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On June 28, 2012, the houses of Congress reached an historic deal that will lead to big changes in the trucking industry. It wouldn’t be an understatement to call the finalized bill a substantial step forward in the battle for safer American roadways; it has the potential to drastically reduce truck accidents.
The Senate bill, called MAP-21, contains numerous truck safety provisions. Perhaps most prominent is the requirement that all commercial vehicles be equipped with Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs). EOBRs are similar to the “black box” contained in airplanes. In addition to reconstructing accidents to provide analysts with a more complete view of truck safety deficiencies, EOBRs also fight truck driver fatigue; the devices track truckers’ hours of service and make it more difficult to forge duty logs or put in more hours behind the wheel than is safe.
MAP-21 also raises the bar for truck driver medical qualifications, training, and drug and alcohol testing procedures. To help ensure these more stringent standards are being followed, the bill includes provisions to strengthen motor carrier oversight and enforcement, and establishes a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Certain freight companies display a consistent inability to meet safety requirements. Problematically, some of these commercial carriers have used a loophole to reopen under a new name and therefore avoid regulatory consequences. The new bill has provisions to prevent this. It also creates rules to establish minimum financial solvency and bonding requirements for certain freight concerns, meaning that if someone is injured by the negligent truck driver or irresponsible trucking company practices, compensation for injuries and property damage should be more readily available.
Finally, MAP-21 also increases penalties for HazMat transportation violations, raising the stakes for any carrier that would think to gamble with the public safety when hauling hazardous material.
MAP-21 is set to run through September 2014. While the bill is certainly a step in the right direction, it will take some time to make a real difference on the road.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a trucking accident, you may have legal remedies at your disposal — and you may be entitled to monetary damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact a truck accident lawyer today to learn more.