Relax Trucking Industry Rules? Say It Is Not So

Law Firm Newswire



Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 24, 2016 – In an odd turn of events, an amendment to ban the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from spending money to enforce new safety rules was passed into law.

In what is viewed as a counterintuitive move, a law was recently passed to ban the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from spending money to enforce new safety rules. What happened? Some industry pundits suggest the trucking industry cheated to make sure they got what they wanted.

It is an open secret that the trucking industry actually believes it needs fewer safety regulations, not more. To that end, they enticed Senator Susan Collins to espouse their goal of fewer safety rules. The last thing the trucking industry wanted was to have the Senate Appropriations Committee block their cause.

To circumvent that possibility, they convinced Sen. Collins to add a provision to the $54 billion transportation bill in June 2014 that banned the FMCSA from spending money to enforce its new safety rule. There was also a clause that called for a new study of the issue.

The neat sidestepping demonstrated by the trucking industry would have almost worked but for the horrific trucking accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan. His limo was hit by a Walmart 18-wheeler. James McNair died in the accident and four other passengers were seriously injured. The accident kyboshed the Collins amendment — temporarily.

Collins found a way to insert her amendment into the spending measure passed December 13, 2015 — the amendment passed to stop a government shutdown. No one caught on to that fact and it was passed into law. It shocked many, including Tracy Morgan’s attorney Benedict Morelli, who said, “I don’t understand how in good conscience anybody could be pushing to relax the federal rules. The reason that they’ve been put in place is to make sure this doesn’t happen — and it happens a lot.”

As it turned out, Morelli’s words were eerily prophetic. In April 2015, a trucker slammed into several vehicles back up on I-16 in Georgia, killing five. The trucker had sleep apnea and a history of falling asleep at the wheel. In May 2015 another trucker was seen drifting back and forth between lanes on I-95. He came up on a construction area where cars were stopped, smashing into a line of stopped cars. Five people died. Fatigue was the cited cause of the accident.

In June 2105 in Tennessee on I-75 a trucker high on meth and short on sleep after 50-hours on the road was approaching a construction site when he killed six. His rig traveled 453 feet after he hit the first car. And in July 2015 another trucker in Indiana by I-65 crashed into a line of stopped cars in a construction zone. Five died, including the trucker. The trucker was fatigued after too many hours on the road.

“The list of fatal trucking accidents is shockingly long,” said trucking accident attorney Bobby Lee, of Lee, Gober & Reyna in Austin. “Not allowing the FMCSA to enforce trucking safety rules is ridiculous and the fallout so far has been exceedingly horrific in terms of loss of life. This has to stop.”

To learn more, visit Lee, Gober & Reyna 11940 Jollyville Road #220-S Austin, Texas 78759 Phone: 512.478.8080
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