Opinion: Safety, Litigation and CSA Data
This Opinion piece appears in the April 1 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
By R. Clay Porter
Dennis, Corry, Porter & Smith LLP
As a lawyer who has devoted almost all of the past 34 years to defending trucking companies, I have seen my share of horrendous accidents with catastrophic consequences. Some of those accidents resulted from unconscionable conduct on the part of the truck driver and, on occasion, from the conduct of the motor carrier whose thirst for profit overrode safety.
During the same period of time, other motor carriers launched truck safety programs as though there were no more important objective in the company. Despite what may be a less than favorable public image, virtually every significant truck safety innovation over the past 30 years originated within the trucking industry:
• Reflective tape began appearing on the sides of trailers long before it became mandatory.
• Extensive, ongoing driver training programs were developed and implemented even though, to this day, no such training is required.
• It is estimated that more than 70% of commercial motor vehicles on the road today electronically restrict — or govern — engine-powered speed to 68 mph or less. Though an industry-initiated petition to compel electronically governed speed has been pending for several years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to mandate speed restriction.
• Numerous technological innovations ranging from elaborate driving simulators to onboard lane-monitoring devices were all voluntarily incorporated into driver training and monitoring regimens by motor carriers without regulatory compulsion. Hours-of-service violations have been essentially eliminated by those companies who have invested in electronic onboard recording devices.
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