Tractor-Trailer Underride Accidents Prompt Call for Additional Safety Regulations

Tractor-Trailer Underride Accidents Prompt Call for Additional Safety Regulations

Tractor-Trailer Underride Accidents Prompt Call for Additional Safety RegulationsEven if you’ve never heard the term “underride,” you can probably imagine what it means in the context of tractor-trailer accidents.  Picture the height of your car compared to the bottom of the truck right in front of you on the highway. If that truck slams on the brakes and you’re not able to stop in time, your car will slide under the back of the truck, with understandably devastating and gruesome consequences.

Underride is not only a danger for the back of big-rigs, but underride accidents can happen on the sides of trailers as well, such as when a truck jack-knifes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that approximately four percent of all fatal tractor-trailer accidents involve passenger vehicle underride.

Underride accidents can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Poor visibility
  • Truck driver negligence when changing lanes or braking
  • Defective rear underride guards
  • Multicar pileups that push a car into the back of a big-rig

While federal regulations require that almost all commercial trucks have rear underride guards and reflective equipment, they aren’t currently required on “single unit trucks,” (SUTs), which are trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds with no trailer.

Given that an underride accident with an SUT can be just as horrific as one with an 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer, the lack of protective guards and reflective material doesn’t make sense. The NHSTA agrees, which is why they are in the process of writing new regulations that would require rear impact guards and reflective tape on the side and rear of all new SUTs.

The NHTSA estimates that a requirement for rear impact guards on single unit trucks (SUTs) could save five lives and prevent 30 injuries each year, while reflective tape on SUTs could save up to 14 lives per year.

Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Fatigued Truck Drivers Create Big Risks

Fatigued Truck Drivers Create Big Risks

Fatigued Truck Drivers Create Big RisksDriving while drowsy is a serious problem that can affect any driver of any kind of vehicle. But when that driver is at the wheel of a massive tractor-trailer, the consequences can be even more catastrophic.

Truck Drivers Often Drive Longer Than the Law Allows

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 65% of truckers reported feeling drowsy while driving, and studies show that driver fatigue is the cause of more than a third of fatal trucking accidents. At least 846 people died in drowsy-driving incidents in 2014, according the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Recognizing the dangers of fatigued truck drivers, federal regulations place limits on how much time truckers may spend behind the wheel during any given stretch of time. However, economic pressures – the need to make deliveries by deadline or the desire to make more money by working longer – can cause both drivers and as well as trucking companies to skirt those rules or even falsify records.

Famously, the Walmart truck driver who caused the 2014 crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed one of his friends had not slept in over 24 hours before the crash occurred, in gross violation of federal regulations.

New Rules Try to Stop Drivers From Skirting Time-On-Duty Rules

Part of the problem with drivers and carriers breaking the mandated time limits comes from the fact that records reflecting duty hours are kept on paper – as they have been since the 1930s – making them easy to falsify or alter.

To crack down on this potentially fatal fraud, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules in December 2015 requiring that all commercial truck drivers to use electronic logs to record their driving hours. According to federal officials, the new electronic logs should save 26 lives a year and prevent more than 500 injury-causing truck accidents.

If you’re driving near a huge tractor-trailer on the highway, you have no idea how many hours the driver has been behind the wheel, how much sleep they’ve had recently, or if there are any other issues that may make that big-rig a bigger threat than it already is. But if you see any of these signs in a truck travelling near you, try to steer clear:

  • Swerving
  • Drifting between lanes
  • Sudden and inexplicable braking

Dallas trucking accident attorney Robert Greening or Greening Law, P.C. knows how devastating a tractor-trailer accident can be and has extensive experience and a track record of success obtaining compensation for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a big rig accident. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Tractor-Trailer Safety Rules May Be Weakened Under Federal Highway Funding Bill

Tractor-Trailer Safety Rules May Be Weakened Under Federal Highway Funding Bill

New York Court of Appeals, AlbanyAmong the many battles being currently fought in the U.S. Congress is one that could have a serious impact on your safety. At issue is whether regulations on tractor-trailers will be weakened – and the dangers of more big-rig accidents, injuries, and deaths increased – in response to heavy lobbying by the trucking industry.

For a long while, Congress has been unable to reach any consensus on how to address the serious issues facing the country’s highways, roads, and bridges, many of which are desperately in need of vital repairs and improvements. The money for maintaining this infrastructure comes from the federal Highway Trust Fund. Instead of coming up with a long-term agreement to keep the fund from running out of money and implementing a plan to fix things, Congress has kept passing short-term, stop-gap funding bills.

A number of efforts to come up with a long-term, six-year funding plan are working their way through Congress. However, this effort, as well as other pieces of proposed legislation, also contain significant changes to the tractor-trailer safety rules and regulations that govern trucks on the nation’s highways.

Bigger Trucks, Less Rest, and Younger Drivers

Three of the biggest proposed changes, backed by the American Trucking Association and trucking companies such as UPS and FedEx, include:

  • allowing trucking companies to put two 33-foot trailers behind one truck, up from the current limit of two 28-foot trailers, even in states that have prohibited such trucks
  • reducing the current required rest period for truck drivers
  • allowing 18-year-olds to drive tractor-trailers

Harrowing Tractor-Trailer Statistics

These proposed changes have raised concerns among highway safety advocates as well as state and local officials who believe that they will only make America’s highways more dangerous. A recent New York Times editorial attacked the proposals, citing these harrowing statistics:

  • more Americans will be killed in the U.S. by large trucks this year than have died in commercial airline accidents over the past 45 years
  • deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers rose 17 percent between 2009-2013
  • almost 4,000 people were killed in big-rig crashes in 2013 alone
  • the economic cost of truck and bus crashes is $99 billion a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Texas actually leads the nation in trucking accidents, suffering 493 fatal big-rig collisions in 2013, equaling 12 percent of the 3,906 people killed that year in tractor-trailer accidents.

Given the dangers we already face from 18-wheeler and commercial trucking accidents, any efforts that could potentially increase the risks of serious injury or death from these huge vehicles should be approached with caution.

At Greening Law, P.C., we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for individuals and families throughout the Dallas- Ft. Worth metroplex who have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident. We are dedicated to our clients’ well-being and getting them the compensation and resources they need to recover. Please call us at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation and learn about your options.