Government refuses to regulate unsafe truckers
The Associated Press published an article today addressing the Bush Administration's refusal to regulate commercial truckers. It provided examples of unsafe truckdrivers causing fatalities and carnage on the roadway and pointed out that "hundreds of thousands of drivers carry [valid] commercial licenses, even though they also qualify for full federal disability payments".
Apparently there is no effort to take these drivers out of service when they secure a disability ruling, and the number of incidents of drivers causing catastrophe as a result of diabetic episodes, syncopal episodes, seizures, and other medical incidents is rising dramatically. In the interim, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--the federal agency charged with regulation and enforcemnt--has failed to crack down on unfit drivers. It acknowledged it hasn't completed ANY of the eight recommendations that U.S. safety regulators proposed during the past 9 years. That should come as no surprise, since the Bush Administration appointed a trucking lobbyist to regulate the industry--now a common Republican device--and the only meaningful "reform" of the trucking industry during the Bush era has been to place a "cap" on trucking firm liability. Sadly, many Democratic Party politicians with their hands out also signed on to that "fix".
In the meantime, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety group, whose members include consumer, health and safety groups, along with insurance companies, have been ineffective in pushing reform in Washington. The group's spokesman noted that "we have a major public safety problem, and we haven't corrected it...you have an agency [the FMCSA] that is favorably disposed to maintaining the integrity of the industry's economic situation." That is industry-speak for a Republican Administration that puts big donors' profits ahead of peoples' safety. Maybe if the problem becomes so severe that it interferes with insurance profits, some meaningful reform will occur. Oh, no, as we have seen, the response will be to limit corporate liability and thereby allow the insurers to write smaller policies so victims bear the lion's share of their own losses.