Regulating Truck Safety
Border Truck Issues, Costs of Truck Accidents
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) serves the American people by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets national interests and enhances the quality of life. DOT employs almost 60,000 people across the country, in the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) and its operating administrations and bureaus, each with its own management and organizational structure. DOT oversees aviation, railroads, maritime and highways.
Cross Border Truck Safety
A hot button issue that was signed by President Bush in February 2007 allowed U.S. trucks into Mexico for the first time ever and changed the way some Mexican trucks operated within the United States. This is referred to as cross border truck safety and is a year-long pilot program. U.S. trucks will get to make deliveries into Mexico while a select group of Mexican trucking companies will be allowed to make deliveries beyond the 20-25 mile commercial zones currently in place along the Southwest border.
The Department of Transportation instituted a rigorous inspection program to ensure the safe operation of Mexican trucks crossing the border. Regulations require all Mexican truck drivers to hold a valid commercial driver license, carry proof they are medically fit, comply with all U.S. hours-of-service rules, and be able to understand questions and directions in English.
Secretary Peters said those Mexican truck companies that may be allowed to participate in the one-year program will all be required to have insurance with a U.S. licensed firm and meet all U.S. safety standards. Companies that meet these standards will be allowed to make international pick up and deliveries only and will not be able to move goods from one U.S. city for delivery to another, haul hazardous materials, or transport passengers.
How Costly Are Truck Accidents?
A recent study provided the latest estimates of unit costs for highway crashes involving
medium to heavy trucks by severity.
Based on the latest data available, the estimated cost of police-reported crashes involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112 (in 2005 dollars). These costs represent the present value, computed at a 4 percent discount rate, of all costs over the victims’ expected life span that result from a crash.
They include medically related costs, emergency services costs, property damage costs, lost productivity, and the monetized value of the pain, suffering, and quality of life that the family loses because of a death or injury.
Other notable truck accidents costs findings include:
--Crashes in which truck-tractors with two or three trailers were involved were the rarest but their cost was the highest among all crashes – $ 289,549 per crash.
--Crashes in which straight trucks with no trailers were involved had the lowest cost –$56,296 per crash.
--The average cost of property damage only (PDO) crashes was $15,114
--The costs per non-fatal injury crash averaged $ 195,258.
--As expected, fatal crashes cost more than any other crashes. The average cost of fatal crashes was $ 3,604,518 per crash.
--The cost estimates exclude mental health care costs for crash victims, roadside furniture
repairing costs, cargo delays, earnings lost by family and friends caring for the injured, and the value of schoolwork lost.
Environmental Impact for CMV (commercial motor vehicles)
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for the maximum concentration of known harmful air pollutants defined as criteria pollutants. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment provides authority for the EPA to set limits on these pollutants to protect the public and the environment. The EPA monitors emission that impact air quality and helps to track emissions trends for each pollutant. The agency also sets limits on quantity of allowable pollution.
Environmental impact is based on
- Air quality and greenhouse gases
- Hazardous materials
- Solid waste
- CMV crash linked congestion also effects air quality and fuel use. Increased idling, accelerating and decelerating, and longer engine run times all result in increased emissions above steady road speeds. Human exposure to the vehicle emissions from CMV crashes has health impacts. Direct emissions from ozone and other emissions result in a number of pathologies including impaired breathing, cardiac conditions, and can be fatal.
CMV crashes can result in the release of hazardous materials (HM) into the environment. Crashes occur in varying locations and with varying amounts and types of hazardous material being released from the CMV cargo. Environmental impacts are dependent on these variables. In addition, hazardous material from the CMV cargo is also released into the environment from non-crash related incidents that occur during in-transit movements, loading, unloading, and in-transit temporary storage. Similar to CMV crashes, the environmental impacts are dependent on the location, quantity and type of hazardous material being released.
In general, hazardous material is substances that may pose a threat to public safety or the environment during transportation, because of their physical, chemical, or radioactive properties. The potential for environmental damage or contamination exists when packages of hazardous material are involved in crashes or en route incidents resulting from cargo shifts, valve failures, package failures, or loading, unloading, or handling problems. Accidental releases of hazardous material can result in explosions or fires. Radioactive, toxic, infectious, or corrosive hazardous material can have short- or long-term exposure effects on humans or the environment.
What is considered a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Crash?
For the purposes of this analysis, a CMV involved in a crash is defined as follows:
Any truck having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds or a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) over 10,000 pounds used on public highways,
Any motor vehicle designed to transport more than eight people, including the
Any vehicle displaying a hazardous materials placard (regardless of weight)
That vehicle is involved in a crash while operating on a roadway customarily open to the public, which results in:
- A fatality: any person(s) killed in or outside of any vehicle (truck, bus, car,
etc.) involved in the crash or who dies within 30 days of the crash as a result of an injury sustained in the crash, OR
- An injury: any person(s) injured as a result of the crash who immediately
receives medical treatment away from the crash scene, OR
- A tow-away: any motor vehicle (truck, bus, car, etc.) disabled as a result of the crash and transported away from the scene by a tow truck.