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What New Safety Measures Are Legislators and Advocacy Groups Discussing?

Semi-truck safety is usually seen as the sole responsibility of truck drivers. But a large array of factors, from federal regulation and stagnation to the difference between federal and state highways, contribute to differences in driving conditions and safety. Whether you work for a national carrier or are an independent owner-operator, each of these factors has a major impact on your ability to do your job safely and efficiently. Here are three of the major points that politicians, agencies, and corporations are pushing to the forefront of the road safety discussion:

  • Increasing the requirements for underride guards. Trucks are federally mandated to have rear underride guards that prevent passenger vehicles from partially sliding under a semi trailer in the event of a collision. However, current regulations don't specify the required upkeep on rear guards and also don't contain measures for side underride guards. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is currently testing the effectiveness of the new guards in side collisions.
  • Increasing access to federal interstate highway systems. Heavy trucks with loads in excess of 80,000 pounds are restricted to state and county roads. The majority of semi-truck accidents occur on rural roads, and agricultural companies and truckers in the industry are currently advocating to raise the federal load limit to 91,000 pounds in order to both open access to the wider array of highways and to reduce the number of trucks on the road. However, there is debate as to whether the national highways will be able to handle the additional strain.

These changes are not yet in place, unlike the federally mandated switch to electronic hour logging. Creating these shifts in regulation would require pilot programs, long-term legislative changes, and greater study, but both changes have been studied for years. 


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