Rules alone won't keep our roads safe

July 24, 2013 

New federal trucking rules went into effect on July 1, but would any of them have stopped Johnny Felton, the trucker accused of hitting and killing Illinois State Trooper Kyle Deatherage? We doubt it.

Felton shouldn't have been behind the wheel of a truck. Authorities said Felton had a medical condition he didn't disclose. He had multiple accidents that were considered his fault, including hitting a car from behind just five months before his vehicle struck Deatherage. And three years earlier, a trucking company manager wrote that Felton was "bound to have a very big accident sooner or later."

For whatever reason, his company didn't fire him, and it was only after the fatality that federal authorities pulled his license.

It's cases like this one that prompt bureaucrats who probably have never been in a truck much less driven one to keep writing new safety rules. Some of the rules are nonsensical. For instance, one new rule requires drivers who want to work more than 70 hours in a week to be off for 34 consecutive hours that include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Guess the bureaucrats never noticed that overnight is prime driving time for truckers.

The only thing the new rules are sure to accomplish is to make it more difficult for trucking companies, particularly small, regional ones, to operate profitably. When trucking companies have to increase their rates, consumers ultimately end up paying more for products.

We want the roads to be safe also, but the way to do that isn't to pass more one-size-fits-all rules for trucks, but rather to focus on specific problems and get the Johnny Feltons off the road.

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