Whether you drive a commercial truck or are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, it’s importing to understand how these types of accidents happen. Each day, there are thousands of commercial trucks that travel our roads to transport goods from city to city and state to state. These trucks are much larger and heavier in size compared to a standard sedan, and are on the road for a significant amount of time. The ability to transport the amount of goods that they do also means that these trucks can be much more dangerous if the driver is careless. In an attempt to make the roads safer, there are several governing bodies that regulate commercial transportation.
In January 2000, the Department of Transportation established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), Its primary purpose is to prevent commercial motor vehicle related fatalities and injuries. It accomplishes this by working with enforcement agencies of all levels to target high risk carriers, improving safety information systems and technologies, and to create regulations that promote general safety awareness.
How does the FMCA help prevent commercial vehicle related fatalities and injuries?
The Administration helps to develop the standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers, collects data, and conducts research on the safety of vehicular operations. They also help support and implement a uniform set of safety regulations and guidelines. More information on the FMCSA’s responsibilities can be found at fmcsa.dot.gov. Further, the Code of Federal Regulations prohibits employers from coercing a driver to violate the commercial regulations. 49 CFR Parts 386 and 390. Coercions can include, but are not limited to, demanding a schedule be met that would be impossible without violating hours of service restrictions or other safety regulations.
What are the most common trucking company violations?
Commercial trucking companies are just like every other company out there: they have deadlines to meet and costs they are looking to cut. In an attempt to meet business goals, it may be tempting for some of these carriers to cut corners or coerce their agents to drive longer than is safe or recommended. Common behaviors that are both violations and dangerous are:
driving under the influence,
driving too fast for weather conditions,
driving unsafe vehicles that may have defective brakes,
Violations of FMCA’s rules may result in fines being imposed on the driver and trucking company. More importantly, these violations may result in accidents where there are severe injuries or death.
How many deaths are caused by semi-trucks each year?
The FMCA reports accidents involving commercial vehicles are responsible for about 5,000 deaths a year. This is due to the plain fact that accidents with a commercial vehicle can be much more devastating than an accident with another passenger vehicle.
Why are accidents with a semi-truck more deadly than with a car?
To put it into perspective, an average four door sedan weighs approximately 3,300 pounds. The Department of Transportation breaks commercial vehicles into eight different classes. Class 1 can weigh up to 6,000 pounds, nearly twice that of our regular four door sedan. Class 8 vehicles are anything 33,000 pounds and above.
Semi-trucks with a full trailer can weigh approximately 80,000 pounds. When an 80,000 semi truck makes contact with your 3,000 sedan at the speed limit of 55 miles per hour or faster, the results can be devastating. Not only will your car likely be totaled, but the risk of traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, or death are significantly increased. A natural extension of more severe injuries are greater medical bills incurred and the possibility of missing extensive time from work.
What can I do if I’m injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle?
The FMCA works with agencies on a local and federal level to enact rules and regulations that help make the roads safer for everyone. However, just because there is a law in place, it does not mean everyone will listen and risk is automatically eliminated. Some commercial companies will break these rules to meet deadlines or to save money, or there is a moment of carelessness that leads to devastating results.