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FMCSA to Take Jurisdiction over Shippers to Reduce Drowsy Driving Trucking Accidents in Tennessee and Elsewhere

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) might be taking jurisdiction over shippers, receivers and brokers who ‘unduly detain’ drivers if the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) gets its way. Recently, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro received a letter from David Parker, chairman of the MCSAC, that said that the agency should seek legal authority to be able to take action against and reprimand entities other than motor carriers or drivers that cause or contribute to FMCSA safety violations.

This includes regulating the amount of time that a driver can be detained during the loading and unloading of trailers.

Parker also said in his letter that while the FMCSA has authority over drivers and carriers, they need to have more authority over shippers who play an important role in highway safety and significantly contribute to drowsy drivers. He recommends that the FMCSA looks into putting a cap on the amount of time that a shipper can detain a driver in an attempt to reduce the risks trucking accidents in Tennessee and elsewhere throughout the state.

Our Tennessee trucking accident attorneys would also like to point a specific section of that letter than mentions HR 756, a bill sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., which would essentially cut down on the number of hours a shipper can detain a driver. Previously, trucking rules pertained to the number of hours a driver could spend behind the wheel. Now concerns are spreading around to all contributors to fatigued driving, especially detained drivers.

The bill is currently in the House subcommittee on Highways and Transit, according to Truckinginfo.com.

The issue was brought to light after a study, conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), concluded that 65 percent of the 300 surveyed drivers reported detention in a one-month period. Of those that reported detention, approximately 80 percent said that they had difficulty complying with hours of service.

According to FMCSA, undue detention costs the industry approximately $3 billion each year. The MCSAC recommend that the FMCSA conduct some of their own studies into the dangerous issue to supplement the GAO research.

Parker also suggested that FMCSA create a complaint line drivers can use when they’re being unduly detained. This way they could seek action against detaining parties that place drivers in violation of HOS rules. He also recommends that they develop a ‘Truck Driver’s Bill of Rights.’ He says that the bill of rights should include detention compensation for drivers, like roadside amenities and access to showers and food.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association says that driver detention is the number one productivity and efficiency problem in trucking. The Association says that drivers continue to spend far too many hours each week on loading docks and something needs to be done.

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a trucking or car accident in Tennessee, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights with our Knoxville injury lawyers and Maryville accident attorneys. Call (877) 472-5657.

More Blog Entries:

Feds Tout Enforcement in Reduction of Tennessee Trucking Accidents, Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, July 19, 2011

Tennessee Trucking Accident Illustrates Summer Dangers, Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, July 11, 2011

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