Safety panel discusses highway safety issues regarding bus and truck accidents

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board held a two day conference on bus and big truck accidents and highway safety. The forum heard from safety experts and federal regulators regarding truck and bus accidents and why some past safety measures have still not been enacted. The deadly tractor-trailer accident that killed ten people in Oklahoma in 2009 as well as the recent deadly tour bus accidents in the East were at the forefront of participants’ minds.

Truck fatalities in recent years have decreased but safety experts warn much work remains to be done and that the improved statistics may only be temporary. Big truck fatalities have dropped significantly between 2005 and 2009, according to the most recent figures available from the Department of Transportation.

In 2005, there were over 5,200 fatalities from truck accidents, and in 2009 there were 3,200 truck accident fatalities. The decline is an improvement, but the number of overall highway fatalities has also declined. Experts believe the overall decline is related to a decline in driving caused by the weak economy. Some believe the fatality rate will increase when the economy further recovers.

The annual number of tour bus fatalities is much lower than truck fatalities. Between 2000 and 2009, there have been 338 fatal tour bus accidents, which is about 20 tour bus fatalities per year. The tour bus industry serves over 700 million passengers per year in the United States, comparable to the airline industry.

The Obama administration would like to improve current tour bus and large truck highway laws and plans to focus on mitigating the effects of tired drivers. Next time, we will talk about the administration’s proposals and about opposing arguments from the industry.

Illinois legislature looking out for deployed members of the military

It is the job of members of the military to protect the country making a variety of things possible for its citizens including the preservation of individual rights. In the process of taking care of others’ rights however, there are times that members of the military inadvertently lose some of their own. One area in which this is sometimes true is in matters of child support.

Sadly, for some members of the military who have been deployed oversees, the fact that they are not able to physically be present has been held against them. Legislators in Illinois are doing what they can to make sure these parents who are either deployed or are waiting to be deployed have the assistance they need to level the playing field when it comes to child custody matters by introducing House Bill 1589. There are a couple ways in which the bill attempts to do this.

The first has to do with the hearing process. In addition to making it possible for the deployed parent to call into the proceeding to provide testimony rather than appear in person, it also changes the timeline for the hearing process making it possible to speed it up when necessary.

Another part of the bill would make it possible to temporarily modify the agreement regarding custody or visitation when the parent is deployed. One way in which this might be utilized would be for the deployed service person to name a person to fill in for them during their visitation time. One such person might be a grandparent.

So far House Bill 1589 has been passed by the Senate. We will post updates on this matter as they become available.