AS TRUCK ACCIDENT CAUSES ARE IDENTIFIED LAW- AND POLICYMAKERS RESPOND

Those familiar with Kansas City know that a mesh of interstates and highways are set against the city and the metropolitan area. As a transportation hub commercial trucks flow in, out and around the city at all hours of the day. As a result, the area experiences monthly if not weekly highway accidents involving semis and other commercial vehicles. Recently, according to KSHB.com, a semi carrying cattle closed westbound Interstate 70 for nearly eight hours after overturning just after 3 a.m. Another semi accident at the beginning of summer sent the driver flying from the vehicle and the semi erupted into flames. That accident also occurred during early morning hours, according to KCTV.com. While these accidents were single-vehicle, a truck accident that involves a car or other passenger vehicle often results in devastating consequences.

Causes of commercial truck and car accidents

Recently, an industry group, the American Trucking Associations issued a report on car-truck crashes. The report provides information on fault distribution in fatal crashes and factors that caused crashes. According to the report, truck drivers were responsible in causing just over 25 percent of fatal truck and car collisions. The report divides crash factors between actual causes and other factors associated with the accident. Among the most cited causes of car-truck crashes are following too closely, vehicle-related failure, overcompensation during evasive steering, and being asleep at the wheel. Factors associated with such crashes but not identified as direct causes of car-truck accidents are brake problems, work pressure felt by the truck driver, driver fatigue, and driver unfamiliarity with roadway.

Examples of recent measures

Lawmakers and policymakers try to reduce the risk of accident, serious injury and death by better understanding causes of truck accidents and implementing safety measures. Two recent measures to improve roadway safety concerning commercial vehicles involve driver fatigue and brake safety.

Federal rules limit the hours long-haul truckers may drive during a day to 11. Federal rules also require drivers be given a 34-hour rest period every week, which means drivers cannot drive for two consecutive nights. These rules were recently upheld by a federal appeals court in August. Prior to the ruling, the trucking industry challenged the rules over 14 years, arguing the rules would cost the industry $18 billion.

The ruling ends the back-and-forth over those specific rules; however, according to Truckline.com, the American Trucking Associations is lobbying Congressional members to conduct a thorough rulemaking on requiring truckers to be tested for sleep apnea. A full rulemaking requires the gathering of data and a cost-benefit analysis. The trucking industry argues testing would cost the industry $1 billion. The approval of a full rulemaking would slow or prevent the implementation of the testing policy.

Regarding brake systems, an industry group, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is encouraging truckers to check and adjust their air brake systems. In normal conditions a commercial truck requires twice the distance to brake as cars. Trucks with defective brake systems are not safe for the road, and, according to the group, defective brake systems is a major reason why trucks are taken out of service. To reduce the out-of-service rate and the number of truck accidents caused by defective brakes, the group is conducting a campaign to educate truckers on the importance of checking and how to adjust brakes.

Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a commercial truck, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can protect your rights and guide you through the legal process.