Articles Posted in Commercial Truck Injury

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truck-945364_1280-300x183The U.S. Department of Transportation is halting its effort to better diagnose and evaluate truckers suffering from dangerous sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a major safety issue among commercial truck drivers as well as railroad workers. Here is the lead paragraph from a recent Bloomberg article discussing this sudden announcement:

The Trump administration is halting a year-old effort to seek better ways to diagnose truckers and railroad workers who have sleep apnea, a health condition linked to deadly accidents.

What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder. A person suffering sleep apnea will have interruptions in his or her breathing during sleep. How can sleep apnea affect driving? Truckers must be very alert while driving on our highways. By impacting sleep, the disorder can greatly affect daytime alertness, performance and fatigue. Our firm has seen the tragic results of these problems in past cases.

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Would speed limiting devices in commercial trucks save lives? Yes. We believe these devices would prevent many needless personal injuries and deaths on our highways. At our firm, we have helped many families hurt in commercial truck crashes. We have seen the tragic results of collisions involving huge commercial vehicles.

We believe speed limiting devices in commercial trucks are a good idea. Most trucking industry professionals also recognize the benefit of these devices. What do others think? A recent article in the Insurance Journal starts with the following:

Years of pleas from parents whose son was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer, buy-in from some truckers and the promise of fewer highway deaths convinced U.S. officials in September to propose requiring speed-limiting devices on all large rigs.

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Photo by Mark Goebel
In June, I wrote a post discussing distracted driving by commercial truck drivers. You can read the post here: Distracted Driving And Commercial Trucks — A Deadly Combination. That post discusses a terrible distracted driving case where a truck driver crashed into a group of nursing students.

The crash killed five nursing students and severely injured others. Afterwards, the trucking company quietly settled claims from the families of the nursing students killed. However, one of the severely injured nursing students and her lawyer prepared for trial.

In January, a jury awarded $15 Million to this surviving nursing student. The student suffers from a traumatic brain injury caused by the crash. I have two instant takeaways from the jury verdict.

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Photo by C. WilliamsOpioid abuse has become a serious safety issue in car accidents and commercial truck accidents. We frequently investigate personal injury claims caused by an impaired driver. How has the abuse of prescription opioids affecting the commercial trucking industry?

A study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals troubling information. The use of alcohol and drugs among truck drivers on the highway is common. For people who routinely investigate serious commercial trucking accidents, the study simply confirms what they have already seen. Drugs and alcohol are a factor in many deadly commercial truck and car accidents.

The test data shows that alcohol, amphetamines (‘speed’), cannabis, and cocaine, are the most frequently used drugs by truck drivers on the road. That makes sense. In today’s environment, truckers are often paid by the mile and pushed to make hauls. Drugs like amphetamines and cocaine are stimulants which allow truckers to drive longer without sleep.

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Photo by 401kcalculator.orgIn an earlier post I asked — Are Truck Driver Health Issues Causing Accidents? We believe the answer is clearly, yes. Our firm has helped numerous Alabama clients injured in crashes caused by drivers with dangerous health conditions.

We understand commercial truck accident cases and the issues in those cases. Our recent investigations include crashes caused by drivers suffering fatigue from severe sleep apnea, drivers with known histories of seizures and drivers with drug abuse issues. For more information on the significant problem with truck driver health on our highways, you can read our prior post.

Federal regulations require commercial drivers to obtain a medical certification of their health. So, why are dangerously unhealthy truckers allowed on our highways? A primary reason is the medical certification process itself. That process is faulty with few checks or balances. The qualifications required under Federal law to be a medical examiner are low. And, medical certifications are rarely reviewed for accuracy or safety. This leads to a huge problem — biased medical professionals who will certify anyone for a price.

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A recent USA Today article discussed a fatal bus crash caused by a commercial driver with a history of seizures. According to the article:

The school-bus driver involved in a Baltimore crash last month that killed six people had a history of seizures and a dozen safety incidents in the past five years, federal crash investigators said Wednesday.

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration officials notified Glenn Chappell two months before the crash that he wasn’t authorized to drive a commercial vehicle because his medical certificate wasn’t on file with the state, according to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Earlier this summer an administrative law judge at the Department of Labor ruled for a truck driver who was fired when he refused to violate federal safety rules limiting driver hours. The judge awarded the trucker back pay plus compensatory and punitive damages.

The article about the incident tells a story that is far too common — a trucking company pushes its driver to exceed safety rules which protect us on the highway. In this story, the trucker refused to break the rules. And, the company fired him. In an effort to excuse the firing, the trucking company later argued the driver had refused other loads, was late to a meeting and ignored calls from the company dispatcher. Yet, the documents and other evidence did not support these “claimed” reasons for the termination. These other reasons were simply not true.

Too many truck drivers face pressure to break the rules. Pressure to violate service hour limits. Pressure to drive trucks exceeding weight limits. Pressure to continue driving trucks with faulty equipment. Pressure to act in a way that puts the rest of us in danger. Many needless personal injuries and deaths are the result. It’s good to read this story of a trucker who put safety first and was supported by the administrative law judge.

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Earlier this week, I wrote a post discussing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) push to install speed limiting devices in heavy commercial trucks. You can read that post at — Proposed Rule Would Stop Speeding Truckers. I think the proposal is an important safety step. At our firm, we have seen far too many families destroyed by a tragic highway crash involving an eighteen wheeler truck.

Much of the trucking industry supports the proposal for speed limiting devices. However, some drivers oppose the new rule. Some of the negative commentary is disappointing and troubling — such as threats to block lanes, generalized complaints against all regulation, claims that regular drivers cause all problems and protests that truckers should be allowed to drive as fast as they want. Such protests should not be a part of this important safety discussion.

However, we do understand valid concerns by some truck drivers that highway conditions or traffic flows might require a temporary change in speed. The DOT has proposed a period of discussion to determine the maximum speed setting for the new devices. While a slight increase may be understandable to account for these temporary conditions, does any fully loaded eighteen wheeler need to barrel down the highway as fast as its engine will allow? Certainly not. A reasonable limit exists and should be applied. A reasonable limit would protect lives.

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You are driving down the highway at a safe speed. You check your rear-view mirror. You see an eighteen wheeler rapidly approaching the back of your vehicle. Before you know it, the large truck is right on your bumper. The truck is not slowing. You quickly move out of the way and the truck roars by you. Most highway drivers know the fear of being around a speeding truck that cannot stop. In our firm, we regularly help families hurt by a negligent commercial truck driver. We know these crashes can cause life-ending and life-changing harm for drivers on our roads.

Speeding big rigs are dangerous for all of us on the highway. Speeding trucks cannot stop in time to avoid accidents, are more likely to jackknife, can topple easily and are difficult to control. Because of these tremendous dangers, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing a new regulation requiring all large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device. This is a device that would simply be installed by the truck manufacturer.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx strongly supports the new safety proposal. According to Secretary Foxx:

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It should have been a day of celebration. A group of nursing students were set to complete their clinical rotations at a nearby hospital. Instead, it became a day of tragedy and mourning. That morning, a tractor-trailer driver crashed into the back of two cars carrying the nurses to their last day of rotations. The violent crash killed five of the students. It left their families and an entire college community in mourning.

In the hours after the deadly tragedy, investigators began to piece together events. Witnesses at the scene described the fiery aftermath of the crash. According to a law enforcement officer:

He came along from behind them and he just did not stop for those cars.