The truck safety measures in H.R. 3684, or the INVEST in America Act, could help make the nation’s roads safer for everyone. This bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1, 2021. It later passed the Senate, but with significant changes. As of September 19, 2021, it is being sent back to the House for another vote.
This sweeping bill includes several provisions that would make the trucking industry safer and provide critical oversight for several widely known risks. Truck safety advocates believe these changes could save lives.
H.R. 3684 Provides for Considerable Strides in Trucking Safety
The INVEST in America Act addresses a wide range of transportation concerns and needs. This includes safety measures and improvements for Amtrak, bus systems, commuter rail, and over the road (OTR) trucking, among others.
Some of the safety provisions introduced in the original version of this bill include:
Automatic Emergency Braking Requirements
H.R. 3684 would require automatic emergency braking (AEB) on new, heavy-duty commercial trucks and other vehicles. This only includes vehicles over 26,000 pounds. It also mandates all systems to be operational and in use anytime the truck is operating.
Underride Guard Mandates
Section 4405 of the bill calls for updating the rear underride guard standard and completing research and a feasibility study on requiring side underride guards. This bill also establishes an Advisory Committee on Underride Protection. The committee would weigh the benefits of these changes and consider other applicable research and analysis. It also would develop performance standards if necessary.
Increases in Insurance Requirements
Section 4408 of the INVEST in America Act requires all commercial vehicles to increase their minimum insurance requirements for liability coverage. The current maximum is $750,000. This would raise the minimum requirement to $2 million.
This could make it easier for traffic accident victims to recover the compensation they need after suffering catastrophic injuries in crashes that negligent truck drivers cause.
The bill also:
Allows for Future Insurance Minimum Coverage Increases
Section 4408 also creates a provision that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) evaluate and adjust the minimum insurance requirement as often as every five years. This would allow the insurance coverage to increase as inflation rises.
Examines Hours-of-Service Rules and Exemptions
Section 4306 requires a close look at the current hours-of-service rules, the exemptions, and any expansions of driving time. This asks the FMCSA to closely review the current regulations and conduct a safety analysis of any exemptions it discovers. Ultimately, this could lead to stricter hours-of-service rules and fewer exemptions.
Hours-of-service rules are vital to trucking safety. They help prevent drowsy truck drivers from pushing through and remaining behind the wheel as long as possible. It is common for truck drivers to become tired while on the road. Drowsy driving is a safety threat to all motorists who share the roadways with truckers who have pulled long hours. It also significantly increases the risk of an accident happening.
Screens Truckers for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Section 4308 of the INVEST in America Act asks the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) to set criteria for regular screening of truck drivers for a particularly dangerous type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
According to a study that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sponsored, about a third—28 percent—of all commercial truck drivers tested for sleep apnea have some form of the disorder. The bill also requests research into the risk of untreated sleep apnea and screening tools and criteria for identifying which truck drivers have this condition.
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About the INVEST in America Act
H.R. 3684, officially titled “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” first went before the U.S. House of Representatives on June 4, 2021. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, introduced it. DeFazio is the chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In the version that passed the House, H.R. 3684 dedicated $547 billion to surface transportation over the next five years. There was a similar bill introduced in 2020, but it died in the Republican-controlled Senate at that time.
The bill invests significant funding into:
- Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure
- Transit options
- Rail travel
It also considers several federal transportation policies and safety rules and addresses how to make the transportation industry safer in the future.
Hammack Law Firm Supports the Safety Measures Introduced in H.R. 3684
At Hammack Law Firm, our truck accident lawyers ardently support changing trucking industry laws and safety policies to make our roads safer in South Carolina and nationwide. We fight for the necessary safety measures in this industry as fervently as we fight for justice for our clients after a truck accident collision.
To learn more about how our legal team can help you with your South Carolina truck accident case, call (864) 326-3333 today. The initial consultation is free.