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Finding Dangerous Trucks and Truckers That Cause Crashes

A nationwide effort to uncover dangerously fatigued commercial truckers and their unsafe rigs will be held next month.  The results of past efforts are alarming.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is a nonprofit consortium of safety experts and law enforcement officials all concerned with one thing – preventing catastrophic truck crashes. It pursues this goal with education and special events.  One annual event – International Roadcheck – is set for May 4-6.

CVSA will conduct random, roadside big rig inspections throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada during this 72-hour period. The subjects of the inspections are the trucks as well as the truck drivers.  That’s because unsafe trucks and negligent truckers both are common causes of fatal accidents.

Improperly Maintained Commercial Trucks

The 18-wheeler inspections are very thorough.  They include several areas that can fail and lead to multi-vehicle wrecks, potentially, if not properly and responsibly maintained.  These include:

·         Truck brakes

·         Truck tires

·         Truck lights

·         Truck steering mechanisms

Inspectors will also check for any dangerously unsecured or improperly loaded truck cargo that could fall off or shift, leading to rollover or jackknife truck crashes.

As mentioned, the truck drivers themselves will undergo law enforcement scrutiny, looking for any warning signs of dangerous, illegal or careless behavior. Law enforcement inspectors will review a trucker’s:

·         Commercial driver’s license and other operating credentials

·         Indications of illicit drug or alcohol impairment

Truck Drivers with Hours of Service Violations

Most importantly, this year will emphasize an over-the-road-trucker’s hours of service documentation.

Why is this so important?  Federal hours of service rules limit how many hours in a day and in a week that truckers can be on the road.  They also contain mandated rest periods.  These rules are designed for one very special purpose, which is to keep dangerously tired truckers off the road.

The rules have been revised over the years.  One important revision is a relatively new requirement that truckers log their hours of service electronically, rather than with traditional paper log books.  With paper books, unscrupulous truckers may have kept two sets of books:  One with the actual hours driven that exceed federal rules, and another with “fudged” hours that adhered to federal rules to show police officers.

CVSA postponed last year’s International Roadcheck until September due to COVID-19, and released the findings in December 2020. About 16% of the tractor-trailers inspected in the United States had maintenance issues so serious they resulted in out-of-service violations.  This required the trucks to have the issues fixed before being allowed back on the road.

The top truck maintenance out-of-service violations found last year included:

·         Defective truck brakes

·         Defective tires

·         Unsafe cargo securement

More than 2,300 U.S. commercial truck drivers also received out-of-service violations, and among the most common were:

·         Hours of service rules violations

·         Cell phone use while driving

·         False driving logs

·         Driving with a suspended commercial driver’s license

Despite CVSA giving advanced warning to the trucking industry each year, past results are pretty similar.  This is one indicator that many dangerous truckers with dangerous rigs remain on the nation’s roads.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member die in a crash with a commercial truck, an experienced personal injury attorney can pursue your legal rights to just compensation from all responsible parties.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog April 29, 2021