Coming soon after the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to suspend a new Department of Transportation regulation which would have required truck drivers to take at least 34 hours off of work after working sixty hours in seven days or seventy hours in eight days, accidents involving tractor trailer trucks appear to be on the rise and the trucking safety regulations and standards should be revisited. The trucking industry and their lobbyists claimed that this new regulation would increase congestion and force truck drivers onto the roads during rush hour. However, the rule does not state when a truck driver has to return to the road, and only that the break has to include two consecutive nights. The government estimates that 13% of accidents involving commercial drivers are related to fatigue. Further, fatalities are up 18% since 2009. In 2012 alone more than 3,900 people died and 104,000 were injured. [Full Article NYT]
Exacerbating the problem, are phony doctors who are providing physical examinations to truckers, as required to keep their CDL licenses. One such case was discovered earlier this month in Philadelphia Pennsylvania where Joanna Elizabeth Wingate offered such physicals while using a stolen psychiatrist license. Wingate was a chiropractor whose license had been suspected back in September. She is now charged with forgery, identity theft and deceptive business practices.
In just July 2014, according to Article
It appeared that none of the fatal accidents this month served as a warning to other truck drivers. Our very own Nicole Canavan came upon two accident scenes this week. One on Friday, July 25th, where a tractor trailer ran the red turn light on Route 102 at the ramp to I-93 and rolled over. The pole with the traffic lights actually impaled the truck.
On Saturday July 26th, our very own Nicole Canavan also happened upon a tractor trailer truck that went off the road on I-495 close to the I-93 exits.
This accident was also tweeted about by the Massachusetts State Police. See Tweet Here
Also this week on Thursday July 24th, a tractor trailer carrying 18,000 pounds of glass rolled over on I-93 in Manchester. [Article]. The driver failed to properly negotiate the ramp on Route 101 Eastbound.
I understand that the truck lobbyists are claiming that the new regulations would cause unnecessary congestion on the roads but honestly, the traffic back up and lane closures caused by a single truck accident are more disruptive to travel and commuting than having a few extra trucks on the road at the same time. Stronger regulations need to be called for to ensure that our commercial truck drivers are safe, rested, healthy, and focused on the roads so that these accidents can be avoided. We encourage you to write to your representatives about this important issue and to demand stronger safety regulations for the trucking industry.