Articles Posted in Trucking Safety News

The FMVCSA (Federal Motor Vehicle Carrier Safety Administration) appears to be taking the first steps toward determining if police accident reports covering commercial trucking collisions are truly sufficient to prove conclusively who or what caused any particular traffic accident. To support this effort, the FMVCSA would reportedly set aside approximately three million dollars annually to cover the costs of such an endeavor.

According to news reports, FMVCSA Administrator, Anne Ferro, described the proposed effort in a meeting of trucking executives yesterday out west. Part of that meeting included discussions on how the federal agency has been approaching the issue of commercial truck crash accountability determination over the years. Based on the history of the issue, according to news reports, this has been a major point of contention between the trucking industry and the government for some time.

As Maryland auto accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys, I and my staff have seen our share of commercial truck wrecks; and we know the extensive damage and serious injury that these events can inflict on people and property. Fatal crashes are not uncommon in this category of highway accident statistics, which makes the question of accountability all the more important to the families of those who have lost their lives in such horrendous accidents.

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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.

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There may be some people who still are surprised when they see or hear of individuals or corporations who regularly operate above the law, but the fact remains that even in these modern times some people and organizations feel they are not responsible to society and its rules. Sadly, not all scofflaws or fly-by-night businesses are caught by local police or the Federal agencies that are charged with regulating certain industries.

As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand the dangers that can be presented to innocent members of the public when a small business or large company skirts the law to make more profit by avoiding regulatory requirements. Being automobile injury and motorcycle accident lawyers, I and my colleagues know very well that some firms in the U.S. trucking industry cut corners to make more money.

These businesses, which are usually in violation of more than one government-mandated rule or regulation, typically do not worry about the negative effect that their actions can have on innocent motorists, pedestrians and even their own drivers. We’ve already mentioned one such company in a previous entry on this blog, but we also have heard of other commercial trucking companies that do not follow the law and who, by their actions, cause other parties losses in terms of property damage, bodily injury or death.

It’s certainly part of human nature to be suspicious of individuals and companies who repeatedly operate in a manner detrimental to the public good. Of course, circumstances must be considered, but it is common for many of the public to be all too willing to give accused persons or corporate entities benefit of the doubt before all the facts are in.

Here in the U.S., an individual is considered innocent until proven guilty, but at the same time it is the job of prosecutors and plaintiffs’ lawyers to investigate the facts to find evidence proving that the defendant(s) are guilty or responsible for the violation of law with which they have been charged. Sadly, not only do the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, they can also be derailed even after a verdict is brought down against a defendant.

At our firm, as experienced Maryland personal injury lawyers, we have seen examples of companies and individuals who have been able to avoid paying their penance for various offenses against individual citizens as well as the state. Not long ago, we came across a news item that illustrates what can happen when a company that has been found guilty of wrongdoing in a court of law is able to avoid the full punishment of the law through various means. While car accidents and motorcyle wrecks take their toll on motorists, trucking-related crashes can cause some serious carnage.

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For many people the law can sometimes be confusing, and many times frustrating, when they see the wheels of justice turning at what seems a glacial pace; occasionally it appears that legal decisions take a step backwards as well. Some of the more difficult legal decisions are made on issues so divisive that there seems to be no middle ground, yet the law can provide remedies for everyone from time to time.

Slow or not, the results of court cases don’t always please all parties. As Maryland personal injury lawyers representing victims of automobile, trucking and motorcycle accidents, every month we ourselves read about cases that make us scratch our heads. The good news is that the appeals process is available in nearly all instances when a party feels that their point of view was fully understood or valued as much as they may have hoped.

A situation has been brewing down south that on the face of it seems to pit public safety against the individual rights of an employee to keep and perform his job without prejudice from his employer. Frankly, this is a tough legal issue the outcome of which will likely rile more than a few individuals once a decision is reached.

The case in question involves a commercial trucker who self-reported that he had an alcohol abuse problem. According to news articles, following that announcement the driver’s employer took the man off the fleet’s list of permanent drivers. As this obviously directly affected the man’s ability to earn a living, a suit was filed on the man’s behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against his employer citing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Trucking accidents around Maryland and throughout the nation in general take the lives of many thousands of innocent people every year. While most truckers are conscientious individuals, there are a few bad actors behind the wheels of these large, 18-wheeler commercial vehicles; essentially 25-ton missiles plying our roadways. Sadly, even the most diligent truck driver can be fooled into thinking that road conditions are not as bad as they really are.

Especially in winter time, whether driving on the roads around Annapolis, Rockville, the District, or Howie, MD, bad weather conditions can coat the road surface with slick snow, black ice, or slippery sleet. Any of these situations, as well as a dozen more, can lead to a serious traffic accident involving not just one vehicle, but sometimes two, tree or more.

As Baltimore auto accident attorneys and Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know how much property damage and bodily injury can be wrought by a jack-knifed semi tractor-trailer. Even the best drivers can be caught unaware when a winter storm blows in and makes our highways and surface streets virtual ice skating rinks. In fact, as has already happened this season, winter weather forecasts have been the precursor to numerous traffic problems, including closed roads, multi-vehicle collisions and occasional fatal commercial trucking-related wrecks.

According to news articles, there has been a discussion of fitting U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery vehicles with weather collection and transmission equipment to aid in the forecasting and reporting of real-time road conditions in certain geographical areas. Aside from this kind of preventative measure, it’s important to understand that some commercial truck drivers simply don’t make allowances for bad weather conditions.

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As professionals operating massive and potentially dangerous motor vehicles on public roads, truckers and the commercial fleet operators that employ them have both a moral and legal responsibility to the driving public. The firms are required to maintain their trucks to federal standards and to operate them safely on the nation’s highways. Unfortunately, with so many commercial vehicles plying the roads, there are bound to be more than a few poor drivers and some less-than-scrupulous trucking firms.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers representing victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents, we know all too well the damage and harm that even a single semi tractor-trailer or large delivery truck can do to a passenger car, minivan or sport utility vehicle. Needless to say, the occupants of these smaller vehicles can receive serious and sometimes fatal injuries as a result of a commercial trucking wreck.

During a car-truck collision, the extent of bodily injury can range from lacerations and broken bones to internal injuries and closed-head trauma. Depending on the circumstances and other factors, vehicle fires can also erupt threatening any occupant who happens to be trapped inside the passenger car. As one might imagine, many traffic accidents involving large trucks — such as Peterbilts, Macks and Kenworths — can cause fatal injuries as well.

When the negligent party is found to be the trucker or company that employed him or her, it is likely that the victim or his family may seek to file a personal injury claim against those negligent parties. According to recent news reports, a Maryland trucking firm that was deemed to be a hazard to public safety was ordered to shut down its operations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

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As professionals, commercial truck drivers are responsible for the safe operation of their rigs. However, this in no way should suggest that trucking-related traffic accidents cannot happen. In fact, tractor-trailers and commercial delivery trucks collide with passenger cars, SUVs, minivans and motorcycles with alarming frequency. The reasons are varied, but driver error usually tops the list of suspected causes of 18-wheeler wrecks.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my legal staff follow news articles and television reports regarding some of the more dangerous and deadly big rig road accidents. Aside from driver error, defective equipment can be a cause of some truck-car collisions. Due to the shear size and mass of a semi tractor-trailer, injuries and property damage resulting from a commercial truck wreck tend to be more severe and extensive than those encountered in passenger car or smaller motor vehicle traffic accidents.

As stated earlier, truck drivers are considered professional drivers and as such these individuals are required to obey specific federal and state commercial vehicle safety laws, including those specified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). As part of these regulations, there are a number of requirements that are supposed to limit or reduce instances of driver fatigue, which has proven to be a common cause of trucking-related accidents in the past.

When it comes the vehicles themselves, mechanical inspections mandated by state and federal law can also go a long way toward preventing a large number of traffic accidents involving trucks and other passenger vehicles. Because of their size, commercial vehicles typically have a large number of moving parts and carious safety components which need to work in concert to allow the driver to operate the vehicle safely on public roads.

Numerous cases of equipment failures that caused or contributed in part to serious or fatal trucking collisions have been litigated over the years. Under federal law, trucking operators are required to conduct pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections and also to record the results of those inspections in a log book for future reference. Should a trucker fail to adequately inspect every aspect of a commercial truck’s basic mechanical components for wear or defect, that driver may be guilty of negligence should one of those components fail and cause a serious or fatal roadway accident.

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Whether it’s a Mack, International, Peterbilt or Freightliner, commercial trucks such as these large and heavy 18-wheel rigs can cause tragic accidents resulting in serious bodily injury and significant property damage. Most drivers already know, simply from the shear size of semi tractor-trailers, that these vehicles should be given a wide berth. Even so, hundreds of motor vehicle accidents happen every year in Maryland due to collisions between passenger cars and large trucks.

As Baltimore automobile accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers, I and my staff have an intimate knowledge of the carnage that an out-of-control big rig can cause to a smaller motor vehicles, such as sedans, SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks, and especially pedestrians, motorcycles and scooters. Serious traffic accidents that are caused by the negligent action of a truck driver can end up costing lives, or at the very least, the livelihoods of those persons who are critically injured as a result of the traffic accident.

Here in Baltimore, not to mention other busy urban centers throughout Maryland, car drivers and motorcyclists must exercise a great deal of caution when traveling near industrialized areas of the city. The large trucks that travel in and around these commercial zones can weigh as much at 80,000 pounds, including the trailer. That’s more mass than two dozen minivans all headed in the same direction.

It’s no surprise that even larger passenger vehicles, such as SUVs, limousines and pickup trucks are no match for a fully-loaded big rig. In the event of a crash between a loaded 18-wheeler and a family minivan, the semi would likely crush the passenger vehicle, injuring many of the occupants riding inside, or possibly killing some of them, if not all.

As a Maryland injury attorney representing victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents, I have seen and heard gut-wrenching stories of motorists severely injured in tractor-trailer collisions, gasoline tanker accidents, and multi-vehicle trucking wrecks. Any individual who is caught in such a horrendous accident resulting from a truck driver’s possible negligent actions should speak with a qualified injury attorney to better understand their rights.

Statistics have shown that injuries resulting from trucking-related traffic accidents can be many times more serious and life-threatening than those sustained in car-to-car crashes. Some of the common types of bodily injury following a truck accident include neck and head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones and other serious injures that can lead to permanent and many times painful disability.

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The next time you’re out on the road, this story might make you think twice about following an 18-wheeler. While most people may associate fatal trucking-related traffic accidents with a smaller car, minivan or SUV being struck by a much larger and heavier semi tractor-trailer rig or commercial delivery truck, hundreds of people nationwide die every year as a result of passenger cars running into the rear of semi trailers.

As Baltimore auto accident attorneys and personal injury lawyers, we understand how severe these so-called under-ride accidents can be. And without the proper under-ride protection on the rear end of a long-haul trailer, the occupants in the passenger car can easily be decapitated during the collision. Fatal traffic crashes of this sort don’t necessarily have to be high-speed incidents either.

At the very least, cuts, bruises and broken bones are possible as a result of an under-ride collision. Worse still, neck and spinal injury can occur, as can traumatic brain injury. Depending on the circumstances, some individuals who survive this type of wreck can be paralyzed and require weeks or months of physical therapy to bring them back to something approaching a normal life.

Families of victims can end up suffering financially long after their loved one has been hurt or killed. This is especially true when the victim is a primary wage earning for the family. The news today indicates that the under-ride prevention methods and structures used on many tractor-trailers may prove inadequate when they are actually needed in a crash. Poorly designed parts or incorrectly installed components could result in a much more serious outcome for a drive hitting the back of a trailer.

According to the news, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted tests using a properly-fitted under-ride preventer on a semi trailer and found that federal standards for these rear under-ride guards should be made stricter. Based on video shown by various news outlets, it appears that the IIHS has a point.

In one of the IIHS videos, a Chevy Malibu impacts the rear of a tractor-trailer at 35mph. Even though the Malibu has a 5-star safety ranking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the semi trailer is fitted with a conforming under-ride guard, the front seat passengers could likely have been killed as a result that crash. As the reporter states, hitting a brick wall would actually be safer.

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