Trump Administration Angling to Loosen Obama-Era Truck Safety Regs

The Trump administration is planning to roll back several Obama-era trucking safety rules. Safety advocates are concerned that the rollback could make highways more dangerous by causing more tractor-trailer accidents. 

For their part, truckers argue that federal regulators who oversee the industry ‘don’t have a clue what truckers do, how they do it or the demands of the job,” says Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

One of the rules that the Trump administration is eying is the federal hours of service rule. This rule limits the hours that truckers can drive per day to 11 hours in a 14 hour period. This must be followed by 10 hours of rest. Safety advocates argue that this rule ensures that truckers are well rested and are not a danger to other drivers.

Spencer argues that the rule means that once the work day begins, it must end 14 hours later, without question. But the rule does not account for the fact that the trucker can run into delays at the receiver or shipper. Nor does it consider the problems of congestion or construction that can slow down the driver. These delays can waste hours that the driver is on the clock, which hurts the truckers’ pay because most are paid per mile.

Another rule that the Trump administration could alter is the one that is mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs). This rule is going to outlaw the use of paper-based log books that goes back to the 1930s. In the trucking industry, these paper logs are sometimes called ‘comic books’ because they are so easy to fake and manipulate.

Most big trucking companies already have ELDs, but some smaller companies and owner-operators have not purchased the systems because of their expense. Such a device can run up to $500 per rig. They are requesting that the Trump administration delay the mandate and provide an exemption for trucking companies with good safety records. But safety advocates warn that the ELD mandate is essential to ensure that truckers are not driving more hours than they are legally allowed.

These potential changes worry John Lannen, who is the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition. He believes the current administration is risking public safety in a time when serious truck crashes are on the rise in Virginia, North Carolina and other parts of the country.

Our View

Our view is clear: We are against weakening these truck safety regulations in any way, shape or form. Our Virginia and North Carolina tractor-trailer accident lawyers believe that public safety is paramount. Ensuring that truck drivers have the proper amount of rest and are not driving more hours than they should is essential to prevent terrible truck crashes that injure and kill thousands of Americans each year – 3852 Americans were killed in truck crashes in 2015. When truck drivers push their limits, they can fall asleep and cause terrible accidents, such as this $5.5 million truck accident settlement our law firm handled in Virginia Beach.