New DOT Regs May Be Blessing, Curse For Truckers

A new DOT rule aimed at reducing paperwork for Florida truckers will save the trucking industry an estimated $2 billion annually in lost productivity and cut down on workload for DOT personnel. The rule, which eliminates the need for truckers to file truck inspection paperwork if there are no observable maintenance or safety issues, is being hailed as one of the triumphs of the Obama presidency in cutting red tape and increasing efficiency.

Critical concerns regarding the new rule include potential misuse by truckers who are more concerned about getting on the road than about safety. Although pre- and post-trip inspections are mandated by DOT rules, carelessly conducted inspections or falsified paperwork could result in a higher incidence of accidents including truck jackknifing, multi-vehicle collisions, brake failures and possible fatal accidents. This would also lead to more man-hours being spent on police investigations and more injuries on America’s highways.

According to TruckInfo.net, Florida ranks 3rd in the nation for trucking accidents, led by Texas and California. This statistic fuels concern among critics that the new DOT paperwork rule could lead to more accidents with a greater death toll and higher societal cost. If so, there is potential for a sharp upsurge in demands for compensation for injury and wrongful-death lawsuits against trucking companies as well as the DOT itself.

The causes of a fatal accident stemming from a semi truck crash may not always be immediately clear, especially if the pre-trip paperwork indicates no problems were identified. In this case, rigorous investigation would be required to determine who has liability and what level of compensation should be pursued. Pain and suffering, permanent disability and compensation for wrongful death because of a truck accident are all possible unintended consequences of the new DOT rule.

Source: OH&S, “DOT Plays Santa, Eliminating Daily Paperwork Requirement for Trucking Industry“, December 17, 2014