Will Big-Rig Rules Protect Ann Arbor from Semi-Truck Accidents?

For decades, truckers and trucking companies have kept one goal in mind: getting cargo where it needs to be on-time. Unfortunately, they sometimes turn a blind eye to safe driving practices and routinely falsify logs in an attempt to outrun government agency overseers. When speed, fatigue and carelessness combine, motorists and passengers bear the brunt of catastrophic trucking accidents.

Michigan's cold-weather climate and long expanses of open highway have created especially perilous truck driving conditions for truckers. In the "Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents Factbook for 2007," a project of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, the authors note that 121 lives were taken in trucking accidents in Michigan alone. Michigan's rate of fatalities from truck accidents has held fairly steady from 2003 to 2007 with a high of 126 trucking accident deaths in 2004 and a low of 115 truck accident deaths in 2005.

NHTSA Considers Electronic Control Modules for All Heavy Trucks by 2015

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has proposed new governmental regulations in an attempt to bring the throttle down on big rigs and save more lives: NHTSA proposes that all tractor-trailers become equipped with an electronic control module (ECM) that measures driver hours behind the wheel. The electronic recorders would replace the often-criticized driver log books and reduce the number of truck drivers operating illegally and off-the-books on the nation's highways.

While some trucking companies are cheering NHTSA's efforts, other owner-operators have strenuously objected to the proposed mandate by citing the average $2,000 cost to install the device. But gains in driver productivity, ability to better schedule truckers, and of course, the reduction of catastrophic truck-v-car accidents may outweigh even the most vocal opposition to ECMs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is currently studying the proposal's effects on safety and the costs of the electronic speed limiters, including reduced fuel consumption cost. NHTSA has indicated it will review the FMCSA's study before issuing a final rule on speed limiters.

In the meantime, the driving public must still contend with speeding and sometimes dangerous heavy trucks on roads and highways across the country. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you should contact a reputable personal injury attorney.