Articles Posted in Commercial Truck Injury

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Huntsville Truck Injury AttorneysThe U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently released detailed data on truck driver drug testing. The data shows drug violations among truckers increased in 2021. One truck driver website reported the information as follows:

Violations reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse were up 10.2% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to FMCSA’s December 2021 monthly report.

Several other news sources reported the results with alarm. Any increase in drug or alcohol use among commercial drivers is alarming. Impaired driving is a major cause of needless highway accidents, injuries and deaths. Yes, data showing a 10% jump in one year is alarming. But, I would read the results with caution. I’ll explain below why I don’t read too much into this current data.

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I’ve written several times about the need for side guards on large commercial trucks. Deadly under-ride accidents could easily be prevented with side guards. Commercial trucks often have a very high ground clearance. Maybe you’ve ridden next to a large truck on the roadway and noticed how easily your car could go underneath. That’s a huge danger for people in cars. In side under-ride accidents, car tops can be sheared. These accidents almost always result in horrible injuries or deaths. Several years ago, I helped a family who lost several members in a deadly Limestone County accident where the top of a car was sheared off. The scene was horrific. A few simple safety requirements could have prevented that tragedy.

The danger is not just limited to cars. On our roads and highways, motorcyclists are also at risk. In urban areas, both pedestrians and cyclists are an issue. Previous studies have noted numerous pedestrian and cyclist deaths where a victim went underneath the side of a large truck.

For many years, safety advocates have asked Congress to act. In Europe, side guards have long been a standard safety feature. Numerous research studies show that lives are saved by this simple equipment. Yet, Congress has failed to act. Although our Federal government has failed to take the safety issue seriously, many of our largest cities have adopted side guards on their municipal fleets.

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We can help with the workers' compensation benefits you need after an injury.I recently read a blog post titled, Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Injured Truck Drivers? It’s an important question. The Huntsville law firm posting that content asked the right question. But, that firm’s post failed to provide a real or helpful answer! It really failed to answer the question at all. It was just clickbait with keywords and a call to action!

The article was simply generic content stuffed full of keywords listing different injuries with a call to action asking readers to call the lawyers. The generic answer provided by this firm — “a truck driver must be legally categorized as an employee. If a truck driver is classified as an independent contractor, he or she is not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.” What? Sure, employees are entitled to benefits while independent contractors are not. Because employees are entitled to workers compensation, a real answer is very important.

But, the vague answer in the firm’s post tells the reader nothing about Alabama law and how it actually classifies workers. The vague answer provides injured truck drivers with no real information to help. The lawyers in that firm are really good but they’ve outsourced their content to a non-lawyer ghostwriter. That’s bad for legal consumers. Let’s look at truck drivers and actually explore the classification issue.

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Huntsville Truck Accident LawyersImpaired Driving. I’ve discussed the danger of impaired driving many times on this blog. Years ago, impaired driving meant drunk driving. Alcohol was the primary problem. With years of hard work by law enforcement and advocacy groups, we saw significant decreases in dangerous drunk driving.

However, in the last couple decades, drugged driving has eclipsed drunk driving. Now, we face a huge safety issue due to drivers impaired by drugs. Often, the drugs are prescription medications. We all know the huge problem created by narcotic pain medications. Too many drivers are also impaired by illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.

When I write a blog about truck driving safety, I often receive some backlash from upset truckers. Any critique of trucking is viewed as an attack on all drivers. That’s certainly not my intention. Truck driving is a difficult and solitary job. We have many safe, professional and dedicated drivers who work to deliver the products and services we all need. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of representing countless truck drivers hurt in a work-related accident. Like every profession, a few bad apples cause all the problems. We have too many needless injuries and deaths in this country from those few bad apples.

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Truck Accident LawyersI recently read a law firm article indicating nearly half of truck drivers are prone to sleep apnea. That article reaches this conclusion based on a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study using the STOP-BANG method of screening truck drivers. The Virginia Tech researchers interviewed 20,000 commercial drivers. So, the study has a broad base for reliability. The data is very interesting.

While the law firm’s article cites the study, it really only lists the scary statistics. Yes, it is scary to think up to half of the truck drivers around you may be sleep deprived. The article does a good job of scaring the reader into calling the law firm. Why not talk about potential solutions? The law firm’s article tells us the problem but offers no discussion into solutions. Of course, that’s like most law firm websites — short on real discussion. If it’s a problem (and it is), then the real discussion should surround potential solutions that make our highways safer. With that in mind, I’ll briefly discuss the study. Then, I’m going to talk about two areas where I think we can improve highway safety and trucker health.

What Does The Virginia Tech Research Tell Us?

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overweight-trucks-a-danger-to-alabama-drivers-1-638-300x169I’ve written a couple times about the danger of overweight commercial trucks. In recent years, the number of fatal highway accidents has declined. Cars are safer. The one area where the number of fatal accidents has increased — crashes involving large commercial trucks. In numerous posts, I’ve discussed the issues contributing to this increase. They include distracted driving, truck driver health and truck equipment. So, I thought it a good time to revisit the issue of overweight trucks.

Alabama is criss-crossed by Interstate highways. We’re all familiar with the big trucks on Interstate 65, Interstate 20 / 59 and Interstate 10. But, this is not just an issue for our Interstates and major highways. In some rural areas of our State, logging trucks are a frequent sight. These trucks are often overweight. If you drive the rural roads of Alabama, you’ve likely seen plenty of overloaded log trucks. They are a huge danger to other drivers.

I’ve prepared a slideshow which discusses the primary dangers of overweight trucks on our roads and highways. How does the extra weight put us at risk? What are the dangers? Here are four dangers of overweight trucks:

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Add-a-little-bit-of-body-text-200x300 Earlier this week, I was reading an article about a horrible Interstate crash involving a distracted trucker. The article packs several issues — Distracted driving. Bad driving record. Commercial truck crash. Potential punitive damages.

What happened? A car became disabled on the Interstate. Its driver put on her hazard lights, called authorities and waited patiently for help. While waiting, many other vehicles saw the disabled car, slowed and safely passed. The disabled car was clearly visible. Several minutes later, our trucker came down the Interstate. The trucker hit the disabled car without slowing at all. The trucker never even saw the car with its flashers right in plain view. He was not paying attention.

The crash caused terrible injuries. You can only imagine the impact of a full speed eighteen wheeler on a small, stationary car. At our office, we see many distracted driving crashes here in northern Alabama as well. Yet, there’s more to this truck crash. The truck driver in the article had a bad driving record. Why was he allowed to continue driving? The trucker had several prior accidents, including one where he even hit an overpass. And, he had also been cited multiple times for exceeding allowed driving hours. He had a history of being a careless and reckless driver. The trucking company clearly should NOT have allowed him to continue driving its trucks. But, it did. That company knew his record. Because the company knowingly allowed a dangerous driver to continue operating its trucks, it faces potential punitive damages.

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Huntsville Injury AttorneysWe share the road with big trucks. Most truckers are trained, safety-conscious drivers. Most truckers work hard to reach their destinations safely.

In past articles, I’ve discussed the health and safety issues truck drivers face. Truck driver health is a concern. Sitting long hours for your job. Sleeping away from home. Eating on the road. It is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many drivers face health issues. Diabetes. Obesity. Sleep apnea. Some of these health issues create safety risks on the roadway. The large companies employing truck drivers need to do a better job keeping their workforce healthy. You can read some of my past truck driver health and safety articles on this blog. In several of my past articles, I discuss important health issues facing truckers. On several occasions I’ve also written about problems and fraud in the medical certification system. Here, in Alabama, we’ve seen fraudulent medical certifiers put dangerous drivers on our roadways.

I’m not writing today about truck drivers. I’m writing about the trucks they driver. Are the commercial trucks on our roads and highways safe? Are trucking companies putting drivers on the road with dangerous equipment? We drive next to big trucks every day assuming they are safe. We assume those trucks have been maintained, serviced and properly equipped. But, recent studies indicate too many trucking companies put dangerous trucks on our highways.

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersCommercial Truck Crash Death Rates Continue To Climb!

Commercial truck crash death rates continue to grow in the United States. According to recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, deaths are at their highest level in more than 30 years. In 2019, large truck crash deaths increased for the fourth consecutive year. These are very alarming highway statistics.

The trend is deeply troubling. Consider this — Overall highway safety has improved in recent years. Yet, we are seeing more deadly commercial truck accidents. In other words, big truck crash death rates are increasing while most other accident and injury rates are decreasing. This raises the question of why. Why are commercial truck death rates increasing? Why are commercial truck death rates moving in the opposite direction of overall highway safety?

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Alabama Personal Injury LawyersUnderstanding The Problem

Every day, we drive alongside huge commercial trucks. Large trucks are more difficult to steer and stop. Large trucks are more difficult to maneuver. Large trucks present visibility issues and blind spots for drivers. Commercial trucks require skilled, healthy and alert drivers. I’ve written frequently about trucker safety. In an article last September, I addressed the growing problem of trucker fatigue on Alabama roads and highways. My prior article is titled Truck Driver Fatigue:  Research Reveals A Growing Problem.

In my prior article, I mentioned research showing 41% of transportation workers suffer severe sleep deprivation problems. I actually believe the reality is worse and that current research understates the problem. Regardless of my opinion, a study showing almost half the workers on our roads and highways suffering from serious sleep deficits should concern all of us. After all, our loved ones travel around giant trucks every day in Alabama!

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