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Is saving more lives per year worth it for trucking industry?

Almost all industries in the United States are permeated with various rules and regulations, most of them focusing on safety. When research emerges that points to increased safety, most fields will adopt new ways to make these higher safety standards a reality. Occasionally, though, industries will resist new changes in order to save money or amplify profits and efficiency.

New hours of service rules for the trucking industry kicked into effect last month, limiting the amount of time a truck driver can spend on the road without rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has now capped the average workweek for drivers at 70 hours. Previously, this amount was set at 82 hours per week. In a state like Virginia, where interstates link regions north and south, these new regulations could affect countless drivers.

According to the FMCSA, the effects will likely prove positive, perhaps even lifesaving, for others on the road. The agency estimates that the new rules could save around 19 lives annually and prevent about 560 injuries. Overall, the FMCSA believes the recent regulations could thwart approximately 1,400 truck accidents. Given how devastating a semi-truck accident can be, one would assume these rules would be welcomed with open arms.

However, some speculate that the trucking industry may resist these new rules. Trucking companies may still encourage or entice their drivers to reach their destination as quickly as possible, no matter the consequences. Individual drivers may still try to beat the clock on their own. It is impossible to monitor every driver on every road; thus, large semis will still convert random drivers into accident victims in Virginia and elsewhere. Those hit by an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle can recover crucial damages in the event of an accident, though, even a fatal one.

Source: The Legal Examiner, "Why the trucking industry believes saving 19 lives a year just isn't worth it," Steven Gursten, Aug. 9, 2013

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