What is the best way to recover damages after truck collision? Proving violations of federal regulations for 18 wheelersAny driver knows that tractor trailers and other big trucks on the road are intimidating -- and sometimes very dangerous. This is why Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for 18 wheeler trucks are so important. To keep drivers safe on the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted specific rules. But often trucking companies and truck drivers do not follow them in their hurry to make money. Regulations that are often broken include the following.
The Role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety AdministrationFortunately the answer is yes -- depending on several factors. The FMCSA is the federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). The primary goal of the agency is to reduce crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities caused by large trucks and buses but it also has jurisdiction over smaller vehicles. States also have laws related to the license and driving requirements for commercial vehicles. Any business using commercial motor vehicles must obtain authority from both state and federal trucking authorities. Trucking safety regulations are important to every driver on the road. We share the roadways with all types of commercial trucks every day. While the FMCSA determines the regulations for all types of CMVs, it is up to the employers and the drivers to enforce them. A personal injury lawyer often finds that businesses and employers have failed to abide by federal trucking safety rules and are also at fault.
Which Vehicles Are Covered?The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and the number of passengers a vehicle determines if a driver must have a commercial drivers license. CDL licenses ensure that drivers have increased training to handle a variety of conditions. Laws pertaining to the application and licensing process differ somewhat among the states. One consistency is that any vehicle with a weight of more than 26,001 pounds requires CDL licensure. Businesses that operate CMVs that alone (or combined with a trailer) weigh more than 10,001 pounds are required to register the vehicles and abide by the FMCSA trucking safety regulations. Some states have increased this weight limit to include trucks anywhere from 12,000 to 26,000 pounds, which coincides with the CDL requirements. Although a vehicle doesn’t require a CDL driver, many companies require the drivers to follow the same trucking safety regulations imparted by FMCSA. The key is understanding the different classes of CDL and weights that apply to different types of vehicles: Class A – Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or a combination of vehicles with the towed vehicle having a GVWR over 10,000 pounds. Class B – Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or more, or is towing a vehicle with a GVWR of no more than 10,000 pounds, or a farm trailer with a GVWR of no more than 20,000 pounds. Class C – A single or combination vehicle not included in Classes A or B. Single vehicles with a GVWR less than 26,001 pounds or towing a farm trailer with a GVWR of no more than 20,000 pounds. A vehicle designed to transport 23 or fewer passengers including the driver. An autocycle. Some of the most important regulations that apply to CDL drivers are the prohibitions against using alcohol, drugs, texting, hand-held phones, and driving while fatigued. These are some of the leading causes of truck crashes. Both CDL and non-CDL must follow these regulations and others, including using their seat belts and use of extreme caution during hazardous weather. If you have been injured in an accident involving any commercial vehicle, contact Berenson Injury Law. If the driver and/or the employer were negligent, you may have the right to collect compensation.
Blowout Causes Fatal Crash
Take, for example, the crash of an 18-wheeler in Hill County last month. Barreling down a rural stretch on Texas Highway 31 according to KWTX, the young driver lost control of his vehicle after a blowout, causing the truck to leave the roadway and overturn. The tires were old. Tragically, the 26-year-old driver died at the scene.Why transportation companies don't undertake pre-trip inspections and conduct hands-on training for their employees is a mystery. If they had prepared their trucks and employees for such situations, the young man might still be alive.
Dump Truck Crashes into Train, Killing Two and Injuring 11An Arlington-area crash left a dump truck driver and a passenger dead after it maneuvered around the crossing arms, risking both lives to save a few seconds, Dallas News reports. Police report that the passenger train was traveling well under its speed limit when the crash occurred. Unfortunately with a lot of 18-wheeler and other commercial vehicle crashes, this is not uncommon. The haste to get from one job to another under employer or customer pressure causes far too many of these "accidents."
Like the blowout, this one was avoidable. Customers and employers who demand unsafe speed from their drivers at the risk of public safety need to reassess their priorities.
Reduce Speed-Induced Truck Crashes with Mandatory Safety ProtocolsOur law firm only handles car, truck, 18-wheeler, and motorcycle crash cases and we have represented many people and their families after serious injuries or loss of life from speed-caused crashes. Pizza companies have dropped their requirement for drivers to prioritize speed over safety. Unfortunately, it took a lawsuit to get there. Companies who use large vehicles to deliver goods and services have an even larger obligation to ensure that their drivers prioritize safety rather than time limits. After all, their vehicles can cause even greater damage due to their size.
Reduce Road Hazard Accidents with Better Training
Lack of preparation for road hazards on their employers’ part has spurred experienced truckers themselves to post training videos and articles for their colleagues, hoping that their advice will help save lives.In the trucking industry journal CDLLife.com, trucker Jennifer Black Cordero, having recently survived a blowout herself, provided these tips:
- Keep a cool head—don’t panic
- Make sure you get cruise control turned off
- Don’t hit the brakes
- Step into the accelerator
- Play “what if”
We Can Help YouAs a law firm who only represents the victims in crashes like these, it frustrates us to see the companies making the same mistakes over and over again, despite numerous losses of life and serious injuries. Our firm will hold companies’ feet to the fire for these completely preventable tragedies. If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident, please contact us at Berenson Law.
Most Common Causes of Fatal Truck CrashesBig trucks are a necessary evil, transporting all kinds of goods across our country. In spite of recent legislation designed to address common contributing factors, the percentage of fatal truck crashes isn’t going in the right direction. Before anyone can find a solution, they first have to look at what causes these accidents in the first place.
Leading causes of fatal truck crashes are:
- Distracted Driving
- Impaired Driving
- Overloaded Trucks
What Is the Solution to Reduce Truck Crashes?It might seem impossible to come up with a solution that could have a serious impact on the number of fatalities caused by truck crashes. But there is technology available that would do just that.
So What’s the Hold-Up?That’s the question that a lot of people and organizations are asking. Not only is the technology available; it has been around for some time. The reason that it hasn’t been implemented comes down to Congress and federal regulatory agencies including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All they have to do is make new technology mandatory that would prevent rear-end collisions. The NHTSA won’t push it through and they won’t say why. On ten or more occasions, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the NHTSA require forward crash avoidance and mitigation systems (automatic emergency braking) on all heavy trucks. After two decades, the NHTSA has still failed to act. If they had responded when the technology was first available, many of the crashes never would have happened. Some trucking companies have taken the leap and shelled out the additional cost of installing the optional equipment on their trucks. Others are more concerned about adding an additional cost of about $2,000 to the already high $150,000 price tag for new trucks. Democrats in Congress believe the surge in fatal truck accidents proves that now is the time to pick up the pace. But as long as Republicans object and retain majority control, adoption of a mandate isn’t likely. One representative of the NHTSA stated that they were currently studying the next-generation of automatic emergency braking technology. They expect the research to conclude in 18 to 24 months. At that time, they can use the information to decide on what steps to take next. But experts know that the technology is already available, and this is just a stalling technique. It’s the same technology used in passenger vehicles today. Also, it will be standard on all new passenger vehicles in the US by 2022. Some experts suggest that mandating the collision avoidance systems would prevent more than 7 of 10 rear-end truck collisions. In addition, it would lessen the severity of injuries in those crashes that still occurred. Right now, the only things stopping the technology from saving lives are the legislation to make it mandatory and the lack of action by Congress and the NHTSA. Some trucking companies don’t want to pay a couple of thousand extra dollars for their trucks. Without a law that makes it mandatory, they aren’t willing to invest any more than they have to. Considering the liability they incur when one of their trucks does cause an accident, the investment, in reality, is one they almost can’t afford to neglect. In comparison to the $1 million settlement received by Kelli Groves and her two daughters, some cases have resulted in much higher payouts. Although the truck driver was the only person killed in the crash, the Groves underwent extensive medical treatment and trauma from the event. In most cases, the trucking companies who own the trucks that cause fatal truck crashes are held partially or totally at-fault. Even when the truck driver causes the crash through distracted driving, drug use, or driver error, it is their employer’s responsibility to hire and train qualified drivers. Trucking companies are also expected to perform routine drug tests, inspect their vehicles, and perform maintenance as needed. When they are liable for lost lives and property, the price tag is going to far exceed a couple of thousand dollars. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a fatal truck crash, contact Berenson Injury Law. Bill Berenson has recovered millions of dollars for his clients and has thousands of happy clients. He is an experienced car and truck crash attorney who represents accident victims in Texas. Whether your case ends in a settlement or goes to trial, you can count on him to get the best outcome from your case. He will work tenaciously to pursue the maximum amount of compensation you need from all available sources. For more articles on this topic: Who Pays Your Damages After 18-Wheeler Crash? https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/who-pays-your-damages-after-18-wheeler-crash/ Dallas-Fort Worth Garbage Truck Accidents https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/dallas-fort-worth-garbage-truck-accidents/ 18-Wheeler Drivers Taking Dangerous Opioid Drugs? DOT To Finally Test https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/18-wheeler-drivers-taking-dangerous-opioid-drugs-dot-finally-test/ Four Defense Tactics Trucking Companies Use to Avoid Liability https://www.texastruckaccidentlawyerblog.com/four-defense-tactics-trucking-companies-use-avoid-liability/
Common Causes of Truck AccidentsThere’s an old saying that “There’s no such thing as an accident.” While this may not be 100% true in all cases, it’s reasonably close. Most accidents could have been prevented if someone had taken a different action than they did. When trucking accidents happen, it’s usually the fault of the driver. These are some of the most common reasons that truck accidents occur:
- Driving While Tired – Truckers have deadlines, sometimes because of carrying perishable items. Sometimes they risk not getting paid if they don’t arrive with their load on-schedule. In the past, truck drivers were known for taking products like No-Doz and other stimulants to help keep them awake. Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places Hours-of-Service rules to prevent the problem of driving while tired. This includes the maximum number of hours the driver can drive. It also enforces time off and rest breaks. Still, some drivers keep inaccurate logbooks and fail to abide by these rules.
- Cell Phone Use While Driving – The entire country seems to be obsessed with their cell phones. Truck drivers are no exception. While the FMCSA strictly forbids texting while driving, many drivers use their phones to stay in contact with friends and family. Using their cell phone to talk is permitted if they use a hands-free device. There are limitations here as well. The driver is required to stay in a seat-belted position and can’t push more than one button to answer, call, or hang up the phone. Too often, the driver’s confidence in his/her skills overrides common sense and the law. Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of big-rig accidents.
- Reckless Driving– The risk of accidents gives truck drivers an even greater responsibility to watch out for the other guy. Reckless driving includes taking unnecessary risks, turning too quickly, or failing to check for traffic before switching lanes. These are just some of the careless mistakes that lead to accidents.
- Driving Under the Influence– The idea of a truck driver being intoxicated while on the road is frightening enough. Today, a large number of truck drivers are using mind-altering drugs. Many cite poor working conditions as the reason. Some skip the No-Doz to help them stay awake and use amphetamines or cocaine instead. These drugs can change the driver’s perceptions and their reactions times. They also cause vertigo, mood swings, and even hallucinations. Perhaps most frightening of all is the use of opioids while driving. Opioid use, in general, has grown to serious proportions. It’s also hitting the trucking industry. The Department of Transportation (DOT) tests for these other drugs, but opioids have long been overlooked. As of January of this year, that is no longer the case. Testing is expected to deter opioid use. Even so, the issue of drivers who have valid prescriptions will still be a debate for the courts. Don’t take any chances if you suspect the driver who hit you was under the influence. It’s important to have a good personal injury attorney to prove it.
- Speeding – Speeding is one of the factors that an attorney may put into the truck accident settlement calculator. Speeding reduces the amount of control the driver has over the rig. When driving on wet or icy roads, speeding is an even greater safety risk. It also requires more time for him to stop.
- Overloaded Trucks– This is another factor that reduces the control the driver has over the truck. There are weight limitations on every truck. The specific limit depends on its braking system, frame, quality of suspension, and more. Failing to follow these limitations increases the chance of getting into an accident.