A semi-truck driver is facing felony charges in connection with an accident that took the life of a tollway worker in Chicago. The semi-truck driver allegedly drove for more than the maximum number of hours, filed false reports regarding his on-duty status, and drove his truck while impaired or fatigued. He crashed his vehicle into a state trooper's car, which was parked behind a disabled semi. The disabled truck, the trooper's vehicle and the truck that caused the collision all burst into flames and a tollway worker who had stopped to help the disabled semi was killed in the blaze.
The tragic incident is an illustration of an important fact: no matter how many safety laws are passed, collisions involving commercial trucks are going to continue to happen until every driver makes the choice to drive safely. Drivers, and their employers, can be held legally liable for negligence and victims of truck collisions should consult with Chicago car accident lawyers for help. Coplan & Crane offers free consultations to accident victims.
Truck Safety Laws Only Go So Far
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has passed numerous regulations applicable to the trucking industry. Just recently, the FMCSA has been touting the effectiveness of changes to the maximum hours-of-service rules. The FMCSA has said that its new rules on maximum drive time could prevent 1,400 truck accidents, saving 19 lives and avoiding 560 injuries each year.
Unfortunately, it is these very hours-of-service rules that the driver in the recent semi-truck accident allegedly failed to follow. Enforcing safety rules can be difficult when enforcement relies on drivers to keep records of the time spent on-duty. Truckers may not always be honest in their records, and trucking companies, faced with a severe trucker shortage, may not do enough to ensure that their employees are actually abiding by the law. Not only that, but some professional trucking associates have actually argued that the new FMCSA rules make motorists less safe since they require drivers to take rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. This requirement could lead to more trucks being on the road at peak times, thereby increasing the accident risks.
The data on truck accidents over the course of 2012 gives plenty of reason to worry about whether rules are actually effective at reducing collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that there was a 4 percent increase in truck accident deaths and an 18 percent increase in injuries caused by truck accidents between 2011 and 2012. A total of 3,921 fatalities happened in truck accidents in 2012, and 104,000 were hurt over the year (up from 88,000 injures in 2011). In 73 percent of cases, the person killed was not an occupant of the truck, but was another motorist.
This increase came despite tough FMCSA rules, and may have been driven by the increasing trucker shortage, among other factors. Drivers need to ensure they are exercising reasonable care, and employers need to do their part to ensure that safety rules are being followed if the regulations are to have any hope of reducing traffic collisions.
Chicago car accident lawyers can help after an accident. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 or visit www.coplancrane.com to schedule your free consultation.