AIA Disturbed by New Federal Motor Carrier Rules

August 25, 2005

The American Insurance Association (AIA) is reportedly extremely disappointed that the federal agency overseeing motor carrier safety has approved new rules that would allow commercial truckers to drive more with less rest, thus increasing the risks to others who use the nation’s roads.

“A major contributing factor to truck crashes is fatigue,” said David Snyder, AIA vice president and assistant general counsel. “While the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rule only would specifically apply to commercial drivers, it potentially affects everyone else on the road.”

The new FMCSA rule – set to take effect Oct. 1 – would increase maximum time behind the wheel from the current limit of 10 hours to 11 hours, “wholly disregarding scientific research that clearly shows an increased crash risk associated with longer driving hours,” Snyder noted. “Sadly, this replicates part of a flawed approach to regulation that was struck down by a federal court when FMCSA originally proposed it in 2003.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

* 5,000 people die each year in crashes involving large trucks, of which approximately 85 percent are not truck occupants;
* In fatal two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles and large trucks, 98 percent of the deaths are people in the passenger vehicles; and
* Large trucks accounted for 3 percent of registered vehicles and 7 percent of vehicle miles traveled in 2003, but were involved in 11 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths.

“Clearly, when truck drivers are drowsy, they are more crash-prone; and just as clearly, it is usually not the trucker who is injured or killed when two vehicles are involved. This new rule runs counter to the FMCSA’s mission to put safety first,” stated Melissa Shelk, AIA vice president, federal affairs. “The court was right to toss it out and Congress was right when they specifically rejected its inclusion in the recently enacted federal highway reauthorization bill.”

Snyder added that these same rules would apply to Mexican and Canadian drivers, which “raises additional enforcement and safety concerns, because a firm knowledge of how many hours were driven before entering theU.S.is virtually impossible to obtain.”

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