Business Travelers Face New Dangers and Shrinking Legal Rights

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In 2018, the average commute to work was at an all-time high.

America already holds the dubious distinction of being the most overworked country in the world. 66.5 percent of women work more than 40 hours a week, while 88.5 percent of men work.

As if working long hours weren’t enough, commutes are often longer than they should be. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the average commuter to work took 54 minutes per year (225 hours) according to their 2018 report. The forecast for business air travel in 2022 is that it will increase from 462 million domestic trips annually to 499.4 million.

The Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D), in its blistering report titled Planes, Trains and Automobiles – And Other Transportation Hazards, has more bad news for America’s beleaguered workers. Corporate interests are more concerned with profits than the welfare of the public, while the government agencies that enforce these protections ignore them. Safety and legal protections are being increasingly attacked by corporate interests. These are the top takeaways from this report.

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Manufacturers are now subject to more FAA oversight.

Outsourcing safety regulations: For years, the government has delegated oversight responsibility to airline manufacturers in order to reduce bureaucracy. In recent years, this process has been accelerated making it easier for manufacturers to bypass federal safety regulators.

Too many near-misses: NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System discovered that there were more than 130 near-misses at airports every day. Most of these incidents were not known to the flying public, or residents living nearby.

Low-cost airlines: These airlines cut costs by offering low wages, long hours, and unqualified captains. They also offer antiquated aircraft and a variety of safety risks, such as unsafe flying.

The Little Engine That Couldn’t

Slow implementation of safety technology. In 2008 Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act. It set a December 31st, 2015 deadline for positive train control (PTC), technology on all 30 commuter lines and Amtrak. Despite the fact that PTC was not implemented quickly by the industry, fatal crashes have continued to occur in the years that have followed.

Rail cars that are out of date: A combination of an aging fleet and unsafe repairs has led to rail cars that do not meet crashworthiness standards.

Forced injustice: Amtrak quietly added to its ticket purchase agreement a loophole provision known as a forced arbitration clause in January 2019. Any type of legal dispute, even those involving accident victims or their families, will be resolved secretly by Amtrak rather than having to appear before an impartial judge or jury. Passengers are unaware that they are giving up their rights when they purchase a ticket.

Highway Hazards Ahead

Federal law permits used cars to be sold without safety recalls.

Tidal wave in auto recalls: More than 280 million vehicles were recalled over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, recall completion rates range from 70 to 75 percent. This means that more than 70,000,000 vehicles remain on the roads with open recalls. Automakers have repeatedly placed dangerous and defective vehicles on the roads in excess of 100 million, often months or even years after passengers, drivers and other people were injured or put at risk. Federal watchdogs have not done enough to hold automakers accountable.

Unregulated used cars: About 75 percent of all vehicle sales are made from used cars. Federal law allows customers to purchase vehicles with known safety defects and open safety recalls. One in four vehicles sold by CarMax, the largest used vehicle seller in the country, had unrepaired safety issues, according to a 2017 study.

There are more dangerous trucks and buses on the roads: The number of fatalities in collisions involving large trucks and buses has increased 11 percent between 2013-2018. Trucking companies that are not trustworthy encourage drivers to speed or drive while fatigued. Some skip proper brake repair and maintenance.

You can download the complete CJ&D report right here. If you or someone you know has been hurt while traveling for work, whether it be by road, rail, or water, don’t hesitate and contact us to learn more about your legal rights.

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