In mid-June, President Obama announced major climate change regulation that would require heavy trucks to meet stricter emissions standards. The new regulation will require large trucks to meet higher fuel efficiency benchmarks.
Yet, while many environmentalists laud the change, some environmentalists and policy-makers believe that the regulation takes the focus away from other freight options that are safer and more energy efficient.
The Washington Post noted that “trains are far more energy-efficient than trucks—and they always will be.” When a train’s wheels pass over a track, they generate less friction than a rubber tire on the pavement. This means that less energy is required to move a train than to move a truck. Over the years, freight trains have increased their efficiency, while tractor trailers have not improved in energy efficiency since the 1970s.
Yet, the Washington Post fails to address another advantage trains have over trucks when it comes to moving goods across the country: safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between the years of 2011 and 2012, over 88,000 people were injured in truck accidents. While train injuries are increasing due to greater ridership, the numbers of those injured in train accidents still dwarves the number of lives lost and devastated by truck accidents.
Human error and negligence contribute to many of these accidents. Put fatigued and overworked drivers on the road and then ask them to meet almost unreasonable schedules—and accidents are almost certain to happen. Truck accident lawyers like Injury Law Center in Baltimore fight trucking companies and insurers to ensure that those injured in these accidents receive the compensation they deserve. While the financial costs of these accidents can be recovered, the emotional cost can be immense.
Some in the truck industry have criticized the new regulations, saying that the changes will be expensive and may be challenging to implement, the New York Times reports. Yet, the Environmental Protection Agency has noted that the cost of the improvements in each truck will be recouped by reduced fuel costs within a couple of years for most large trucks.
The proposed changes will result in one billion tons less of greenhouse gases in the air. For individuals who live beside large highways—this is good news. While studies have suggested that inhaling polluted air released by large trucks can have adverse health effects, few regulations have been put in place that address the potential risk trucks pose to human health. It can be hard for victims of asthma, lung diseases, or cancer to fight large truck companies for the pollution they release every day and every year. The new regulations will lead to cleaner air for those who are impacted the most. According to U.S. News and World Report, trucks account for 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere every year. A large percentage, when one considers the smaller ratio of trucks to cars actually on the road.
The American Trucking Association stands behind the new regulations while remaining cautious about the new technologies it will have to implement. It has expressed concerns that the new technologies haven’t been sufficiently tested and could put drivers and innocent motorists at risk.
It will likely be some time before we fully see the health and environmental impact of the new trucking regulations. Yet, while the trucking regulations come as a relief to some environmentalists, others argue that the focus should be on improving train systems and truck safety. Increased use of trains could reduce the number of trucks on the road. And, many studies have found that truck and automobile accident rates are largely contingent on the volume of trucks on highways.
Baltimore, Maryland does have in place some restrictions on trucks travelling certain routes. But, many argue that these restrictions don’t do enough to make roads safer. Until the government tackles the volume issue, drivers will have to share the road with trucks. Individuals will likely still be injured by truck accidents every year. For those who have been injured in truck accidents, the best course of action might be to call a personal injury lawyer or go online to www.injlawcenter.com.