Say what you might about the efficacy of certain government programs, but the efforts put forth by our police agencies can sometimes surprise in a positive way when it comes to improving traffic safety across our state. Of course, one of the more deadly kinds of roadway accident is the ever-present danger of a semi tractor-trailer wreck that involves innocent passengers in cars, SUVs or even motorcycles caught in the crash.
With the size and weight disparity between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks, it should not come as any surprise that occupants of smaller, less massive sedans, minivans and sport utility vehicles are at high risk of injury or even death following a trucking-related collision. Combine this with the possibility of dangerous, hazardous, flammable or toxic cargo being hauled by these huge motor vehicles and you have the potential for a deadly accident should even a single 18-wheeler go out of control on a Maryland highway or interstate.
Naturally, state and local police agencies are well aware of the daily hazards facing the road-going public here in the Baltimore area, out in Annapolis and over in The District. Aside from the numerous pedestrian-related traffic collisions in our larger cities, multiple-vehicle collisions and other commercial vehicle wrecks can injure many people in the same crash, sometimes killing a few individuals as well. There is always a good argument for regulating the trucking industry when it comes to public safety.
We were reminded of this a few weeks back after coming across a story on a dragnet thrown out by the Maryland State Police. In this particular instance, the MSP ran a truck-safety dragnet at FedEx Field just off the Capital Beltway, which allowed officers to review the safety of more than 400 commercial trucks. In a nutshell, the truck-safety dragnet identified almost 90 vehicles as potential hazards, as well as snagging a dozen drivers for various violations.
The violations ranged from falsified trucking log books, poorly maintained tries and braking systems to drivers exceeding their mandated maximum on-the-road driving hours. Apparently some drivers chose to avoid the inspection area by going off the interstate and onto secondary routes and back roads, as well as just ignoring the turn-off and continuing to drive. Those who reportedly drove on without stopping were chased down by patrol vehicles and ticketed. Others were apparently caught far afield and escorted back to the inspection area.
This was a show of force by the MSP and other traffic safety personnel that trucking safety is foremost in everyone’s mind. But it also pointed up the number of non-conforming vehicles that are typically plying the interstates and cities streets of our state. Of the 420 big-rig semis that were inspected that Tuesday in May, 87 were deemed unfit to travel on Maryland roads. For anyone without a calculator, that’s more than 20 percent of that day’s sample. As motorists, can anyone say they truly feel safe knowing that every fifth tractor-trailer one comes upon on the Beltway violates state or federal safety standards in some way? The public should be a bit more than somewhat concerned.
Of course, as Maryland personal injury attorneys, this doesn’t really surprise us. With the number of traffic-related injury accidents involving 18-wheelers, it’s become a sad fact of life that there are a fair number of individuals in the trucking business who feel that the rules simply do not apply to them. And, too many innocent people are injured or killed by those self-same people every year.
State Police run truck-safety dragnet at FedEx Field, BaltimoreSun.com, May 8, 2012