Congress Suspends Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules

The trucking industry has won a victory in an ongoing battle between it and safety officials who had wanted to keep truck driver hours of service more limited.

Congress in December agreed to temporarily stop enforcing rules that had been established in 2013 related to those truck driver hours of service. But the U.S. transportation secretary and others have voiced concern that this rollback to the previous regulations will mean more truck drivers will be behind the wheel when they have not rested properly. truck driver hours of service

Hours of Service

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented truck driver hours of service regulations limiting the average work week for drivers to 70 hours. The measure was intended to ensure drivers would get adequate rest. The regulations included at least 34 hours off between shifts and two consecutive nights between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Officials have said that the two nights were intended to ensure drivers would get adequate sleep.

The organization said that more than 85 percent of the truck-driving workforce would not be affected by the changes. FMCSA said that driver fatigue had been connected to a high risk of crashes as well as serious health conditions in drivers.

Industry Rallies Congress for Changes

The bill that Congress recently passed and that President Barack Obama has signed into law was attached at the last minute to the nation’s $1.1 trillion spending bill designed to prevent a government shutdown. It puts a stay on enforcing the two key elements of the 2013 truck driver hours of service regulations. Drivers will not have to be regulated to the 34-hour, two-night rest period. They also will no longer be limited to one restart time per week.

The suspension does not change the regulation itself, but only the enforcement on the regulations. The stay will last at least until Sept. 30, 2015. During the time the suspension is in place, Congress has ordered that the Department of Transportation begin studying whether the 2013 truck driver hours of service regulation provided a “greater net benefit for the operational, safety, health and fatigue impacts.”

Fatigued Truck Drivers in the News

Truck driver hours of service were thrust into the limelight last year when actor Tracy Morgan was critically injured and another passenger in the van in which they were riding were killed when the van was struck by a semi truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. The truck driver had not slept for more than 24 hours.

Statistics have shown that of the more than 30,000 people who die annually because of drowsy driving, one in seven of the accidents are caused by tired drivers of large trucks. Transportation experts have said they are concerned that the suspension of the truck driver hours of service could lead to even more deaths on U.S. highways.

Have You Been Hurt in an Accident That Involved a Tired Semi Truck Driver?

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an accident that involved a semi truck, American Injury Attorney Group can help you. For no out-of-pocket costs, we can help you evaluate your case so that you can determine if you have a claim. If you do, one of American Injury Attorney Group’s affiliated attorneys can file a lawsuit on your behalf. You may be eligible to receive a monetary award.

Could the New Wireless Inspections Help Semi Truck Safety?

Semi Truck SafetySemi Truck Safety Could Face Major Changes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is conducting a live field test to determine if wireless technology could be used to conduct roadside inspections. As part of the ongoing efforts to ramp up the commercial vehicle inspection arena and to improve semi truck safety, the agency is attempting to balance efficiency while simultaneously improving quality. Currently, semi truck safety inspections are conducted by government or federal inspectors. However, the proposed wireless inspections are envisioned as being lightning fast and would allow truck drivers to continue on their way instead of stopping for evaluation.

According to the FMCSA, the testing on wireless semi truck safety inspections will continue for the next three years on 2,400 miles of roads in Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky and will analyze a study group of 1,000 commercial vehicles. In order for this technology to be successful, it will need to streamline drivers in compliance with regulations while flagging and stopping the non-compliant, dangerous truck drivers.

The wireless system will process information from a transmitter inside the semi truck and send it to state and federal databases, the inspection facility and the carrier itself. Trucks that are not in compliance will send a message to the operations center and to the truck driver himself. The message will either direct the driver to turn into an inspection area or to continue on the way.

This technology will occur in a geofence area, or within trigger points for the system that will be positioned on the highway. Once the drivers enter into this area, data will immediately begin transmitting to the operations center. The center will then interpret the information, including the credentials of the driver, as well as hours of service, truck information and data pertaining to the carrier.

Provided the wireless systems are fully functional and properly implemented, the technology could be an effective way to streamline careful, compliant drivers while weeding out and scrutinizing those who may be more likely to disregard semi truck safety. It will also help safety directors, help regulators and help prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities that occur due to poor semi truck safety.

Contact the American Injury Attorney Group Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle or if you have concerns about semi truck safety following a crash, contact the American Injury Attorney Group. We can review your case, free of charge, and help you understand your legal rights in your particular situation. We can also answer your questions and connect you with an affiliated attorney who can assist you throughout the legal process if you decide to file a lawsuit.

New Truck Driving Regulations: EOBR in Every Truck

Truck Driving RegulationsThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published its electronic onboard recorder (EOBR) proposal just a few short days after it received approval from the government. According to the agency, the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking would improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles and reduce the burden of the paperwork required for both motor carriers and drivers.

FMCSA Proposes New Truck Driving Regulations

The new rule would establish four amendments to the agency’s current truck driving regulations as follows:

  • Minimum design and performance standards for electronic logging devices (ELDs) which are used to prove hours-of-service (HOS)
  • Ways to address concerns about harassment resulting from the obligatory use of ELDs
  • Requirements for the required use of ELDs by drivers necessary to prepare HOS records of duty status
  • Requirements pertaining to supporting documents to prove HOS

Other agencies are also supporting the proposal which would force the mandatory use of Electronic Logging Devices, previously known as Electronic Onboard Recorders, while others have expressed concern. In the past, EOBRs would allow dispatchers to reportedly “coerce” or “bully” drivers into driving for longer stretches of time or when they feel it would be unsafe to operate the vehicle since dispatchers know exactly how many hours a day a driver has left at any given time.

For example, a driver may wish to wait out severe weather conditions but may feel forced to continue through hazards by the dispatchers. The proposed rule would contain specific measures that would prevent such harassment and keep fatigued drivers off the road, potentially preventing 20 deaths and 434 injuries each year while saving an estimated $394.89 million. As a result, there could be fewer drivers filing a semi truck accident lawsuit after sustaining injuries in accidents due to driver negligence.

Additionally, mandatory EOBRs would reduce the amount of violations as truck drivers would be unable to misrepresent their time as they are able to do currently using standard logbooks. The rule is anticipated to go into effect two years after it is published, which is likely to happen at the end of 2014. With this schedule, the rules will go into effect toward the end of 2016.

Importance of Truck Driving Regulations

Truck driving regulations may be useful in preventing truck driver fatigue, distracted  driving and other types of negligence. Those who are injured in an accident due to negligence may consider filing a semi truck accident lawsuit in an effort to seek compensation for their condition. According to statistics, more than 500,000 semi truck accidents occur each year in the U.S.

Truck driving regulations can include a steep penalty for drivers who operate a semi truck while distracted behind the wheel. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has prohibited the use of mobile devices in an attempt to prevent texting by semi truck drivers while they are operating large commercial vehicles. Other truck driving regulations involve specifications pertaining to the hours in which a truck driver may continuously operate his vehicle before taking a federally mandated break.

However, despite truck driving regulations existing to help prevent accidents, crashes do occur due to negligence, driving under the influence, improperly maintained vehicles and other factors.  Those who have been injured are urged to seek legal counsel to determine whether they have a valid semi truck accident lawsuit.

Do You Have a Semi Truck Accident Lawsuit?

If you or someone you love were injured and would like to learn more about filing a semi truck accident lawsuit, contact the American Injury Attorney Group as soon as possible. We will review your case, help you to determine if you have a valid claim and connect you with an experienced attorney who can assist you in recovering compensation from your semi truck accident lawsuit for damages you have suffered. You may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses, depending on the conditions of your semi truck accident lawsuit.

Owner Uses Stolen Semi Trucks and Could Face Serious Jail Time

Stolen Semi TrucksThree men in Kansas City, Kansas were found guilty of conspiracy for stealing 17 trailers, five semi trucks and the cargo within the vehicles. According to reports, the owner of the trucking company would allegedly purchase stolen trailers and trucks for use in his own fleet, and he and his son allegedly scrapped several vehicles for parts and changed the Vehicle Identification Numbers on others so that he could use them to haul loads for his customers.

Owner Found Using Stolen Semi Trucks

According to reports, the authorities were not initially aware of the stolen semi trucks, but the company was ordered to pay more than $450,000 in out-of-service orders and fines. Officials have reason to believe that the owner did not properly maintain his vehicles, knowing that if one were to break, he could always buy another stolen vehicle for less than the cost of repairing the truck that had broken. In the several instances that the owner was shut down, he would obtain new operating authority by reopening his business under a new name.

The owner purchased the vehicles from a man who would allegedly sell the cargo from the stolen semi trucks to merchants. The merchants would then purchase the products such as Nike shoes, meat and beer for pennies on the dollar. Also convicted were four other men: one of which was responsible for removing identifying information such as logos and decals from the stolen semi trucks and three of which were merchants who had purchased the stolen goods. The charges range from 45 to 65 years in prison without parole and fines of $1.25 million and up to $1.75 million for additional crimes relating to the conspiracy.

Factors to Consider Besides Stolen Semi Trucks

The act of stealing trucks and marketing the products for profit is one instance that supports the notion that you never know what could be going on behind the scenes for trucking companies. In fact, because the owner never properly maintained his fleet, the semi trucks were at a higher risk of causing accidents, injuries and possibly deaths. While this and other instances are certainly not the case for all trucking companies, it is important to other drivers on the road to be aware of the possibilities behind irresponsible driving and even semi truck accidents.

Additionally, there could be other factors and unforeseen possibilities to consider besides stolen semi trucks. According to a recent study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly 20 percent of all semi truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue. However, this does not include the effect that exhaustion can have on reaction times as well as the reported increased tendency that drivers may have to take unnecessary risks when driving while tired.

The FMCSA has also prohibited the use of mobile devices by semi truck drivers while they are operating commercial vehicles and recently released a list of penalties enforced for distracted driving. The employer may be liable for an $11,000 fine, and the driver operating the truck may be responsible for a maximum civil fine of $2,750. However, the ban on cell phones does not apply to devices used for dispatching vehicles, but these units are only acceptable if properly used as part of a fleet management system.

Other types of negligence may include speeding, aggressive driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or failing to follow state and federal regulations. If you have been injured due to negligence of another, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for the damages you sustained.

Injured? Contact the American Injury Attorney Group for More Information

All of these issues are very serious, and are just a portion of possible factors to consider in a semi truck accident. That is why if you are in an accident where a semi truck is at fault, it is important to seek legal counsel who can help you understand your legal rights and will help you seek compensation for damages you have had to suffer.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a semi truck, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and recover damages for your condition. Contact the American Injury Attorney Group today to receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation to determine whether you have a valid claim. We will connect you with an experienced attorney who can handle your case and work to help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.

 

Types of Negligence to Consider in Trucking Accident Lawsuits

Trucking Accident LawsuitsAccording to statistics, there are over 500,000 semi truck accidents that occur each year in the U.S. Due to the sheer size and weight difference between commercial vehicles and passenger cars, these trucks may cause devastating damages if they are improperly maintained or operated. Thousands of Americans are killed each year reportedly due to the negligence of semi truck drivers and their employers; trucking accidents account for one in eight traffic deaths. 

If you or a loved one were injured due to the negligence of a semi truck driver or company and you would like to learn more about trucking accident lawsuits and your legal rights, contact the American Injury Attorney Group today for your free consultation.

Types of Negligence in Trucking Accidents

Trucking accident lawsuits stem from negligence caused by truck drivers or the trucking companies for whom they work. Reports have stated that some companies may place unfair demands on their drivers and fail to recognize the toll that certain job deadlines can have on the driver. In other words, most truck drivers are paid for moving goods from one destination to another, and the financial incentive for drivers coupled with possible employer pressure may encourage some drivers to engage in dangerous or negligent behaviors on the road such as:

  • Unsafe driving for adverse weather conditions
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Distracted driving, including eating or talking on a cell phone
  • Engaging in aggression
  • Driving at excessive speeds
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • General negligence while behind the wheel
  • Failing to follow federal and state regulations

Additionally, with the increasing competition within the industry and the price of fuel rapidly rising, reports and lawsuits claim that some trucking companies may resort to cutting corners to maintain their profitability. Companies may refuse or neglect to replace defective or worn parts, delay necessary vehicle inspections or pressure their drivers to travel more than the allowed number of hours per day. Examples of trucking company or driver negligence include:

  • Lack of adequate inspections
  • Poorly maintained vehicles
  • Unreasonable deadlines to move goods that force drivers to take unsafe risks
  • Failure to follow federal and state regulations
  • Overweight or improperly loaded vehicles

While most trucking accident lawsuits involve the driver or the trucking company, sometimes incidents are caused by a third party whose negligence may not be initially apparent such as a truck with defective computer systems, tires or brakes. Additionally, a third party may be responsible for neglecting to maintain the vehicle, thus resulting in semi truck accidents. This is why it is important to contact legal counsel with American Injury Attorney Group to discuss your possible legal actions based on your unique situation, at no cost to you.

Lawsuits are valuable as they allow those injured by possible trucking company or driver negligence to recover compensation for their pain and suffering, loss of income, medical expenses and mental anguish. And seeking a lawyer for help after a semi truck accident is advisable due to so many factors that have to be considered, such as the above examples. Experienced semi truck accident attorneys are familiar with the complexities of semi truck accident cases, and can help you understand your case.

For these reasons, it is important to work with an experienced semi truck accident attorney who can help to fight for your legal rights and work to help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Need More information about Filing a Claim?

If you or a loved one have been injured and you are interested in filing a lawsuit, contact the American Injury Attorney Group today for your free, no-obligation case evaluation. We will help answer your questions and help you to determine if you have a claim. We will connect you with an affiliated attorney who will handle your trucking accident lawsuits and help seek compensation for damages you have dealt with.

 

Why Would Semi Truck Brake Safety Be Relevant to Your Semi Truck Accident?

Semi Truck Brake SafetyAccording to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), brake system violations and out of adjustment brakes represent 50 percent of out-of-service violations that are issued for semi trucks. While semi truck accidents can occur for any number of reasons, some of the most serious wrecks occur when brakes fail. Due to the sheer size and weight of these commercial vehicles, when brakes go out, the driver is unable to stop or slow down the truck, which often results in devastating consequences, injuries and sometimes deaths.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a semi truck accident and you feel that semi truck brake safety was an issue in the incident, contact experienced lawyers who will review your case and help you to seek compensation for your injuries.

How to Improve Semi Truck Brake Safety

Initially developed in Canada in 1998, the CVSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have continued to conduct investigations into semi truck brake safety by way of a campaign known as Operation Airbrake. According to the agencies, the program took place between September 8, 2013 and September 14, 2013 and was designed to improve semi truck brake safety throughout the U.S. and reduce the number of highway accidents caused by malfunctioning brake systems on semi trucks. The program, aside from conducting inspections, aims to educate mechanics, drivers and companies on the importance of brake operation, maintenance and inspection.

According to the results of this year’s program, out of 20,067 vehicles that were inspected for semi truck brake safety, 2,714 were deemed to be “out-of-service,” dropping the out-of-service rate to 13.5 percent, a near-record low. In 2012 and 2011, the out-of-service rates were 15.3 percent and 14.2 percent, respectively.

However, the most recent out-of-service rate tied results from 2010, marking one of the safest inspections since the agencies began to collect semi truck brake safety data over 15 years ago. Many semi truck accident lawyers across the country are pleased with the improvement, even though many more vehicles may still be defective and pose hazards on the country’s roadways.

According to the semi truck brake safety inspection that pulled 2,714 vehicles from the highways, that was still a rather large number of commercial trucks that could have potentially caused accidents, injuries or deaths if the brakes had failed. Additionally, although the number of trucks that were placed out-of-service due to brakes is down, the total number of out-of-service orders still falls around 20 percent, or one out of every five semi trucks.

When a semi truck is placed out-of-service, it is deemed to be too dangerous to drive away from the place of inspection. Instead, these vehicles are towed to places where they do not pose a risk to other drivers or pedestrians.

In many cases, those who are involved in semi truck accidents are not fully aware of the potential causes or reasons behind the incident. Many factors, including airbrakes, are not always considered, so it is important to consult with lawyers to learn more about your legal rights. You will want to hold the appropriate parties accountable for your injuries. 

While trucking companies are responsible for conducting routine inspections and performing maintenance as needed, drivers also have the ability inspect their brakes before driving. Although a driver may not be able to maneuver underneath the semi truck, he or she may check low air signals, listen for air leaks and look for damage. For this reason, if you are involved in a semi truck accident and you decide to file a claim against a company, you may also be able to hold the driver accountable for your injuries as well as the company responsible for maintaining a semi truck that does not pose safety hazards on the roadways. Experienced lawyers can review your case and help you to make that distinction.

Injured in a Semi Truck Accident? Contact Our Lawyers Today

If you or someone you love were injured or killed in a semi truck accident, the affiliated lawyers at the American Injury Attorney Group can help you to determine if you have a valid claim. We are accepting clients who were affected by inadequate semi truck brake safety inspections, and our affiliated lawyers can help you to seek the compensation to which you may be entitled. You may be eligible to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages or wrongful death if you are filing on behalf of a loved one.