With 11 million commercial trucks on the road each year across the country, efforts to promote highway and driving safety are vital. The GROW AMERICA Act is designed to help meet that goal.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says while big trucks make up only 4.7 of all vehicles of U.S. roads, 12.4 of all fatal crashes involve commercial trucks. Much of that can be attributed to the way truck drivers are paid - by the mile - which encourages them to drive long hours, ignore repairs and push the boundaries of the hours of service regulations and safety.
According to FMCSA, 20 percent of drivers have admitting to dozing off while driving AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH! The GROW AMERICA Act would spend $302 billion over four years to address surface transportation, including much needed repairs to roads and bridges, improved environmental emissions and increased mass transit funding. But it also addresses safety, such as education for new drivers about the dangers of driving while distracted or texting.
One of the biggest, and probably most debated, changes involves how trucking companies would compensate their drivers. Under the Act, the FMCSA would address by-the-mile pay for truck drivers by requiring they be paid during down time: while resting, as trucks are being loaded or unloaded, etc.
It’s no surprise that driver fatigue is the leading factor in fatal wrecks involving trucks. And it’s just as clear that changing the industry’s compensation model is imperative if safety is going to improve. The Act will have its critics and those who would eliminate the safety protections it provides, but it is legislation that shows a growing understanding of the problems both truck drivers and the motoring public face.