Law & Information

U.S. DOT Announces New Measures to Increase Passenger Bus Safety

By Cullan & Cullan on May 18, 2011 - Comments off

Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, announced on May 5 several new measures the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), plans to implement to ensure the safety of bus passengers.

Now, the DOT will require testing for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to be more rigorous and will also create new rules to reinforce passenger carriers’ compliance with federal safety regulations. Working with state law enforcement, the FMCSA will also conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring summer seasons.

A new rule was also announced by the FMCSA under which anyone who applies for a CDL must obtain a commercial driver’s learner’s permit (CLP) first. The new rule also requires all state licensing agencies to use a testing system for CDLs that meets the CDL knowledge and skill standards of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and also forbids the use of foreign language interpreters during testing to reduce testing fraud. Read the rest »

FMCSA Survey Finds Seat Belt Use Among Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers Increased in 2010

By Cullan & Cullan on May 16, 2011 - Comments off

On May 2, Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, announced new data from a survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that shows approximately 78 percent of commercial truck and bus drivers wore a seat belt when they were driving in 2010. In 2009, that number was 74 percent.

According to the data, since 2007 the number of commercial drivers that are wearing seat belts has increased by about 14 percent. The survey observed 26,830 commercial truck and bus drivers at 998 roadside sites across the United States. The survey discovered that seat belt use for commercial drivers as well as their occupants was about 80 percent in states in which law enforcement officials are able to stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt (primary enforcement), compared to 72 percent in states with secondary enforcement seat belt use laws. In states with secondary enforcement, officials are only able to stop or cite a driver for a seat belt violation if the driver committed a primary violation, such as speeding, at the same time. Read the rest »

Learning More about Truck Accidents in Nebraska

By Cullan & Cullan on May 13, 2011 - Comments off

In 2009, the most recent year statistics are available, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there were 3,380 fatalities and approximately 74,000 people injured in large truck accidents in the United States.

In comparison to the previous year, large truck accident fatalities declined 20 percent, from 4,245 in 2008. Injuries sustained in large truck accidents also decreased in 2009 by about 18 percent from 2008, during which approximately 90,000 people were injured. According to the NHTSA, of the large truck accident fatalities that occurred in 2009, about 75 percent were occupants of other motor vehicles, while 10 percent were nonoccupants (such as pedestrians or bicyclists), with 15 percent being large truck occupants. Statistics are similar for those injured in large truck crashes: around 76 percent were occupants in other vehicles, with 2 percent being nonoccupants, and 22 percent being occupants in large trucks. Read the rest »

FMCSA Reports One-Third of Truck Drivers in U.S. are Affected by Sleep Apnea

By Cullan & Cullan on May 5, 2011 - Comments off

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), close to 30 percent of truckers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is breathing-related and causes short interruptions of breathing when someone is asleep. These pauses can last over 10 seconds and may occur 400 times in one night. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that is often not recognized or diagnosed. Common indicators of sleep apnea include loud snoring, sleepiness during the day, depression, lack of concentration, falling asleep at inappropriate times, and memory impairment.

These symptoms are particularly dangerous for commercial truck drivers, who can drive up to 16 hours consecutively and operate a vehicle that is over 80,000 pounds.

Research shows that when sleep apnea goes untreated, it puts drivers at an increased risk of being involved in an accident. One study found that drivers with untreated sleep apnea did worse during performance testing than subjects who were alert but had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) above 0.04 percent, the legal limit for operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Read the rest »

FMCSA Proposes Rule to Require Electronic On-Board Recorders on Commercial Vehicles to Monitor Driving Hours

By Cullan & Cullan on April 20, 2011 - Comments off

Earlier this year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed regulations that would require bus and commercial truck companies to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) that would monitor their drivers to be sure they were in compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. EOBRs are devices that are installed in commercial vehicles that record automatically the number of hours a driver spends operating their vehicle. While some carriers already have installed the devices in their vehicles, if the regulations are passed, it would affect about 500,000 carriers.

The proposed rule would also alleviate commercial vehicle drivers from needing to carry certain documents for HOS regulations, such as toll and delivery receipts, which are used to confirm the total number of hours a driver spends operating their vehicle. Only interstate commercial vehicle carriers that use Records of Duty logbooks (RODs) to document their drivers’ HOS would be required to install EOBRs. Short-haul commercial vehicle carriers that use timecards to keep track of hours-of-service would not be required to install EOBRs. Read the rest »