This year, Congress introduced the surface transportation bill. The $78 billion bills will aid in the funding of several safety features geared toward improving transportation, most of which will go to things like fixing roads and bridges, and physical infrastructure nationwide. Along with money for auto manufacturers and rail companies like Amtrak, one sector that could receive a serious influx of money is the trucking industry.
If passed, this bill would help to increase funding for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) state partners. With the increased funding, the state partners would have the capacity to hire additional personnel for roadside inspections. The increase of additional personnel allows the FMCSA and states the opportunity to increase investigative and enforcement resources for high-risk commercial vehicles in high crash zones. It would also mandate rear and side underride guards for trucks that were previously exempt from having them, update data on findings from electronic logging devices, and more.
One of the features that will assist in removing risky commercial vehicle drivers from the roads is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an online database that permits employers and government agencies the ability to access information about commercial drivers’ drug and alcohol program violations.
Employers can implement this tool by identifying any risky commercial drivers before employing them. Employers will also be granted the authority to downgrade a commercial driver’s license if there is a positive in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
Another incentive for commercial drivers is the reduction in driver detention time: “the period that a driver is not paid while he or she waits to be loaded or unloaded.” The more time a truck spends waiting for its cargo to be loaded or unloaded, the less time the driver has to get his or her good where they need to be. Shippers and port operators will be offered significant financial incentives for decreasing driver detention time, which in turn should give drivers more time to transport their goods.
Additional safety technology to help the trucking industry
Some safety groups and politicians are advocating for the trucking industry to develop safety features like crash prevention technology. This can include mitigation systems, active braking collision, speed limiters that allow commercial drivers to drive up to 65 mph, and forward-facing dash cams.
Because the trucking industry is evolving towards using autonomous vehicle operations, artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to not only prevent fatal trucking accidents but collect data concerning trucking accidents. In reference to crash prevention data, safety advocates recommended the use of technology that helps prevent accidents for truckers by detecting pedestrians and bicyclists.
The use of artificial intelligence with crash prevention technology helps to protect not only the commercial driver but surrounding motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. The technology would help to make safety the main priority when operating a commercial vehicle, and establish accountability measures that the commercial driver can take advantage of. The technology can also collect information that the commercial driver and employers can use to gather data concerning trucking accidents, such as the time that an accident occurs or whether there was any disengagement.
The use of AI technology to aid in crash prevention can also help to reduce distracted driving in commercial drivers. Distracted driving is one of the main reasons why a trucking accident occurs, and the use of AI technology and autonomous vehicle operations helps to hold commercial drivers accountable while operating commercial vehicles.
What is the DRIVE-Safe Act?
Another separate, bipartisan bill that will affect the eligibility of commercial drivers under the age of 21 is the DRIVE-Safe Act. This act would initiate a pilot program for the FMCSA that allows 18 to 21-year-old drivers to participate in interstate commerce apprenticeship programs. To participate in this program, commercial drivers would have to obtain a CDL license and fulfill the hour’s requirement.
The DRIVE-Safe Act should also increase productivity for commercial drivers by lowering the entry age and requiring the completion of an apprenticeship program. The requirement of completion of the apprenticeship program allows qualified commercial drivers to shadow an experienced driver and become accustomed to using commercial vehicles with the latest safety technology.
The changes suggested by the new transportation bill are good ones, but more work will be needed. In the mean time, if you are hurt in a truck accident, the Chicago injury lawyers of Gainsberg Law are ready to help you fight for justice. Call our office at 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More