Healy Scanlon Law Firm

Congress debates bill that could help reduce truck accidents

The trucking industry must abide by a host of regulations designed to ensure the safety of trucks and the cars that share the road with them. From maintenance schedules to weight limits, these rules attempt to eliminate or greatly reduce the number of truck accidents here in Illinois and across the country. One rule that many people may have heard of is the cap on the hours a driver can travel before taking a mandated rest. While a well-rested driver will be more alert behind the wheel, there must be an independent measurement tool that can determine if drivers are taking the required breaks that they claim they are taking.

Electronic onboard recorders, or EOBRs for short, are that tool. They can even provide up-to-the-minute information on when a truck has been on the road. Yet the trucking industry is divided on their implementation. The American Trucking Associations said that EOBRs would help improve safety on the nation's highways. But the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association has suggested that further regulation would hurt an industry that is having a difficult time increasing business.

Congress recently addressed the issue, passing a comprehensive transportation bill that would require trucks to have EOBRs on them to ensure compliance with limits on drivers' hours. But EOBR opponents are not willing to give up without a fight. Some House members have added an amendment that would preclude mandatory EOBRs by eliminating federal funding used to carry out and enforce the requirement.

It is not known how the amendment will fare in the Senate. Other drivers have a right to expect that truckers are operating their trucks in accordance with applicable caps on hours. Because the legislation could affect the incidence of truck accidents, we will provide an update on the next steps that Congress takes.

Source: Truckinginfo.com, "Congress Passes Highway Bill; House Bill Would Block EOBR Mandate," July 2, 2012.

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