June 18, 2013

Rise in Fatalities Highlights Risks Around Tractor-Trailers

Initial statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are that traffic fatalities were on the rise in 2012.
Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand early estimates indicate more than 34,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. last year. If this bears true when the final numbers are tallied, this would represent a 5.3 percent increase as compared to the approximately 32,300 traffic deaths reported in 2011.

This would be the first annual increase of traffic deaths we've had since 2005 in this country. In the last six years, the number of people killed in traffic crashes had been dropping steadily. It dropped about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011.

It appears that traffic deaths increased the most during the first quarter of the year (about 12.5 percent), tapering off each quarter thereafter. In fact, that was one of the highest quarterly increases ever reported since the mid-1970s, when the NHTSA first began keeping track. The only time it was higher was the first quarter of 1979, when the fatality rate rose by more than 15 percent.

In the past, the tanking economy was at least partially cited as a factor in the years-long decrease. This made sense, considering the price of oil was up and people weren't getting raises or, worse, were getting laid off or couldn't find a job at all. That meant fewer people were driving, fewer truck companies were hiring and overall, there were less miles being traveled.

This last year, researchers say there has been a 0.3 percent increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled. That still doesn't line up with the 5.3 percent rise in traffic deaths.

When we compare the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, it's jumped from 1.10 in 2011 to 1.16 in 2012.

The one bit of good news, at least for Georgia, is that regionally, we didn't fare bad. There were many areas where the rate of fatalities soared as high as 9 and 10 percent. The region with the highest uptick was Region 6, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, where the rates rose by 10 percent. In region 3, which includes North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, it rose by 4 percent. It rose by 5 percent in Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

In our area, Region 4, the fatality rate rose by 2 percent. The region includes Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.

On the one hand, it's good news that we're not the worst in the country. Still, a 2 percent increase, when we're talking about lives lost, is never something to become complacent about.

The NHTSA has thusfar declined to speculate on some of the possible reasons for this uptick until the final numbers are in.

We'll be closely following any developments. In the meantime, we urge everyone to do their best to practice safer driving habits this summer.

Continue reading "Rise in Fatalities Highlights Risks Around Tractor-Trailers" »

June 15, 2013

Atlanta Shuttle Bus Accident Results in Many Injuries, Criminal Charges

Criminal prosecutors have filed charges against both a semi truck driver and a commercial shuttle bus driver, for their roles in a crash last month near the Atlanta airport that resulted in 17 injuries.
Our Atlanta injury attorneys understand there were multiple factors to blame in this situation, a fact that highlights widespread problems within the entire shuttle bus industry - from the design of the vehicles to the fact that they are often poorly maintained to the fact that drivers often aren't certified to operate them.

Any one of these factors has the potential for fatal consequences. This case had all of them, plus the involvement of a semi truck performing an illegal u-turn. Miraculously, no one was killed.

According to authorities, here's what happened:

A shuttle bus driver was transporting 16 passengers, including at least two children, to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Meanwhile, the driver of a tractor trailer was making an illegal u-turn on Loop Road. The shuttle bus slammed into the tractor trailer, and everyone aboard the bus - including the driver - had to be transported to a nearby hospital, some with serious injuries.

Although the tractor-trailer driver was acting illegally, police investigators say that it was in fact the poor condition of the tires that were to blame. One even had the steel belts poking through the rubber.

But the shuttle bus problems didn't stop there. The rear brakes of the bus were not functional. That meant when the bus driver attempted to make an abrupt stop, it had only the front brakes upon which to rely.

On top of all that, the driver of the bus did not have a proper commercial license for the type of vehicle she was driving or the number of passengers it carried.

The owner of the shuttle bus company admits mistakes were made, but said that the driver of each vehicle is supposed to conduct safety checks on a vehicle before transporting passengers. The firm is investigating whether that was done, as well as why the driver was operating a vehicle for which she had no proper authorization.

Meanwhile, the trucking company, while in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, has been involved in at least 200 crashes in the last two years alone. Of those, six resulted in fatalities.

Many times, we find in these cases that shuttle buses failed to even meet the basic requirements as laid forth by the FMCSA. However, we would argue that those standards should be even stricter. For example, as it stands now, there is no requirement for the vehicles to be equipped with seat belts. Plus, particularly with airport transport vehicles, luggage is often not properly secured and there is a tendency to overload those vehicles in an effort to make fewer trips.

The sad reality is that too often, these firms do not have the safety of their customers or others on the road at the top of their priority list. We hope that if there is any good to come of situations like this, it is that this kind of thinking will change.

Continue reading "Atlanta Shuttle Bus Accident Results in Many Injuries, Criminal Charges" »

June 6, 2013

Atlanta Truck Crashes a Heightened Risk Amid Summer Travel

A collision of two semi tractor-trailers on I-75 in Southern Georgia recently left one of those drivers dead. Authorities say one driver rear-ended another, causing the front of the first vehicle to be crushed completely. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
As many families are gearing up for summer travel plans, our Atlanta truck accident lawyers want to urge extra caution, particularly while sharing the road with these large commercial vehicles. The risk of serious injury or death increases exponentially when one of these behemoths is involved in the wreck.

Many times, these crashes occur because the truck was overloaded or the driver was overworked and sleepy. Sometimes, the trucker is speeding because he or she is working to make up time or get ahead.

Obviously, as the driver of the smaller vehicle, you are in a vulnerable position. The sheer size and force of a semi truck will outmatch even the biggest sport utility vehicles.

Still, there are certain measures you can take - even before your trip - to heighten your level of safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises the following as you prepare for a road trip:

--Ensuring the regular maintenance of your vehicle is up to par. This includes actions such as battery checks, tire rotations, oil changes and tune-ups. If you know you haven't kept up on these things, have your vehicle undergo a mechanical check-up, just to be sure it's road-ready and in good condition for an extended drive.

--Have your tires checked. This goes along with the first recommendation, but it's something you want to keep an eye on throughout your trip. Another benefit of making sure your tires are properly inflated is that it will help to improve your gas mileage, and ultimately keep your fuel costs lower.

--Check your wiper blades. Note that they can be sensitive to summer heat, and this is not a function you want to be without if you're caught in a sudden storm. Install new ones before you go if yours aren't in top shape.

--Make sure your lights are all functional and bright. If you're hauling a boat or recreational vehicle, make sure the rear lights are working properly.

If you've done all this, you're in good shape.

The next thing to keep in mind is that when you're sharing the road with large trucks, you should familiarize yourself with where the trucker's blind spot may be and avoid those areas for any extended periods of time.

Additionally, take the following to heart:

--Don't crowd a tractor trailer. These vehicles tend to need more time to stop and pull other emergency maneuvers.

--Recognize that semi truck tire blow-outs are more common than you might think. As best you can, safely pass or avoid driving near trucks when possible.

--Pass on the left whenever possible, as there are more blind spots on the right. Hug the outside part of the lane as you do this.

--Understand that trucks make wide turns. Avoid cutting onto the side of trucks, particularly on the right.

Know that if you are involved in a serious truck accident in Georgia, you may be entitled to compensation and we are ready to help you get it.

Continue reading "Atlanta Truck Crashes a Heightened Risk Amid Summer Travel" »

May 28, 2013

Fatal Bus Accident Victims Remembered 25 Years Later

One morning in mid-May, dozens of children waived good-bye to their parents from church bus windows, on their way to an exciting outing at an out-of-state amusement park.

Many of them would never make it back home. nightmotorwaylights.jpg

A drunk driver, who was so intoxicated that he was traveling the wrong way on a four-lane highway in Kentucky, slammed his pickup into that bus as it returned from the park.

That was 25 years ago this month.

Our Atlanta bus accident attorneys know that that crash, which happened May 14, 1988, remains one of the deadliest drunk driving crashes in our nation's history, killing 24 children and three adults. Many of those who survived only did so with lifelong injuries and scars.

Blood test results later revealed the driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent. At the time, the national threshold for DUI intoxication was 0.15 percent, later lowered in the 1990s to 0.08 percent.

Just days before the anniversary of that fateful day, marked with a gymnasium memorial service, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed lowering that threshold once again - this time, down to 0.05 percent.

While some have argued that such a standard would result in the arrests of those who have done nothing worse than have wine with dinner, the survivors of the 1988 crash believe it may well be worth it. Said one survivor, who was 15 at the time of the wreck, "I wish we'd go to zero tolerance. The lower it is, the more people will think before they actually take that drink."

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that approximately 7,100 lives might have been saved in 2010 had every driver on the road been operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of less than 0.08 percent.

In total, an estimated 10,000 people die annually from drunk driving crashes, though it's not clear exactly how many of those involve commercial vehicles. The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Association has in recent years tightened restrictions for commercial drivers. For them, the definition of drunk is anything over a 0.04 percent BAC. Additionally, databases have been updated to make it more difficult for offending drivers to hop from state to state without having their new employer track their prior record.

The lower blood-alcohol standard would not be all that outrageous. Already, 100 other countries have adopted the 0.05 percent standard - or in some cases, even lower. In Europe, where the reduced standard was adopted a decade ago, the rate of drunk driving fatality rate has been halved.

The lower BAC recommendation was one of about 20 recommendations made by the NTSB in a recent proposal. Another was the suggestion of mandated ignition interlock devices for all DUI offenders.

While the NTSB has no legal authority to enact those standards, its recommendations are taken into close consideration by Congress and state legislators.

Continue reading "Fatal Bus Accident Victims Remembered 25 Years Later" »

May 24, 2013

Steering Clear of Trucking Accidents through Memorial Day

A recent study conducted by the National Coalition for Safer Roads suggests that Memorial Day weekend is the most dangerous of the year. During this time, residents and visitors will be jumping in their vehicles and heading out for long weekend vacations.

Unfortunately, there will also be a lot of commercial vehicles out there trying to make their deadlines. When tractor-trailers share the roadways with our passenger vehicles, serious accidents occur. These commercial drivers will also be pushing hard to get home for the holidays, or setting out to make up for lost time after the weekend.

According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 4,000 people killed in traffic accidents that involve a large vehicle in 2011. These accidents have actually been on the rise in recent years. So, lookout! In addition to all of these fatalities, there were also another 90,000 people injured in these kinds of accidents.

Our Atlanta trucking accident lawyers understand that many of these accidents could have been prevented if drivers were more careful when sharing the road with these dangerous vehicles. Unfortunately, it's the occupants of passenger vehicles who are more likely to be injured and killed in the event of an accident with one of these larger vehicles. We stand virtually no chance against the size, weight and power of these commercial trucks.

According to the NHTSA, these large trucks accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage crashes. It's important for you to be ready and to know how to handle yourself around them. Check the following tips from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Tips for Driving Near Large Trucks,:

-Avoid cutting off these vehicles. When you pass a large truck, look for the front of the truck in your rearview mirror before you pull in front on it.

-Make sure you've always got your seat belt buckled -- properly. Seat belts are your number one defense against injury or death in the event of an accident.

-Avoid driving in a trucker's blind spots. These are the areas around the truck in which a driver cannot see. Your best bet is to remember that if you can't see the driver, then the driver cannot see you.

-Keep 100 percent of your attention on the road. Put down the cell phones and the text messaging devices when you're in the driver's seat. It only takes a split second for a fatal accident to happen, and you need every second you've got to avoid it.

-Avoid drinking and driving. These kinds of accidents account for about a third of all traffic fatalities recorded every year. And it's these accidents that are completely preventable. Stay sober and stay alive.

Continue reading "Steering Clear of Trucking Accidents through Memorial Day" »

May 13, 2013

Unsafe Passenger Carriers Targeted by Federal Regulators

Late last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wrapped up intensive training of its new Quick Strike team, a group of 50 passenger carrier safety investigators whose goal is to target serious regulatory violators nationwide.
Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys understand that the teams have already begun to dive head-first into action, so far shuttering operations of three companies deemed to pose an immediate danger to public safety. One of those companies, Best Limo Service, is based in Tucker - just a half hour northeast of Atlanta.

The FMCSA's team reported that the carrier's operations were ordered to be halted immediately, due to the severity of the hazard posed to the public.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was quoted as saying that the traveling public has a right to expect safety standards will be met when they climb aboard a commercial bus, van or other vehicle. He further reiterated that carriers that flagrantly break the law and put people's lives in jeopardy won't be allowed to continue operations.

While Best Limo Service is headquartered in Georgia, it has branches throughout the southeastern U.S., providing charter services and tours to thousands of passengers annually.

But an investigation launched in mid-April found serious federal rule violations, which revealed a total disregard for the safety of passengers.

In one instance, a driver had tested positive for drugs and another who had a suspended commercial driver's license. And yet, these individuals were allowed to continue to work for the company as drivers, transporting passengers.

The company was additionally found to be failing to monitor each driver's compliance with federal hours-of-service mandates. This resulted in drivers who were overly-fatigued and allowed to transport passengers.

The violations didn't even stop there. The vehicle maintenance program operated by the company was clearly not doing enough to ensure that passenger vehicles were in proper working order. An on-site inspection of three of the company's buses ended with all three vehicles sidelined out-of-service for critical safety violations.

This is only the beginning of this effort, according to the FMCSA, which also plans to involve law enforcement personnel, advocates and industry insiders into the fold.

It's encouraging that over the last half a dozen years, the number of motorcoach safety inspections has tripled, up to almost 34,000 in 2012. That year, there were 880 drivers and more than 1,830 vehicles placed out of service.

However, companies continue to flout safety rules and regulations. Companies cut corners to save money. Drivers put their own bottom line ahead of their passengers' safety. Investigators learned the company failed to make sure drivers weren't abusing drugs or alcohol or ignoring hours of service rules. Additionally, qualified mechanics were not employed by the company, as required in order to ensure proper maintenance of vehicles.

The limo service shut-down in Tucker was followed shortly thereafter by the shut down of a Niagara Falls passenger carrier, which operates a small number of tour buses in the area.

The FMCSA encourages riders to "Look Before You Book" by checking a motorcoach company's credentials and safety history.

Continue reading "Unsafe Passenger Carriers Targeted by Federal Regulators" »

May 9, 2013

Truck Crash Prevention Legislation Urged by Advocates

On the same day a tanker truck explosion in Mexico City killed at least 22 people and injured 36 others, families of U.S. truck crash victims spoke out to urge Congress to support legislation that would address truck weight and size limits.
While our Atlanta truck accident lawyers have yet to learn the cause of the massive tragedy in Mexico, we do know that the natural gas tanker exploded after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed on the highway, which was lined with dozens of homes. Authorities there say the death toll could rise, as several of the victims remain in critical condition.

We also know that the heavier one of these large trucks is, the more difficult it can be to control and the more prone it may be to crashes.

Mexico doesn't currently have the same kinds of weight and size regulations that the U.S. has implemented, but we need to ensure those regulations are protected from special interest groups who may work to pressure the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. This proposed legislation is one way of doing it.

The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act was re-introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) after two previous failed attempts, the latest in 2011.

The measure would apply the current tractor-trailer truck weight limit of 80,000 pounds and a size limit of 53 feet to the entire national highway system, which would include both interstates as well as smaller highways. Certain exemptions, such as those for firefighting equipment, would be maintained under the bill.

As it now stands, those standard size and weight restrictions are already applicable to the 44,000-mile interstate system. This bill would extend most of those same restrictions to the larger 220,000-mile national highway system.

Additionally, this measure would expand the current halt of triple tractor trailer runs on interstates to the broader national system. It would also seal any loopholes that allow overweight trucks to remain in operation. Additionally, an enforcement program would be established to ensure that violators would have a clear chain of accountability.

Trucks that are heavier and bigger have a disproportionately high share of motor vehicle deaths, when we're looking at the statistics on a per-miles-traveled basis. These vehicles are known to be at increased risk for rollover, swaying and they also require longer distances to make a safe stop.

Lautenberg was quoted as saying that not only do these massive vehicles pose an immediate risk to motorists, they also take a toll on the integrity of our bridges and highways.

This measure is co-sponsored by other Democrats in New Jersey, California and Missouri. A companion bill in the House is also being sponsored by a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The Truck Safety Coalition reports that a new poll found overwhelming public support for truck weight limitations, with nearly 70 percent opposing heavier trucks and nearly 90 percent expressing a strong opposition to paying higher taxes for the infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks.

Continue reading "Truck Crash Prevention Legislation Urged by Advocates" »

April 27, 2013

Georgia Trucking Companies Shut Down for Safety Violations

Trucking companies have strict requirements and regulations that must be complied with in order to make the roads safer for everyone. As our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know, any violation of the rules could result in accidents and devastating consequences. In order to ensure that rule violations are caught before a crash occurs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a number of enforcement powers including the right to shut down a trucking company. 1100904_closed.jpg

FMCSA has exercised its authority many times to stop unsafe trucking companies from operating. Just recently, for example, FMCSA shut down an Atlanta based trucking company: Southern Transportation, Inc.

FMCSA Shuts down Atlanta Bus Company

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it had shut down Southern Transportation after the bus company stopped cooperating with FMCSA investigators and after the bus company failed to provide its company safety records to the federal investigators.

A trucking company is required to keep records of many different things including hours that employees’ work and maintenance records on their fleet. These records ensure that employees do not violate the hours-of-service requirements intended to prevent drowsy driving. The records also ensure that the brakes and other fundamental systems of the trucks are maintained in order to avoid a crash caused by mechanical defects.

Unless FMCSA has access to safety records, it cannot know when a trucking company is following the rules and requirements. This is why it is such as serious issue when a company refuses to comply and turn over its safety records.

Until recently however, FMCSA’s power was limited in investigating and shutting down trucking companies over safety records violations. FMCSA’s power was expanded, however, as a result of recently passed legislation called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

MAP-21 improved highway/driving safety laws in many ways, ranging from imposing new requirements on states to pass tough DUI laws in order to receive federal funding to the new requirements that impact the trucking industry.

Under MAP-21 provisions, FMCSA now has the authority to shut down a motor carrier by putting it out of service for failure to comply with a demand for company safety records. This authority is long overdue. FMCSA now can protect the traveling public more effectively since it has the authority to force trucking companies to provide records on safety.

FMCSA used this authority to shut down Southern Transportation, Inc. This decision came around a week after shutting down another trucking company that was operating on a similar business model and that was considered an imminent hazard to safety.

With the FMCSA’s new authority in MAP-21 already being put to good use to stop dangerous companies from making the roads unsafe, the hope is that the number of truck accidents will decrease. Catching safety violations early and shutting down the violators can reduce the number of dangerous trucks and buses on the road and everyone will be safer because of it.

Continue reading "Georgia Trucking Companies Shut Down for Safety Violations" »

April 20, 2013

Preventing Truck Accidents with New Driver Training Requirements but Some Raise Concerns

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicated that it was hosting a public listening session to solicit ideas and information on the issues of entry-level training for commercial vehicle drivers.

Entry-level driver training, or ELDT, is essential to ensure that drivers have the experience and information they need to safely drive a commercial vehicle. FMCSA will be implementing new provisions on ELDT in order to comply with the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that proper driver training can significantly reduce the risk of accidents while poor or insufficient training can make a crash far more likely to occur. FMCSA rules on driver training need to be designed to allow new drivers to get the experience they need to build careers in the commercial trucking industry while at the same time keeping the public safe from the risks presented by an inexperienced driver.

The Importance of Entry-Level Driver Training
Entry-level driver training has become an issue of increasing importance in recent years as a result of the serious truck driver shortage that is occurring throughout the United States. As CNN reported in 2012, there are an estimated 200,000 truck driving jobs open nationwide for long-haul drivers that cannot be filled because there aren't drivers to fill them.

Further, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated a significant increase in the number of drivers needed. In the next few years, demand for trucking professionals is projected to increase 20 percent with 330,100 jobs added over the course of the decade. The shortage, therefore, is likely to just keep getting worse.

CNN identified the biggest hurdle for those interested in filing these jobs as getting a commercial driver’s license. However, the time and costs of completing the initial course are not the only issues that a driver needs to face.

Many commercial trucking companies have traditionally required two years of experience before hiring a commercial driver for large trucks. The expensive and difficult certification process coupled with the experience requirements, leave many finding it too difficult to get started.

The proposed FMCSA rules on ELDT are said to potentially make this whole problem worse. The new guidelines include, among other things, a requirement that truck drivers not only graduate from an approved/accredited CDL school but also that the program include both classroom training and road training.

According to Trucking Info, Commercial Driver’s License Schools (CDL schools) have reported that a number of problems will arise because of the new mandate. Issues include:

-Difficulty in determining how much practice time should be devoted to each skill since some drivers are better at different aspects of commercial driving than others.

-Small schools being unable to bear the additional expense of new training that wasn’t previously required.

-Large schools facing increased costs and thus becoming unable to grow and train more drivers.

Because of these and other problems, the new standards and driver training requirements may restrict U.S. job growth and make it even harder still for employers to find qualified candidates.

Yet, of course, there is also the issue of safety. Drivers of a large commercial truck have many things to learn and even a single mistake or error could result in a deadly crash. More on-the-road training could hopefully help to reduce these risks, saving lives in the process.

Continue reading "Preventing Truck Accidents with New Driver Training Requirements but Some Raise Concerns" »

April 11, 2013

Distracted Truckers a Focus in Atlanta this April

According to Fleet Owner.com, Aegis Mobility has been conducting annual surveys on distracted driving among professional drivers for the past several years. This year, as they begin their third-annual survey on Workplace Distracted Driving, Aegis Mobility is targeting fleet operators and asking them to answer questions about distracted driving behaviors. 1104507_mobile_phone.jpg

The aim of the study conducted by Aegis Mobility is to develop a better understanding about employer attitudes regarding cell phone use and driver distraction. The results of the study can serve as a guide to help policymakers in the commercial trucking industry to make smart, safe policies and as a guide to help shed light on the dangers of distracted driving within the commercial trucking industry.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that commercial drivers are not supposed to engage in dangerous behavior when they are driving. Unfortunately, driving while distracted is extremely dangerous and can significantly increase the chances of an accident happening.

Professional Drivers and Distracted Driving
There are a number of different behaviors that can be considered distracted driving, but perhaps the most dangerous behavior of all is texting and driving. This is why the Department of Transportation (DOT) has instituted a ban on texting for all commercial drivers including drivers of large trucks and drivers who transport passengers.

When the ban passed When the ban passed indicated that there were harsh penalties for any driver who failed to comply with the prohibition against texting behind the wheel. The civil and criminal penalties that a commercial driver could face if he was caught texting could total up to $2,750.

Such strict penalties are needed to create a strong deterrent against texting because a driver who texts puts himself and everyone else at a 23 times greater risk of becoming involved in a car accident. When the texting driver is a truck driver, this is a serious problem because trucks are so much larger than passenger cars and are thus much more likely to cause a fatal wreck.

Texting is not the only dangerous behavior, though, and laws don’t always get followed no matter how harsh the penalties are for non-compliance. Aegis Mobile’s new study aims to see whether commercial fleet operators, risk managers and safety professionals are really taking strong steps to make sure that their drivers are safe and not distracted by texting or any other distractions. This is why they are urging fleet operators to answer their 3-minute survey and even offering an incentive in the form of an entry to win a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Hopefully, many fleet operators will answer the survey in order to provide information on the actual practices related to distracted driving within the trucking industry. The results could encourage lawmakers to pass additional laws on distracted driving or to increase enforcement of the widespread ban that is in place on texting. The results could also show companies how important it is to take a strong stance on distracted driving so those that do not already have policies in place can make changes to better protect the public from the dangers of a distracted driver.

Continue reading "Distracted Truckers a Focus in Atlanta this April" »

April 3, 2013

Caffeine No Magic for Preventing Georgia Trucking Collisions

Truck drivers spend hours a day on the road moving goods from place to place. Unfortunately, the monotony of the trip coupled with long hours can result in drivers getting drowsy and even dozing off. This is extremely dangerous, as a truck driver who falls asleep behind the wheel could cause a serious or even deadly crash. 1402531_morning_coffee.jpg

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that there are rules in place intended to limit the number of hours drivers work in order to prevent accidents caused by fatigue. A new study also shows that something besides simply limiting drive time could play an important role in preventing truck accidents.

Coffee To Fight Fatigue
It should come as no surprise that coffee keeps people awake and that caffeine is a stimulant. However, it may be surprising to some to realize just how big of an impact caffeine can make on preventing truck accidents that occur due to fatigue.

According to Edmunds.com, a new study was conducted by an Australian researcher named Lisa Sharwood who works at the George Institute for Global Health. Sharwood’s study revealed that consuming a drink with caffeine in it could reduce the risk of a long-haul truck driving crash by as much as 63 percent.

This is obviously a dramatic decrease in the accident risk for a truck driver who is traveling long-distances. As a result of the major decrease, Sharwood indicates that the use of caffeine should be part of a wider strategy. Caffeine alone is not a “silver-bullet” solution to keeping the roads safe, but it can work in conjunction with drive-time limits in order to help ensure that drivers don’t dose off as they are operating their vehicles.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving Crashes
Drive time limits that set the maximum number of hours a trucker can drive are one part of the effort to curb drowsy driving crashes but these limits alone are not enough. Even a driver who takes sufficient breaks could still become tired, especially if he didn’t get a good night sleep on his rest period for whatever reason.

Any efforts to stop drivers from falling asleep should be considered because a drowsy driving crash can have such serious consequences. A driver who doses off for even a second could veer into the wrong lane and cause a head-on crash. The driver could also drive off the side of the road or into cars that are traveling next to him. A sleep driver is also less likely to slow down, which would at least reduce the force of impact.

But relying on coffee instead of common sense and a good night's rest is a real good way to increase the risk of a crash. These vehicles are already a risk to other drivers forced to share the road. Ensuring a well-rested, professional driver is at the wheel is the minimum that should be expected when it comes to safety.

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March 31, 2013

HAZMAT Safety Rules Protect the Public From Deadly Truck Crashes

The term HAZMAT refers to hazardous materials and items. There are a huge variety of items classified as Hazmat, from various chemical products to biological waste products. Hazmat products must be transported in many cases and they are often moved on trucks. 1190919_dangerous_goods_labels.jpg

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that a crash involving a truck carrying Hazmat material can be devastating. Not only could the truck accident cause injury to the parties involved but the release of hazardous materials could do widespread and lasting damage. To protect the public and to ensure that the transport of hazardous materials is as safe as possible, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules for Hazmat transportations.

FMCSA Hazmat Rules Aim to Ensure Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations and requirements on truck drivers throughout the United States. They address Hazmat Transportations in sections 385-397 of their regulations.

These regulations address safety fitness procedures; rules of practice for companies and drivers transporting hazardous material; general regulations; and driving and parking rules for those engaged in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Some of the requirements and provisions found within these regulations include:

  • Methods of determining a safety rating. The FMCSA will conduct a compliance review of companies transporting hazardous goods and, within 30 days, will issue a safety rating following the Safety Fitness Rating Methodology. Motor carriers who receive an unsatisfactory safety rating will be prohibited from operating any type of commercial motor vehicle.

  • Rules mandating that commercial motor vehicles containing certain types of hazardous materials are prohibited from parking within five feet of the traveled portion of a public street or highway. They are also prohibited from parking on private property or within 300 feet of bridges, workplaces, tunnels or dwellings unless it is necessary to park there for a brief period to perform required operations.

  • A requirement that motor carriers carrying hazardous materials use a placard or have sufficient markings.

  • A requirement that motor carriers with certain hazardous materials arrange a route that avoids heavily populated areas, places with large crowds, alleys and narrow streets unless it is an emergency or unless there is no practical alternative.

  • A mandate that drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials must inspect the tires of the vehicle when beginning each trip and whenever the vehicle is parked. If the inspection reveals that there is a problem, then repair of the defect is required and should be performed at the nearest safe location.

These are just a few of the many requirements that FMCSA has proposed in order to ensure that drivers are as safe as possible in transporting hazardous goods. The regulations address maintenance of the trucks, driver behavior, and routes in oder to ensure that safety is the number one priority from the start to the end of the trip.

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