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Trucker-related crime reports suggest reason for safety concerns

There's a significant debate raging right now about motoring safety and whether stiffer regulations on trucks are needed to make the roads of Texas and the rest of the country safer.

On one side are regulators who point to serious truck-involved crashes like the one that left comedian Tracy Morgan seriously injured last year. Driver fatigue has been identified as a big factor in that crash. On the other are truckers and their lobbyists who defend the industry's overall record of safety on the road.

As with any significant debate, the reality is that the truth of the issue is probably somewhere in the middle of the two positions that make headlines in the major news outlets.

Our purpose in this post isn't to take a position one way or the other on whether new regulations are required. It has to be acknowledged that semitrailer trucks are an important part of the commerce infrastructure of our country. At the same time, such vehicles are so big and powerful that they nearly always cause serious injury or death when involved in accidents. Nor is the industry without its bad actors.

And to their credit, industry magazines like the "Commercial Carrier Journal" offer reports on such criminal activities. For example, there was the case out of New York in which a federal jury found five individuals guilty of a scheme to cheat on tests required to receive commercial driver's licenses.

The same issue carried an item about a federal case in Texas in which the operator of a company that oversees trucker drug testing was found guilty of falsifying reports.

The issues that can contribute to an 18-wheeler crash are many and as these reports show, in some cases it's legitimate to examine whether the driver involved is even legally licensed. That being so, it's no wonder that the debate for improving motoring safety continues. The question is whether the discussion will lead to good solutions.

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