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Articles Posted in Commercial Truck Injury

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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.

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A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study places the annual cost of automobile crashes at $871 Billion. That’s a figure so large, it’s almost unimaginable. Although huge, this money is nothing compared to the suffering and loss of life from car crashes. As the U.S. Transportation Secretary said:

No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes.

The NHTSA study recorded some 32,999 highway deaths and 3.9 Million injuries in just one year. According to the study, just three driver behaviors accounted for over half of all automobile accident costs. These bad driver behaviors and my comments on each are:

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In a February post, I discussed the dangerous issue of truck driver fatigue. Many people know the story of comedian Tracy Morgan who suffered a brain injury in a crash caused by a severely fatigued truck driver. I’ve written about that case The driver who caused Morgan’s severe injuries had been operating his truck for far too many hours without rest. That’s not acceptable.

As drivers, we share Alabama roads and highways with large commercial vehicles. Many commercial truck drivers practice safe driving. Yet, a few do not. Some commercial truck drivers ignore safety, operate carelessly, disregard other drivers or drive their trucks while severely fatigued. Truck driver fatigue is a major safety hazard on our highways. Despite this known danger, trucking company lobbyists continue to push for relaxed rules that would allow longer driver hours. Again, that’s not acceptable.

My prior post lists trucker hours and trucker health as two main causes of fatigue. The issue of long trucker hours is well known. Yet, many people are unaware of the significant dangers from truck driver health problems.

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The Insurance Journal recently discussed a tragic highway death. A trucker fell asleep and fatally struck another person. Trucker fatigue is a tremendous hazard that is all too common on our highways. According to a recent survey, one-half of the truckers on our roads admitted to falling asleep while driving in the course of a year. That’s right – half of all truckers fell asleep while driving in a single year. That fact is alarming.

Despite the danger of deadly accidents from trucker fatigue, trucking company lobbyists have been pushing for rule changes allowing longer trucker hours. For a discussion about trucking industry efforts to make our roads less safe, please see our post Trucking Lobbyists Push To Relax Safety Rules. We have been following closely the push by industry lobbyists to change important safety rules.

Here are two major reasons for dangerous trucker fatigue.

  1. Trucker Hours. Last year, we resolved a commercial trucking case where the driver had caused several prior crashes. Despite a poor safety record, that driver had not been disciplined for any of the prior wrecks. Yet, the one time that driver was late with a delivery, the company threatened him with termination. The message was clear — on the road hours were more important than safety. Truck drivers often face tremendous pressure to drive as many hours as possible.
  2. Trucker Health. Much of the focus on driver fatigue concerns driver hours. And, it should. However, driver health is often an overlooked factor on the issue of driver fatigue. Last year, we resolved a large truck case where the trucker did not see our client in time to avoid the crash. A more alert driver would have seen and avoided the collision with our client. Our investigation revealed a driver with a long history of major sleep apnea. The driver stayed fatigued due a lack of sleep. While the trucking company’s doctor expressed significant safety concerns in the medical records, he still cleared the driver for service. Many truck drivers face health conditions affecting their ability to rest or function physically. We see truckers with severe sleep apnea, painful back injuries, or other health conditions requiring unsafe medications. In truck wreck cases, it is important to investigate thoroughly the truck driver’s medical condition as well as his actions in the days leading up to the crash. Continue reading →
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The trucks sped to their delivery destination full of freight. I watched them pass the spot where a year earlier another truck had crashed into a small car, severely injuring my client. Why did that trucking company continue to employ a driver cited on several prior occasions for an overweight truck? The answer is simple — more freight means more profit. Yet, it comes at a huge cost in safety to the rest of us on the highway.

Overweight trucks are dangerous on our roads and highways. Large overweight eighteen wheel trucks are dangerous on our Interstates. Overweight log trucks are dangerous on our rural roads. Most of us have seen a speeding commercial truck barreling down the road out of control and unable to stop. What are some of the added dangers presented by overweight commercial trucks?

  • Extra weight increases the braking distance. It is more difficult for the driver to react and stop.
  • Extra weight increases the likelihood of dangerous tire blowouts.
  • Extra weight increases the risk a load will shift or spill causing truck instability on the highway.
  • Extra weight increases the difficulty of steering and truck control.

Continue reading →

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Alabama Truck Accident Lawyers At Blackwell Law Firmrecent article discusses a Georgia truck driver barred from driving by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) due to personal health issues. Do you know if the driver of that big truck next to you on the highway is healthy and safe? Commercial drivers with serious health issues are a major safety issue on our highways.

A recent FMCSA study of truck driver health paints a troubling picture. According to the study comparing long-haul truck drivers to other workers:

  • Obesity in truck drivers is twice as high
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Commercial Truck Accident LawyersAccording to a recent Salon article:

Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Salon then states the obvious assumption:

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Blackwell Law Firm -- Alabama Truck Accident LawyersIn June, a Walmart driver slammed his truck into the back of a limousine carrying comedians Tracy Morgan and James McNair. Morgan suffered severe personal injury. The collision killed McNair.

The crash generated much media discussion about highway safety and, particularly, the safety of large commercial trucks on our roads. Morgan sued Walmart as a result of the truck driver’s negligence. In his suit, Morgan contends the truck driver had not slept in 24 hours prior to the accident. Fatigued truck drivers pushed to make quick deliveries are real and far too common dangers on our highways.

I have represented individuals in cases against Walmart in the past. I always expect Walmart to fight as hard as possible to avoid accountability or liability. Walmart even takes a hard line when its own employees are hurt on the job! Ask a seriously injured Walmart worker if the company provided workers’ compensation benefits without a fight! Maybe the public spotlight and scrutiny will make Morgan’s case different? Maybe Walmart will treat Morgan better than others in an effort to avoid bad publicity? Maybe? I don’t know what course the retailer will take in his case. It looks like Walmart began defending the claims as it does most others. That’s a shame.

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