A truck accident may reveal negligence on more than just the part of the individual truck driver. Trucking companies are also bound by federal regulations. However, some commentators have questioned whether the U.S. Department of Transportation is adequately enforcing those rules.
Semis and 18-wheelers have many dangers when you compare them to passenger vehicles. Their enormous size and weight are the most obvious. A semi can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds in the U.S. The average passenger vehicle weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. In addition, the engine in a semi is six times larger and heavier than a car engine.
In an effort to keep America's roads and highways safe, a federal agency called the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collects crash data. A recent fact sheet about large truck accidents reveals some notable information.
In our last blog, we discussed the truck accident that left actor Tracy Morgan with a brain injury that is still preventing his return to acting. Indeed, the potential for serious or long-term injuries may be increased when a truck or other large vehicle is involved in a collision, due to the larger force generated by a vehicle weighing up to several tons. Unfortunately, the potential for fatal injuries may also be greater.
At a recent public hearing, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board presented the culmination of their work regarding the June 2014 truck accident that left actor Tracy Morgan with a serious brain injury.
As we mentioned in our last post, lawmakers in both houses of Congress are currently considering a measure that would increase the minimum length requirements for semi-trucks hauling double-trailers. The proposal, which is largely supported by Republicans, has been criticized by safety advocates, who say that increasing the length of trailing units will increase the incidence of highway accidents due to increased trailer weights and bigger blind spots.
Trucking safety is something that matters to all drivers, since all of us share the road. When large trucks put other drivers at risk of becoming involved in an accident, it is a cause for concern. Truck safety regulations, both at the state and federal level, seek to ensure that gross risks associated with commercial trucks are eliminated. Federal commercial trucking regulations include a variety of rules aimed at trucking safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency responsible for writing and enforcing motor vehicle safety standards, is currently conducting an investigation of a particular trailer hitch manufactured by Fontaine Fifth Wheel, a company based here in Alabama. The basis of the investigation is that there have been a fair number of trailer separations in cases where the hitch in question has been involved.
In our last post, we mentioned that the fines associated with federal commercial vehicle safety regulations have increased, and that the increase in fines will likely cause trucking companies to think twice before turning a blind eye to safety violations. As we noted, though, violation of federal safety rules can result in more than just fines.
Readers are probably all aware that there is a federal agency dedicated to monitoring motor vehicle accidents involving commercial vehicles such as large trucks and passenger buses. That agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is responsible for enforcing federal safety regulations and keeps a particularly close watch on drivers and trucking companies with poor safety compliance. These regulations relate to things like vehicle maintenance, driver screening, hours of service, transport of hazardous materials, and cargo securement.