Q: Will these new trucking rules http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules regulations/topics/hos/statement.aspx actually reduce the number of Large Truck Crashes resulting in serious personal injury or even death?
A: I am always cautiously optimistic. There are so many existing trucking regulations that have been in place for decades, yet we see that the number of people injured and killed in these accidents remains relatively stagnant (see Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration large truck and bus collision statistics here) While the added regulations may not have a substantial impact on trucking safety as a whole from a statistical perspective, I have little doubt that the new law will reduce some semi-truck accidents. Ultimately, determining the number of ‘prevented’ accidents is basically impossible to calculate.
Safety in the trucking industry will always be an issue as long as the penalties for violations of federal regulations and driver negligence cost the company less money than doing things safely. Companies continually to hire inexperienced drivers, delay truck maintenance and overload their vehicles because they know that it is still more profitable to violate than comply with safety ordinances. In this sense, I very much echo the sentiment of my colleague Michael Ehline as he discussed in a recent interview.
Q: Are these truck accident rules sensible data-driven changes or just arbitrary government over regulation?
A: Let’s face it, all new regulations and laws have an element of uncertainty in terms of the actual impact they have when they are implemented. That being said, there is a body of research that has taken place on the role of driver fatigue in motor vehicle accidents which demonstrates ‘fatigue’ as a real threat to everyone on the road (see FMCSA Safety Quiz, role of trucker fatigue in accidents). At the very least, these new regulations will be renewed attention to this issue, which is always a good thing in my playbook.
Q: Are these rules ripe for Fraud and Misrepresentation? After all, who can really know whether a trucker is taking a break or actually resting / sleeping?
A: As with the existing trucking regulations, there are drivers who adhere to them and those who don’t. What makes these new regulations particularly ripe of violations is that many companies still reward drivers by delivering a certain number of deliveries or certain number of miles driven on a daily basis. Even at companies the practice has been reduced, there is a still a culture of truck operators out there who brag about the length of their runs or who are permitted to ‘go home once their route is completed. Until, the culture of the industry begins to change, driver logbooks will likely get doctored.
Q: How will these regulations effect pending and future Tractor Trailer, Semi and 18 Wheeler Truck Accident Lawsuits for Wrongful Death and or Serious Personal injury?
A: The new regulations will be another tool in truck accident attorney’s arsenal of weapons when it comes to litigating these cases. That being said, all experienced truck litigation attorneys likely review a driver’s log book in every truck accident lawsuit and regularly elicit evidence relating to scheduling and other factors which could have an impact on crashes.
Q: Is Truck Driver fatigue a major cause of Big Rig Accidents worthy of the Feds issuing
A: If you ask a national trucking company, I’ll bet you they say ‘no’. If you pose this question to a person who was seriously injured in a trucking accident with a driver who had been behind the wheel for 18 hours, you’re going to hear something very different. Given the risk / reward, these regulations offer the promise of reducing serious collisions involving injuries and fatalities—certainly a worthwhile cause.
Q: Should The Department of Transportation’s Truck Rules have been more stringent or addressed other trucking safety issues such as mechanical inspections, distracted driving or drug / alcohol testing.
A: Resources are probably better spent enforcing the existing regulations on the trucking industry. The numbers of full investigations into compliance with regulations needs to be bumped up so trucking companies see that there is a real risk of repercussion when they fail to keep up with the terms in place.
Q: Will Personal injury and Truck Accident Attorneys generally be in favor of these Large Truck Safety Rules?
A: As an Illinois trial lawyer involved in truck accident cases, it is convenient when you have a regulation on point to the circumstances of your case. That being said, there are so many existing rules and regulations in place for the trucking industry, that we could likely prove most of driver fatigue cases with existing material. Jurors hearing these cases are also smart enough to know that a driver involved in a crash is not going to be as sharp after 15-hours on the road—and they don’t necessarily need a regulation to tell them that.
If you are injured in A Rhode Island Semi Accident or Big Rig Crash please contact RI Personal Injury Attorney David Slepkow 401-437-1100