In the last several years we at Turner & Sackett have seen an increase in the number of fatal and significant injury cases coming into our office as a result of trucking collisions where drivers of large rigs (straight trucks and tractor/trailer combinations) have negligently caused these collisions. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports a decrease in the incidence of trucking collision cases nationally from 2008 to 2009 on their website, it also appears that the federal government recognizes that the restrictions imposed a few years ago on hours of service, restricting the hours that overly fatigued truck drivers may log before being required to go out of service, were not enough. A proposal is afoot to further tighten the HOS (hours of service) regulations.
Professional drivers have been taxed economically over the last 10 years, and their employers and the shippers they work for have been more demanding, focusing in many instances more on profits than on the safety of the other members of the public on our roadways. Time deadlines, lack of professional training and experience, trucks overloaded with communication equipment, including laptops, screens, cell phones, and CB's, all contribute to driver fatigue and multi-tasking overload in the name of those profits. Drive defensively, even when near the professional driver, and do not make assumptions about what that driver in a big rig may see or do.
If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered as a result of a collision involving a large truck, do not delay in seeking legal help. Many of these rigs now contain ECM (“black box”) data or other computer-generated information that may be lost by delay in the investigation. In addition, for interstate carriers, the logs required to be kept by the federal regulations are subject to time expiration dates. Failure to promptly investigate these claims may hamper the ability to obtain justice for the injured individual or the family who has suffered loss as a result of driver negligence.