What to Expect From the Trucking Industry in 2020
2019 was a year of trucking companies ducking life-saving industry regulations, and it looks like 2020 may be no different. In the past, lawmakers and activists successfully pushed for incremental changes to protect ordinary drivers on the road. Today, the trucking industry is increasingly resistant to these life-saving measures — which is why truck crash deaths reached their highest level in 30 years last year.
In this blog, our team of truck wreck attorneys discusses 2019 trucking industry safety trends and explains what we can expect in 2020.
Speed-Limiting Devices Are Still on the Back Burner
Safety advocates have been calling for speed-limiting devices on large trucks for almost 10 years. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revisited proposed regulations that would equip vehicles over 26,000 pounds with speed-limiting devices. The proposed devices would cap a vehicle’s maximum speed around 65 miles per hour.
While the FMCSA and NHTSA have concluded through research that these proposed changes would reduce crashes and save lives, trucking companies are adamantly pushing back and have enlisted their lobbyists and their friends in Congress to do the same. Thanks to these efforts, the speed limiter rule has languished in the federal bureaucracy.
However, in June, U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced bipartisan legislation that would finally move the speed limiter rule forward. So, no regulation has yet been passed, but this measure is something to keep an eye on in 2020.
Will the White House Move Forward With Relaxed Hours-of-Service Rules?
Hours-of-service (HOS) laws establish the maximum number of hours a trucker can drive without rest. Even though HOS laws reduce the rates of truck crashes and save lives, trucking companies still try to come up with ways to skirt HOS laws so they can make extra profits.
Unfortunately, unsafe trucking companies have found friends in the current presidential administration. Since December 2017, the White House has been pushing to relax federal hours-of-service rules for truck drivers. Proposed changes include making exceptions to the mandatory half-hour rest break during shifts, letting truckers divide their sleep time, and loosening the standards in various other ways.
So far, the FMCSA has taken public comments on changes to the HOS rules but hasn’t released any new rules. This issue will be one of the trucking safety topics to watch in 2020, as highway safety advocates have made it clear they’ll fight attempts to relax HOS rules every step of the way.
Small Trucking Companies Fail to Dodge the ELD Mandate
One of the best ways to enforce HOS regulations and ensure compliance is to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all commercial trucks. While ELDs became mandatory in 2017, many small trucking companies haven’t yet complied with the mandate and are pushing for an extended or even permanent exemption. The FMCSA denied the most recent request for an exemption in July, and small carriers now have until December to implement ELDs in their fleets.
Assuming the mandate goes forward without any exemptions from this point, then universal adoption of ELDs in 2020 would mark a major victory for trucking safety advocates during a period where trucking safety improvements have been few and far between.
Hurt in a Truck Crash in Washington? Call Seattle Truck Law
At Seattle Truck Law, we know the trucking industry inside and out. We’ve dedicated our careers to fighting for victims who have been hurt or killed in terrible truck wrecks. If you’ve been hurt in a crash with a large truck or bus in Washington, please reach out to us for help. We’ll meet with you for free, review your case, and offer straightforward advice about your options.
Gallagher, J. (2019, July 16). FMCSA denies ELD exemption to small trucking companies – again. FreightWaves. Retrieved from https://www.freightwaves.com/news/fmcsa-denies-eld-exemption-to-small-trucking-companies-again
Hirsch, J. (2019, October 22). Trucking fatalities reach highest level in 30 years. Trucks.com. Retrieved from https://www.trucks.com/2019/10/22/trucking-fatalities-reach-highest-level-30-years/
Morris, F. (2019, July 30). Trump administration poised to relax safety rules despite warnings. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/07/29/746330762/trump-administration-poised-to-relax-trucking-safety-rules-despite-warnings
Office of Sen. Johnny Isaskon (R-GA). (2019, June 27). Isakson, Coons introduce bipartisan truck safety legislation [press release]. Retrieved from https://saferoads.org/2019/06/27/legislation-introduced-to-require-the-use-of-speed-limiters-in-commercial-trucks/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.