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NTSB says better truck safety remains a 'most wanted' goal

Just how much of a factor is truck driver fatigue in accidents that result in serious injury or death? Federal regulators thought they had successfully identified that it was a major concern. That's why in 2013, as we noted in an article on the subject, officials instituted new restrictions on the hours of service that drivers could put in during any given week of work.

The trucking industry begged to differ, however. And as has been widely reported of late, it succeeded in lobbying Congress to call for more study. As a result of that effort, the shorter hours of service rules went into suspension late last month.

The looser regulations that had been in place previously are back in force and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says things will remain that way until at least Sept. 30, 2015. In the meantime, the FMCSA has confirmed it will conduct a field study to determine how effective the newer hours of service limits may have really been at reducing deadly truck accidents.

It is apparently because of that action ordered by Congress and statistics showing that deadly traffic accidents involving truckers are on the rise that the National Transportation Safety Board has put improving trucking safety as one of the things federal regulators should prioritize for 2015.

The agency, which has no authority to develop rules itself, specifically notes that the restrictions on trucker hours of service were a step in the right direction. In addition to that, the NTSB says regulators should require more inspections of equipment and mandate industry-wide use of technologies that have proven their life-saving value.

Included on that list would be collision-warning sensors and better standards for underride protection systems. The NTSB says trucking companies should also do more than meet just the minimum regulations and take more initiative to identify and resolve potential hazards on their own.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Strengthen Commercial Trucking Safety," accessed Jan. 14, 2015

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