The regulations on the number of hours a commercial truck driver can drive have been changed twice over the last 5 years but unfortunately Georgia drivers are continuing to die and suffer catastrophic injuries as a result of tired tractor trailer drivers in Atlanta. The most recent study from 2005 shows that nationally 5,212 died as a result of tractor trailer collisions. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revised the rules drastically in December 2003, they sold it to the public as a safety improvement but in reality it allows truckers to driver for 11 hours straight before having to take 10 hours off! I don’t know about you but I cannot maintain my focus driving for even 7 hours before I have to take an entire day off and here the government is authorizing 11 hours.
To make matters worse, the government continues to play with their numbers and in December 2007, the FMCSA released a statement saying that despite the increase in hours since 2003, deaths per mile were down. The problem with that claim is the fact that they started counting the miles driven by passenger buses, which don’t make long hauls like truckers do. This had the effect of diluting the fatality numbers and making them look better.
When you look back at the raw data on the cause of these tractor trailer collisions, it is scary.
Brake problems alone accounted for 28% of the fatality collisions and yet brakes are required to be inspected on every trip. This problem should not occur. The second largest cause was speeding at 23%. The FMCSA found that 17% of the crashes were caused by over the counter drug use; that means Nyquil and Tylenol PM folks. And finally, the culprit that the FMCSA has allowed to prosper, fatigue. By their reckoning, it causes fully 13% of all tractor trailer crashes. Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 2007 Comprehensive Study
Look at these primary causes and it jumps out at you that they are all avoidable. When people are killed or maimed in a collision with a tractor trailer, the causes of these accidents are often mired in the details. That is where my background in defending these companies proves invaluable for my clients. At our firm, we immediately retain an expert collision reconstructionist for any serious accident and get to the scene to lock down photographs, witnesses and physical evidence. Tangling with a tractor trailer company in litigation is a serious endeavor and you need a skilled trucking lawyer by your side if you hope to learn why the collision occurred and to balance the scales of justice.
In a recent case, the trucking company was denying that they had an Eaton VORAD collision avoidance system until I climbed into the cab and showed the trucking company lawyer, the control panel for the system. When people are harmed by trucking companies it takes detective work on an unprecedented level to get to the heart of the matter and to learn why the collision occurred and how it could have been avoided.