Feds reverse vehicle safety rules

The federal government has implemented numerous regulations following a fatal truck or car crash and other deadly accidents. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation has withdrawn, repealed or delayed implementation of at least 12 transportation safety rules since the beginning of 2017 designed to prevent accidents that lead to wrongful death in Ohio and across the nation.

The government delayed one rule that was issued after a 2015 accident involving an 18-ton-tractor trailer that was traveling at 80 miles per hour and crashed into eight vehicles that were stopped in a construction zone on I-75 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Six people were killed and another four suffered injuries. The delayed rule required the installation of hardware on new heavy trucks that would electronically restrict speeds.

Sleep apnea was cited by the National Transportation Safety Board in 13 highway and rail accidents. However, DOT withdrew a rule requiring medical screening of truck and bus drivers for sleep disorders. Other delayed rules would make states perform annual inspections of commercial bus operators and require auto manufacturers to install cars and lights trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent crashes.

DOT claimed that it can lower costs of operating business without impacting safety. However, the proposed rule requiring the installation of speed-limiting software has economic advantages, according to a government estimate prepared two years ago. Estimates show that this rule could prevent up to 498 fatalities each year and produced a net savings of $475 million to $5 billion each year, depending on the maximum speed selected by DOT. It could cut the number of deaths each year in truck accidents in half.

Federal agencies must perform a specific cost-benefit analysis before regulations become final, even for rules that prevent deaths. DOT places a value of $9.6 million per life saved in its analysis. While citing the economic savings from eliminating regulations, the government has not included the fiscal benefits of lives saved and other benefits. Federal transportation agencies have not adopted any new rules after 2016.

Without the assistance of well-designed regulations or other enforcement, motorists and passengers may face greater risk of injury or death in a fatal accident. An attorney can help file a cause of action if negligence or recklessness led to these accidents.

Source: Associated Press, "AP exclusive: Transport safety rules sidelined under Trump," Joan Lowy and Tom Krisher, Feb. 26, 2018

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