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NY Senator Calls for Changes to Prevent Trucking Accidents

In the aftermath of the trucking accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one man and critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) advocated for a change in how truckers operate. He requested that the U.S. Department of Transportation move faster toward requiring trucks to use electronic devices, known as black boxes, to monitor truck driver sleep breaks. Most drivers today use paper and pencil to keep track of their hours.

The senator recently launced a plan to keep tired truck drivers off the road. He wants to remove truck companies and drivers from the equation altogether. Trucking is a competitive business, and trucking companies and drivers often feel under pressure to deliver loads faster than the competition. He believes that requiring electronic monitoring devices that track how long a truck operates would prevent accidents and stop trucking companies from promising delivery dates that could only be met by having drivers falsify records.

At a recent press conference, the senator said, "We know that fatigue is a huge issue in terms of the number of crashes, and you can't rely on companies to set the rules themselves, because they're going to be competitive." Schumer wants other trucking industry changes as well, including raising the minimum of amount of insurance coverage required.

Truckers infamously falsify their manual records, or logs, to make it appear that they have taken mandatory breaks when those breaks never occurred. Electronic monitoring would prevent drivers from lying about their driving time.

Schumer said electronic devices would help keep people from falsifying records.

In 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggested that these devices be installed in big trucks, but nothing has come of the proposal. Schumer says that the delay is "just too much."

Source: NBC New York, "Schumer Calls for Black Boxes in Trucks in Wake of Crash that Injured Tracy Morgan," Jun. 16, 2014.