Was Missouri Trucking Accident Caused by Relaxed Trucking Regulations

Under current trucking hours service regulations by the FMCSA, a truck driver can work 12 hours straight, including 8 hours of driving non-stop. In the Missouri truck accident, Doris Edwards slowed for traffic near Kingdom City, Missouri on her way home from a Thanksgiving trip in 2004 when a tractor trailer slammed into her Jeep Cherokee, crushed her vehicle, and sent it down the embankment off Interstate 70, killing her. While the truck driver accepted blame for the accident, he acknowledged the fact that he had been at work in his truck cab for nearly 12 hours and he had been driving non-stop. He did not have any violation of hours of service. In fact, government officials have repeatedly turned down requests by consumer and safety organizations seeking restrictions on the hours of service that truck drivers can perform while driving cross country. In support of the regulations, the Bush administration says that the efforts to deregulate the industry have produced huge savings for businesses and consumers because it has been made faster and cheaper for goods to move across the country. They also claim with little support that without longer work hours, the industry would be forced to put more drivers with little experience behind the wheel.
Advocates of tighter rules say that the administration’s record of loosening standards endangers motorists. The fatality rate for truck related accidents remains double those involving only cars. The same advocates note that the weakening rules reversed the course sent by the Clinton administration and has resulted in the federal government missing its own targets for reducing death rates. In implementing this deregulation, the FMCSA has eased rules on truckers’ work hours, rejected proposals for electronic monitoring to combat wide-spread cheating on driver’s logs, and resisted calls for more rigorous driver training. While many in the trucking industry have applauded this deregulation, the courts have vowed that the deregulation ignores government safety studies and puts the industry’s economic interests ahead of public safety.
To advance its agenda of deregulation, the Bush administration has installed industry officials in influential posts. To lead the agency that administers regulations of the trucking industry, President Bush picked Joseph M. Clapp, a former chairman of roadway, a trucking company, to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Bush also appointed Michael P. Jackson, a former top official at trucking associations, as deputy secretary of transportation. In addition, Duane Wacklie, a leading political fundraiser and chairman of the American Trucking Association and Walter B. McCormick, Jr., the American Trucking Association’s president, served on the Bush-Cheney transition team on transportation matters.
While it is not unusual for administrations to have people familiar with industries they regulate on the boards governing them, it is clear from these appointments, as loosening regulations, that fly in the face of the safety studies that the current administration is more intent on supporting the trucking companies making more money than the safety of individuals on the highways.
The only way this can change is for the public to make their voices known to the FMCSA, as well as their representatives. Once elected politicians and representatives know that this is an issue that is important that their constituents care about, can something can be done to rectify this threat to everyone safety on our nation’s highways.