A close look at the trucking industry reveals inherent but fixable issues and weakened legal oversight that can lead to fatal trucking accidents.
First, there is the typical over-the-road truck driver financial compensation model. Long-haul truckers largely are paid by the mile, not the hour. This presents a dangerous economic reality for truck drivers: the faster you get from point A to point B, the more money you can make. Naturally, this puts a lot of speeding truck drivers on the road.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, under the new federal administration, recently announced it is scraping a previously proposed rule requiring speed limiters on commercial trucks.
Paid by the Mile, Tired Truckers Can Cause Accidents
The rush to drive as many miles in as short as time as possible can cause truckers to skip much needed and legally mandated rest periods. Numerous studies and accident reports demonstrate that fatigued truck drivers are more likely to cause serious accidents compared to their well-rested counterparts.
That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted Hours of Service rules that limit the number of hours a trucker can be behind the wheel without rest. Buckling to opposition from trucking concerns, some of those revamped rules have been suspended.
Truckers traditionally use paper log books to enter their working hours by hand. These books can be manipulated to deceptively show a trucker is following the law. Unscrupulous truckers alternatively may keep a phony second log book for law enforcement.
To better protect others on the road, a new federal rule required truck drivers to use electronic logging devices – those that can’t be manipulated – by the end of 2017. Congress now is considering delaying the ELD mandate.
Truck Drivers on Opioids
The country currently is in the grips of a deadly opioid scourge. A rise in opioid prescriptions is tied to a spike in usage and fatal overdoses of both legal and illegal drugs. However, there currently are no measures that unequivocally prevent truckers from taking such powerful painkillers and then driving.
Per federal rules, over-the-road truck drivers must be drug tested. Drivers found with illegal drugs or prescribed opioids and narcotics are suspended. But there is a glaring loophole.
To get back on the road, truckers on prescribed pain killers must be certified by an independent medical examiner. Truckers on sleep-inducing medications, including fentanyl and oxycodone, can simply ask their prescribing physicians to say it’s okay for them to drive while on the drugs. If the medical examiner takes the prescribing doctor’s recommendation, the suspended trucker is back on the road.
All these causes of fatal trucking accidents – speeding, fatigue, drug use – are avoidable, if only truck drivers and truck companies didn’t place their financial concerns above public safety.
If you lost a loved one or you were seriously injured in a crash with a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney to force those responsible to account for their recklessness.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles July 26, 2017