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Personal Injury Lawyer Salt Lake City
There are approximately 4,500 victims killed each year in commercial trucking accidents. Many of those crashes occur right here in Utah. Thousands more are left seriously injured. Because of the catastrophic nature of truck accident injuries, many victims who do survive are left with long-term or permanent injuries. Tragically, these numbers continue to rise each year.
In the majority of truck accidents, it is the occupants in the other vehicle – and not the truck driver – who is injured or killed. In fact, in one year, of all the victims killed in truck accidents, only about 15 percent of them are the person driving the truck. Any victim of a truck accident – or their family if the victim does not survive – has the legal right to pursue damages for the losses they have suffered against the party or parties responsible for the truck crash.
Truck drivers have a legal responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and follow all rules and regulations of the road, as well as state and federal mandates from agencies that oversee carrier vehicles. Anyone who drivers a commercial truck must be thoroughly trained in operating these massive vehicles and are required to pass a test to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to legally drive a truck.
Unfortunately, there are too many truck drivers on the road who fail to abide by these rules and regulations, putting not only themselves at risk, but everyone with who they share the nation’s roads with.
Some of the more common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driving while under the influence: Many commercial drivers are operating while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In one major study, a large portion of truck drivers who participated admitted to using some sort of substance, including alcohol, amphetamines, and cocaine, while they are behind the wheel. Driving while intoxicated can affect a driver’s ability to react, the ability to make decisions, and affect their vision, all perilous situations.
- Speeding: A large commercial truck is often difficult to maneuver. These huge vehicles also require more time to slow down and stop than passenger vehicles do. Truck driver speeding is a factor in almost 20 percent of all fatal truck accidents each year.
- Distracted driving: It is not just an unprecedented number of passenger vehicle drivers who still engage in distracted driving behaviors despite knowing the dangers. Far too many truck drivers are guilty of the same offense. Almost 10 percent of fatal truck accidents each year are the result of the truck driver using their cell phone, texting, fiddling with the radio, checking their electronic logging device, or some other activity that causes them to take their eyes and attention off the road in front of them.
Fatigued Truck Drivers: A Growing Problem
There are about 1.8 million Americans currently employed as long-haul truckers on U.S. roads and highways. That’s 1.8 million commercial drivers behind the wheel of giant vehicles that can weigh 20-30 times more than a standard car.
These semis are dangerous even when driven by alert, well-rested drivers. Unfortunately, the men and women who operate these vehicles are anything but well-rested. Long-haul truckers have a history of working incredibly long shifts and sacrificing sleep in order to make delivery deadlines. The end result is a much higher risk and incidence of trucking accidents. As fatigue is often a significant factor in the causation of trucking accidents, it’s important to ask your Salt Lake City, UT personal injury lawyer if it’s possible that fatigue played a role in your recent accident involving a commercial truck. The experienced team at Rasmussen & Miner will help you to understand why your accident occurred so that you can make an informed decision regarding your legal options.
What has been done to combat truck driver fatigue?
Commercial trucking is governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which sets rules and regulations for this industry. In recent years, after rigorous study of the dangers of sleep deprivation and fatigue, the FMCSA implemented hours-of-service rules that truck drivers are required to follow, including:
- No more than 11 hours of driving in a single day
- Work days no longer than 14 hours total
- Mandatory breaks and rest periods
- Installation of an electronic logging device (ELD) to monitor compliance
Rules finally being enforced
From the beginning, trucking companies and truck drivers have fought these rules, claiming they are bad for business and are too inflexible. Because of these challenges, implementation of the rules has been suspended and delayed numerous times. Recently, however, regulators announced that the ELD mandate would be going into effect in December 2019 with no grace period for compliance. This is an important and long-overdue change. As our Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer team can attest, ELD mandates help to prevent accidents and help to ensure that those who are injured by illegally fatigued truckers can receive compensation for the harm they have suffered.
Why Compliance with Hours-of-Service Mandates Matters for Road Safety
Fatigued/drowsy driving has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk driving. No state allows any drivers to drive drunk, yet millions of truck drivers are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. The hours-of-service rules are based on scientific sleep research and are meant to prevent truck driver fatigue. And use of ELDs is necessary because previous self-reported logbooks were far too easy to falsify.
Have you been injured in a truck accident?
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident with a commercial truck driver, fatigue and hours-of-service violations may have been factors in the crash. Please contact an experienced Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options for pursuing fair and appropriate compensation. The aftermath of a serious accident can be truly overwhelming. But please don’t wait to contact a Salt Lake City personal injury lawyer. The sooner you begin exploring your options, the more likely it is that your rights will remain protected and your legal options preserved.