New Trucking Regulation Guidance A Step Backwards

Written by greg on June 28, 2012

When it comes to the safety of American drivers and their passengers on the roadways – it seems we take one step forward and two steps back. The following news item is a perfect example of this.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), established only a little more than a decade before, is charged with regulating the trucking industry in the United States. Their mission is to “improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and truck drivers through enactment and enforcement of safety regulations”. Much of their decision making is based on the findings of the Office of Analysis, Research and Technology (ART).

The thought that there is an official government organization devoted solely to the oversight of the trucking industry should be cause for some relief to the average American driver. But don’t be fooled for their decisions sometimes work at cross-purposes to motorists. Take, for instance, the following guidance.

Today, semi-trucks are able to utilize intermodal chasses – or frames to which the wheels of a semi trailer are attached. The impact to the ‘bottom line’ can be significant – as it defrays the cost of transferring cargo.

Previously the FMCSA required semi-truck drivers to inspect the chassis of an intermodal chassis before each use – and, additionally, file a report with regard to any abnormalities or defects found during this inspection. These reports were then kept on file – although most simply reflected a ‘no defect’ status for the chassis. Frankly, nearly 100% (96% to be exact) of these inspections netted a ‘no defects’ report.

Now, however, the FMCSA has decided these reports need not filled out or filed if they note “no defects.” Only reports of defects must be written up and kept.

It feels very much like FMCSA is allowing trucking companies to cut ‘corners’ instead of ‘costs’. Defective equipment causes semi-truck accidents. Those who sign off on defective equipment must be held responsible – but without a necessary paper trail this will become much more challenging. There is little doubt that having a checklist that is required to be filled out by a truck driver each day is a significant reminder of each item on that truck that must be checked.

Without the paperwork and evidence of inspection, it seems the rationale is to rely upon the truck drivers memory and honesty in the inspection process–in lieu of documenting the necessary safety inspection.

After a truck accident, the driver can be expected to testify that nothing was wrong and there will not be the paper trail to prove them wrong and in many instances.  I am all for saving truck drivers time and money in any way we can as long as it does not jeopardize the safety of others.  As a Texas semi truck accident attorney I’ve seen too many situations where a trucking company and their truck driver just did not take the time to follow the necessary safety rules.

This latest directive seems to be a policy that encourages a truck driver to avoid safety insections.

Baum blog 1274

Fracking – not only bad for the environment but a new source of burn injuries for employees.

Fracking is a fairly new process that has become the source of much community activism. By way of definition it is “the propagation of fractures in a rock layer caused by the presence of a pressurized fluid”.

Now, it is true that some fractures form naturally. For instance, in the case of veins and dikes that occur as a means by which gas and petroleum from ‘source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks’. However, of late, fracking has become a mining technique that is induced through the use of hydraulics as a ‘technique to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction’.

Environmental concerns aside – recently two workers right here in Texas suffered severe burn injuries when a tank they were cleaning exploded. Now, the incident is still under investigation but here is what is known.

*OSHA had recently issued citations for safety violations.

*Workers were being allowed to enter confined spaces to work minus adequate atmospheric testing – and before it was known if a hazard even existed.

*Disregard and oversight of this type of safety concern can result in serious injuries or fatalities.

*Workers were not given adequate personal protective equipment nor properly instructed to deal with chemical hazards.

But the most untenable thing about this accident is that the company had been warned months before – and it would appear they had simply ignored the warning. As a result – two men suffered severe burn injuries.

Posted Under: Laws and Rights, Truck Accidents
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