Two recent government actions may soon lead to more semi-trucks on America’s roads, and more truck accidents as well.
On July 1, 2020, a new trade deal—the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA)—went into effect, replacing NAFTA. Last year, semi-trucks were responsible for transporting over 67% of U.S. surface trade with Canada and 84% with Mexico. Under the new agreement, the U.S. is expected to increase exports to Canada and Mexico by $33 billion.
The American Trucking Associations, the largest national trade group for the trucking industry, predicts that the new agreement will result in more trucks on the road: “USMCA will… likely attract new factories and economic activity, which will lead to more trucking activity.”
At the same time of the new trade deal and increased trucking activity, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the further deregulation of America’s trucking industry. The FMCSA waived driver fatigue rules completely through July 14, 2020 for truckers carrying essential goods, allowing drivers to spend far more than a normal 8-hour shift driving on America’s highways.
A more permanent change also altered the truck driver fatigue regulations. Among other things, the new rule lets certain truck drivers work two hours longer than previous mandates, extends workdays during bad weather, and counts on-duty, nondriving time—such as time spent unloading goods—as a break.
The waiver of driver fatigue rules has allegedly contributed to at least one death already when a semitruck driver ran over and crushed a car in Odessa, Texas, killing a 39-year-old mother of two and her pet dog. The semitruck driver was driving for 16 hours straight, without rest. Normally, that would be illegal, but because of the recent waiver of driver-fatigue regulations, it was completely lawful.
The number of people killed in trucking accidents has increased nearly every year since 2009. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that, in 2018 alone, nearly 5,000 people were killed in semi-truck accidents.
The Poppe Law Firm is experienced in handling injury and fatality collisions against both in-state and out-of-state trucking companies and drivers. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients over the years. If you or a family member have been injured in a semi-truck wreck, contact the Poppe Law Firm for a free consultation at 502-895-3400 or visit PoppeLawFirm.com.