Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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The administration has finalized a rule that is meant to protect motorists and drivers of light passenger vehicles from serious injuries in a truck accident with large commercial trucks for tractor trailers.

A serious underride truck accident can involve devastating personal injuries, including decapitation. In these truck accidents, the motorist may hit the back of the tractor trailer, resulting in the smaller passenger vehicle sliding under the tractor trailer.  Head and neck personal injuries are common in such types of truck accidents, and decapitation is not unheard of either.

For years now, passenger safety advocates have called for stricter restrictions on the design of commercial trucks and 18-wheelers that will prevent such truck accidents from taking place. The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced that it has finalized rules that will update the current federal standards for underride protection. As part of the rule, trucks must come with rear impact guards that will absorb the energy of the impact, and prevent motorists from sliding under the tractor trailer.

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2021 was a deadly year for truckers and other persons involved in accidents with large commercial trucks and 18-wheelers.  The latest data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reflected a 13% increase in the number of deaths in accidents involving large trucks last year, compared to 2020.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its latest traffic crash data for 2021, and the figures are bleak.  Overall, traffic fatalities were up by as much as 10.5% from 2020.  Interestingly, many of these fatal accidents occurred during the day time and on rural or artery roads.  Overall, these were the highest traffic accident death numbers on record since 2005.  Many in the industry and in the federal administration believe that these rates are at “crisis levels”.

The news on the trucking safety front was not much better. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considered any commercial truck weighing at or above 10,000 pounds as a large truck for the purposes of data collection.  The figures included not just smaller trucks, but also non-commercial trucks.  There were a total of 5,601 deaths involving truck accidents in 2021, compared to a total of 4,965 accident deaths the previous year, a significant 13 percent increase.  Increases in deaths in crashes involving at least one truck were recorded in all months, except January, February and October of last year.

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An accident with a tractor trailer truck is one of the worst types of motor vehicle accidents, and they usually result in serious if not fatal injuries. If there’s one thing that safety advocates as well as the trucking industry agree on, it is the need for speed limiters on commercial trucks. The federal administration recently announced its intention to move forward with rule making on this critical safety issue.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently issued its Notice of Intent that shows its intent to move forward with rulemaking on the issue of requiring speed limiters on commercial trucks and tractor trailers.   According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it has been able to identify that speed is a critical safety issue when it comes to large commercial trucks and 18 -wheelers. The agency identifies speed management as a critically important precautionary measure that can help reduce the risk of serious injuries and fatalities involving truck accidents.

The administration has focused on the problem of high speeds involving commercial truck for a while now. The new notice of intent follows up on a proposal that was determined in 2016 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The 2016 proposal called for the installation of speed limiters on trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds. However, the proposal did not determine a maximum speed limit. That will now happen with the federal administration’s new move in this regard. Over a period of time and with inputs from not just American trucking groups, but also the public, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be able to determine a speed limit for commercial trucks.

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Tractor trailer accidents are some of the worst motor vehicle accidents.  Truck driver drug use is a significant factor in accidents, and new data shows that this continues to be so. The federal administration’s latest report on drug test violations confirms that the risk from truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs is very much real and present.

In fact, according to the data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there was a significant increase of 10% in drug violations in 2021, compared to the same period of time in 2020.  The number of actual positive test results increased by approximately 3% to a total of approximately 55,200.  The administration considered a refusal to take a test as a violation which could explain the 10% increase.

However, the data also finds that there has been a significant 10% increase in positive test results for cocaine and a 5.4 % increase in positive test results for marijuana. The number of truck drivers abusing cocaine while driving could actually be much higher than the official estimate because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration currently does not include the results of hair tests for cocaine.

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An accident with a tractor trailer truck most often ends up causing catastrophic if not fatal injuries.  Driver fatigue is a major factor in the thousands of trucking accidents that occur in and around Georgia as well as around the country ever year.  To combat this, it is crucial that truckers get a chance to rest and get refreshed during their workday, and trucking groups are now calling for rest facilities to be expanded.

President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure package allocates millions of dollars for transportation spending.  Trucking groups as well as driver advocates are calling on the administration to use some of that money and invest it in the expansion of truck stops for drivers. Truck drivers often drive long distances that they are expected to travel all alone. That can increase the risk of fatigue and tiredness. Besides, truck drivers are mandated to drive only for a fixed number of hours before they are required to rest. The problem is that appropriate rest facilities are hard to find. You can hardly park a massive 80,000- pound tractor trailer by the side of the road. Designated truck stops have not just parking facilities where truckers can park their vehicles for a few hours while they sleep, but also offer food, refreshments and other facilities.

The American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association are calling on Transportation head Pete Buttigieg to allocate funds for the expansion of these facilities around the country. They claim that as many as 98 percent of truck drivers find it hard to find a good truck stop or rest area for them to rest before they commence driving.  They say they spend almost an hour away or more trying to find safe spots, instead of resting.

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Trucking accidents almost always result in serious injuries.  Driver error can play a major role in commercial trucking accidents in and around the Atlanta region.  A new federal administration’s rule that applies to entry level truck driver training standards went into effect in the month of February.  It’s intended effect is to help curb the number of errors made by truck drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rule applies to entry level drivers who want to make a profession as a truck driver. The rule is called the Entry Level Driver Training rule, and went into effect on February 7. The rule sets the basic minimum baseline requirements for entry level truck driver training programs.

The new rule will apply to any entry level drivers who want to obtain a class A or class B commercial driver’s license, drivers who wish to upgrade their current license from a B to an A level, or wish to obtain bus and hazardous materials endorsements.  The rule requires that entry level drivers who want to operate commercial trucks professionally go through the training providers that are listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. This listing of providers went online recently. Once a driver selects a provider from the listing, he must undergo the training program before he appears for the CDL skills test. If the driver is applying for an endorsement for hazardous materials for the first time, he needs to undergo the knowledge test.

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Commercial delivery trucks have been working overtime to fulfill the large volume of online orders and commercial business.  More commercial trucks on the roads usually brings with them more risks of trucking accidents, especially as more drivers take to the roads in the upcoming holiday season.  Georgia authorities recently took steps to ensure safe driving practices by commercial truckers to keep everyone on the roads safe.

The SafeDRIVE (Drive Distracted Reckless Impaired Visibility Enforcement) is an initiative by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and is carried out on a quarterly basis in collaboration with state and local law enforcement partners.  In Georgia, the SafeDRIVE enforcement blitz was carried out between October 5 and 7 this year. As part of the Georgia initiative, the Motor Carrier Compliance Division of the Georgia Department of Public Safety conducted enforcement initiatives along popular trucking routes, including I- 75, I -95 and I- 85.  More than 400 citations were issued to truck drivers across Georgia as part of a law enforcement initiative in collaboration with the federal administration in order to keep our highways safe and prevent truck accidents.

It was a three-day campaign, and hundreds of truck drivers and their commercial trucks were pulled over during the campaign. The campaign resulted in extensive monitoring of common truck driver errors, including following too closely, distracted driving and driving under the influence of alcohol. As part of the initiative, truck drivers were also cited for rash and aggressive driving and driving beyond the speed limits. These are common trucking driver mistakes that can increase the risk of the truck being involved in an accident that endangers not just the truck driver, but also occupants of passenger vehicles involved in the accident. In any accident involving a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, it is the occupants of the smaller vehicle who may be at a higher risk of suffering injuries, and therefore, it is important for law enforcement to conduct such regular enforcement campaigns to weed out bad drivers and keep the highways safer for all.

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The trucking industry and other related parties are promoting a bill that would reduce the minimum age for commercial truck drivers to operate in the United States. There are risks that a proposal like this, if rushed into, could possibly increase the risk of accidents involving tractor- trailers and semi rigs.

Trucking activity across the metro Atlanta region has spiked since last year, when there was a surge in the volume of online deliveries and shipping needs.  While the trucking industry serves a vital function, having more numbers of trucks on our highways will only increase the risks of commercial truck accidents.

The trucking industry says that a shortage of licensed drivers is a major challenge currently facing the sector. To deal with this shortage, the industry is calling for the minimum truck driver age, which currently stands at 20, to be lowered to 18, to drive a truck as part of interstate commerce. The DRIVE Safe Act, is currently pending in Congress and is aimed at allowing interstate driving for commercial truck drivers between 18 and 21.

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This April, transportation safety authorities in Georgia conducted a campaign drawing attention to the high risks facing construction workers in work zones.  It’s also equally important for truck drivers to be aware of these risks.

Large trucks are involved in a significant percentage of the total number of accidents that occur in American work zones every year.  The last week of April this year was commemorated as National Work Zone Awareness Week to draw awareness to the special risks facing construction workers working in these zones. In 2019, which is the last year for which data on these types of accidents is available, there were a total of 842 accident deaths occurring in work zones across the United states. That was a significant increase from the 757 fatalities in work zones that occurred in 2018.

Truck accidents account for a significant percentage of these types of accidents. While truck accidents constitute approximately 5% of all vehicular traffic, they are involved in a staggering 33% of all accidents that occur in work zones.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is specifically calling on commercial truck drivers to look out for construction workers in work zones, and follow all safety protocols while driving through these zones.

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The federal administration has denied a petition by a business group for extension of the hours of service and electronic logging rules that apply to truck drivers travelling with their pets.

The group, Small Business Transportation Coalition, had submitted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In the petition, the group requested exemptions for truck drivers from two of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandates, including the mandate for electronic logging devices on all trucks as well as the Hours of Service requirements.

According to the petition, drivers travelling with pets should be exempted from the Hours of Service requirements and be permitted to drive for up to 13 hours during their shift. That would be beyond the current truck driving limits imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. According to the petition, truck drivers benefit from travelling with their pet companions, as this helps relieve boredom and loneliness during long journeys. Longer driving hours would actually help these drivers drive slower, because of the various activities like feeding and walking that they would have to perform in connection with the care of their pets. According to the petition, these drivers would, therefore, need more than the normal hours in order to complete their shifts.

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