Lack of Concern for Safety in Commercial Trucking Industry

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The trucking industry has once again been polled about its top concerns, and once again the safety of other drivers is nowhere to be found – despite a continued rise in fatal truck accidents.

The American Transportation Research Institute is the research arm of the trucking industry’s top lobbying organization.  For the past several years it has surveyed the trucking industry, including:

  • Trucking fleet management
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • Trucking industry vendors
  • Commercial truck driver trainers

The survey asked participants to list their top 10 concerns with America’s commercial trucking industry.  The top two participant groups – trucking companies and commercial truck drivers – had divergent concerns, but they did share one thing in common.  Neither listed truck crashes that harm others among their top 10 concerns.

The number one concern of truck company executives is a driver shortage. The survey report included proposed solutions to each concern.  For driver shortages, one solution outlined is to allow those as young as 18 to drive a tractor-trailer across state lines.

This has been proposed previously, and so far rejected.  Statistics show that young motor vehicle drivers are among the most dangerous in terms of accidents.  An 18-year-old driving a fully loaded tractor-trailer and causing a crash can do catastrophic damage.

Young Truck Drivers More Likely to be in Fatal Crashes

According to the Truck Safety Coalition, an organization focused on reducing fatal commercial truck crashes, truck drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be in a fatal truck accident than all other truckers. Further, truck drivers ages 19 or 20 are six times more likely to be in a fatal truck accident than all other truckers

One way to reduce catastrophic trucking accidents is to reduce the number of tired truck drivers of any age on the road. Two federal measures targeting fatigued commercial truck drivers were included in the top 10 concerns of surveyed truckers.

Dangers of Fatigued Truck Drivers

Federal Hours of Service Rules finished fifth among top 10 concerns.  These rules mandate rest periods and limit how many hours per day and per week a commercial trucker can drive. For example:

  • Commercial truck driver may drive 11 hours maximum after 10 consecutive hours off duty
  • Commercial truck drivers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days or after 70 hours on duty after eight consecutive days
  • Commercial truck drivers must rest for 30 minutes after driving for eight cumulative hours

The Hours of Service Rules reflect the dangers of fatigued truck drivers, a known cause of serious truck crashes.

The time a trucker spends driving used to be kept manually in paper log books. Police officers reviewed the log books to make sure truckers were not exceeding their driving hour limits.

The problem with paper log books was that they could be easily manipulated.  Some unscrupulous truck driver may have kept one log book with actual hours, and one book with fudged hours to show law enforcement.

The federal Electronic Logging Device Mandate, which went into effect in 2017, is designed to put an end to this practice.  It requires most commercial truck drivers to record their hours electronically, doing away with the questionable log books.

Over 5,000 people were killed in commercial truck crashes in 2019, the most recent year for finalized federal data.  Until safety becomes a higher priority within the trucking industry, the number of truck crash victims may continue to climb.

If you were seriously injured or had a loved one die in a crash caused by a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney about your legal rights to pursue 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, posted in Articles November 17, 2021

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