'Patchwork System' Allows Dangerous Big Rigs to Remain on the Roads

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No sooner than we write our opinion about how the new DOT rule eliminating paperwork for truckers (if inspections turn up no safety violations), we come across a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claiming that "a patchwork system of safety keeps dangerous trucks on the road."

The new DOT rule, which eliminates paperwork where inspections turn up no safety violations (read about it here), probably still is a good rule and a win-win for both truckers and ordinary drivers in terms of safety and efficiency, but according to Andrew McGill's report, we still have work to do.

But, then again, that's something we already knew.

"More than 14,000 people have died," McGill writes, "in big-rig truck accidents nationwide since 2009." McGill goes on to report that one out of six big rigs are found "unsafe to drive" by inspectors, which is a troubling figure.

According to McGill, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) puts out national standards but the individual states themselves decide how to meet those standards and what to prioritize. McGill cites Texas as one example. Here, the priority is headlights and signals. In other states, the priority might be something else. That's what makes the system "patchwork," and means that many trucks in poor shape - improperly maintained brakes and other defective parts are a big factor - continue to operate on the roads all across the nation, and do so generally unimpeded.

McGill quotes the head of the Truck Safety Coalition: "You've got kind of a lot of different things working against safety. It's a huge industry," John Lannen said, referring to the trucking industry, "with an agency that's not very big trying to regulate it."

(Image Credit: https://flic.kr/p/fLkNbQ) 
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