Congress Passes 2015 Omnibus, Easing Trucking Regulations

New spending bill reduces hours of service regulations for truckers.

The $1.014 trillion "Cromnibus" spending plan of 2015 was passed by Congress just hours before a deadline that threatened to cause a federal shutdown. This budget, designed to fund the government through the fiscal year, received scrutiny for the inclusion of certain provisions - including one that eases trucking regulations. Critics of the provisions are voicing concerns that removal of hours of service and other regulations will increase the risk of trucking accidents on the nation's roadways. These critics include the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Truck Safety Coalition and Parents Against Tired Truckers.

More on the provision

A recent article in Bloomberg clarifies the provision does not call for a full removal of hours of service regulations, but instead suspends certain rules until a study is completed. The proposed study would focus on how many trucks drive on congested roadways. A press release from the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) notes the provision will "protect small businesses from multiple instances of overregulation related to commercial trucking, including truck weight limitations, truck driver hours of service and hazardous materials permitting."

Those who support the proposal note the rule removes the requirement that truck drivers take a break from one a.m. to five a.m. for two consecutive days and the limit on how often truckers can declare a new workday. These changes, according to Senator Collins (R - Maine), a proponent of the measure, would allow truckers to avoid busy rush hour traffic.

More on the dangers of truck accidents

The impact of this provision remains to be seen. However, it is clear that trucking accidents are on the rise. The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that fatalities involving large trucks increased by 4 percent from 2011 to 2012. This translates to 333,000 crashes involving large trucks leading to 3,921 fatalities and 104,000 injuries.

The vast majority, 73 percent, of deaths involved drivers and passengers in other vehicles. This is due to simple physics. These large trucks weigh over 10,000 pounds while a typical passenger vehicle weighs around 3,000. A collision involving this weight discrepancy can lead to tragic accidents.

Changing law highlights importance of legal counsel

Those who are victims of these accidents have rights, but defending these rights can be a complicated and arduous process. The passage of this provision highlights the changing nature of the laws and regulations that impact those driving on our nation's roadways. As a result, those who are injured in an accident are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced truck accident lawyer. This legal professional will review the details of your case and work to better ensure your rights and any potential remedies are protected.

Keywords: truck accidents