Articles Posted in Truck Accident

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented new rules as of July 1, 2013 that will affect long-haul truckers across the country. The new set of rules aims to improve safety for motorists and truckers alike by attempting to reduce truck driver fatigue. Truck driver fatigue has been the cause of a number of accidents. If you have been injured as a result of a trucking accident, we encourage you to speak with a Tennessee attorney. Below you can watch a recent interview on the topic with our attorney, Jim Higgins:


 

The FMCSA, the agency that promulgated the rules, was created in 2000 to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that involve large trucks and buses. The FMCSA believes that the new rules are just another step in protecting the safety of motorists and truckers. Spokesperson for the agency Duane DeBruyne stated,” We believe the safety benefits provided by the rule are paramount.”

The rule has four basic changes which will affect truckers’ hours-of-service. Those changes include:
• Limiting long-haul truck drivers to no more than eight hours of continuous driving before the driver is required to take a 30-minute break. Also, there must be no more than 11 hours total driving following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
• Reducing the maximum number of hours a truck driver can drive during a work week by 12 hours. That number had been 82 driving hours per week but will now be limited to 70 driving hours per week.
• Requiring truck drivers who maximize their weekly driving hours to take rest at least from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. for two nights. This requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows a driver to restart his or her total time worked in a work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
• Clarifying how a driver can count his or her hours in the cab’s sleeper berth, in addition to being off duty, in computing overall hours-of-service.

The FMCSA will levy fines on trucking companies who violate the rules. The penalties will range from $1,000 to $11,000 depending on the severity of the violation. In addition, drivers themselves could face civil penalties up to $2,750 for each offense.

The trucking industry has been very opposed to the implementation of the new rules. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) contends that further regulation will have a negative effect on drivers’ pay and the cost of shipping. The ATA believes the previously existing rules were working well already to reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks.
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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were created with the goal of keeping our road safe. One key area of the act is to limit the number of hours a truck driver can operate his or her vehicle. The obvious purpose of this restriction is to simply keep the truck driver from operating the truck while they are too tired. Doing so will only put the public in danger as well as the truck driver. Unfortunately, our Tennessee Truck Accident Lawyers have seen the deadly result of a fatigued driver too many times.

A tragic example of the dangers of driving while fatigued can be seen in a recently filed trucking wrongful death lawsuit. Jim Higgins recently gave an interview to discuss this tragic case. You can watch the interview below:

 

 
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Should I pay the ticket or try to fight it?

The Government is giving out Speeding Tickets in record numbers. They are also giving out other types of moving violations. Many people who get Speeding Tickets in Tennessee are traveling through the state and are not familiar with the many speed limit changes that occur on Tennessee highways. Tennessee Speeding ticket police are there waiting to get you when the posted speed changes. Speeding tickets in Tennessee get reported to your home state as soon as you mail in your money and plead guilty.

The effect that a Tennessee Speeding ticket has on your insurance premiums is shocking. The Speeding ticket fine and court fees are just the tip of an iceberg. Your insurance is what matters. Your points will stay on your driving record for at least a year. Points on you record can have a dramatic impact on your insurance premiums. When or if you ever try to get coverage on a new policy, a TN speeding ticket can preclude you from obtaining insurance coverage. If the speed is extremely high, your premiums may be the least of your worries. Many judges in the State of Tennessee will actually require you to do jail time if he speed is excessive. You should not pay your Tennessee speeding/traffic ticket fines without a fight. If A Tennessee Traffic Ticket Lawyer can often appear for you if you are out of state, get the fines reduced, and give you a chance of getting the speeding ticket dismissed altogether.

It seems to me that too often lawyers and the public think of truck accident cases just like in other car wreck case. Unfortunately, this failure to consider a truck accident case as unique often a tragic mistake. In doing so, the trucking company may escape responsibility for putting an unsafe vehicle on the road, pushing a driver to the point of exhaustion and/or putting profits over public safety. Although there is a long list of items my office considers in any trucking case I would like to set forth a few that we often see in this blog and the next few blogs to come. I will start with the rear end collision:

First, people often believe that rear in cases are always the fault of the driver that collides into the rear of a vehicle. This is not always the case. When a passenger vehicle impacts the back or side of a large truck and/or tractor-trailer, running beneath it, the resulting accident is termed “under ride.” Sometime an underide collisions is not a fault of the driver following the truck. Specifically, some of the reasons an under-ride occurs are:

1. The truck has no guard designed to prevent these types of accidents.

Tennessee big rig truckers know that every two years commercial drivers need a physical to renew their commercial driver’s license or “CDL”. This CDL examination ensures the driver is in good health–or at least in good enough health to drive a big rig or a school bus. A federal study released Monday by the Government Accountability Office reveals that over half a million commercial drivers who’ve passed their CDL physical are either eligible for, and many already receive, full disability benefits from the federal government.

In GOA’s study to be presented tomorrow during the House Transportation Committee hearing on trucker’s health and safety, researchers reviewed the medical records for CDL holders in 12 states, including Tennessee. What they found was that more than 562,000 bus drivers and truckers passing their CDL physical may be a danger on the road because of disabilities ranging from epilepsy to impaired hearing and vision. In Tennessee, about 1 in 20 licensed semi-truck and bus drivers are actively receiving full disability benefits-and nearly half of these disabled persons were considered fully disabled when they passed their test to be a Tennessee bus or truck driver. As the report states:

Commercial drivers with serious medical conditions, even those whose conditions qualify them for full federal disability benefits, can still meet DOT medical fitness requirements to safely operate a commercial vehicle and thus hold CDLs. However, there is general agreement that careful medical evaluations are necessary to ensure that serious medical conditions do not preclude the safe operation of a commercial vehicle.

This year the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it will open the southern U.S. border to Mexican interstate trucking companies. Unfortunately, in 2005 the DOT Inspector General found that there is inadequate border safety facilities, that many of these Mexican trucking companies failed to have accurate data about Mexican trucks and drivers, that they failed to certify random drug and alcohol testing already required of U.S. truck drivers.

Another concern is that the Mexican truck drivers ignore drive time limits and will suffer from driver fatigue. Fatigue is a recognized a widespread industry problem that contributes to truck-related crashes and is a major safety concern for truck drivers entering the U.S. John Lannen, the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition stated “I am deeply troubled that DOT is looking the other way on the problem of fatigued and sleep-deprived Mexican truck drivers”. According to Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.). “The U.S. DOT knows that more than 15 percent of Mexican truck drivers entering the U.S. don’t even have the paper logbooks that are currently required to show the amount of working, driving, and rest time. We have no proof that Mexican drivers will not continue to flout U.S. limits on driving time and fail to keep proper time records,”

I have represented families in Tennessee and throughout the United States that have lost loved ones or been tragically injured in trucking accidents. It is imperative that we keep are highways safe and this latest government move is not a step in the right direction. We have plenty of good drivers in this Country and we do not need to lower the bar.

Over the past couple of months there have been several devastating automobile accidents in Tennessee. Also, the tragic death of Metro Officer Christy Dedman, who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer while assisting a stranded motorist on I-40 in July 2004, in Nashville, Tennessee helped bring to light the impact of these accidents on families and the public and prompted a change in the law.

After the Dedman accident an initiative began which lead to the MOVE OVER law in Tennessee. The move over law requires drivers who are approaching a stopped emergency responder of any kind on a highway or interstate to move over if a lane is available, or to slow down if you cannot change lanes.

This has been a great initiative to avoid senseless loses. I believe are next step to avoid accidents is to strictly enforce laws requiring truckers to comply with the hours restrictions placed upon them by the federal government. To often, truck drivers are forced by their company to get products to the destination no matter what the cost. This often results in the drivers pushing themselves behind their limits. Truck drivers who routinely get too little sleep or suffer from sleep apnea show signs of fatigue and impaired performance that can make them a hazard on the road.

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