In the trucking industry, there are numerous regulations put in place in order to protect individuals from harmful and potentially deadly crashes. However, at times these regulations are not followed and can lead to death or serious injury if a person is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler and/or commercial vehicle. Below are some of the highlights of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's regulations. A complete list of regulations can be viewed on the FMCSA's website.
The June 7th truck crash that claimed the life of James "Jimmy Mack" McNair and critically injured Tracy Morgan and three other passengers has given new urgency to a long-running debate over federal rest rules for commercial truckers. According to the criminal charges against the driver of the Wal-Mart truck, Kevin Roper, he had not slept in 24 hours before he struck the limousine bus carrying Morgan, McNair, and others. Mr. Roper has been charged with vehicular homicide for reckless vehicle operation causing the death of McNair, and recklessly causing serious bodily injury for the injuries to Morgan and others. The crash occurred at about 1 a.m. on Saturday, June 7, 2014 on the New Jersey Turnpike when Roper drove the Wal-Mart tractor trailer into the rear of the limousine bus.
On January 22, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a new regulation which enables FMCSA to shut down trucking or bus companies that "show egregious disregard for safety compliance, permit persons who have shown egregious disregard for safety compliance to exercise controlling influence over their operations, or operate multiple entities under common control to conceal noncompliance with safety regulations." This regulation allows FMCSA to revoke carriers' registration not only if they engage in a pattern of safety violations themselves, but also if they hire an executive who has a pattern of safety violations with another company.
In order to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue, new regulations have been implemented on commercial truck drivers' hours of service. Because of these new regulations, drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours following a 10-hour break. The driver cannot be on duty more than 14 hours following that same 10-hour break, even if that entire time doesn't involve driving. These new regulations have been put into place in an effort to keep drivers fresh and alert.
In 2011, the United States and Mexico signed a trade agreement that opened the border to Mexican trucks provided that they would comply with American safety and environmental regulations. Despite having this agreement, to protect the American motoring public, Mexican trucks have been reported as having a number of violations.
As of Monday, July 1, 2013, the most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations addressing truck driver's schedules and hours of service are taking effect. The FMCSA is a part of the United States Department of Transportation. The new federal regulations are composed of three main parts and are designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue:
"Black boxes," commonly known as electronic data recorders (EDRs) or electronic on-board recording devices (EOBRs), are capable of recording and keeping safe all data regarding the events surrounding an automobile crash, including seatbelt use, vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration rates, and vehicle trajectory before, during, and after the crash. In 18-wheelers, they also have the capability of recording data regarding the driver's hours of service, a truck's total driving time, total driving distance, trip driving time, trip distance, average driving speed, and maximum recorded speed.