As the American economy continues to improve, more commercial trucks are needed to transport essential goods across California and the rest of the country. In 2012, more than 10.6 million large trucks traversed the nation’s roadways, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Most California drivers are used to navigating around these massive vehicles, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. However, pressing deadlines and the need to make more money has led to a substantial increase in drowsy truck drivers and a rise in the national large truck accident fatality rate, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
One such drowsy truck driver, who had been awake for at least 24 hours, rear-ended a limousine carrying comedians Tracy Morgan and Jimmy Mack, as well as several other passengers. According to Businessweek, the trucker had driven over 700 miles to retrieve his truck earlier that day, and then continued on to deliver his load. When the truck driver failed to reduce his speed in slowing traffic, he caused a traffic collision that severely injured Morgan and took the life of Jimmy Mack. The driver has been charged with assault, reckless driving and vehicular homicide. Morgan and the other accident victims have also filed a lawsuit against the trucking company who scheduled the driver in violation of federal hours of service regulations.
Truck Driver and Trucking Company Negligence
As of 2012, the trucking industry had 35,000 unfilled truck driver positions and an overabundance of freight, according to the American Trucking Association. They estimate that by the year 2025, freight tonnage will increase by 23.5 percent, requiring the industry to hire at least 100,000 truck drivers per year to keep up with demand. Not only are truckers overwhelmed with tight deadlines and plenty of work, but trucking companies are under pressure to fill positions and deliver freight. In some cases, hasty hiring practices could lead to improperly trained and inexperienced drivers operating semi-trucks.
Federal Safety Regulations
Despite the increase in freight to be delivered, the FMCSA has reduced the amount of time truck drivers can spend behind the wheel each day and each week. The recently revised hours of service regulations restrict truck drivers from operating a vehicle for more than 11 hours a day and 70 hours a week. All truckers are also required to break for 30 minutes within the first eight hours of each driving shift. If a driver does meet the maximum 70-hour work week, they must then rest for 34 hours straight, including two periods of time between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Some trucking companies and truck drivers disregard these rules, which may lead to large truck accidents and catastrophic injuries.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
The injuries sustained in a large truck accident, including spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury and paralysis, can be devastating. Some injuries may not present any symptoms for a few months following the accident, and may require prolonged medical treatment. A personal injury attorney who has an extensive understanding of California law can help you receive a settlement for your case. Holding truck drivers and trucking companies responsible for their negligent actions may save another person’s life in the future.