to limit a truck’s speed. Neither were addressed by the bill.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association praised elements of the bill, including the parking spaces for truckers. They opposed the requirement that increased minimum insurance from $750,000 to $2 million.

Truck safety continues to be a focus for lawmakers, who want to address the concerning statistics on our nation’s roadways. From 2010 to 2019, crashes with large trucks (10,000+ lbs.) rose 36 percent. During that same time frame, the number of people killed in crashes with trucks increased 50 percent. Despite a 2% decrease in fatalities in 2020, the number of people killed — 4,895 – is the third highest in a decade.

If you would like to talk to an attorney who is experienced in litigating truck accident cases, please reach out to us. Our firm is recognized as a leader in truck accident litigation in Pennsylvania.