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The federal government’s top transportation safety priorities for the upcoming year point to an important fact:  there are many preventable causes of fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates all catastrophic air, rail and roadway transportation accidents, recently announced its “Most Wanted List” for 2017-2018.  This is an annual count of safety concerns the organization will focus on in the months ahead.

Fatigued, Impaired or Medically Unfit Truck Drivers

It’s estimated that 94 percent of all fatal car, truck and motorcoach accidents are caused by negligent driver behavior.  The NTSB’s list of safety concerns reflects this, as tired drivers, drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and medical fitness are all highlighted.

The NTSB states that fatigue-related trucking accidents can be avoided. It calls on trucking companies to be more vigilant in keeping fatigued truck drivers off the road.  Employers should make sure their drivers are getting adequate rest during the work week and proper treatment of known dangerous medical conditions such as sleep apnea.

Responsible for controlling a tractor-trailer weighing thousands of pounds, a trucker on drugs or alcohol is a potentially catastrophic powder keg.  The federal government has already called for a database to better track truck drivers who have been caught driving while impaired.  But it still is a matter of personal responsibility today for a trucker to report to his employer a conviction for a driving offense, such as a DUI, while in a personal vehicle.

And trucking companies, in the bottom-line pursuit of filling job openings, should not ignore such convictions when hiring new drivers.

The health of the driver is another factor in fatal trucking accidents. The hours that truckers spend behind the wheel can lead to obesity.  A 2015 survey found that a large portion of truck drivers are obese, which can link them to other health problems that disqualify them from holding a commercial driver’s license.

Truck Drivers Must be Medically Certified

Federal law requires truck drivers to get medical certification every two years to confirm they’re up to the demands of the job. The NTSB is calling for a revamped driver medical certification system that includes better trained examiners, better monitoring of those examiners, and more attention to a trucker’s complete medical history for any possible red flags to driving a big rig.

The causes for fatal truck accidents are many; most, however, can be traced back to a negligent human act.  Drivers that make bad decisions even before they get behind the wheel, as well as trucking companies who look the other way to potential warning signs, can be equally at fault.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member killed in a crash involving a commercial truck, contact an attorney who represents truck accident victims to determine all who were responsible for your tragedy.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Posted in Truck Accidents on January 10, 2017.