I am again representing a client who was badly injured by a reckless trucker in the same spot where another client was seriously injured recently. Here’s a photo of the 18 wheeler dangling off a bridge on I-35 from CBS-11 television after it crashed into five vehicles.
A distracted trucker plowed into my client’s car and others in the exact same location a year and a half ago, seriously injuring her and killing her boyfriend.
Several years ago, I represented the family of a young tow-truck driver who was struck and killed by a fatigued trucker just up the road on I-35 who fell asleep at the wheel — or had a heart attack, as his insurance company attorneys claimed in federal court.
These wrecks are never-ending. Last week, a tractor-trailer barreled into six vehicles on I-35 in north Fort Worth and caught fire, injuring nine people and shutting down the highway for six hours. The truck driver was speeding and could not stop in time to avoid the crash. I’m sure that an investigation will show he was also distracted.
My law firm has represented many people who were injured and the families of those who were tragically killed by 18 wheelers.
When the same problem occurs over and over again, it’s time to fix it.
We know the dangers. How do we fix it?
4,067 people died in 2015 in tractor-trailer accidents, a huge increase of almost 10 percent over 2014. These fatality statistics includes pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, motorists and the truckers themselves.
Why are deaths increasing and how can we stop this terrible trend?
Speeding is the number one reason that commercial vehicle drivers crash. The second most common cause is distraction. The third is impairment, which includes fatigue, alcohol and illness — and cell phone use, even though it is illegal under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
Often, these factors are dangerously combined, compounding the risks. For example, a sleep-deprived driver speeds to make a delivery deadline or a tired driver glances at his phone.
Trucking companies and regulators are well aware of the problems affecting the trucking industry and have the means for making our roadways safer. All three of the horrific accidents that occurred in the same location on Interstate 35 West could have been avoided had the trucker simply maintained the legal speed limit, paid attention to his driving, and gotten plenty of sleep before heading onto the road.
With so much at stake, I am frustrated that companies have not implemented commonsense policies and regulators have constantly met opposition to rules that would save lives.
What the trucking industry can learn from pizza
Remember when Domino’s Pizza advertised the 30 minute pizza delivery guarantee? Several years ago, I got to meet the founder of Domino’s and he was proud of how he came up with the idea that the customer would get the pizza for free if the delivery person didn’t get the pizza there within a half-hour. Other pizza companies had to follow suit to stay competitive.
Delivery drivers were pressured to speed and drive recklessly to meet the unreasonable demands the company placed on them through their marketing campaign. Predictably, a deliveryman hit and killed a child while rushing a pizza to the customer’s home. More info about other lawsuits against pizza companies for causing deaths in Texas is here.
Pizza companies have fortunately ended their dangerous delivery policies. Unreasonable delivery deadlines have imposed these same sorts of pressures on 18-wheeler drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes hours of service rules on truck drivers. Limiting drive time is just common sense. We have seen time and again that a tired driver is not in the condition to maneuver a large commercial vehicle, or actually any vehicle.
Yet drivers who are paid by the mile have an incentive to speed and forgo sleep. Likewise, their employers may skirt the law to stay competitive with companies that make next day delivery promises.
Regulations also prohibit texting and talking on handheld phones. But employers need to enforce these policies for them to be effective.
Trucking companies can do more to protect their drivers and the public. A personal injury lawyer holds the trucking corporations accountable for the totally preventable injuries caused by their drivers.
Please contact me if you need help with your injury case.