FMCSA Proposes Truck Driver Drug and Alcohol Test Database

Commercial truck drivers are held to a much higher standard when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs when compared to the average motorist. This makes sense, since the stakes are much higher when it comes to commercial semi-truck drivers. Now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed the establishment of a database that will contain information about driver drug and alcohol tests with the goal of preventing drivers with a substance abuse problem from slipping through the cracks and finding employment in the industry.

The FMCSA recently proposed the establishment of a Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which would function as a database containing information about controlled substance and alcohol test results of commercial truck drivers. All commercial driver license holders would be included in the database.

Under the proposal, commercial motor carriers, employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, as well as third-party agencies would be required to report drug  and alcohol test results to the database.  These persons would also be required to submit information involving alcohol or drug test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results, adulterated and substitute drug test results as well as other kinds of data that relates to driver alcohol and drug use. Additionally, labs that provide commercial motor carriers with drug and alcohol testing services would be required to report information about testing activities and results.

This information would be made available to potential employers around the country, including prospective employers, current employers, and other agencies who would need such information. This would help prevent truck drivers who have positive drug or alcohol test results and have lost their job in one state from obtaining driving jobs in other states. Potential employers would have such information ready at hand, before they make the decision to hire a commercial truck driver.

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GAO Report Finds Fault with Federal Trucking Safety Rating System

Commercial trucking accidents are one of the biggest hazards facing American drivers, and contribute to an average of 4,000 fatalities every year.  Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a system for rating the safety performance of commercial truck companies and bus carriers, a new report finds that the system is inadequate, and delivers incorrect results.

Those are the findings of a new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO recently completed an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.  The Compliance, Safety, Accountability program uses data collected from roadside inspections of trucks and 18- wheelers, as well as data from accident investigations, and uses this information to compare the performance of commercial truck and bus carriers.  Trucks and buses are compared to other carriers of similar size and other characteristics.

The data are then used to increase oversight and scrutiny over the truck and bus carriers that the data finds have the highest number of safety violations. The data are compared with other trucking and bus companies as part of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System.

On the surface, this seems like a good method to predict accident risks.  After all, a trucking or bus company that has a long history of violations may have a higher risk of being involved in fatal or serious injury accidents.  The Government Accountability Office, however, finds that the current method used to establish such ratings is inadequate and often times inappropriately applied. 

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Highway Safety Expected to Be Affected by Government Shutdown

Certain highway safety initiatives across the country are likely to be affected by the federal government shutdown, which is currently in effect. While some agencies that are responsible for auto safety are likely to be negatively impacted, others that are responsible for trucking safety, fortunately, may escape unscathed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is one of those agencies that is expected to be affected by the shutdown and resulting lack of funding.  This is the federal agency that is responsible for highway safety activities across the country, and therefore, this is one shutdown that has the potential to affect the safety of motorists and passengers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be forced to cut several employees as part of the furloughs.  That in turn, could also impact not only highway safety, but also trucking safety to a certain extent, because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also regulates trucking equipment.

The Federal Highway Administration is one of those agencies that is not likely to be affected by the shutdown. This is the agency that is mainly responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of our country’s highway system. 

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Improper Tractor-Trailer Lane Possible Cause of Motorcycle Accident

An improper lane change made by a commercial truck driver is being blamed for a recent fatal motorcycle accident on Interstate 75 in Henry County, GA.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the accident occurred when a motorcyclist traveling northbound was struck by a truck near exit 75 in Henry County. According to initial reports, a southbound truck crossed the median, and crashed into the motorcycle, killing the motorcyclist. So far, it appears that an improper lane change by the tractor-trailer may have started the fatal chain of events, although the investigation is still pending, and no charges have been filed against the tractor-trailer driver.

Every year, more than 4,000 motorcyclists are killed in accidents, and many of these motorcycle accidents are caused by motorists who are inebriated, driving recklessly, or driving while distracted.

One of the major threats facing motorcyclists involves intoxicated car drivers. Motorists operating a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a serious threat to motorcyclists because their vision and reaction times are reduced. Therefore, not only are they less likely to see a motorcycle rider, but when they do, they are often unable to react quickly.

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U.S. DOT Eliminates Truck Safety Inspection Report Requirement

As part of a new reprieve granted by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), truck drivers who perform daily pre-and post-trip safety inspections of their vehicle do not have to file a report if their inspection does not yield any defects.

USDOT has relaxed the requirement that mandated that trucking companies file a report for every inspection conducted by a driver before and after a trip, even if the inspection does not yield any defects. However, that does not mean that truck drivers don't have to conduct inspections anymore. Inspections still have to be conducted as normal, but if no defects are found, the driver does not need to fill out any paperwork.

That means more time savings for truck drivers, and not surprisingly, the trucking industry has been very pleased with this reprieve granted by USDOT. The change comes as part of a directive by President Barack Obama, asking federal agencies to cut down regulation and red tape that could be hindering their business’ ability to make profits.

According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox, this law change is a win-win situation for the industry as well as regulators, because it removes an expensive and cumbersome duty for all trucking companies and truck drivers, while not increasing truck accident risks.

 

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New Federal Rule Governing Trucker Hours of Service Goes into Effect

On July 1, a new federal law that modifies current hours-of-service rules went into effect, affecting thousands of truckers on U.S. highways. The law is meant to help keep our highways safer, and reduce the number of truck accidents caused by drivers who are driving while fatigued or drowsy.

Under the law, truck drivers will be required to take a break of at least a half hour in the first eight hours after they begin driving. The rule also sets a maximum work week of 70 hours, a reduction from the earlier 82-hour limit.

These are significant changes, and have come as a result of concern over the dangers from drowsy truckers on U.S. highways. There have been a number of serious accidents involving truck drivers who were fatigued and sleepy while driving. Drowsy driving is a major safety concern, and it affects not just commercial truckers and bus drivers, but also motorists. In fact, drowsy driving is believed to be one of the most neglected and underestimated safety issues impacting our roads.

However, the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Association, continues to be strongly critical of the new rules that require truck drivers to take more rest during a typical work week. According to their position, this rule will significantly impact the industry’s efficiency, and will increase the number of trips that commercial vehicle drivers will have to make to transport the same amount of cargo.

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Three People Killed in Truck-Ambulance Accident in Georgia

An out-of-control truck is being blamed for a deadly accident in Irwin County in South Georgia recently that killed three people. The accident killed two paramedics and a patient who was being transported to the hospital.

According to reports, the accident occurred on GA 32 in Irwin County when the tractor-trailer and the ambulance were traveling on the highway. The tractor-trailer jackknifed and the trailer collided with the ambulance in a deadly head-on collision that proved devastating for the occupants of the ambulance.  

The Georgia State Patrol's Special Crash Reconstruction Team has begun investigating the accident. No charges have been filed yet, and charges will be filed only after the completion of the investigation.

At this point in time, it seems fairly certain that this accident was caused because the tractor trailer went out of control in the middle of the highway. Jackknifing occurs when a tractor-trailer skids out of control. In such cases, the trailer swings out and into itself at a 90° angle. Keep in mind this is a massive trailer that poses a serious injury risk. The trailer can collide with other vehicles and motorcyclists, crushing them.

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Truck Underride Guards May Not Protect Against Accident Injuries

The angle of a passenger vehicle that is involved in a rear ender accident with a tractor-trailer could mean the difference between life and death for the occupants of the vehicle. This is because the underride guards that are located at the back of the tractor-trailer to protect the occupants of the passenger vehicle from serious injuries when it hits a truck don't perform so well in many situations.

The study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which found that the underride guards located on the back of tractor-trailers, don't always perform as well as expected in reducing the risk to passenger car occupants. 

In some situations, these underride guards did a fairly good job. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, the researchers found that when the full width of the car hit the center of the trailer, the underride guards in all trucks prevented the front portion of the passenger vehicle from sliding under the tractor-trailer. A situation like this can mean almost instantaneous death for the occupants of a passenger vehicle, who may suffer serious head or neck injuries, or even decapitation.

In the 2nd test, only about half of the car’s width hit the back of the tractor-trailer, and in such cases, almost all of the tractor-trailers passed the test. 

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Up to a Quarter of All American Adults May Be at Risk of Drowsy Driving Car Accidents

A new study indicates that lack of sleep and insomnia are huge health problems among American adults.  According to the study which has been published in the medical journal The Lancet, as many as a quarter of all adults are not happy with the amount of sleep they get each night.  In fact, approximately 10% of adults meet the criteria for full-fledged insomnia.  The Atlanta car accident lawyers at our firm unfortunately see far too many serious vehicle accidents due to drowsy or distracted driving.

Researchers based their study on an analysis of previous scientific databases, and findings from major studies conducted on sleep over the past 5 years.  They found several factors that indicated we need to increase awareness about the widespread nature of insomnia, and spotlight the consequences of insomnia. 

Insomnia is associated with a number of health disorders.  According to a report published in 2002, persons who suffer from insomnia are about twice as likely to suffer from congestive heart failure compared to persons who have healthy and normal sleep patterns.  Additionally, these persons will be approximately 5 times as likely to suffer from depression or anxiety-related disorders.  Persons who suffer from insomnia, according to the researchers, may also be at a high risk for substance abuse, and psychological disorders.

Those are not the only effects of insomnia.  Studies have found that persons who suffer from insomnia may suffer from effects very similar to those of sleep deprivation.  Sleep deprivation is different from insomnia.  Sleep deprivation refers to a reduced length of sleep due to lower opportunity to sleep.  However, insomniacs have an inability to sleep in spite of having the opportunity to sleep. 

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Police Looking for Truck Driver Involved in Multivehicle DeKalb Truck Accident

Police in DeKalb County are looking for the driver of a tractor-trailer believed to have triggered a multivehicle truck accident on interstate-285 that left two people dead.

The truck accident occurred on Tuesday when the tractor-trailer apparently hit a Ford Focus, which triggered off a multivehicle crash. The driver of the Focus crashed into a Toyota Camry. The tractor-trailer driver fled the scene of the accident. As a personal injury lawyer, I see far too many hit and run accidents. It is especially shocking that a truck driver who possesses a commercial driver’s license would flee an accident scene.

 When the drivers of the Focus and the Toyota Camry got out of the car to check on the damage, they were both struck by an oncoming car. Both drivers sustained fatal injuries, and were declared dead at the scene. The driver of the last vehicle sustained injuries, and was rushed to the hospital. The wrongful death and personal injury suffered by these drivers was tragic and clearly preventable. Had the truck driver stopped his vehicle and immediately placed warning flares out, the other drivers may very well have not been killed on the interstate.

Police have now launched a hunt for the hit-and-run truck driver. They are likely to file charges against the driver of the tractor-trailer as soon as he is found. 

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Woman, Children Injured in Georgia Truck Accident

Four people, including a woman and three children were injured in a truck accident in Loganville, Georgia. The accident occurred on Friday when a tractor-trailer crashed into an SUV. According to police, the truck accident occurred at an intersection when the tractor-trailer struck the SUV in the left rear quarter panel. Witnesses at the scene have confirmed to police that the SUV driver had the green light. Police have charged the tractor-trailer driver with failure to obey a traffic control device. The female driver of the SUV has also been charged with failure to restrain a child. Her three children were in the car, an eleven-year-old, a ten-year-old and fourteen-year-old, were taken to a hospital.

Failure to obey traffic laws is important for any motorist, but these failures can be critical and can have devastating effects when they involve tractor-trailer drivers. Drivers of these massive commercial trucks are at a high risk of causing an accident when they run red lights, tailgate or break other traffic rules. The risk to motorists in the vicinity of a truck is high because drivers of smaller vehicles involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer are at a much higher risk of being injured. As truck accident attorneys know, an overwhelming majority of accidents that involve a tractor-trailer and a smaller passenger vehicle end with serious personal injury or wrongful death of the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Those are frightening odds for any motorist to beat, and tractor-trailer drivers must always keep that fact in mind. Further, tractor-trailer drivers must avoid dangerous behaviors like speeding or distracted driving. Speeding is believed to be the number one factor in commercial truck accidents in the United States, contributing to more accidents every year than drunk driving or distracted driving. Driving at speeds beyond the posted limits for commercial trucks, or at speeds that are inappropriate for current traffic, weather conditions, can lead to devastating accidents.  

Drivers must also focus 100% of their attention on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation have recently been strengthening their efforts on reducing distracted driving accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers. There is now a ban on texting while driving for commercial truck drivers.

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FMCSA Postpones Publication of Truck Driver Work Rules - Increase in Truck Accidents Likely

Atlanta truck accident lawyers, trucking safety groups and others who have been waiting for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to publish its Hours of Service rules for truck drivers, will have to wait a little longer. Unfortunately, this delay is likely to increase the number of truck accidents and, therefore, the number of persons who suffer personal injury and wrongful death due to these accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released a statement saying that it has decided to postpone publication of the work rules for at least another month.

The agency had been required to meet the deadline of October 28 for the publication of the new rules. However, in a statement, the agency says that several parties that have been opposed to the rule have agreed to an extension of the deadline for publication. The agency expects a deal to be announced on November 28, 2011.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's decision to postpone the publication of the rule is no surprise to any Atlanta truck accident attorney. After all, the agency's proposal to review the Hours of Service for truck drivers has been a controversial one, and is heavily opposed by the trucking industry. 

One of the most controversial aspects of the proposal has been the reduction of the Hours of Service for truckers from the current eleven hours to ten hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has indicated its preference for a reduction of the number of hours that a driver can drive continuously, from eleven hours to ten hours. 

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Increased Truck Weight Limits in Georgia Could Increase Risk of Serious Injuries in Truck Accidents

As more and more states in the country begin to experiment with increasing weight limits for trucks in order to improve trucking efficiency, trucking companies, truck safety groups and Atlanta truck accident attorneys are watching these developments with interest. From a safety point of view, there is nothing to recommend an increase in truck weight limits, no matter how much these increase efficiency. Truck accidents are some of the most dangerous and deadly accidents on our roadways. A significant portion of these accidents result in serious personal injury and wrongful death.

Several states have authorized higher truck weight limits, allowing an increase on the weight of 18- wheelers from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. Congress is also debating such increases in weight limits. Unfortunately, during a recession, calls for increases on truck weight limits have grown louder, because of the potential benefits to the trucking industry. 

According to advocates for an increase in truck weight limits, such an increase will increase efficiency and productivity, lowering the number of trips needed for transportation of cargo. According to them, higher truck weight limits may also lead to lower strain and wear and tear on highways, and reduced maintenance and repair expenses. However, the number one factor behind the trucking industry’s support of increased truck weight limits is the fact that these are expected to save the trucking industry billions of dollars every year.

However, what trucking companies do not like to mention is the increased risk to motor vehicles when tractor-trailer and trucks become bulkier and heavier. According to the Truck Safety Coalition, there were more than 3,500 truck accident-related deaths that occurred in the state of Georgia between 1994 and 2009. The Truck Safety Coalition says that heavier trucks are simply more difficult to control, and take a much longer time to come to a stop when the brakes are applied. Additionally, these trucks may be much more prone to rollover crashes. According to statistics, the risk that a commercial truck accident will result in a death or injury rises with every increased ton of the truck. Supporters of increased truck weight limits say that a vehicle’s braking power will remain the same even with an increase in weight limits.

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Investigations into Fatal Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident Continue

Law enforcement officials are still continuing their investigation into a fatal truck accident near Interstate 85 that left a woman dead. The truck accident occurred over the weekend and involved a blue Kenworth tractor. The tractor struck the woman outside a restaurant. She suffered fatal injuries and died. Accordingly, a wrongful death action may arise out of the collision. However, since the driver of the tractor-trailer did not remain at the scene, such a claim would need to be asserted against the deceased’s uninsured motorist insurance carrier.

A bulletin by the Hart County Sheriff's Office has a description of the driver of the 18-wheeler, who left the scene of the accident. There's nothing to indicate that the driver of the tractor-trailer was aware of the accident, or that it resulted in a fatality. Local Hart County officials are asking any witnesses who saw the tractor to contact them immediately. Police are asking people to look out for a damaged trailer.

Being involved in a commercial truck or tractor trailer accident is one of the most terrifying experiences imaginable. It's not just the size of these vehicles that makes them so intimidating. It's also the bulk that these vehicles pack into their large frames that places smaller vehicles at serious risk when they are involved in accidents. Not surprisingly to many truck accident lawyers, in any accident involving 18- wheelers and smaller vehicles, it is the occupants of the smaller car who are most at risk for injuries or deaths. Even when motorists survive these accidents, they may suffer from debilitating injuries that require extensive hospitalization, surgery and long-term care.

A tractor-trailer accident claim in Georgia can differ significantly from a regular auto accident claim. When a person is involved in an accident with a truck, he is dealing not just with the driver of the 18-wheeler, but also the trucking company that owns and operates the truck. In contrast, in an auto accident, it may only be you against the other motorist. 

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Increase in Motorcycle Accidents in Metro Atlanta

Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyers have been concerned about a spike in motorcycle accidents on metro Atlanta highways recently. Just last week, a motorcyclist was fatally injured in an accident involving his motorcycle and a tractor-trailer. The truck accident occurred in Gwinnett County, and has been blamed on an airborne tire tread from the tractor-trailer.

According to police, the thirty-five-year-old motorcyclist was riding his vehicle in the left lane of northbound I-85 when his motorcycle struck the tire tread. The impact caused the motorcyclist to lose control. He was lying in the center lane of the highway, and in the path of an oncoming 18- wheeler. The truck driver did not see him, and ran over him. He was rushed to the Gwinnett Medical Center, but died.

This is the most recent in a series of motorcycle accidents that have left Atlanta personal injury lawyers very concerned. In recent months, according to police officers, there have been at least half a dozen motorcyclists killed in accidents in metro Atlanta highways. In August, a motorcyclist was killed in an accident involving two vehicles. He had been riding a Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle, when his motorcycle was struck by two vehicles on I-75 near Cobb County. He sustained fatal injuries. Police believe that the accident was caused by a Porsche driver who fled the scene of the accident. Both the driver and his passenger were located by police about two weeks later.

Another accident in south Fulton County involved a motorcycle and a sports utility vehicle that had stopped with a flat tire.   A 74-year-old riding a Harley-Davidson struck the stopped SUV. In May, a female motorist was accused of crashing into a motorcycle and killing a student. That driver was arrested earlier for DUI.

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Investigations into Fatal Georgia Tractor-Trailer Accident Continue

Law enforcement officials are still continuing their investigation into a fatal truck accident near Interstate 85 that left a woman dead. The truck accident occurred over the weekend and involved a blue Kenworth tractor. The tractor struck the woman outside a restaurant. She suffered fatal injuries and died. Of course, the results of the investigation could result in a wrongful death lawsuit if the truck driver is located and found to be responsible for the accident.

A bulletin by the Hart County Sheriff's Office has a description of the driver of the 18-wheeler, who left the scene of the accident. There's nothing to indicate that the driver of the tractor-trailer was aware of the accident, or that it resulted in a fatality. Local Hart County officials are asking any witnesses who saw the tractor to contact them immediately. Police are asking people to look out for a damaged trailer.

Being involved in a commercial truck or tractor trailer accident is one of the most terrifying experiences imaginable. It's not just the size of these vehicles that makes them so intimidating. It's also the bulk that these vehicles pack into their large frames that places smaller vehicles at serious risk when they are involved in accidents. Not surprisingly to Atlanta truck accident lawyers, in any accident involving 18- wheelers and smaller vehicles, it is the occupants of the smaller car who are most at risk for injuries or deaths. Even when motorists survive these accidents, they may suffer from a debilitating personal injury that require extensive hospitalization, surgery and long-term care.

A tractor-trailer accident claim in Georgia can differ significantly from a regular auto accident claim. When a person is involved in an accident with a truck, he is dealing not just with the driver of the 18-wheeler, but also the trucking company that owns and operates the truck as well as its insurance carrier. In contrast, in an auto accident, it may only be you against the other motorist. 

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Mexico Trucking-Trade Agreement Poses Safety Concerns

A new agreement between the United States and Mexico would lift tariffs on US goods in Mexico, in return for allowing Mexican trucks to carry freight within the US. It's a controversial agreement, and Atlanta truck accident lawyers are concerned about the trucking safety records of Mexican companies. Truck accidents often result in serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

The deal was announced last month by the Department of Transportation. Already trucking safety groups have raised questions about whether Mexican trucks will be able to meet safety standards in the United States. The Teamsters Union has already made clear its concerns about trucking safety. 

However, the Department of Transportation says that there is no need to worry, and that Mexican drivers will be held to the same high standards that American drivers are. According to the agency, Mexican truck drivers will be put through drug and alcohol tests to make sure that there are no intoxicated drivers on the street. Besides, the Department of Transportation will also electronically monitor truck drivers through onboard recorders. These truckers will also be held to high emission safety standards.

However, all these assurances are doing nothing to placate the concerns of Atlanta truck accident lawyers. For one thing, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s assurances about the safety of Mexican trucks have been debunked earlier. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had released the results of studies which showed that Mexican trucks have a high 90% compliance rate with US regulations. Those studies have been criticized by the Department of Transportation Inspector General. According to the Inspector General, the research was flawed because it failed to take into consideration random border crossings. Additionally, the research failed to consider the fact that trucks built in Mexico after 1996 may not be compliant with US safety regulations.

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Mandatory Stability Control Systems Could Minimize Rollover Truck Accident Risks

Mandatory stability control systems in all tractor-trailers, especially tanker trucks, could help prevent as many as 3,600 rollover accidents every year and save more than 100 lives in these accidents annually. It's the reason why Atlanta truck accident lawyers have strongly called for such systems in all commercial trucks. The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on a number of federal agencies to work together to implement rollover accident prevention systems for commercial trucks and buses.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s concern over truck rollover accidents comes through in its report into a truck accident in Indianapolis in 2009. The accident which injured five people was ultimately blamed on a tanker truck careening out of control, and flipping over, setting off an explosion. The tanker truck had been loaded with 9,100 gallons of liquefied petroleum gas at the time.

Tanker trucks represent just 6% of the total number of trucks in the country, but account for more than 30% of all fatal truck rollover accidents. Tankers carry liquid cargo, and this cargo may be prone to shifting while in transport. This shift can cause a redistribution of weight, possibly causing the truck to flip over. Tanker trucks very often carry hazardous materials like gasoline, and so, the risks from a rollover accident do not end as soon as the truck flips over. In most of these cases, the hazardous material can leak, posing a serious risk of explosions, fires and toxic exposure.

In the Indianapolis accident, the National Transportation Safety Board mentions a number of factors, including road design and reckless driving. In particular, the report mentions excessive and faulty use of the steering mechanism. However, the National Transportation Safety Board says that this accident could have been prevented if the tanker truck had come with stability control systems to minimize the risks of rollover.

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Children Narrowly Escape Injuries in Fulton County Truck Accident

Several children barely escaped injuries when a work truck crashed into a swimming pool in Johns Creek, Fulton County this week. The accident occurred on Monday, when the work truck crashed through a fence surrounding the pool, and into the water. There were about 12 people in the water at the time, including children. At least one child escaped injuries when the truck flew right over his head and into the pool. According to witnesses at the scene, another child almost got sucked under the truck.

This accident proves to Atlanta car accident lawyers the crash risks involving motorists with chronic illnesses. However, the risks to drivers who suffer a medical condition at the wheel would soon be reduced if plans to develop a car that monitors human health come to fruition. 

It is extremely fortunate that no one was injured in this accident. Police believe that the driver had a medical condition and blacked out at the wheel, causing him to lose control of his vehicle. It was most likely a diabetic coma that caused him to black out. The driver sustained minor injuries, and was taken to the hospital for treatment. No charges have been filed against him.

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it is working together with a number of medical and health technology companies to develop human health monitoring systems for its vehicles. These technologies would be incorporated into Ford's Sync system. So far, the company has tested an allergy monitoring system that would use web-based information and the car’s GPS to display pollen levels in the road that the driver wants to take. Engineers have also tested a device that continuously monitors a diabetic driver's glucose levels, letting him know when he is in danger of his levels dropping too low. What's more, the device will even direct him to the nearest restaurant, and suggest foods that will help increase blood sugar levels.

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Bill to Prevent Tractor-Trailer Accidents Linked to Drug Use

Atlanta truck accident lawyers have been aware for a while now that federal trucking safety laws governing drug and alcohol use by truck drivers have far too many loopholes that allow a truck driver with a drug use history, to slip through. The new bill would plug these loopholes, essentially weeding out drug users from the system. Truck accidents generally result in severe personal injuries and a wrongful death. When these accidents involve a truck driver who has been using drugs or alcohol, the outcome is not only tragic, but preventable.

The legislation, called the Safe Roads Act, has been introduced by US Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman. The legislation would implement the recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office, advising the establishment of a driver test database. The database would contain information about positive drug test results from commercial truck and bus drivers from around the country. 

The database can be used by trucking companies before they hire a prospective employee. Doctors, trucking companies and service agents would be required to furnish updated and accurate information about positive drug test results. With accurate, reliable and frequently updated information available, trucking companies would be able to make safe hiring decisions, thereby reducing the risk of trucking accidents involving one of their vehicles.

Currently, truck drivers with a drug use history are able to find employment because they conceal this information from their future employers. Often, trucking companies do not have access to the information they need to hire a safer driver. Both of these problems can be solved with the establishment of the database. 

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are at a high risk of drug use and abuse. The trucking industry has always denied that there's a problem with truck drivers who are able to find jobs at trucking companies even with a prior history of drug use. However, Atlanta truck accident attorneys have been aware for a while that the current system is rife with loopholes that fail to keep such drivers out of the system.

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Survey Finds Americans Want More Traffic Safety Laws to Prevent Car Accidents

A new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that Americans would rather have more government interference in matters of traffic safety to prevent auto accidents, truck accidents and motorcycle accidents. Of course, these accidents often result in serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths.   According to the survey, 62% of Americans want more traffic safety laws to reduce poor driving behaviors and minimize accident risks. What's more, 57% of respondents wanted their individual states to get more involved in making the roads safer. This is an indication to Atlanta car accident attorneys that there is plenty of support for recent moves in Georgia to enact mandatory seatbelt laws for all, and ban texting while driving for all motorists.

According to the survey, 70% of Americans feel that traffic safety laws should be strictly enforced. There's a lesson here for Atlanta and throughout Georgia which has recently banned texting while driving - laws can be meaningless unless these are enforced and violators penalized sufficiently. 

Additionally, the survey also indicates that there is plenty of support for tough teen driver licensing standards. 86% of the respondents believe that new drivers should be required to complete a driver’s education course before they are allowed a driver’s license. American motorists also want to see automakers invest in technologies that will help prevent accidents and keep motorists safe. 60% of the respondents wanted automakers to do more to make their vehicles safer. 

There are really no surprises in this survey for Atlanta car accident lawyers. One of the factors contributing to the declining rate of traffic accident deaths in Georgia has been strict state and local action against devastating driving behaviors, like drunk driving and distracted driving. Several states around the country, including Georgia, have passed laws aimed at keeping intoxicated motorists off the street. Newer laws prohibit drivers from texting while driving, and in some states, using hand-held cell phones while driving. More government action in the form of enacting new laws and enforcing current safety laws can help reduce accidents and keep people safer.

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Legislation To Increase Truck Parking Facilities To Prevent Truck Accidents which often result in wrongful deaths and serious injuries

A piece of legislation that would substantially enhance the current network of truck stop facilities and rest areas for truck drivers, reducing the risk of fatigue-related accidents has been reintroduced in Congress. Truck accidents often result in the wrongful death of motorists or cause extremely serious injuries. The bill is widely supported by Atlanta truck accident attorneys, who believe that it would help reduce the severity of a major problem that currently faces American trucking - truck driver fatigue.   Its promoters hope that Jason’s Law will be quickly approved, providing for safer rest and parking facilities for truckers nationwide.

While truck drivers are limited by the number of hours that they can spend consecutively behind the wheel, the lack of enough numbers of convenient resting and parking areas means that drivers are often forced to continue to drive even beyond their maximum work hour limits. Besides, the establishment of safe truck stops and rest areas would also keep truck drivers safe from assaults, burglaries and other crimes.

Jason’s Law is named after Jason Rivenburg, a truck driver who was killed during an assault at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. Rivenburg was early for a delivery and parked his tractor-trailer at the gas station.   After his death, his widow Hope lobbied for passage of legislation that would dramatically increase truck driver access to safe resting and parking facilities.

It hasn't been an easy process. The first version of the bill died in Congress during the last session. The new version of the bill would provide for $20 million to be spent in increasing truck driver access to dedicated resting and parking facilities. A range of initiatives would be covered under the legislation, including the construction of more numbers of truck parking and resting facilities, improvement of existing commercial truck parking and resting areas with space for more vehicles, as well as enhancements to current facilities to accommodate larger tractor-trailers. The bill also provides for the creation of public and private partnerships that will work at the maintenance of truck stops and parking facilities.

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Feds Release New Bus Safety Rules to Prevent Accidents

A series of fatal and serious bus accidents recently have resulted in new proposals to enhance bus safety for American passengers, and prevent serious accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, this week announced a new set of proposals to minimize the risk of bus crashes. As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I only hope that the proposed regulations are enacted. The regulations then need to be monitored over time and strengthened where necessary. Bus accidents are far more serious than car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and many truck accidents due to the number of persons who have the potential of suffering personal injuries.

There have been several bus accidents over the past two years that have indicated the need for new safety regulations that can help deal with some of the serious bus safety issues that we currently face.  The new proposals aim to do that. For instance, one of the issues that have bothered Atlanta bus accident attorneys has been the fact that bus companies find it too easy to reappear under a new name and address after one of their vehicles has been involved in a fatal accident. The new rule would create a federal standard that would help determine whether a carrier used to exist under a different name earlier. This would close current loopholes that allow carriers to resurface a few months after a serious accident, under a new name.

The new proposals also make it tougher for commercial drivers to get their licenses. Under the proposals, a driver would need to have a commercial driver’s learner’s permit before he can receive his commercial driver's license. Besides, the federal agency wants to establish a uniform CDL testing standard across the country. 

For the first time, consumers are being included in the loop. The new rules will allow consumers to verify the safety record of the bus company by visiting the FMCSA’s bus safety website. Consumers can look up a carrier’s safety record and other essential information before a journey.

The new rules sound very promising, and do a good job of addressing the safety issues to which Atlanta bus accident lawyers have been drawing attention.

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More Atlanta Truck Drivers Buckle up To Prevent Injuries in Truck Accidents

Seatbelts save lives, and as new estimates indicate, the number of commercial truck drivers choosing to buckle up to prevent serious injuries or deaths in truck accidents, has increased. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the number of commercial truck drivers wearing seat belts has increased substantially in 2010. As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I have represented a number of truck drivers involved in accidents with other truck drivers. I have consistently found that the truck drivers who have been in their seatbelts sustained far less serious injuries than the truckers who were not wearing seatbelts.

Seatbelt usage among commercial truck drivers increased to 78% in 2010 from 74% the previous year. That is the fourth consecutive annual increase in seat belt usage in this section of the population. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 80% of commercial truck drivers in states that have primary seat belt laws wore seatbelts. However, in states which do not have primary seat belt laws, the seat belt usage rate among commercial truck drivers dropped to only 72%. 

The FMCSA is also reporting an increase in seat belt usage rates among both commercial truck and bus drivers in 2010. Those rates were 78% in 2010, compared to just 65% in 2007.

Atlanta truck accident attorneys credit the fact that most states now have primary seat belt laws that allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver for failing to wear seat belts even if no other infractions are noted, for this spike in seat belt usage. Besides, the federal agency believes that greater enforcement has led to an increase in seat belt usage rates. The federal administration has also been spending more time educating commercial truck and bus drivers about the need to buckle up at all times. 

Commercial truck drivers are at a high risk of ejections during serious truck accidents like rollovers. Due to the weight and balance specifications in these vehicles, commercial trucks are at a much higher risk of rollovers, especially when the vehicle is traveling at high speeds and makes a turn.

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Woman Killed in Atlanta Tractor-Trailer Accident

A newlywed woman has been confirmed dead in a commercial truck accident on Interstate 285 in Atlanta earlier this week. According to police, the accident occurred when a tractor-trailer was trying to change lanes on the highway. The truck crashed into a Nissan vehicle, and the impact sent the car into a guardrail, and into another tractor-trailer. Truck accidents are often the most deadly type of accidents on the roadways today. They also cause permanent and disabling injuries. As an Atlanta injury lawyer, this is the reason I have regularly opposed increasing the size of trucks.

The Nissan rolled over on its side, killing the female driver. Her husband, who was a passenger in the vehicle suffered injuries, and was taken to the hospital.

The driver of the tractor-trailer has been charged with vehicular homicide in the second degree and making an improper lane change. Accordingly, a wrongful death action will likely arise due to the accident. Sadly, according to news reports, the couple was newly married.

When you're driving a vehicle that can weigh up to 80 thousand pounds, there's little room for driving errors. That may seem harsh, but it's true. Drivers of tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers simply do not have the luxury of making the mistake of getting distracted while driving. An investigation into this particular truck accident is on, but it will be a few weeks before we know why the tractor-trailer made an unsafe lane change. Driving errors like this are often the result of negligence, or distractions while driving.

Atlanta accidents that are linked to driving errors or distracted driving can result in a truck accident claim being made against the trucking company. As the employees of truck drivers, these companies are responsible for hiring only experienced, qualified and trained drivers. In such cases, an Atlanta truck accident attorney will conduct his own investigation into the accident to determine whether driving error was a factor in the crash. However, an official investigation report by the Georgia Highway Patrol and other agencies can also help support your claim.

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Truck Driver Killed in Georgia Tanker Truck- 18 Wheeler Accident

A truck accident involving a tanker truck and an 18-wheeler in Bryan County earlier in April resulted in the death of the tanker driver. The truck accident occurred on Thursday when the gasoline tanker truck, which was heading south on Interstate 95, crashed into the rear of the 18-wheeler. Of course, 18 wheeler accidents are some of the worst that are seen on our roadways.

The tanker truck suffered serious damage in the accident, and the driver was trapped in the truck. When the driver of the 18 wheel got out, he noticed the beginning of a fire in the tanker. He was able to escape in time to avoid the massive explosion that ripped through the tanker, killing the driver instantly. The fire from the explosion lasted for more than two hours. 

According to the 18-wheeler driver, he saw the tanker truck coming up from behind him, and flashed his lights. However, the tanker simply ran into his carrier. The driver of the tanker truck didn’t try to apply his brakes.    Police are investigating the possibility that the tanker truck driver had dozed off at the wheel. However, investigations are bound to be impacted by the fact that the tanker truck driver died in the accident, and his vehicle has been too severely damaged to detect mechanical failures. No other vehicles were involved in the crash. 

Driver fatigue has been a major source of concern to Atlanta truck accident attorneys and federal trucking safety authorities. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has posted a Proposed Rulemaking for Hours of Service for truck drivers.  The agency is currently taking comments from the public about the Hours of Service rules.

Fatigue has been a vastly underestimated cause of auto accidents a while now, but in the trucking industry, it has been clear for many years now that fatigued, drowsy and sleepy truckers are a serious risk to their own safety as well as the safety of others.

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Car Accidents, Truck Accidents and Motorcycle Accidents at All-Time Low

Federal transportation safety agencies recorded a 3% drop in auto accident, truck accident, and motorcycle accident wrongful deaths in 2010. Southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida also recorded a 3% drop in accident deaths last year. Last year's figures are the lowest accident death rates on record since 1949. As an Atlanta Injury lawyer, I welcome the latest report of the decline in these numbers.

The Georgia/South Carolina/Alabama/Tennessee/Florida region recorded 6,375 car accident deaths in 2010, a drop of 3% from 2009, when there were 6,573 accident deaths. Overall, nationwide, there were 32, 788 auto accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident deaths in 2010, a decline of 3% from 33,808 fatalities in 2009. Moreover, the decline in car accident deaths was the lowest on record since 1949. Last year accident deaths also marked a 25% drop since 2005.

The statistics also seem to put to rest the theory that the decline in car accident fatalities has had a lot to do with the recession. Last year, Americans traveled more vehicle miles, but fewer Americans died in accidents. There are other reasons that have contribute to this decline that have been evident for the past few years. Higher seat belt usage rate is typically one of those factors. More drivers in Georgia now buckle up than ever before and this has meant fewer fatalities in accidents. 

Besides, cars now come packed with the latest safety features that are designed not just to minimize the risk of accidents, but also protect occupants better in the event of an accident. Side airbags are becoming popular on more and more automobiles while electronic stability control has been available on most new models for a while now. Besides, lane departure warning systems, forward collision warning systems including those that include pedestrian detection, and other advanced safety features have helped reduce car accident deaths.

More could be done, however. For instance, we could save more lives every year if we had harsher laws in place against the use of cell phones and texting while driving.

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Heavier Atlanta Trucks Are an Accident Risk

If a new bill that has been introduced in Congress is approved, states like Georgia would be allowed to increase truck weight limits on our interstates to boost trucking productivity and efficiency.  As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I strongly oppose this legislation. Any move like this would increase the risks of serious truck accidents and catastrophic injuries and death when passenger vehicles are involved in accidents with much heavier trucks.

The bill, called the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act has been reintroduced by Republican lawmakers from Maine and Ohio. It would allow states to adjust the weight limits on commercial trucks on interstates within their borders.  The increase in weight limits could be as much as 97,000 pounds from the current 80,000 pounds. The current weight limits have stayed the same since 1982, and trucking safety groups and Atlanta truck accident attorneys oppose any increase in the weight limits on our interstates.

Most of the arguments in favor of increased weight limits on commercial trucks have to do with profits for the trucking industry. The industry believes it could save billions of dollars every year, if trucking companies were allowed to use up every inch of free space in their trailers. Trucking companies talk about reduced fuel consumption, and even bring up lower accident risks from fewer trucks needed to transport the same amount of cargo. 

By all indications, the bill has tremendous support from the trucking industry, including the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, which is a coalition of more than 180 shippers and transportation associations. The bill has been introduced before, but could find more traction in a depressed economy and with support from a strong lobbying force. Trucking safety groups and Atlanta truck accident lawyers need to push back against any attempt to crowd our already congested highways with bulkier, heavier trucks.

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IIHS Advocates Stronger Under Ride Guards for Tractor-Trailers to Prevent car accidents and injuries

As an Atlanta injury lawyer, I often find that the kind of damage that results from a rear end truck accident involving a tractor trailer and a car leaves little chance for survival. The Institute Insurance for Highway Safety is now calling on the federal administration to require stronger under ride guards for tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers, to prevent the serious injuries that result from auto accidents in which a car rear-ends these large commercial trucks. I strongly support the move towards improving under ride guards.

Under ride guards hang low at the back of a tractor-trailer, and are designed to protect occupants of a passenger vehicle in case of a rear end accident. When a small passenger vehicle crashes into the back of a tractor-trailer, the bumper and front of the car can slide under the trailer. The under ride guard is supposed to prevent this. However, the Institute Insurance for Highway Safety has found in a study that in low-speed rear-ender accidents involving a tractor-trailer and cars, the under ride guard failed to prevent catastrophic injuries. 

The Insurance Institute relied on an analysis of 1,000 accidents between 2001 and 2003. There were 113 accidents that involved passenger vehicles crashing into the back of a tractor-trailer. Out of these, 73% resulted in the passenger vehicle sliding under the tractor-trailer. 28 of these accidents were fatal, and out of these, 23 accidents involved those in which the entire front portion of the passenger vehicle slid completely under the trailer.

The occupants of a passenger vehicle in a case like this are at risk for catastrophic injuries, specifically to the head and torso. The Institute Insurance for Highway Safety is now calling on the federal administration to get more involved in ensuring the strength and reliability of these under ride guards, and also to make sure that all trucks come with strong under ride guards. 

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Infant Killed in Atlanta Truck Accident

A six-month-old infant, who had sustained critical injuries in a Cobb County, Georgia truck accident, has succumbed to his injuries. Cobb County police have charged the truck driver involved in the truck accident. Any injury and death in a truck accident is sad, but that is especially true when such a young life is lost.

The accident occurred over the weekend, when tractor trailer driver Henry Lipps crashed his rig into the rear of a car. In the car were a couple and their six-month-old baby, strapped into his car seat. Both parents were injured, and taken to the Atlanta Medical Center. The baby suffered critical injuries, and was taken to Scottish Rite Hospital. He succumbed to his injuries earlier this week

Investigators believe that the tractor-trailer driver failed to brake, and crashed into three separate vehicles, including the GMC Arcadia, Toyota Highlander and a Buick LeSabre at the Windy Hill Road exit. The driver of the LeSabre and his passenger also suffered visible injuries, and were rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Police have now charged Lipps with second-degree vehicle homicide and following too closely.

Our hearts go out to the family of this little infant. The child's parents are still in the hospital, and we pray for strength for them to bear this loss.

Unfortunately, this accident only confirms what Atlanta truck accident lawyers already know – driver distraction continues to be a major factor in Atlanta truck accidents. Driver distraction may be caused by many things. These include the use of cell phones, texting while driving, radio use, fatigue and just general failure of the driver to be attentive.

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Georgia DOT to Allow Memorials to Auto Accident and Truck Accident Victims

Memorial signs to auto accident and truck accident victims have been used around the country not just to commemorate the dead, but also serve as a warning to the living. As Atlanta auto accident lawyers, we believe that such stark signs help increase motorist awareness of the dangers of reckless driving and, therefore, help to decrease the number of auto accidents and truck accidents. The Georgia Department of Transportation has now announced that it will allow memorials to auto accident victims to be placed on federal and state highways.

Another program that allows highway memorial signs bearing the names of drunk driving accident victims on Georgia highways, is already in effect. That program was created through the efforts of the Department of Transportation, the Georgia Gen. Assembly and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 2006. That program is separate from this new memorial sign program, and will continue as scheduled.

The new memorials will consist of 15- inch round, white signs containing the message Drive Safely: in Memory (name of the deceased). Families and friends of accident victims can request a sign for a $100 fee that will go towards installation and fabrication charges. The sign will be in place for a period of one year, after which it will be returned to the sponsor of the sign. However, families can only order these memorial signs through the Department of Transportation.

Families and friends of those killed in auto accidents or truck accidents on or after July 1, 2010, can make a request for the memorial signs by submitting an application, the accident report as well as the hundred dollar fee to the maintenance engineer at the DOT. The signs will be erected as close as practically possible to the site of the accident.

The memorial signs serve a dual purpose- they comfort the loved ones of victims killed in accidents, and also serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of recklessness, drunk driving and speeding on our highways.

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Flintstone, Georgia Man is Safest Truck Driver in Georgia Avoiding Truck Accidents for 41 Years

As Atlanta truck accident attorneys, we don't hesitate when it comes to holding truck drivers responsible for their negligence if it results in truck accidents. So, it's only fair that we acknowledge truck drivers who have an exemplary driving record. This week, UPS inducted 49 Georgians into its elite Circle of Honor organization. These are truck drivers in Atlanta and throughout Georgia who are helping keep our roads safe by avoiding truck accidents.

The Circle of Honor includes only those UPS drivers who have completed 25 years of safe driving. This year was a record year for new Circle of Honor inductees. There were 1,122 new honorees worldwide into the Circle of Honor this year, the highest in any year for the company.

With Georgia's 49 new UPS drivers who are in the Circle of Honor, Georgia now has 232 active UPS Circle of Honor drivers. These drivers have among them 6,670 years of combined safe driving experience. The safest UPS truck driver in Georgia is Flintstone-based Robert Millican Junior, who has an impressive 41 years of accident- free driving to his credit.

Atlanta truck drivers deserve special kudos. The city's UPS drivers are among the safest on any road in the country. They log 3 billion miles a year, and an average of one accident for every million miles driven.

A quick look at Georgia's safest UPS drivers over the past few years reveals that for many of these drivers, the secret to safe truck driving is simply a matter of focus, concentration and preparation. Many of these drivers have been driving since before technology in the form of dashboard computers and texting devices, invaded tractor-trailer cabs. A truck driver who is diligent and aware of the enormous responsibility he has, will refrain from using cell phones, texting devices and dashboard computers while the truck is in motion. Besides, a truck driver who takes the time to conduct a complete checkup of the rig before he begins driving, is less likely to meet with accident.

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Police Officer Injured in Atlanta, Georgia Truck Accident

A truck driver has been charged after being involved in a truck accident in Clayton County, Georgia in which a police officer was injured. The trucker had been driving a massive tractor-trailer rig, when he rear-ended a patrol car in front of him. The police officer was driving the Department of Transportation truck on the road when the truck accident occurred. The officer suffered serious injuries, and had to be airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital. The tractor-trailer driver meanwhile has been charged with causing serious injury by vehicle, following too closely and too fast.

One of the challenges of operating a massive truck is understanding that your vehicle takes a much longer time to come to a complete stop than a passenger vehicle. It's important for all 18-wheeler drivers to understand that this greatly increased stopping distance amplifies the risks of colliding with a vehicle in front.

Any time a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, injuries sustained can be extremely series. A typical rear ender accident involving two passenger vehicles can cause whiplash and other injuries. However, when you have a massive 18-wheeler weighing more than 80,000 pounds rear ending a passenger vehicle, the kind of injuries that the passenger car occupants suffer can be devastating.

There is no information about the kind of injuries that the police officer suffered here. However, there can be severe spinal cord injuries, neck injuries and head injuries in such accidents that can require immediate and extensive hospitalization. Victims of such injuries could be looking at weeks of hospitalization, and painful and expensive therapy.

If you've been involved in a truck accident in the metro Atlanta area, contact an Atlanta truck accident attorney at the Katz Law Firm for a free initial evaluation of your case.

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Students Injured in a Truck Accident in Cherokee County

There has been yet another serious school bus accident in Georgia. Six students on a school bus suffered personal injuries in a truck accident in Cherokee County over the weekend. The accident involved a school bus and a tractor-trailer. The bus was taking students to the Free Home Elementary School when it struck a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning. The bus driver, truck driver, and six students of the school suffered personal injuries in the crash and had to be taken to the hospital.

The year 2010 proved to be a dangerous year for Georgia school children. A number of accidents involving school buses and other vehicles were recorded last year, and some of these ended in personal injuries and even fatalities. The accident is under investigation, but according to CBS Atlanta, the school bus driver was a substitute driver. She had been with the Cherokee County School System since November. By all accounts, she had had sufficient hands-on training according to state laws. However, some parents have been questioning whether her driving was sufficient.

Besides, this school bus accident also brings up the question of seat belts on school buses. Atlanta personal injury lawyers would like to see some movement in this direction in 2011. New bus safety rules that were announced in 2010 include charter and intercity buses, but not school buses. This is in spite of the fact that school buses transport some of the most vulnerable passengers, and are at a high risk of being injured in an accident.

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NHTSA Proposal to Prevent Speed-Related Truck Accidents

The idea of using speed limiting devices to restrict speed limits on commercial trucks, and therefore, minimize the risk of speed-related truck accidents, has been floating around for a while now. In 2006, the American Trucking Associations and several other interested parties petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate speed limiting devices on all trucks. Last week, the NHTSA announced that it would initiate an NPR aimed at getting these devices installed in all trucks. If the rule does pass, there will be far fewer truck accidents and, therefore, many injuries avoided and many wrongful deaths prevented.

The NHTSA announced on its website a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the mandating of such devices on all trucks. Proposals to have speed limiting devices installed on commercial trucks have been widely supported, not just by Atlanta truck accident lawyers, but also by trucking safety groups and the trucking industry.

It's not every day that you get the trucking industry and Atlanta truck accident attorneys on the same page as far as trucking safety is concerned. However, on this issue, the American Trucking Associations has been extremely vocal in its support for such devices. However, not all trucking companies are happy about such rules. The Owner- Independent Operators Drivers’ Association, which consists of smaller independent trucking companies and drivers, has strongly opposed any rules to mandate these devices on truckers. The devices would limit the speed of trucks weighing 20,000 pounds and above to a maximum of 68 mph.

In a country where speed accounts for most truck accident fatalities every year, it is necessary that transportation safety agencies think out of the box to come up with strategies to prevent such accidents. In 2009, more people were killed in truck accidents caused by speed than those related to truck driver fatigue, distracted driving and drunk driving.

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DOT Proposal to Prevent Distracted Driving Truck Accidents

As Atlanta truck accident attorneyswho have been concerned about the lack of serious restrictions on cell phone use by truck drivers, we were happy with a new Department of Transportation proposal banning the use of handheld cell phones by truck and bus drivers. The banning of cell phones by truck drivers and bus drivers will greatly decrease the likelihood of truck accidents and bus accidents. Personal injury attorneys and lawyers for the trucking and busing companies will closely monitor the new proposal. Simply put, the ban would prevent a significant number of personal injuries and deaths each year.

This week, the DOT made a formal announcement, proposing the ban. The ban would include not just talking on a cell phone, but also holding and dialing a cell phone while driving. The announcement comes just months after a ban on text messaging while driving for both commercial truck and bus drivers earlier this year.

According to the DOT, inattention was a factor in 9% of all commercial truck accidents in 2009. Meanwhile last year, between 6% and 13% of all bus accidents were linked to distracted driving. Obviously, there is a need for a law that would completely ban the use of handheld cell phones and text messaging devices for all commercial truck and bus drivers.

There is another fact that increases the need for a rule like this. Even as there was a decline in overall traffic accident fatalities across the country in 2009, there was actually an increase in the number of fatal accidents linked to cell phone use while driving last year.

The DOT will open up the proposal to comments, before the rule is finalized. Atlanta truck accident lawyers don't expect much opposition to the rule. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that using a hand-held cell phone while operating a massive 80,000 pound machine, is severely hazardous to public health and safety.

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FMCSA Proposes New Truck Driver HOS Rules to Prevent Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is responsible for issuing regulations to decrease truck accidents, this week proposed a series of changes in the current Hours of Service rules for truck drivers. According to the agency, the new rules will give the drivers more rest in a workday, allowing them to work fewer hours, and reducing the possibility of truck accidents. Of course, truck accidents pose one of the greatest risks of serious personal injury and death to drivers of cars. Lawyers for trucking companies and injury attorneys will be monitoring these changes very carefully.

Overall, the changes have been encouraging to Atlanta truck accident lawyers. The FMCSA is proposing the following changes:

·        The possibility of restricted driving time from 11 hrs daily to 10 hours

·        Releasing the truck driver from duty after every 14 consecutive driving hours

·        A one-hour break for drivers within the 14-hour driving window, limiting the actual on-duty time to about 13 hours

·        The number of hours that a truck driver spends driving would be limited, if it was more than seven hours since the last off duty period of at least 30 minutes.

The FMCSA has not finalized the rules. Instead, it has invited public comments over a 60- day period beginning on 29 December. The Department of Transportation has already supported the rule, saying that it would support any rule that would lead to alert drivers. The American Trucking Associations has criticized the rule, calling it full of unnecessary restrictions on professional truck drivers. According to the ATA, the rule would reduce truck driver productivity and efficiency.

The FMCSA had announced a revision of the hours of service truck rules earlier this year. Since then, the agency has delayed announcing a final rule, even though there is enough evidence to show that fewer numbers of hours spent driving, means alert and focused drivers, and fewer accidents.

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Mandatory Alcohol Testing Could Have Caused Decline in Truck Accident Fatalities

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we keep ourselves informed about the latest developments in trucking safety. A study by scientists at Columbia University seems to suggest that mandatory alcohol testing programs have been responsible for the decline in truck accident fatalities in 2009. Last year, saw a significant drop in these deaths, from 4,245 fatalities in 2008, to 3,380 fatalities in 2009.

The results of the study titled Effectiveness of Mandatory Alcohol Testing Programs on Reducing Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Motor Carrier Crashes show that these alcohol testing programs that were implemented in 1995, have contributed to an approximately 23% reduced risk of alcohol use as a factor in truck accidents. 

The study considered a total of 69,295 motor carrier drivers and 83,436 non-motor carrier drivers, involved in 66,138 fatal accidents. The researchers found that 2.7% of the motor carrier drivers and 19.4% of the non-motor carrier drivers tested positive for blood alcohol. The researchers found the same results even when they adjusted for variable factors, like the age of the truck driver, sex, as well as his history of driving under the influence. Researchers are taking this to mean that mandatory alcohol testing programs have had some effect on reducing the numbers of drunk driving accidents involving commercial truck drivers.

In other trucking safety-related developments this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new truck tire testing procedures that will cover approximately 98 % of all commercial truck tires sold in the United States. These new testing procedures will include enhanced endurance testing and speed testing standards for truck tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently inviting comments on these new proposed regulations.

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Proposals to Mandate Speed Limiters on All Trucks Gather Steam

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we have supported efforts by truck safety groups to get the federal administration to mandate speed limiters on all commercial trucks. Ultimately, it might be environmental concerns that help meet that goal.

We've known for long that reducing speed limits on trucks can help prevent the catastrophic injuries and multiple fatalities that result during high-speed truck accidents. Besides, even a reduction of 1 mph in truck speed can contribute to a 1% increase in fuel efficiency.   Environmental and trucking efficiency concerns are high right now, and this May, the President asked his administration to get to work on developing a policy that would tackle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission concerns. Speed limiters will help meet both these targets. 

The European Union already requires speed limiters on large trucks. So do Australia and Japan. Several provinces in Canada have truck speed limiter requirements in place. However, in the US, the administration has delayed taking any action, in spite of the fact that there is nationwide support for speed limiters on trucks. A survey in 2007 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that more than 82% of American drivers supported having speed limiters on trucks. The American Trucking Association also strongly supports a proposal like this. 

It's rare to have a trucking safety initiative that actually has nonpartisan support from all parties concerned, and yet, the federal administration has failed to act on making these devices mandatory.

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Higher Truck Weight Limits Will Impact Highway Safety


A new piece of legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate seeks to allow individual states to increase the gross weight limit on trucks plying the Interstate Highway System. The current gross weight limit in Georgia is about 80,000 pounds. If the legislation were to become law, trucking companies would be able to increase that weight to up to 97,000 pounds.

There are several reasons why Atlanta truck accident attorneys have a problem with this. For one, it would mean greater wear and tear on our already stretched highways. These are tough economic times, and funding for highway repairs and maintenance is already hard to source. The increased wear and tear from heavier trucks would leave Georgia’s highways compromised.

There's another more serious reason why we strongly oppose any bill to increase funding for weight limits on trucks plying interstate highways. No matter how experienced a truck driver, he will find it a challenge to drive a trailer with an additional 17,000 pounds of cargo. Ask any truck driver and he will tell you that this is likely to be a safety concern if the bill actually becomes law. Trucking can be extremely strenuous, physically challenging work, and while experience can help, Atlanta truck accident lawyers often come across devastating truck accidents caused by experienced truckers. 

Supporters of the bill, known as the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, say that the bill will require trucks with heavier trailers to come with an additional axle to make up for the additional weight. They say the increased weight limit would also make trucking less expensive, and relieve congestion on our highways. 

Several states have begun to experiment with increased weight limits, but we would advise caution against such experimentation in Georgia. We currently face far too many challenges involving infrequent trucking inspections, driver fatigue, and rogue truck drivers. The trucking industry and federal trucking safety authorities should be looking at how we can tackle these safety issues first.

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Truck Rollovers Could Be Prevented with Electronic Stability Control

Mandatory Electronic Stability Control Systems Would Prevent Truck Rollover Accidents

Electronic stability control systems have been found to significantly reduce the risk of rollover accidents in passenger vehicles. These systems are mandatory on all new passenger vehicles, but have not yet been made mandatory in commercial trucks. According to researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if electronic stability control systems were made mandatory in all commercial trucks, it would reduce the risk of rollovers, and save approximately 106 lives a year. 

Researchers estimate that approximately 3,500 rollover accidents involving commercial trucks could be prevented each year, if all trucks were equipped with stability control systems. These systems could prevent about 4,400 injuries every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is waiting for the results of a formal study into the benefits of having electronic stability control systems in all trucks, to make a decision about mandating these in all commercial trucks.

These stability control systems would greatly reduce the number of truck rollovers every year. Big rigs are at a high risk of rollovers, which can occur when the truck is making a turn, or when there is a shift of load. Tank trucks are at an even higher risk of rollover because of the liquid cargo, which can cause a shift of balance. According to preliminary NHTSA research, there are approximately 1,265 tanker truck rollover crashes in the US every year.

Equipping a truck with an electronic stability control system would add less than $1,000 to the cost. It would not only save truckers from serious injury when their truck flips over, but would also protect thousands of innocent motorists. However, trucking companies have been slow to adopt rollover prevention technology. 

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of truck, 18-wheeler, and tractor trailer accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.

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Sandy Springs Man Involved in Fatal Truck Accident Arrested


A truck driver from Texas, believed to have been involved in a fatal tractor-trailer accident that killed a woman from Sandy Springs two weeks ago, has now been arrested. The driver, Joseph Leon Golden drove his truck into the emergency lane, where Rosario Velez had stopped her minivan to make a call. The truck crashed into Velez’s vehicle, leaving her seriously injured. She was rushed to the Grady Memorial Hospital and died a while later. Golden has now been arrested and charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and a lane violation. Sandy Springs police have been investigating the accident.

The catastrophic damage and loss of life and property that can result from truck accidents is why trucking companies and their drivers are held to such high standards of operations and safety. Traffic violations by any motorist can have serious consequences, but when it is the driver of a tractor-trailer guilty of such violations, the results can be horrific for those unfortunate enough to be at the receiving end. 

Pursuing a truck accident claim in Georgia can be complicated and daunting.    In any auto accident, you're up against the driver of the other car and /or his insurance company. In a truck accident claim, you're up against not just the driver, but also the trucking company, the insurers, their legal team, and other experts. The entire process of filing a claim can leave an Atlanta resident intimidated and frustrated. 

It's important to remember that it might be the first time that you have been involved in a truck accident, or even any accident. However, for the trucking company, dealing with injured victims of accidents involving their vehicles, is part of their daily work. These companies have much more experience dealing with truck accident victims like you, than you have dealing with a large company or their experienced attorneys. That's the reason why you need an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney on your side.

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Federal Regulation To Decrease Truck Accidents


The Federal government finally decided to crack down on truck companies and truck drivers with poor driving records. According to the Federal Motor Common Carrier Safety Administration website the “Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010, CSA 2010, is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce commercial motor vehicle (CMV)-related truck accidents, injuries and fatalities. The initiative has three major components – measurement, evaluation and intervention. Using inspection and truck accident results, the initiative identifies carriers and drivers whose behaviors could reasonably lead to truck accidents and injuries. The FMCSA and its state partners then evaluate the data to create better methods for improving the safety of these problem drivers and companies. Finally, the initiative allows the FMCSA to intervene to resolve safety issues with trucking companies and truck drivers who are unsafe.

 However, at a recent meeting in Atlanta, Georgia sponsored by Eyefortransport, trucking companies complained that the new initiative will cause an increase in driver attrition of at least 5 to 8 percent. The American Trucking Association continues to support the initiative, but seeks to have two changes. First, it only wants data regarding accidents considered if the truck driver was determined to be at fault in the accident. Second, it does not want warnings issued by law enforcement officials considered in the data.

Simply put, it is about time that the FMCSA aggressively evaluated the safety and accident records of all truck companies and truck drivers. The initiative is likely to have two significant positive impacts. First, it will result in the removal of unsafe truck drivers from our public highways and roads. Second, it will cause truck drivers to driver more carefully due to the risk of losing their commercial driver’s license. In order to decrease the number of trucking accidents, there needs to be a significant change in how truck drivers choose to driver. The initiative is long overdue and needs to continue to be strengthened and not watered down.

The Truck Accident attorneys at the law firm of Robert N. Katz offer free initial consults on all accidents involving trucking companies. 

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Rear End Truck Accidents Reviewed by Federal Agency


Rear-ender accidents involving passenger vehicles hitting large commercial trucks, are far more common than we think. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 23,500 such truck accidents every year in the country, and these kill approximately 160 people.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is working on technologies that will help minimize the number of these accidents. The agency is working on a number of configurations of lights that will alert motorists approaching the back of an 18 wheeler to the risk of a collision. But the most promising configuration involves two sets of six LED lights, each placed on the back bumper. When a passenger vehicle gets too close to the back of the truck, a rear-facing radar system will activate the lights, alerting the motorist to slow down. The agency has already begun testing the system, and will likely move on to dynamic testing on the highways of Virginia. The FMCSA is likely to begin field operational testing involving the placing of these systems on fleet vehicles, by the end of this year.

A commercial truck can be up to 40 times heavier than other vehicles on the road. Whether it is a rear end accident involving a large commercial truck striking a smaller vehicle, or whether the truck is the one being hit, the consequences are the deadliest for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Atlanta truck accident attorneys have been encouraged to see that the FMCSA has been breaking new ground in enhancing trucking safety recently. Just Last week, we blogged about the fact that the agency will soon be rolling out a CDL fraud prevention system. Minimizing CDL fraud will mean that there are fewer numbers of poorly qualified, illegally licensed truck drivers on our highways.

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New System to Protect Fraud on Commercial Drivers Licences

New FMCSA System Promises to Eradicate CDL Fraud

In 2002, an inspector general's report informed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of widespread Commercial Driver’s License fraud in the industry. Drivers who obtained fraudulent CDL’s were linked to a large number of accidents that resulted in fatalities and serious injuries. The fact that there is little FMCSA control over the issuance of Commercial Driver’s Licenses is one that has worried Atlanta truck accident lawyers. But not for long now. The FMCSA is in the process of rolling out a web-based system that will streamline the process of issuing CDLs to truck drivers, and limit the amount of fraud.

Once the new system is in effect, testing for CDLs will be scheduled through the system. The system will contain information of all examiners, the test site, date of the test, as well as the results. Testing that is done outside of the system will result in no CDL being issued.

The system will also monitor any trends that are abnormal. For instance, a single CDL test takes about two hours to conduct, and it's impossible for an examiner to conduct more than a specific number of tests a day. So, if an examiner’s records show that he has tested 20 people on a single day, then that will be brought to the attention of the designated officer.

Most importantly, all test results will be computerized, and no paper will be involved. This will further minimize the risk of forgery and fraud.

The system is already in use in Kansas, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Several other states are also interested in the system. The FMCSA is working at providing grants to states to help them pay for the system.

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Commercial Trucks to Carry Onboard Recorders

FMCSA Passes Rule Requiring EOBRs on Certain Carriers

The question of having Electronic Onboard Recorders on commercial trucks has been out there for several years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has finally made its decision. The agency has adopted a rule that will require electronic onboard recorders to be installed on the vehicles of trucking companies that are found to exceed the hours of service rules by 10%.

Failure to comply during a single review is good enough to impose the EOBR rule on a carrier. Carriers found to be in violation of hours of service for more than 10% of the time in a single review will be required to have the recorders installed for a period of two years.

The FMCSA not only requires such recorders on trucks that violate driver work hours, but it also specifies standard for these recorders. The devices must be synchronized with the engine, because this will ensure greater accuracy. Using GPS systems would not have been able to deliver the same kind of accuracy that the FMCSA rule will now require. The device must record essential information that can later be accessed by federal safety agencies, including the name of the driver, duty status, truck location, number of miles traveled, and other important details.

The rule is another step forward in ensuring fewer accidents related to driver fatigue. It's part of a series of measures that the FMCSA has been taking in order to minimize the number of accidents caused by fatigue and drowsy drivers. The agency is currently in the process of reviewing the Hours of Service rules under great pressure from Atlanta truck accident lawyersandGeorgia personal injury lawyers. A decision on that rule is expected to be out over the next few months.

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Pickup Truck Drivers to Buckle Up Per Georgia Senate Bill

Georgia Senate Passes Landmark Bill Requiring Pickup Truck Drivers to Buckle up

On this very blog, we have frequently discussed Georgia's failures in enacting mandatory seatbelt laws that include pickup truck drivers. The law relegated Georgia to the backwoods of traffic safety, with our state being the very last in the country to hold on to an archaic law allowing pick up occupants to go without bucking up. Not anymore. The Georgia Senate has passed a bill that will make it mandatory for pickup truck drivers to buckle up.

The failure to buckle up contributes to the deaths of approximately 67% of all pickup drivers killed in accidents. Those rates have galvanized Atlanta car accident attorneys, and citizens groups. Buckling up might be pure common sense, but as we have seen, you need laws to get people to do the sensible thing and save their own lives. With this bill, pickup drivers in Georgia will have a much higher chance of surviving an accident.

Seatbelts are probably the single most important auto safety feature. Thousands of highway fatalities every year can be traced to failure to wear seat belts. The lack of mandatory seatbelt laws in Georgia has been a special cause of concern, because they contribute heavily to accident-related costs including medical care costs.

Georgia has seen extraordinary success in increasing seatbelt use. More lives are saved every year because more motorists choose to buckle up before they drive. Now with a new law, it is very likely that Georgia's highway fatality rates, that are already on the decline, will drop further.

The Atlanta car accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of car accidents in and around the metro Atlanta region, and throughout the state of Georgia.

 

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Truck Driver Safety Spearheaded by Jason's Law


The widow of a trucker, who was killed during a robbery as he parked his truck in an abandoned gas station, is spearheading legislation to allocate funds for truck stop and rest area expansion across the country.

Hope Rivenburg’s husband Jason was shot on March 5, 2009 by a robber at a gas station in South Carolina. Rivenburg was waiting for a milk store to open to make his delivery. At the time of his death, Hope was pregnant with their twins.

A year later, Hope Rivenburg is lobbying for legislators to pass Jason’s Law. The legislation will pay for a pilot program to build new parking facilities and rest areas in high-tech corridors across the country that are currently starved for such truck stops. The law will also provide for enhancement of current truck stops, opening up of current parking facilities to allow parking of trucks, and easier access to safe parking areas.

Several states across the country are cutting down funding for truck stops as they struggle with budgetary constraints. This means that truck drivers have fewer safe areas to park their vehicles when they need to pull the vehicle over for some rest, or if they have to wait to make a delivery. In the absence of safe areas, truckers are often forced to pull over on a highway shoulder, which is extremely unsafe. Other drivers simply continue driving on, when they don't find a convenient place to park.

A truck driver’s workplace is the highway, and he has every right to a safe workplace. This includes access to safe rest areas when he needs to pull over. As trucking accident lawyers in Atlanta, we wholeheartedly support any efforts to expand existing truck stops and build new ones, so truckers can safely rest when they need to.

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DOT Proposes New Rules for Drug Testing


Atlanta accident lawyers will be pleased to know that the Department of Transportation has posted a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, which deals with stricter testing for drug use.

The NPRM proposes a number of measures that are designed to prevent commercial motor vehicle drivers abusing drugs from slipping through the cracks. The NPRM proposes initial testing for 6-acetylmorphines, and lowering the cut off for cocaine and amphetamines. The idea is to align testing standards with the testing standards of Health and Human services.  According to the HHS, such testing would help identify approximately 10% of drug users in the commercial driver population, who currently remain unidentified.  

Truck drivers are at a higher risk of amphetamine abuse. These drugs are used to induce alertness, helping truckers stay awake for longer periods of time. Use of stimulants like methamphetamines can have serious side effects. The person may begin to feel extremely drowsy as the drug’s effects begin to wear off, with serious consequences. Employers can now identify drivers who had been using these drugs, but had remained unidentified because of the higher cut off points.

Employers are required to test their employees before employment, and to conduct periodic and random testing of drivers. Earlier, there was rampant and widespread abuse of the system by drivers who managed to escape a positive drug test result by using products, like synthetic urine. Since then however, the Department of Transportation has amended the rules to require trucking companies to procure drug testing records of potential workers from their previous employees.

Measures like these make it harder for rogue truckers with a history of drug and alcohol abuse to enter the system.  

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured in truck, semi truck and tractor trailer accidents in the metro Atlanta area and across the state of Georgia.

 

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Tractor Trailer Thefts in Georgia Provoke Safety Concerns

 


Commercial truck thefts have spiked across the country, including Georgia, and the implications for safety are enormous.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Georgia along with Texas, California, New Jersey, Illinois and Florida continues to be at a high risk for such heists.  The number of such thefts increased dramatically during the same period from 2007 to 2008.  For instance, when you consider the value of goods, 2009 saw truckloads worth $487 million stolen, as compared to the $290 million worth stolen in 2008.

The biggest possible explanation for this increase in heists seems to be the weak economy that’s pushing amateurs into crime. This is also corroborated by the fact that most cargo heists seem to involve loads of consumer goods, electronics, clothing and food.

These heists have numerous implications for consumers, as well as motorist safety. The health and safety of consumers can be threatened when stolen, inactive, or even worse, deteriorated pharmaceutical drugs from a stolen truck make it into the market and reach consumers.  Last year, a tractor trailer carrying about $8.8 million worth of pharmaceutical drugs was swiped from a truck stop in Temple. The driver had left the rig unintended for a while at a truck stop. Also last year, another refrigerator truck carrying $11 million worth of insulin vials was stolen in North Carolina at a truck stop. As soon as the theft came to light, the Food and Drug Administration and the insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk, alerted pharmacies and health care professionals about the heist, and advised them to monitor their stocks. In spite of these precautions, several people in Texas and Kentucky fell sick after they used inactive insulin from stolen vials.

As truck accident lawyers in Atlanta, we are also concerned about the risk from speeding criminals who have very little experience and no training in operating a tractor trailer rig. Also, consider the fact that these criminals are likely to be speeding to get away with the cargo, and there is a high possibility of accidents.  Besides, truckers may face the risk of violence and assaults during a heist.

Trucking companies need to address these issues, not just from a financial loss standpoint, but also in terms of the risks to trucker, motorist and consumer safety.

 

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Thirty-Five Truck Drivers from Georgia Honored for Safe Driving by UPS


Thirty five truck drivers from Georgia have been honored by UPS for their impeccable driving. The 35 have been admitted to the company’s “Circle of Honor.” The Georgia drivers are among 928 UPS drivers who have been admitted into the elite group this year.

The honor is given to those drivers who have completed 25 years of driving without accidents.  Georgia’s safest UPS driver is Robert Millican Jr. of Flintstone, who has accumulated 40 years of driving without a single accident. Milliken Jr. is placed at 9th position among 102,000 UPS drivers.

The Circle of Honor is a UPS tradition that celebrates drivers who have completed a quarter century or more without accidents on their record. Out of a total of 2,436 UPS drivers in Georgia, there are now 197 drivers who are members of the Circle of Honor. These drivers have among them a total of 5,693 years of driving without an accident.

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, our practice also includes helping injured truck drivers who have been involved in accidents. Suffice to say we come across hundreds of drivers every year. We have found most of them to be hard working people with a strong moral fiber and a desire to be safe and help others on the road reach home safely.

These truckers work in what is easily in one of the worst occupations in America. Long hours that begin at the crack of dawn, days away from family and loved ones, loneliness, strenuous loading and unloading, risks of dozing off from fatigue on endless highways, risk of developing obesity, hypertension, diabetes , cardiac disease, sleep apnea and a range of other disorder – a trucker’s life includes all these and more travails. That’s why it is so gratifying to know that so many of Georgia’s UPS drivers have been able to complete 25 years without a single truck accident on their record. To overcome all risk factors and maintain a blemish-free record is definitely worth our appreciation and our thanks!

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Tractor Trailer Accident in Perry Kills One

Tractor Trailer Accident in Perry, Georgia Kills One

A hit and run tractor trailer accident in Perry, Georgia has killed one person. According to reports, the woman was a Michigan resident. She and her husband were in a Ford pickup truck when the truck was hit by a tractor trailer. The woman was declared dead at the scene, while her husband suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to the Medical Center of Georgia.

The driver of the tractor trailer, Texas resident Luis Lopez Guzman Jr. drove off after the crash. He has now been charged with drunk driving and leaving the scene of the accident. Guzman also apparently ran a red light before crashing into the pickup truck. So far, there is no information about the trucking company that employed Lopez Guzman.  

Under federal rules, trucking companies are required to conduct random alcohol and drug testing of a truck driver. They are also prohibited from hiring or using truck drivers they know have a history of drunk driving. If a truck accident investigation determines that these rules were broken, then the trucking company could be held liable. Truckers also have a much lower legally allowed BAC level at .04, as opposed to .08 for the general population. All these rules reflect the seriousness with which the agency views intoxicated driving by truckers.

While this could be called an accident for purposes of litigation, there was nothing accidental about Guzman’s behavior here.  Guzman chose to drink alcohol before driving, chose to run a red-light and commit whatever other traffic violations he committed, and chose to disappear from the scene of the accident, leaving a dead woman and her seriously injured husband on the roadside.

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of truck, tractor trailer and 18 wheeler accidents in and around the metro Atlanta area.

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Longer Hours of Service for Truckers Up For Debate


It looks like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wants to make sure that any new Hours of Service rule for truckers includes public concerns. The agency has announced public listening sessions to gain public input about the issue.  

Trucker working hours have been a subject of great debate since these were changed to 11 hours from the previous 10 years by the Bush administration in 2008. As Atlanta trucking accident attorneys, we have strongly opposed any move to increase the number of consecutive hours a trucker can operate his rig, because of the risk of driver fatigue. An additional hour can save the industry approximately $2 billion a year, but places the trucker and innocent motorists at high risk of an accident.

Last year, the Federal Carrier Motor Carrier Safety Administration promised that it would revise the trucker HOS rules, and come up with a new set of rules. The agency has now announced on its website, a series of 4 listening sessions that will allow the public to add their suggestions or comments to the decision-making process. The first three sessions will be held in Dallas, TX, Arlington, VA and El Segundo, CA. The fourth venue is expected to be announced soon. The agency has also drafted a list of questions that will be discussed during the sessions.

Trucker fatigue is an important issue that affects the safety of hundreds of thousands of truckers, and millions of innocent Americans. The trucking industry insists that the additional work hour actually reduces the risk of accidents. It’s this kind of skewed logic that the industry is well known for. These are the same people who insist that having larger and heavier tractor trailers on our highways will actually help save lives, although they don’t manage to convince Atlanta truck accident lawyers about how this will happen.

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New Trucking Companies to Meet Safety Rules

Just in time for Christmas comes a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule that increases pressure on new truck and bus companies to meet safety rules, thereby reducing their risk of accidents. The rule went into effect in February this year, but requirement to comply began on the 16th of December.

According to the new rule, newly registered truck and bus companies will have to comply strictly with the agency’s 16 regulations. These regulations cover driver qualifications, testing for alcohol or substance abuse, repair of truck defects listed by the driver, failure to periodically inspect these vehicles and other safety aspects. If a new bus or truck company violates even one of these 16 regulations, then it stands to fail its safety audit. Also, if roadside bus and truck inspections find additional violations, then the new company may be subjected to an expedited safety audit, and may be fined or even placed out of service.

The FMCSA has also improved the quality of its educational and technical assistance materials, so that these new companies can keep themselves informed about motor carrier safety standards that apply to them, and make sure that they are in compliance with these. The agency believes that the new rule will enhance its ability to identify unsafe motor carriers, and crack down on these companies.

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we welcome the FMCSA’s stricter policies on new truck and bus companies. The new rule will be able to identify potentially problem carriers right at the start, and ensure that these carriers do not receive permanent registration until they correct all deficiencies, and are in full compliance.

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Atlanta Firefighter Injured in Accident Involving a Loose Truck Tire

Atlanta Firefighter Injured in Accident Involving Loose Truck Tire

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we often find a common misconception that in a tractor trailer or commercial truck accident, the truck must be involved in a direct impact accident with the other vehicle for it to qualify as grounds for liability. As we often see, semi rigs and 18 wheelers can cause injuries to motorists and bystanders even if there is no contact between the rig and smaller vehicle. An example of an injury like this occurred in Atlanta in June this year when a firefighter was seriously injured from a tire that rolled off a nearby 18-wheeler.

Firefighter Willie Surry was fighting a brush fire on Interstate-285 near Langford Parkway. According to Surry, the last thing he remembers is putting out the brush fire, before he woke up severely injured in the hospital. A wheel had flown off a tanker truck, hitting the firefighter. Surry suffered serious injuries, including a punctured lung, multiple broken bones and a tear in the knee. He was hospitalized for a month and a half, and may need more surgeries.

The months since the accident have been spent in excruciating pain. Surry was first confined to a wheelchair, but has since begun to use a walker, and now, a cane to get round. However, going back to work on a fire truck again is a distant dream. According to the CBS report, the wheel that flew off the tanker truck had just been repaired that day. Obviously, repairs were not performed as well as required.

The wheels and tires of a tractor trailer are subject to severe wear and tear. These vehicles travel hundreds of miles in a course of days, and the wheels can be subject to constant pressure. Tire-related truck accidents can involve tire blowouts and tires coming lose and injuring motorists.

·        When a tire blowout occurs, large pieces of the tire may shoot out. These pieces of rubber can be heavy enough to crash through the windshields of cars nearby or strike motorcyclists. Serious injuries and deaths are common in such incidents.

·        A tire blowout can also cause the tractor trailer driver to lose control of his truck. The rig could jackknife or flip over.  In all these instances, motorists in the vicinity are at risk of injury.

·        Loose lug nuts on a wheel can cause the wheel to come off, while the truck is under operation. These large, heavy tires can roll off on the highway and into anything in their paths, including passenger vehicles and motorcyclists. The high speed of these runaway tires and the force with which they can crash into other vehicles can leave motorists seriously injured.

The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of 18 wheeler, tractor trailer and semi rig accidents in Atlanta and around the state of Georgia.

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Trucking Hours Reviewed by Obama Administration


As Georgia truck accident lawyers, we have spoken out against the rule allowing a truck driver to drive for 11 consecutive hours.  The rule was passed by the Bush Administration, which proposed it a total of 3 times during its tenure in the White House. It was blocked twice in court after consumer safety advocates and truck safety groups challenged the rule, claiming that the government had failed to determine its impact on trucker health and motorist safety. But the Bush administration ultimately succeeded in reinstating the rule.

Now, the Obama Administration has agreed to review the 11-hour rule. The Associated Press is reporting that on Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration signed an agreement with safety and labor groups, promising to revise the rule. For now, the FMCSA is not saying how it will revise the rule, and what new limits will be placed on trucker hours, but as Georgia truck accident lawyers, we hope that any new rule will be closer to the ten-hour limit that was earlier in place. The agency has said that it will consider the situation, and come up with a new rule within the next 9 months.

For truck safety groups who have been campaigning against the rule, it is a hard fought victory. These groups include those who have lost the most from the rule - parents of victims of truck accidents involving fatigued truckers driving beyond their stipulated working hours.

The American Trucking Associations continues to insist that since the new rules extending consecutive driving hours from 10 to 11 came into effect, they have actually been responsible for reducing the number of fatal and serious accidents.

It’s easy to understand why the trucking industry would support a rule that increases the number of hours that a trucker can drive, and limits the number of rest hours per week. The additional hours make great financial sense for these companies, helping them flesh out their bottom-line.

As Georgia trucking accident attorneys, we hope that the new FMCSA rules, when they do come up, will restrict truck driving hours to ten, helping save truckers as well as motorists from accidents.

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Poorly Trained Truck Drivers Subject of Report

TV Report Focuses on Poorly Trained Truck Drivers

Last week, respected journalist Dan Rather presented a report on the poor quality of truck drivers emerging from the several CDL mills around the country on his weekly HD Net program.

The episode underscored what Georgia trucking accident lawyers have known for years – that the quality of truck drivers is a major contributing factor to accidents. Trucking companies often use questionable hiring practices. While a company is required to hire drivers only after checking his records, and verifying his training and skills, we know that doesn’t always happen. 

Most truckers happen to be experienced, well trained and competent drivers who take pride in what they do and do it well. However for many truckers, trucking is the last choice of profession. Rather, in the episode titled Queen of the Road, focuses on how dubious truck driver training schools across the country are churning out thousands of poorly trained drivers, who then take up employment at any trucking company that will have them. These drivers have zilch experience as tractor trailer drivers.

Rather introduces us to Desiree Wood, a single mom who took to trucking as a way out of a rough patch in her life. According to Wood, she attended a trucking school in Miami, and before she actually began driving a tractor trailer rig, had very little practical training driving one of these massive rigs. Rather also spoke to a former employee at another truck driver school in Oklahoma City, who confirmed what Atlanta truck accident attorneys know – there are thousands of less than qualified and trained drivers being sent out on the streets.  Those numbers, according to Rather’s report, are only getting bigger as the recession forces men and women into jobs they are barely trained for.

Not surprisingly, the trucking industry has not lost time hitting back at Rather’s report, which it calls, biased. Representatives for trucking industry insist that the industry is getting safer every year. However, the fact is that every year, an estimated 5,000 people die in tractor trailer accidents nationwide. Those figures may not have increased over the past few years, but they haven’t gotten any lower either.

Unscrupulous practices in the trucking industry have been open knowledge to Georgia truck accident lawyers and truck safety groups for a while now. The practice of manipulating log books goes on openly and unashamedly, and in spite of regulations, impromptu checks on big rigs continue to reveal shocking maintenance defects that pose a serious hazard to the trucker and motorist.

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UPS Trucker Marks 3.5 Million Miles Without an Accident

UPS Trucker Marks 3.5 Million Miles without an Accident

 

AsAtlanta truck accident lawyers, we constantly come up against negligent truck drivers who have caused a deadly accident by their reckless or impaired driving. That’s why it gives us great happiness when we come across the likes of Ginny Odom. This 59-year-old UPS driver has completed 3.5 million miles and 35 years driven without a single accident.

According to Odom, her feat has been made possible by the training provided by UPS, and some amount of luck. She also says she makes it a point to start her day at 4 am before the highways get busy.

Odom’s modesty may be a sign of her humility, but as DeKalb County truck accident lawyers, we know that there is very little luck involved in avoiding truck accidents.  Truckers have a huge role to play in avoiding crashes.

A trucker must make sure that a truck is well maintained and ready for the journey ahead, by conducting a pre-trip inspection every morning before setting off.

A truck driver must also avoid driving at excessive speeds. This includes driving within posted speeds limits for trucks, as well as taking into consideration weather and traffic conditions. For instance, a trucker must drive extra carefully during snow storms, heavy rains and strong winds. He must also drive carefully on extra-busy days, like the days leading up to a major holiday, when traffic is more congested than normal.

A truck driver must abstain from any kind of distractions while operating his rig.

It goes without saying that a truck driver must avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A truck driver must avoid driving more number of hours than stipulated under the law.

As Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we often see that tractor trailer accidents are caused because of the negligence of a truck driver. Drivers like Jinni Odom provide an example worth emulating for all truckers, and prove that preventing accidents is often in the hands of the truck driver.

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Big Rig Crackdown in Chatham County Reveals Maintenance Issues

Big Rig Crackdown in Chatham County, Georgia Reveals Maintenance Issues

A new task force in Garden City, Chatham County is cracking down on truckers to keep unsafe big rigs off the roads and prevent accidents. The first few days of the crackdown have already revealed severe maintenance issues that could place tractor trailer drivers at possible risk of an accident.

Members of the task force know that while a tractor trailer may look like it's in perfect condition, there may be several maintenance issues that can place the vehicle at risk of an accident. The task force is already seeing some major maintenance problems on some of the trucks that have been pulled over. For instance, they have found trucks with a variety of maintenance issues, including malfunctioning lights, loose straps securing cargo, nearly bald tires with little tread and a host of other issues.

Unfortunately, motorists who share a highway with a big rig may assume that the larger vehicle is in good condition for the roads. As Georgia truck accident lawyers, we often see that that’s not the case at all. Lack of maintenance can increase the risk of an accident significantly. Accidents can be triggered by damaged brakes and brake lights, bald tires, loose lug nuts on the tire, malfunctioning steering wheel mechanisms, and other problems.

There's much that trucking companies and drivers can do to make sure that their trucks don't malfunction contributing to a collision.   Companies are required to maintain a properly functioning fleet.  Trucks must be well maintained, and trucks that need repairs must be put out of service until those repairs are performed. The trucker has a responsibility to conduct a pre-trip instruction before he sets out for the day. Unfortunately, truckers are often under strict and tight delivery schedules, and may neglect to conduct an inspection of the truck. The consequences for other motorists may be extremely serious.

A poorly maintained truck doesn’t have to be directly involved in a collision with another vehicle to cause injuries. Injuries and fatalities have occurred in the past when loose lug nuts on a tire came off, causing the wheel to roll away and into cars nearby. In other cases, motorists have been seriously injured from unsecured or improperly secured cargo falling off a truck, and on to a vehicle.

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Truckers Oppose Ban on Computers in Cabs

Computers in Cabs Increase Risk of Accidents, but Truckers Oppose Possible Ban

By now, everyone knows that texting while driving increases the risk of accidents, and must be avoided.  The high-decibel debate on texting while driving however, seems to have left out one segment of highway users – drivers of commercial trucks.

Commercial trucks these days come with computers in the cab, which are used to streamline trucking operations.  Companies use these devices to send companywide messages to truckers, relay new orders etc. There is no doubt that these computers have increased efficiency for these trucking companies, but they do expose the truckers to accident risks from distraction.

Experts believe that when a trucker uses his computer, he is just as much at risk for an accident, as a trucker who is text messaging behind the wheel. In August, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that truckers who used these computers while driving, increased their risk of an accident by ten times. Truckers argue that the level of distraction is much lower than the distraction caused by texting at the wheel, which increases the risk of an accident by a whopping 23 times. However, the fact is that a truck driver is more likely to use his computer, than text behind the wheel. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study also found that a big rig driver who uses these communication devices, had his risk of an accident or a near miss increased by 6.7 times.

Not surprisingly, truckers and trucking companies are against any ban on using these computerized devices behind the wheel. Drivers complain that it’s not easy to pull the truck over to use the computer.

A trucker who is distracted by his computer is a bigger accident risk than the driver of a smaller vehicle texting at the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we lose up to 6000 people every year to accidents caused by distracted drivers. These shocking statistics call for strong measures, and these must apply to truckers and their computers as well.

The Atlanta trucking accident attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims and families of those killed in truck accidents in Georgia.

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Former Trucking Lobbyist Nominated for FMCSA Chief


 

Senate confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nominee for head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are going on. The choice of Anne Ferro to head the agency at a time when truck safety is topmost on all minds has become a prickly issue.

Much of the discontent over Ferro’s nomination is over her past as a trucking industry lobbyist in Maryland. Between 1997 and 2003, Ferro served as president and CEO of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, and for the past six years, has been registered as a lobbyist for state legislators.

She had nothing to do with federal lobbying, but even so, as Atlanta truck accident lawyers, we are definitely concerned about her opinions on trucking safety.  In 2008, the Bush Administration passed a regulation allowing an increase in the number of consecutive hours that a trucker could drive to 11 hours. As Georgia truck accident lawyers, we had strongly opposed any such increase in the number of hours truckers could drive at a stretch. Driving long hours contributes to driver fatigue, which is one of the major causes of truck accidents in Georgia. However, Ferro, in a letter to the Baltimore Sun, supported the rule, saying that it would prevent accidents and save lives.  Having a former trucking industry lobbyist, who one safety group calls an "apologist for the trucking industry,” as the head of the FMCSA could raise questions about conflict of interest.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, in 2008, 180 people were killed in Georgia in accidents involving a large commercial truck. Coweta County had three trucking accident fatalities last year, while DeKalb County had four, and Gwinnett County had three truck accident fatalities.

A large part of preventing truck accidents is having strong enforceable rules in place. For instance, there are proposals on to mandate trucking companies to install Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBR) to record the number of hours the trucker drives, thus preventing him from exceeding the number of work hours, and reducing the chances of fatigue. When asked by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey if she would mandate EOBRs on trucks, Ferro shied away from a commitment to mandating installation of the devices, only saying that she would review available data on EOBRs.

The American people deserve to have a commercial vehicle safety agency, headed by responsible people who look out for the safety of citizens, and not the interests of trucking companies. We hope Ferro will not disappoint.

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Truck Accidents in Crisp County, Savannah Leave Trail of Injuries

Two separate accidents in Savannah and Crisp County, both involving pickup trucks and 18 wheelers, have left one person dead and three critically injured.

  • In the first accident, a 66-year-old woman suffered critical injuries when her Chevy turned in front of a big rig.  According to troopers, Ora Lee Morris was not wearing a seatbelt, and was ejected from the truck on impact. She was trapped underneath the truck. There is no information about why Morris turned her pickup right in front of the big rig.
  • In the second accident a couple of days later, a pickup truck collided with a tractor trailer in Savannah. The three occupants of the pickup truck were ejected from the vehicle. One of them, a 61-year-old Savannah resident was declared dead at the scene of the accident. The two other suffered critical injuries.

In both accidents, the tractor trailer driver did not suffer injuries.

These are just two examples of the devastating consequences to motorists involved in an accident involving a big rig. With up to 80,000 pounds of powerful force barreling into a pickup truck that can weigh an average of 7,300 pounds, there is little hope that the occupants of the smaller vehicle will escape serious injuries or death.

That’s why tractor trailer drivers have such a huge responsibility to drive safely and carefully to avoid accidents. Any errors can be disastrous to vehicles in the vicinity. Big rig drivers must always

  • Stay within speed limits.
  • Drive according to the weather and traffic conditions. 
  • Avoid distractions of any kind.
  • Follow traffic rules to the T. 

Errors of any kind when you are either driving a big rig or are in the vicinity of a tractor trailer can have disastrous consequence, as is evident in the critical injuries in these accidents.

The Atlanta truck accident attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent victims injured in tractor trailer accidents in Atlanta and across Georgia.

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Shipper Sponsored Poll Shows Most Americans Support Heavier Trucks


A shipper group has announced the results of a nationwide poll that shows that a majority of Americans are in favor of raising weight limits on trucks on our interstate highways. Considering that the poll was commissioned by an association of more than one hundred shippers and other allied trucking groups, truck accident attorneys and other opponents of any such increase, should probably not give too much credence to those findings.

The poll was commissioned by the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, and the results apparently show that more than 50 percent of Americans are in favor of allowing trucks to carry more weight on interstate highways, as envisioned in the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009. According to the CTP, most Americans are in favor of higher weight limits on trucks that have higher safeguards if it would help create safer roads and more efficient highway transportation.

The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009 or HR 1799, has been opposed by truck accident attorneys, safety advocates and families of victims killed in truck accidents. The bill would authorize states to allow trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds to operate on interstate highways. Trucks would be required to add a sixth axle with brakes.

Another piece of legislation in direct contrast to HR 1799, the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act of 2009, would extend current limits of 80,000 pounds weight and 53 feet length for the 160,000 miles of the National Highway System.

We don’t need heavier trucks on our highways. What we need is for trucking companies to maintain safe fleets, hire qualified and experienced drivers and train them to follow all truck safety rules. As supporters of the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act of 2009, we believe that we have far too many accidents that occur because of highways with an outdated design or poor maintenance. Allowing heavier trucks on roads like these would make little safety sense.

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18 wheeler-Ice Cream Truck Accident in Atlanta Leaves Driver Injured


An accident involving an 18 wheeler and an ice-cream truck has left the driver of the truck seriously injured.  Police have now arrested the 18 wheeler driver.

According to police, the 18 wheeler driver was traveling east on Camp Creek Parkway. He seems to have made a left turn at a green light that didn’t have a left turn arrow. The 18 wheeler was struck by an ice-cream truck, and also collided with another vehicle carrying four occupants. The driver of the ice-cream truck suffered serious injuries, and was airlifted to the Atlanta Medical Center. He is reportedly in serious condition. No other people were injured in this truck accident.   

Drivers of commercial trucks must pay attention to traffic rules at all times. As the driver of a massive vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, a tractor trailer driver simply does not have the luxury of making errors in judgment or other mistakes while driving. Any errors made by a tractor trailer driver can prove deadly.  

There are several other ways in which an 18 wheeler driver's negligence can cause a serious accident, like:

·        Tailgating

·        Driving above the posted speed limits

·        Driving at excessive speeds for road and weather conditions

·        Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs

Any of these can cause a serious accident that leaves motorists with catastrophic injuries. Besides these, tractor trailer accidents can often be traced to a driver who has been driving long hours, and is tired and fatigued at the wheel. Truckers who suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea may be more at risk for fatigue-related crashes.

We always tend to take a stronger view of truckers breaking traffic rules because of the potentially deadly consequences that result from these actions. Traffic offenses like failure to yield or running a red light become magnified in severity when it’s an 80,000 pound vehicle you are talking about.

The truck accident attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent victims of accidents involving 18 wheelers, tractor trailers and other large commercial trucks.

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Four Dead in Lowndes County Car- Truck Accident


News coming in has confirmed a deadly truck accident this morning in Valdosta in Lowndes County. Apparently, four people have died in the accident that involved a car and a rental truck on I-75. The crash happened early this morning at about 2:30.  

It's a tragic start to the four-day long Georgia Highway Patrol crackdown that will last over the Fourth of July weekend. The crackdown begins at 6 pm today. Georgia Highway Patrol is expecting that there will be 22 fatalities in accidents over the weekend, which will end on July fifth. Law enforcement officers are gearing up for special anti drunk driving and speeding crackdowns to keep drunk drivers and dangerous speeders off the road. This will include special checkpoints around the state and additional patrolling.

The Fourth of July holiday sees the largest number of accident-related fatalities for a single day each year, and Georgia Highway Patrol, in spite of the crackdown, will be expecting no different this year. With the holiday traveling set to begin in full earnest on Thursday evening, Georgia car accident lawyers would encourage motorists to be careful out there.

  • Avoid drinking and driving
  • If you are out on our own and in no condition to drive, call for a cab or ask someone to drop you home
  • If you are out with friends, make sure you designate a sober driver for the evening. Some cities have designated driver facilities that allow you to call for a driver to drop you and your fellow revelers home. Use these.
  • Drive at posted speed limits or even slower, depending on the congested traffic conditions.
  • It helps to keep in mind that more people die in accidents on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Keep in mind that there will be several brash motorists who may be intoxicated, on drugs, or may be speeding to get to a party.  

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Trucking Group Presents Annual Highway Safety Agenda


A recent highway safety agenda unveiled by the American Trucking Associations has 18 points that are sure to make Georgia truck accident attorneys every happy indeed.

The trucking group outlined the points on the agenda at a news conference at Capitol Hill. The program includes a set of comprehensive measures, including steps aimed at enhancing the performance of drivers, safer trucks and safer vehicles to prevent truck accidents.  

The agenda includes:

  • Training drivers to minimize driver distractions
  • Implementation of stricter licensing testing standards for commercial truck drivers
  • Research into behaviors of individuals between 18 and 25 years to be used for a graduated commercial truck driver licensing system
  • Maximum speed limit of 65mph for all motor vehicles
  • More long term parking, as well as parking spaces in areas where there is a shortage of truck parking space
  • Seatbelt use promotion
  • Implementation of safety and awareness programs targeting passenger car drivers and truck drivers
  • Speed enforcement in high risk zones
  • Graduated drivers licensing for teen motorists
  • Support for anti drunk driving measures
  • Speed limiters on trucks of drivers convicted of driving offences
  • Speed limits on class 7 and 8 trucks manufactured after 1992
  • Better crashworthiness standards for new class 7 and 8 trucks
  • Effective communication between employers and states
  • National database of driver drug and alcohol test results
  • A national registry of certified medical examiners
  • Availability of a Driver Information Resource
  • Safety training classes for new motor carrier owners

We are extremely pleased with the points on the agenda, especially those that relate to drunk truck drivers, a national database for employers to access truckers' drug and alcohol test results and awareness programs for both passenger vehicle drivers as well as commercial truckers. There is a definite need for making motorists aware of safe driving around tractor trailers. Too many truckers and motorists are killed in Georgia every year because of negligent driving by a motorist. However, we wish the agenda had made some mention of driver fatigue - which is an important factor in truck accidents - and looked at steps that could help minimize the risk of accidents from truckers who doze off at the wheel.

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Barrow County Man Dies in Jefferson Truck Accident


A motorist from Winder in Barrow County has died in a multi vehicle truck accident that involved at least three commercial trucks. Four other people were injured in the accident that took place on the 5th  of June.

As Robert McIlwain began to slow down for traffic on I-85, his Honda CRV was struck by a tractor trailer. According to state patrol, the driver of the tractor trailer, Thomas Terry failed to notice that traffic was slowing down, and struck the guard rail before crashing into the CRV. The Honda CRV was pushed into the path of a second tractor trailer, and then overturned. McIlwain died from his injuries.

Terry then struck a 2004 Dodge Dakota before it overturned into a median. The Dakota was pushed into a third tractor trailer that had stopped for traffic. In all, four people were injured in the accident, including Terry.

One of the trucks involved in the multi-vehicle crash was apparently carrying potassium hydroxide, which is considered a hazardous chemical. There was no spillage, but Georgia Environmental Protection Division and clean up personnel were called to the scene to ensure that any dangers were contained.

The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the accident, and has not yet confirmed, if any charges will be filed in the truck accident

Tractor trailer drivers have a lower speed limit than motorists. Part of the reason for this is that these large trucks take a much longer time to come to a complete stop than smaller vehicles do. In fact, a tractor trailer can travel several dozens of feet after the brakes are applied to come to a complete stop. That’s why a truck driver must take into consideration not just trucking speed limits, but also traffic conditions while driving.  

Operating a tractor trailer comes with special and unique challenges, and drivers must be aware of their responsibilities on the highways. As Georgia truck accident lawyers know all too well, errors by a truck driver can be disastrous for motorists on the highway.     

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New Legislation will make it Easier for Truck Companies to Weed out Bad Drivers, Prevent Accidents


A new piece of legislation gives Georgia truck accident lawyers and families of victims who have died in accidents caused by drunk or pharmaceutically impaired truck drivers, plenty of cause for cheer. The legislation would set up a national database of commercial vehicle drivers' alcohol and drug test results.

The legislation called The Safe Roads Act, has been introduced by Senators Mark Prior, D-Arkansas, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi. It will authorize $5 million every year to develop the database, and mandate trucking companies and medical review officers to report positive drug and alcohol test results to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Employers will be required to check the database, and make sure that the driver they plan to hire, does not have a history of substance use.

Drug and alcohol testing is mandatory for commercial trucking companies. A company is required under law to conduct a drug test before a driver begins duty. In spite of this, far too many truck drivers continue to drive tractor trailers and buses after testing positive for drug and alcohol use. The system has too many loopholes to prevent such drivers from slipping through the cracks. For instance, a company could fail to verify the employee's drug history. Applicants may not report their testing history accurately to new employers.

According to commercial driver data, the number of drivers who test positive for drugs in random testing is between 1.3 and 2.8 percent. That’s too large a number for truck accident lawyers to stomach. Too many motorists are placed at risk when there is a drunk driver at the helm of a tractor trailer.

Substance abuse by drivers is an important factor in trucking accidents. Truckers may use stimulants and poppers to stay awake for long hours. These stimulants, including Amphetamines and Methamphetamines, can cause a feeling of alertness and wakefulness among drivers, but can have serious side effects. There may be coordination problems that affect driving abilities. As the drug effects begin to wear off, the driver can slowly return to an even more fatigued state than he was in before he took the stimulants.

With a database like this, trucking companies in Georgia will have no excuse for hiring drivers without a clean record.

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Tractor Trailer-Tanker Truck Accident in Coweta County Ends in Blaze


 

 

Interstate 85 in Coweta County has been an accident magnet for the past several weeks because of the construction work going on there in both northbound and southbound lanes. Several truck accidents have been reported. The construction work has meant that traffic rules are being broken at random.  Truck drivers and motorists, highway authorities complain, are not sticking to the reduced speed limits now posted in the zone. It's not just traffic police and highway officials who are concerned about the several accidents that have taken place, but also construction workers hard at work on the road.

In an example of what highway authorities are so concerned about, a tractor trailer and a tanker truck collided at the construction zone , resulting in an explosion and fire at the scene. The wheels of the tractor trailer apparently slid off the edge of the payment, and the driver, in a panic, overcorrected, colliding with a tanker nearby. The tanker truck was pushed into a construction barrier wall that had been erected to protect workers. The collision damaged the fuel tank of the tanker truck, and it caught fire. Both the tractor trailer and tanker truck drivers suffered injuries. No other vehicles were involved in the crash. A nearby school was partially evacuated as a precautionary measure, although no students were injured. The initial panic when the tanker truck exploded led to rumors that smaller vehicles had been caught in the collision, but that wasn’t true. All lanes on I-85 were closed for several hours after the accident.

Transportation officials are appealing to motorists to take great care while driving through the construction zone. The construction work is expected to continue for the rest of the year, and conditions on the highway will continue to be dangerous. Officials are asking motorists to use other routes to get to their destination if possible. In spite of lower speed limits, there have been too many instances of speeding drivers causing accidents in the area. Reckless motorists continue to drive at excessive speeds, and there are too few law enforcement officers at the scene to crack down on speeding motorists. The conditions on the road are  even worse when it rains.

The drivers of the tanker truck, the tractor trailer and other motorists in the area were extremely fortunate that there were no fatalities or injuries in this accident. As Georgia truck accident lawyers, we've seen our share of accidents that quickly lead to an explosion and an inferno after fuel tanks explode or fuel spills onto the highway, only to be ignited. An explosion and a fire could easily have consumed smaller vehicles or construction workers standing nearby. While the revised traffic rules for the construction zone on I-85 hold true for all, they are especially important for truck drivers who should be especially careful while using that stretch of highway.  

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Risk of Truck Accidents by Medically Unfit Drivers


 

 

Thousands of motorists continue to be at risk from truck accidents caused by truckers who are just too sick to drive. That terrifying fact comes to us via a report by a television station which claims that tens of thousands of truck drivers continue to be able to drive, despite suffering from a variety of ailments that should actually keep them away from the wheel.

Under trucking laws, drivers are expected to be able to produce a copy of their medical certificate that certifies that the driver is medically fit to be behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. However, far too many drivers are getting by with phony medical certificates. The process of obtaining a fake medical certificate is so easy it's almost a joke. Blank certificates are available from the government website, and all a far-from-fit driver has to do is download a blank copy which he can then fill out himself, and sign. Verification methods are notoriously hard with the result that these drivers manage to smoothly and easily slip through the cracks. An investigation last year revealed that out of every three medical certificates produced at truck inspection stops, one could not be verified.

It's not just the kind of deceit going on that should alarm Atlanta truck accident lawyers, but also the scale. According to a federal report last year, there are more than 560,000 truck drivers who are also currently receiving full medical-disability payments. That means there are 560,000 truck drivers with a valid commercial driver's license who are not in any condition to be driving a large vehicle.

According to trucker health experts, drivers who work long hours, sleep little, eat possibly unhealthy and high fat food during their meal breaks and spend lonely hours from their families are more likely to be at risk for lifestyle dieses like heart disease. Besides cardiac diseases, truckers also suffer from neurological disorders and sleep apnea, a condition in which there are frequent disturbances in sleep. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to be tired and fatigued the next day, and consequently, nod off at the wheel.

This state of affairs hopefully will not continue for long. By 2012, federal authorities expect to have a national database of truck drivers up and running. Copies of medical certificates of all truck drivers will be included in the accessible database. Besides, there are also plans to have examiners file an electronic report besides a medical certificate for each truck driver they examine. This measure could help control the rampant manipulation of the system that seems to be going on here.

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Georgia Truck Driver Completes Two Million Accident Free Miles


 

 

A truck driver in Georgia is being feted for completing two million miles of driving his truck without a single accident. Ken Truman of Gray in Jones County is a driver with Con-Way Freight Company where he has been working since 1988. According to Con-Way, Truman is the 88th driver in the history of the company to complete the two million accident-free miles benchmark. That is a remarkable achievement when you consider that the company currently employs 1200 drivers, and has had several more drivers over the last 25 years.

So, what does the super truck driver credit for his unblemished record? According to Truman, it's the combination of paying attention to detail, avoiding speeding, and being alert to the movement of other vehicles around you. It’s a simple mantra, and one you wish every truck driver on Georgia’s highways would follow. Truman also prepares thoroughly for his day at work. He studies the weather report, and checks his truck and trailers to make sure that all components, including the tires, lights and brakes are functioning properly. A large truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and this huge weight can cause truck components and parts to wear out quickly. When this happens, then they have to be replaced as soon as possible or they can malfunction. That’s why constant maintenance of a truck by the trucking company is so important. Drivers also need to do a complete check of all truck components to ensure they are in perfect condition before getting behind the wheel.

Driver fatigue is another major factor behind several major truck accidents in Georgia. Like Truman says, getting enough rest is imperative for a truck driver who can expect to drive many long and lonely miles. A truck driver who has been overworked is likely to doze off at the wheel with disastrous consequences for other vehicles on the road.

Besides, drivers must avoid other negligent driving behaviors that are dangerous even for passenger car drivers, and even more so for large truck drivers. For instance, a speeding truck can take twice as long to brake to a halt as a passenger car. It’s amazing how many truck drivers forget this cardinal rule. A driver at the helm of a massive 18-wheeler simply doesn’t have the luxury of rushing through traffic, no matter how much of a hurry he is in. Unfortunately, truck drivers are constantly under pressure from their employers to deliver loads quicker, causing them to ignore safety practices.

At our Atlanta truck accident lawyer firm, we often see the devastating impact that a truck accident can have on the other vehicles involved. As Mr. Ken Truman proves, these accidents are preventable if drivers take precautions to drive a truck efficiently and safely.

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Georgia - TACT Aims at Reducing Truck Accident Rates


 

 

Law enforcement officers in Lowndes and Cook Counties launched the Georgia TACT (Targeting Aggressive Cars and Truck) program on February 23rd. The G-TACT program is a traffic safety awareness campaign that aims at reducing the number of large truck accidents on our highways. Motorists driving passenger vehicles are taught to identify the dangers they face when they share the road with an 18-wheeler. The enforcement program continued through the week, and included I–75 and a few other areas that were chosen because of the high number of truck accidents in these. The enforcement included car and truck drivers engaging in dangerous behavior like tailgating, recklessly changing lanes, failure to signal and speeding.

A total of 365 big rig - passenger car accidents occurred in these areas over a 3-year period, resulting in 389 injuries and 20 deaths as a result.  Out of the total number of highway deaths that occur in Georgia every year, 15% are caused because of commercial motor vehicles - passenger car collisions. In an overwhelming majority of these crashes, the fatalities are occupants of the smaller car.

Collisions between 18-wheelers and smaller passenger cars can have a disastrous impact on the occupants of the car. These massive commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and a smaller vehicle has minimal chance of escaping damage when it is involved in an accident with a truck of this size. The rules of the road change dramatically when you're sharing the road with an 80,000 pound machine. Speeding or other negligent behaviors like using a cell phone can be doubly dangerous when you're anywhere close to a large truck. Always maintain enough space between the car and the truck, and keep in mind that the truck driver because of his position may not be able to see you. Be alert to any signals or signs that the truck driver, makes signifying his intent to turn etc. Avoid tailgating a large truck at all costs.

Truck drivers on their part must avoid reckless behaviors like speeding, drunk driving or cell phone use. In case of an accident, a truck driver can place more than one motorist on the road at risk for injuries.

Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyer firm regularly represents truck accident victims in DeKalb County and elsewhere in Georgia. Contact an Atlanta truck accident attorney at our firm if you have any questions about pursuing claims in a truck accident case. 

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TRUCK ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY MEDICALLY IMPAIRED DRIVERS

If you have been involved in an accident or crash with a tractor-trailer or a bus, the statistics reveal the driver may have been medically impaired. The Associated Press reported today that it obtained an advance copy of a Government Accounting Office report showing that over 500,0000 of the country’s commercial truck drivers also qualify for full federal medical disability payments. Over a thousand drivers had vision, hearing and seizure disorders.

 

As far back as 2001, safety regulators advised the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the government office responsible for regulating commercial truck and bus drivers, that reforms must be undertaken to insure that those carrying commercial drivers licenses are medically fit to drive.

 

In 2006, the federal Transportation Department issued 7.3 million commercial driving citations for violating federal medical rules. Twelve states, one of which was Georgia, accounted for over half of the violations.

 

Hundreds of deaths and injuries have been blamed on drivers blacking out, collapsing or having a heart attack behind the wheel of a forty-ton vehicle. In 2006, fifty-three hundred people died in crashes involving commercial trucks or buses, and over one hundred thousand people were injured. The leading cause of crashes involving large commercial trucks was physical impairment of the truck driver.    

 

The chief safety officer for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration blames delays on the lack of federal funds and difficulty coordinating safety regulations in fifty states.

 

Congressional hearings on this topic will feature testimony involving some of the following:

 

  • A Florida bus driver who suffers from lung disease that causes him to occasionally “black out and forget things.” He works as a substitute bus driver despite not having a medical certificate. He has collected social security disability since 1994.
  • A Virginia truck driver with a prosthetic leg who is permitted to drive tanker trucks even though he lacks proper paperwork for amputees.
  • A Missouri truck driver’s employer who paid $18 million in a tort settlement after its diabetic driver crashed his 70,000 pound tractor-trailer into traffic on an interstate, killing four women. The driver had a diabetic episode that put him into an altered state of consciousness.
  • Victims of a gasoline tanker driver who had a heart attack while driving, causing the tanker to plunge over an overpass in Maryland, killing four people.
  • Parents of children injured and killed when the driver of a 15-passenger day-care bus crashed into a bridge, killing the driver and four children on board when the driver with a sleep disorder fell asleep at the wheel.
  • New Orleans victims of a 55-passenger bus that crashed, killing 22 people when the driver suffered a heart attack. He had been treated for heart problems 20 times in the last two years.

 

Interestingly, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act paved the road of driving while disabled. The Commercial Vehicle Training Association reports that a man with a cerebral-palsy impaired gait was awarded $90,000 in damages under the ADA when he was refused admittance in an interstate trucking firm’s driver training program. The ADA allows workers to seek “reasonable accommodations”.   Due to those accommodations, many drivers with disabilities are driving multi-ton vehicles on interstates today.

 

According to many truckers associations, in the past the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not approve any commercial drivers licenses (“CDLs”) for persons with diabetes, loss of a limb, or sleep disorders. However, the Diabetes Association and other groups protested, arguing that drivers under a doctor’s care could and should be allowed to drive if their conditions were under control.

 

This year, the Ninth Circuit, ruled on a class action involving hearing-impaired job applicants suing United Parcel Service under the ADA. The potential drivers claimed they were discriminated against when UPS refused to hire them as drivers because their hearing impairment failed to qualify them under US DOT standards for drivers of vehicles over 10,000 pounds.   The Ninth Circuit agreed that the drivers were discriminated against and sent the case back to the district court. 

 

Thus, in an effort to protect the rights of the disabled, many unsuspecting travellers on the road today are put at risk. Perhaps, trucking companies are forced to weigh the costs of being sued for violating ADA laws against the risks of potential tort injury or rising insurance costs as a result of hiring a medically-impaired driver.

 

One thing appears to be clear. The federal agencies designed to ensure highway safety are failing in that job. 

 

Be careful on the roadways. 

 

And if you or someone you love is involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, contact the law firm of Robert N. Katz for a free, private consultation. We can help.  

 

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SCHOOL BUS ACCIDENTS RAMPANT IN APRIL

 

April has been a bad month for school bus accidents. We covered this subject in March when a Cherokee County school bus overturned and several students were taken to area hospitals. Since then, school bus accidents continue to be the subject of local news programs across the country. Many students suffered serious personal injuries as a result.

 

Monday morning of this week, two Pope High School students were injured when a car, driven by a teenage driver, ran up on the sidewalk and struck them. A fifteen-year-old girl was flown by helicopter to Children’s Hospital at Scottish Rite and is in critical condition. A seventeen-year-old boy was taken to Kennestone Hospital and treated and released.

 

The driver of the Jeep, Corey O’Connell, was driving northbound when a Nissan Maxima stopped in front of him to make a left-hand turn. He did not see the stopped car in time, swerved onto the sidewalk, and ran over a fire hydrant and an electrical box before striking the students with his vehicle. He has been charged with following too closely and failure to maintain his lane. 

 

Earlier this month in Cleveland, Ohio, several students were injured in a runaway bus accident. The children were students at the Arts Academy in Cleveland being chartered on a school field trip. The bus driver, Michael P. Weir, stopped the bus at a gasoline station, left the engine running, and proceeded to pump fuel. After fueling, he went inside the store to pay and use the restroom. While he was gone, the bus began to roll down the hill and pick up speed. Several students were injured when they jumped out of the runaway bus. A student inside the bus grabbed control of the steering wheel and swerved the bus away from a bridge piling and out of oncoming traffic. 

 

Weir violated many rules here: stopping to fuel a bus with children inside, leaving the bus engine running while pumping fuel, leaving his bus unattended with children inside, and (worst of all) leaving his bus unattended with the engine running with children inside. Weir had previous driving violations on this record, and had just had his suspended license reinstated when he was given the keys to drive these children on a field trip.    

 

In Clayton, North Carolina this month, state troopers are still searching for the hit-and-run driver who struck a schoolgirl crossing the street to board her school bus. She suffered a broken jaw and a broken leg.   

 

All of these cases represent a variety of different claims. In the case of the Pope High School students, the injured may have a claim against the driver of the car who struck them. When a driver has been charged with a vehicular violation, those charges if adjudicated against the driver, may be used to prove negligence per se – or negligence as a matter of law. Thus, the jury does not have to decide if the driver’s actions were negligent, the judge will instruct the jury that the actions were negligent as a matter of law. 

 

In the case of the runaway school bus, the students may have a claim against the school, the company who provided the charter bus service, and the negligent driver. The charter bus company may have negligently hired a driver with a bad driving record; the school may have failed to get the qualifications of the charter bus company; and the driver was clearly negligent.

 

In the case of a hit-and-run driver, uninsured motorist coverage (potentially carried by the parents of the victim) may be able to provide liability coverage for the unknown driver. Also the school bus uninsured motorist coverage may come into affect if she was boarding the school bus at the time of the accident.

 

These cases can be complicated. If you or someone you love has a claim, contact the law firm of Robert N. Katz for a free, private consultation.  

 

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STUDENTS INJURED IN CANTON BUS ACCIDENT

A school bus carrying 27 students overturned on March 3, 2008 in Canton, Georgia. Twenty-six students were taking to area hospitals, but none were seriously injured. The driver, Luis Monserrate, was charged with failure to maintain a lane.

 

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the driver let the school bus dip off the roadway onto the shoulder. He then overcorrected, causing the bus to veer off the road. The bus clipped a utility pole and then overturned. 

 

Currently, there are 585,000 school buses in use in the nation. Over twenty-three million children travel on school buses each year. The Transportation Research Board reports that school buses are the safest mode of transportation for students.  School bus accidents account for 6000 injuries annually and 20 deaths. Compared to incidents caused by adult drivers transporting students in a private vehicle, these cause 51,000 injuries and 169 deaths annually. Most deaths occur from students boarding or exiting buses.   

 

However, the National Coalition for School Bus Safety advocates for re-designs to include seatbelts and to eliminate top-heavy design that causes rollovers. The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates having lap shoulder belts and adult monitors on all new school buses.

 

School buses are operated by drivers with a commercial drivers license (CDL) regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most states require special driver training for school bus drivers as well as drug and alcohol screening and law enforcement background checks. 

 

Governmental authorities usually operate school buses. Schools may raise governmental immunity as a defense to any claims arising from a school bus accident. Thus, lawsuits involving a school bus injury have an unusual component of addressing immunity claims. Typically, in Georgia, counties will waive immunity to the extent of applicable insurance coverage. However, immunity statutes require specific notice provisions that if not followed bar the claim. The time periods for providing notice of a claim to a government tend to be shorter than standard statute of limitations on claim filing. 

 

If you believe that you may have a claim involving a school bus accident, contact the law firm of Robert N. Katz for a free private consultation.

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Sleeping Truck Drivers Cause Accidents

November 11, 2007

Last week the Center for Disease Control (CDC) celebrated Drowsy Driver Prevention Week. Interestingly, in a poll conducted as part of their education campaign, 47 percent of commercial truck drivers admitted to having fallen asleep while driving a truck during some point in their career.

In a study conducted of the sleep patterns of long haul truck drivers and printed in the New England Journal of Medicine, drivers obtained between 4 and 5 hours of verifiable sleep during the course of driving ten-hour days in a five-day period. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Thus, fatigue and sleep deprivation constitute significant safety issues for long haul truck drivers. 

 Because long haul truck drivers often must sleep while on the road, they obtain less sleep than is required for alertness on the job. Late night or early morning route schedules are often the cause of sleep or sleeplike states while driving. During this study, two drivers had episodes of stage one sleep while driving. Stage one sleep occurs when the body’s systems move into a state of flaccid paralysis and no longer respond to motor messages from the brain. Despite this, no accidents or mishaps occurred during the study.

Drivers who sleep in their tractor-trailer often endure poor sleep conditions. They are often interrupted by noise, light, and extremes of heat and cold. Poor sleep conditions account for 62 percent of traffic related accidents. This problem is compounded by driver sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and snoring. Sleep apnea occurs when the body must wake itself up to resume breathing during the sleep stages.

Further, the human body is designed to sleep during periods of darkness and to be alert during light. The body produces a sleep hormone – melatonin – which is regulated by night and day cycles. This is also known as the body’s circadian rhythm. During darkness, melatonin stimulates sleep. Low levels during lightness stimulate wakefulness. Almost all long haul truck drivers begin their shifts between one a.m. and eight a.m. when melatonin levels are high. Coincidentally, most sleep related vehicle accidents occur between midnight and six a.m.

 
Truck driver fatigue is the subject of new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. Tractor-trailer truck drivers may only drive for eleven hours after ten hours off. The National Transportation Safety Board states that driver fatigue may account for one third of all large (semi, tractor-trailer) truck accidents. Further, driver fatigue was the likely cause in thirty percent of all fatal crashes. 

 Accidents involving sleeping drivers – and worse sleeping truck drivers – often yield tragic consequences. Sleeping drivers usually maintain their speed; thus, not braking or turning to avoid the accident.   For further information on truck related accidents, contact Robert N. Katz.  

 

 

 

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