Approximately 5,000 people per year are killed in tractor-trailer crashes in the United States. One of the leading causes for these crashes is that the truck driver was just too tired to drive safely.
Tractor-trailer collisions are much more likely to cause serious injuries or death than crashes that only involve cars, for many reasons. The massive size and weight of these vehicles alone makes them much more likely to kill people if they go out of control.
Most people don’t realize it, but driving a tractor-trailer is very different from driving a car. Truck drivers have far less ability to see around the vehicle than car drivers do, they need much longer stopping distances, and the truck driver has way less ability to control the vehicle in an emergency situation. Because the risks of driving a tractor-trailer are so much higher, a safe truck driver must constantly be on the alert.
It’s difficult to maintain this required high level of alertness for very long periods of time. It’s difficult for anyone to keep this level of attention for long periods of time. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) is a federal agency that regulates truck drivers and trucking companies in order to keep the public safe. This agency has strict rules in place which limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive. These rules, commonly called the “Hours of Service” rules, are extremely important to protect all of us from tractor-trailer drivers who are too tired to drive safely. For many years, these Hours of Service rules have done just that.
But now the FMSCA has announced that it has decided that it is not going to enforce some of its Hours of Service regulations between December 16, 2014 and September 30, 2015. They haven’t repealed the rules – they simply said that they decided that they’re not going to enforce them.
Unfortunately, the agency seems to have forgotten that the very reason it exists is to keep the public safe. It’s right there in the name: Federal Motor Carrier SAFETY Administration.
There is absolutely no good reason for this. Only the federal government could think that it makes sense to adopt safety rules to protect us all and then publicly announce that those rules are not going to be enforced. Not enforcing them puts the safety of every driver and passenger on the road at risk, including those truck drivers who drive safely. It is a statistical certainty that there will be an increase in traffic deaths because of this decision, and the FMCSA should immediately announced that it is going to enforce these rules, for the protection of us all.
If you were injured in a crash involving a truck, tractor-trailer or other large vehicle, an experienced injury attorney can help you. These crashes are not like regular car crashes, in part because it’s extremely important to get the truck drivers log books showing the hours he was driving. Many crashes are caused by the truck driver’s violating the safety rules, including the hours of service rules. The federal laws require truck drivers to keep these records of the hours they drove, but also allow them to throw those records out after a certain period of time. In order to preserve this very important evidence, it’s best to hire an experienced tractor-trailer and truck crash attorney as soon as possible after the crash, while the evidence still exists.
At Curran Law Firm, we can help you. Please call us at 417-823-7500 for a free consultation. We’re happy to discuss your situation with you, either over the phone or in person. For free information on what to do following a crash, click here.