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FMCSA Seeks Public Input on New Safety Rules for Carriers

Tractor trailer truck on highway

Commercial truck accidents have increased by 40% over the past decade.

With the goal of preventing commercial truck accidents nationwide, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is actively soliciting public feedback on various proposed regulatory adjustments pertaining to commercial truck drivers.

Specifically, the FMCSA wants to "target metrics that are most directly connected to safety outcomes, provide for accurate identification of unsafe motor carriers, and incentivize the adoption of safety-improving practices," according to a FreightWaves article about the proposed FMCSA rule changes.

FMCSA's proposed changes for commercial truck drivers

In its recent announcement, the FMCSA has opened the floor for public input regarding potential modifications to the federal regulations governing the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) process applicable to commercial truck drivers. Specifically, the FMCSA is exploring the transition from the existing three-tier rating system for truck drivers to a simplified single-tier system.

The current three-tier rating system assesses the safety of truck drivers, categorizing them as either "satisfactory," "conditional," or "unsatisfactory." However, under the proposed single-tier rating system, drivers who do not successfully pass a safety review would receive an "unfit" rating, as outlined in a FreightWaves report.

What is the Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) process?

The Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) process serves to assess the suitability of commercial truck drivers for operating vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds, which include tractor-trailers, tankers, delivery trucks, and dump trucks. The determination of a commercial truck driver's SFD score takes into account multiple criteria, including:

  • Driving History: An examination of the truck driver's past driving record.
  • Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance: Ensuring compliance with federal regulations overseeing the driver's hours behind the wheel.
  • Physical Fitness: An assessment of the driver's overall physical condition.
  • Substance Abuse History: The presence of any prior incidents involving drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) of illegal substances.
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection Records: An evaluation of the maintenance and inspection records of the truck.
  • Accident History: Determining if the truck driver has been involved in previous truck accidents.

Commercial truck accidents on the rise

The recent rule change proposals by the FMCSA originate from the ongoing rise in commercial truck accidents nationwide. Over the past decade, there has been a 40 percent surge in commercial truck accidents from 2013 to 2022, as reported by FreightWaves.

Notably, in the previous year, commercial truck drivers were responsible for 166,833 accidents across the country, as documented by TruckInfo, a truck industry source, in conjunction with accident data sourced from the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Indiana truck accident statistics

In Indiana, accidents involving commercial truck drivers occur more frequently than many might realize. In 2021, large commercial trucks were responsible for 13.2 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the state, as indicated by NHTSA accident data. To provide perspective, the national average for such accidents involving commercial trucks in 2021 stood at 9.3 percent.

Furthermore, mirroring the nationwide trend, the incidence of fatal truck accidents in Indiana continues to climb each year. Between 2020 and 2021, there was a notable 16 percent increase in truck accident fatalities in the state, with the death toll rising from 106 in 2020 to 123 in 2021, based on NHTSA data.

Our attorneys know how to investigate truck accidents

Accident claims involving large commercial trucks are frequently among the most complex legal cases. This is because multiple parties are often involved, including the truck driver, the trucking company, their respective insurance companies, and their legal representatives. In many instances, their collective objective is the same – to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all.

Our Indiana truck accident attorneys at Boughter Sinak, LLC are well-versed in handling complex cases. We know the state and federal laws that apply to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. We also understand the urgency of your claim. That's why we won't waste a second getting right to work investigating the circumstances of your truck accident.

Get the Indiana law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation with a truck accident attorney focused on winning your case. We have two offices conveniently located in Fort Wayne and South Bend and handle cases throughout the state. Best of all, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means it costs you nothing to hire us, and you pay no fees unless we obtain a financial settlement or verdict for you.

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