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2017 & The Trucking Industry: Top Issues & Concerns

By: Allan M. Siegel

The New Year is bringing a lot of changes when it comes to Washington. Aside from a new President and administration, many shake-ups are taking place in various government agencies, including those responsible for transportation safety and the regulation of the trucking industry. In addition to new technologies and new ideas, these changes could make for an eventful year when it comes to both in-state and interstate trucking.

As a firm that has helped numerous victims and families following tractor-trailer wrecks, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is passionate about staying up to date with developments and trends that impact safety. We have seen first-hand how negligence, regulatory violations, and lax oversight can lead to devastating consequences, and we believe it’s important for everyone to understand transportation and trucking issues that could very well impact their own safety anytime they venture onto our public roads and highways.

Below are a few important issues to watch in 2017 when it comes to the trucking industry:

  • New Leadership – From President Trump to newly confirmed U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to a new head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, new leadership will play a major role in shaping the trucking industry and its regulatory framework.
  • Regulatory Rollbacks – The trucking and transportation industry have been trending toward regulatory rollbacks that benefit trucking companies, but not public safety. For example, the trucking industry has expressed support for increasing weight and trailer length limits for certain carriers, and recently suspended of Hours-of-Service rules that mandated specific times for rest breaks following a work week. These safety rules were created to reduce risks posed by tired truckers. In addition to possible rollbacks on HOS rules and emissions standards, some proposed regulations that have gained public support may stagnate and never pass, including a proposed rule that would require large tractor-trailers to install speed-limiting devices.
  • Electronic Logging Devices – As it currently stands, tractor-trailers will be required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) that log the movements of trucks and the hours drivers spend on the road. These ELDs must be installed by December 2017, but dissent from the trucking industry and a requested rehearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals may impact implementation.
  • New Technology – Self-driving vehicles are a popular subject of interest that could revolutionize the trucking industry and transportation in general. Although it may be some time before they routinely share our roads, self-driving trucks are constantly being improved and tested. In addition, new technologies that aim to solve problems in the trucking industry, such as Amazon’s Uber-like app, could also introduce new concerns to public safety and victims injured in wrecks.
  • Trucker Shortage – A shortage in truck drivers remains a problem for the trucking industry, and it has led to proposed rules that could have a negative impact on safety – including one rule that aimed to lower the minimum age for interstate drivers from 21 to 18. As the truck driver shortage becomes an increasingly bigger problem, it could also potentially result in companies taking shortcuts, overloading cargo, or committing other violations in order to keep up with demand.

Our team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. understands that change is inevitable when it comes to transportation, but we believe it should never come at the cost of public safety. We will continue to keep a close eye on developments in the trucking and transportation industry, and will always make ourselves available to those who have been harmed by the negligence of drivers, trucking companies, and others who place profits over people.