Thursday, September 19, 2013

The National Safety Crisis Surrounding the Commercial Interstate Trucking Industry

Hours of service violations and the resulting fatigued truck drivers constitute a national safety crisis of epic proportions. Every time we get behind the wheel of our vehicle we are likely to be sharing the roadways with huge commercial trucks, delivering goods across the United States. Despite the best efforts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the profit-driven motives of trucking companies keep exhausted drivers behind the wheel of 80,000 pound trucks, threatening the safety of everyone else on the road. When a Texas truck wreck occurs, it is fairly likely the crash is the result of an overly-tired driver who has logged too many hours behind the wheel. Alarmingly, the number of truck accident fatalities increased in 2011 while overall traffic collision fatalities decreased.

 

While we will all agree that we need truck drivers to deliver food and goods, the cost of those deliveries is all too often severe injury or death. Obviously, faster deliveries mean more company profits and a bigger paycheck for the truck driver and, because everyone benefits financially, there has been a lack of importance placed on reducing the number of fatigued driers on the roadways. Unfortunately, this means that many times driver’s logbooks are falsified in an effort to deliver loads more quickly. 

 

Logbook Violations

Truck drivers are required to maintain logbooks which identify their rest, sleep and driving periods behind the wheel. Although drivers are not allowed to log more than eleven hours behind the wheel within a fourteen-hour period, with a requisite 10 hour rest period, those hours are often exceeded. This means that many drivers are surpassing the average 2500 miles per week interstate truckers routinely drive. Most of us cannot even imagine driving so many miles, particularly week after week.

 

Although making federal regulations more stringent in order to decrease the number of hours drivers spend on the roads is important, it is relatively common for truck drivers to falsify logbooks or keep two sets of logbooks in the truck. One of these sets of logbooks is the one shown to the Department of Transportation officials while the other is a true record of the actual hours driven. In fact, in the industry, logbooks are often known as “comic books.”

 

Over 200,000 logbook violations are actually discovered every year, while many times that number remains undiscovered. Trucking companies are required to maintain comprehensive driving records for their truck drivers for six months, however once that time period is up those records may “go missing.” So long as no accident occurred during that six-month period there will be no record of drivers who chronically exceed the federal mandates.

 

Victims of Trucking Accidents Need Help

The physical and mental intensity required to drive a large commercial truck are immense. When you consider that over 4,000 Americans are killed each year in a truck accident it becomes clear that the strict deadlines truckers are under lead to serious or fatal accidents. No matter how fatigued the truck driver may be, they must push on, driving another 100 or 200 miles before stopping to rest.  If you are the victim of an accident caused by an overly tired truck driver you may need the services of a highly qualified Texas truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and preserve crucial evidence in your case.  

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Author: Andrew Sullo
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