Product Liability

Public urgently needs better bus and trucking regulations

After analyzing the events surrounding a 2008 Utah bus rollover in which nine people died and 43 were injured, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that two situations fundamentally contributed to the deadly accident: driver fatigue and the lack of federal regulations to protect bus passengers. The American Association of Justice (AAJ) responded to the report by calling for a close review – and a possible revision – of federal transportation safety regulations proposed during the Bush Administration and currently pending.

The AAJ released a statement saying that it supports opening “new rulemaking proceedings to enhance commercial transportation safety measures for both trucks and buses.”

According to the NTSB, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acted too slowly in implementing better safety standards, such as electronic monitoring of drivers’ hours and fatigue prevention, passenger seatbelts, and stronger roofs and windows. The lack of these features, the NTSB alleges, contributed to the deaths and severity of the injuries in the Utah bus crash. The NTSB had been calling for these safety upgrades for almost a decade.

According to AAJ Director of Regulatory Affairs, Gerie Voss, “the finding from the NTSB shows how the public is endangered when federal agencies drag their feet. The Obama administration must make updating transportation safety standards a priority.”

The NTSB says that the nation also needs better federal regulations for commercial trucking. Current safety regulations fail to adequately protect drivers and the public. Driver fatigue and drivers falling asleep at the wheel present a serious problem on America’s roadways, yet the American Trucking Association and the trucking industry at large fail to do anything about it. As a result, scores of people die every year in commercial trucking accidents.