Highways are Safer, but Truck Drivers are Left in the Lurch

Situation could get worse before it gets better.

The nation's highways appear to be getting a little bit safer, according to a truck safety Roadcheck conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) throughout the United States this past June. For instance, the number of safety belt violations during the Roadcheck period declined 32% from a year earlier. Similarly, the number of hazardous materials trucks placed out of service due to noncompliance with safety regulations declined from 18.2% in 2006 to 17.7% this year.

However, the percentage of truck drivers who were taken off the road for noncompliance with hours-of-service rules was up slightly to 4.9% of all inspections versus 4.5% in 2006. The situation could get worse before it gets better due to the recent decision by a federal appeals court to deny an attempt by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to increase the amount of time long-haul drivers can be on the road from 10 to 11 consecutive hours. This rule has been thrown out and reinstated several times in the past two years, and there's no indication that any clarity on hours-of-service will be forthcoming.

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