Articles Posted in Truck laws

Garbage and recycling trucks are extremely dangerous to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The combination of their giant construction, improper maintenance, and poor drivers can make them accidents waiting to happen.

These behemoths have caused many deaths and serious injuries in our area. Just a few months ago, another person died in a Fort Worth collision with one.

These vehicles are inherently dangerous for many reasons, especially their massive size. The average truck weighs over 60,000 pounds versus the average car’s weight of 3,000 pounds.

Garbage truck drivers must have a commercial drivers licenses and are held to a higher standard of care under transportation statutes. Unfortunately some fail to live up to the more vigorous rules.

Waste management is an enormous $100 billion a year industry and clearly has the resources to insure that safe trucks and drivers are on the roads.

Our law firm has handled all types of commercial truck collision cases in Dallas – Fort Worth for the past 37 years and understands their complexities. We are fighting for our clients in a substantial garbage truck case now and have successfully handled others in the past.

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You hear about our drug epidemic all the time. The U.S. had an estimated 64,000 deaths due to drug overdoses just in 2016. These are government statistics so you know the numbers are higher.

It’s crazy that as more and more people are popping these highly addictive drugs — sometimes before or while they drive –most commercial truck companies were not even being tested.

The Department of Transportation has long required testing of other drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and the illegal opioid heroin, and of course alcohol.

Finally the DOT has caught up with the times. Semi-synthetic opioids were added to the mandatory panel starting January 1. Finally.

Employers at 18-wheeler companies must now test their drivers for four popular prescription medications: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone.

How many truckers take opioid drugs? Because testing was not required, there is no way to know. Often truck drivers were only tested after they crashed their tractor trailers and hurt others. But, 11.5 million people abused opioids in 2016 and as the DOT announcement noted “transportation industries are not immune to this trend and the safety issues it raises.” Continue reading

Trucking companies are subject to strict rules regarding the inspection, maintenance, and repair of their vehicles. These laws serve the primary purpose of keeping dangerous trucks off the road. That’s good for the rest of us drivers — as long as those rules are enforced.

When a tractor trailer causes a crash, its inspection records serve a valuable role in proving negligence, which is the key to a successful truck accident settlement or trial.

To best use this evidence here, a Fort Worth injury attorney studies safety regulations and knows where to locate inspection reports, past violations, and the truck’s and company’s crash history.

Truck companies have a duty to maintain safe vehicles

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the authority to pass and enforce maintenance and inspection regulations concerning commercial vehicles. These trucking regulations apply to motor vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 lbs. or more and to trucks that carry hazardous materials.

Any company, whether a one-man operation or a large multinational corporation, is responsible for inspecting and maintaining its vehicles and repairing problems before putting its trucks back on the road. The company is also required to keep its records for one year and make them available to inspectors. Failure to do so is a violation of the FMCSA regulations.

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Smokey and the Bandit mentality will stop.

Starting next month, all trucking companies must start complying with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule. While this might seem like a technical issue that only people in the trucking industry would care about, it’s an important safety improvement for all of us.

You might not remember the 1977 comedy Smokey and the Bandit. Audiences cheered as the truck driver raced against time and outwitted the police to get beer from Texarkana to Atlanta within 28 hours. He made it with only 10 minutes to spare, then won a big bet by continuing driving to Boston in 18 hours.

Today drivers often race against the clock to get their load delivered by unreasonable deadlines. And they may not stop to take a much-needed rest break either. But tired truck drivers often cause real life tragedies.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 13 percent of commercial drivers were fatigued when they crashed their trucks — so you know the number is much higher. The FMCSA addressed this risk factor by strengthening hours of service (HOS) rules which restrict the number of hours a truck driver is allowed to drive and work each week and mandates rest breaks.

The HOS regulations also require drivers to maintain logbooks that demonstrate they are in compliance. But skirting these rules has been far too easy. Continue reading

So why aren’t big-rig safety features mandatory?

Passing a tractor-trailer on a highway can be a scary experience. What if you are in the driver’s blind spot, he switches lanes, and crashes into your car? It happens all the time.

Equally nerve-racking is seeing an 18-wheeler in your rear view mirror bearing down on you. What if that driver doesn’t brake in time and hits your vehicle with his enormous tractor-trailer?

New technology could make these concerns a thing of the past.

The AAA Foundation just released an enlightening study that concluded four technological features could prevent 77,077 accidents that cause over 23,000 injuries and 500 fatalities every year.

This is exciting news — if trucking companies actually use this technology. Continue reading

Actress Jayne Mansfield was famous for her sexy image. She starred in many movies in the 50’s and 60’s, won acting awards, and was one of the first Playmates. The Dallas resident studied at UT and SMU where I graduated in the 70’s.

But Mansfield is tragically remembered for the tragic tractor-trailer accident that killed her in 1967.

Mansfield was a passenger in a Buick that slammed into the back of an 18 wheeler. The car slid underneath the trailer’s carriage and killed her and two other adult passengers. She was only 34. Two other people died but miraculously her two children were not injured.

Her legacy survives today, not only in film and photographs, but every time you see a tractor-trailer. Her crash directly led to regulations requiring installation of red and white bars at the rear of semi-trucks. “Mansfield bars” are required on all tractor-trailers to stop cars from sliding underneath the truck.

But here’s the problem. Mansfield bars prevent under-ride in a medium impact rear-end collisions, such as occurred in Mansfield’s case. However, the bars aren’t often strongenough to stop high-impact crashes.

Nor are they required on the sides of trucks, so they don’t stop cars from sliding under from the side either.

Here’s a photo from a case I handled where my client was lucky to survive a crash with an 18 wheeler that suddenly cut in front of her.

Under-ride crashes are exactly as awful as the word implies. During a collision with a tractor-trailer, the car slides underneath the semi, either sheering off or crushing the top of the car. The occupants of the car don’t stand a chance.

But what if these under-ride collisions could be close to totally avoided?

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Congress should put public safety above trucking industry demands

Trucking companies want bigger trucks and unfortunately many national lawmakers agree with them. Trucking companies want to increase 18-wheeler weight limits from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds on interstate highways, an increase of 14 percent.

After a similar bill was defeated in 2015, sponsors promised to reintroduce this bad idea again this year. Increasing truck weight limits flies against all reason. Tractor-trailer accident deaths jumped 26 percent between 2009 and 2015, a frightening trend that shows no sign of slowing down. In 2015, truck accident fatalities increased by eight percent from the previous year to 4,050 people.

We should expect our lawmakers to strengthen safety regulations, not weaken them. Continue reading

Tractor-trailer carriers are rated by the federal government and their safety records are important evidence for personal injury lawyers when their big rigs crash into other vehicles and cause personal injuries and sometimes deaths.

However a new FMCSA rule changes what evidence will be available to prosecute tractor-trailer companies. Giant companies like J.B. Hunt and Federal Express can now ask the FMCSA to remove crashes from their histories to improve their safety reputation at trial. Continue reading

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just released a report that shows the dangers of distraction and sleepiness on our roads.

More than one fourth of all 18-wheeler accidents are caused by driver inattention or fatigue. This is just what’s reported. Based on what I’ve seen as a personal injury lawyer, I believe the number is much higher.

I am filing suit on behalf of a woman who was seriously injured when a distracted tractor trailer driver shown here crashed into her vehicle and killed her boyfriend as they were at a complete stop on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth.

Several years ago, I represented the family of a young tow truck operator who was tragically killed when an 18 wheeler driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered off of I-35 north of Dallas-Fort Worth and crashed into another tractor trailer he was underneath.

In June, three people were killed on I-30 in Royse City in East Texas when a tractor-trailer veered into the path of another tractor-trailer. The eastbound travelling rig dragged a small car with it as it jumped the center median into oncoming traffic. The driver fell asleep at the wheel.

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Potential disaster averted

In a harrowing close call, an intoxicated truck driver was arrested early Saturday morning when witnesses spotted his tractor-trailer speeding down C.F. Hahn Highway in the eastbound lanes — going west.

The driver was pulled over at Buckner Boulevard where Dallas Sheriff deputies administered a field sobriety test.

Due to the quick action of the deputies — and luck —  nobody was hurt before the intoxicated driver was stopped.

Which company hired this man and allowed him to be driving a 80,000 pound vehicle drunk at 3:00 a.m.?

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