Mostly because of driver issues, large truck crashes have increased by 47% since 2009. Especially given continuing supply chain issues, companies put more pressure on drivers than ever to deliver their loads as quickly as possible, regardless of safety concerns. In other words, these companies put profits before people. Regulators have not helped. If anything, regulators have made the safety problem worse by diluting key safety requirements, like HOS (hours of service) rules.
Big companies often disregard public safety, and regulators often look the other way. In such environments, people can still count on a Marietta personal injury attorney to protect them. Attorneys hold negligent companies responsible for the injuries they cause even when regulators fail to do so. More importantly, a lawyer obtains the financial compensation truck crash victims need and deserve.
We mentioned HOS safety rollbacks above. These rollbacks have had some unintended consequences. Enforcement officers that once strictly held drivers to HOS standards now take a more relaxed approach. Another unintended consequence is increased fatigue and drug impairment-related wrecks.
Most shipping and transportation companies pay most drivers by the load instead of by the hour. So, truckers have a financial incentive to stay behind the wheel as long as possible. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That is above the legal limit for commercial operators in Georgia.
Alcohol and drowsiness have similar effects on the body and brain. Drowsy drivers, like alcohol-impaired drivers, have trouble concentrating and reacting. This combination makes it very dangerous for people to operate heavy machinery, such as an 80,000-pound truck.
To counteract the effects of fatigue, or so they think, many truckers use amphetamines. These drugs make truckers feel more alert. However, they do not address the underlying effects of fatigue, such as the aforementioned clouded judgment and slowed reactions. Additionally, when these drugs wear off, users often crash hard and fast.
A Marietta personal injury attorney often uses electronic evidence to establish fatigue. All large trucks now include Electronic Logging Devices. These onboard computers track driving time and resting time. Circumstantial evidence, such as the time of day or night, is admissible, as well.
Other kinds of truck driver impairment include alcohol use, distraction, and driving with a moderate or serious medical condition.
Driver impairment clearly violates the duty of care. This legal responsibility requires drivers to be at their best, physically, mentally, and otherwise, before they start their engines. Aggressive driving, on the other hand, is a form of operational negligence.
Tailgating may be the most common example of aggressive truck driving. The recommended following distance for truckers is about three times longer than the recommended following distance for non-commercial motorists in passenger cars or trucks.
Poor weather conditions often contribute to aggressive driving wrecks. For example, large trucks are much harder to control when the road is wet.
Compensation in a truck crash case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are also available in some extreme circumstances.