Trucking companies in Oklahoma and around the country are finding it difficult to hire enough long-haul drivers, but that may change soon if legislation being considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate is passed. The bills would allow drivers between the age of 18 and 20 to drive tractor-trailers across state lines after they have logged 400 or more hours of training. The proposition failed to gain traction in Congress in 2018 due to opposition from groups including the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also looking into expanding the role of young truck drivers by promoting a pilot program for 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds with military experience. Truck drivers under the age of 21 are currently only permitted to drive big rigs intrastate. The program was one of several issues discussed by the FMCSA’s administrator on Oct. 5 during a trade conference in San Diego.
The FMCSA administrator also spoke about the safety benefits of semi-autonomous safety technology such as lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking systems. A two-year program designed to test the effectiveness of the safety systems is being funded by the Department of Transportation. The administrator also told the attendees that the agency had received more than 2,000 comments on its proposed changes to federal hours-of-service regulations. Members of the public can continue to submit comments until Oct. 21.
The training received by truck drivers, hours-of-service violations and the condition of commercial vehicle safety equipment are often important issues in truck accident lawsuits. Personal injury attorneys with experience in this area may seek to obtain evidence of negligence by having crashed tractor-trailers inspected, using subpoenas to obtain employment records and retrieving data stored on electronic logging devices.