Federal Lawmakers Explore New Trucking Safety Regulations

Oklahoma drivers are no strangers to commercial trucks. The Sooner State’s important network of highways bring thousands of semis through every year. You likely know how to safely drive around these huge vehicles and trust that fleet operators and independent truckers follow all federal regulations.

Truckers may have to adopt new safety regulations soon. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently published a study on how new safety technologies can reduce crash frequency. Federal lawmakers have looked to the IIHS for five decades to help craft legislation that keeps Americans safe on the road. What are the new IIHS recommendations?

The IIHS measured two driver safety systems

The IIHS study focused on the impact of two safety systems — forward collision warning and emergency braking. Many trucks operating in the United States already equip these technologies, but the federal government has yet to mandate their conclusion. The IIHS found that these technologies, when combined, reduce crashes where the semi rear-ends a vehicle by up to 40%. When those crashes still occurred, the safety systems helped reduce the truck’s speed by up to 50%, greatly reducing injuries and damage.

In response to the data, the IIHS recommends that federal lawmakers mandate the two systems on all commercial trucks in the future. The laws would mimic a 2013 resolution in the European Union that requires trucks to include the tech.

Resistance to new regulations

Despite the evidence, new regulations always face pushback. Mandated technology means a large up-front investment from independent operators and fleet owners. The IIHS hopes to convince groups like the Owner-Operation Independent Drivers Association that including these safety systems will not only save thousands of lives every year but perhaps millions of dollars in repairs, settlements and jury verdicts. In some cases, these verdicts force trucking companies to liquidate assets and even declare bankruptcy.

New regulations mean legal challenges

The new regulations will spark many new arguments in legal cases involving truck accidents. Trucking organizations that represent drivers will challenge the requirements, while victims of truck accidents can establish new arguments for negligence. Those seeking damages over an accident involving a semi-truck can reach out to a local attorney to assess their case and take action.

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