Semi-Trailers: Threats on the Road in Any Part of the U.S.

May 23, 2016 by

About two million registered semi-trailers share roads and highways with smaller vehicles in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, every year, close to half a million of these trucks get involved accidents which result to 130,000 injuries and 5,000 deaths.

Despite the huge numbers in accidents, injuries and deaths, semi-trailers, also called big rigs or 18-wheelers, cannot be dispensed with due to the major contribution these have in the nation’s economy. However, this does not stop federal government agencies, namely, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), from passing laws and strictly implementing them to make sure that truck accidents are minimized, if not totally eliminated.

Two very important laws passed by these agencies are the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 and the rule on the Hours of Service.

  • The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, which establishes uniform testing and licensing standards for operators of commercial motor vehicles. Due to the enormous size and weight of semi- trailers, the government strictly requires that drivers possess the necessary knowledge and skills in the safe operation of these vehicles. Thus, before being issued a commercial driver’s license, a person will first need to undergo special training and pass a series of tests.
  • The Hours of Service (HOS) mandate, which was issued by the FMCSA, governs the working hours of those operating a commercial motor vehicle. HOS sets the maximum number of daily and weekly hours that a truck driver can spend driving; it also determines how long a driver should rest between driving shifts. This mandates aims to make sure that no driver of semi-trailer is feeling fatigued or sleepy whenever they hit the road. To track the number of hours a driver spends on the road, he or she could use either an ordinary log book or an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR).

Despite these two mandates, accident keep on occurring, putting still more lives in danger. As pointed out in the website of Pohl & Berk, LLP, many truck drivers, as well as trucking companies, fail greatly in their major task of keeping their vehicles from getting involved in accidents. While some truck violate the HOS mandate, drive while intoxicated or drive too fast for certain road conditions, some trucking companies, on their part, hire even unqualified drivers, fail to further train drivers or never discipline their drivers who commit serious traffic violations. And, as the number of large trucks continues to increase, so does the number of severe accidents.

A Dallas personal injury attorney would probably point out that the number of trucks on the road has suddenly increased due to the recent oil boom, fatal accidents have also increased, from 303 in 2001 to 389 in 2012.

No truck accident victim should be left to suffer financially in addition to the painful injuries that he or she has unjustly sustained. But with the cost of medical treatment, lost wages and lost future earnings, financial burden is most likely another factor that will make his or her life more painful. Due to this, the law grants him or her the legal right to seek justice and compensation which will cover all present and future damages that result from his or her injury.

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