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Did 2013 industry changes actually increase truck accidents?

Many Northern Virginia residents work for the federal government or have worked for it in the past. As a result, many local drivers are probably aware that federal regulations usually exist to improve certain things such as safety, not make them worse. Still, at times controversy and questions may arise over the impact of federal rules for specific industries.

The trucking industry is one area in which federal regulations have long had an impact. It is not difficult to imagine how a commercial vehicle accident can be avoided through proper regulations. In 2013, key changes were made to the commercial trucking industry that affected when truck drivers are on the road. Now, drivers carrying property cannot continue driving after 60/70 hours on duty within 7/8 days in a row. Only after taking off at least 34 consecutive hours may a truck driver "restart" a 7/8 day period. Another provision, which has since been suspended, mandated that drivers' rest periods include at least two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

While the restart rule may seem helpful at first glance, some critics have argued it would actually increase trucking accidents due to having more trucks on the road during congested times. Now, it appears research is backing up that claim. According to an analysis from the American Transportation Research Institute, truck accidents actually rose, to a statistically significant degree, after the 2013 changes. There was a noted increase in towaway and injury crashes, despite the restart rule's purpose to improving safety. The ATRI noted that the uptick in crashes could have been expected due to more trucks being on the roads during busier travel times.

Despite legislators' best efforts, it is simply not possible to eliminate truck accidents completely. Still, truck drivers and their employers are responsible for adhering to existing regulations and avoiding damaging practices such as speeding, distracted driving, falsifying trucking logs or improperly maintaining vehicles. Accident victims may have legal recourse and can discuss the facts of their incident with a Manassas commercial vehicle accident attorney.

Source: Fleet Owner, "ATRI Report: More trucks in traffic, more accidents after 2013 restart changes," April 29, 2015

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