11172017Headline:

Legal Examiner Voices

Home

Email American Association for Justice American Association for Justice on Twitter American Association for Justice on Facebook
American Association for Justice
American Association for Justice
Contributor •

As Americans Take to Roads This Labor Day, New Report Details Epidemic of Deadly Trucks

3 comments

On average, 30 million Americans will hit the roads over the coming Labor Day weekend, but a new analysis of government data demonstrates just how dangerous those roads can be. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) analyzed over a million lines of data not previously available to the public and found that Americans are sharing the roads with trucks that have incurred thousands of safety violations, including defective brakes, bad tires, loads that dangerously exceed weight limits and drivers with little or no training or drug and alcohol dependencies.

Nationwide, more than 28,000 motor carrier companies, operating over 200,000 trucks, are currently in violation of federal safety regulations. The effects of these violations can be deadly. A father of two, Patrick Nunez, of Riverview, Michigan, died in 2007 when his car was struck by a fully-loaded, 75-ton gravel truck whose driver had lost control.

The truck’s driver, who had a seizure disorder and was on the powerful epilepsy drug, Tegretol, swerved into Mr. Nunez’ car while it was traveling on I-75 in Detroit. Not only was the driver on medication known to cause drowsiness and delayed reaction time, but during his deposition, the driver admitted that he had received no formal training from his employer, Utica Transit Mix & Supply Co., and that he had failed to inspect the truck’s tires and brakes. Michigan Auto Law released a report just last year examining dangerous carriers in their state.

This is critical information for the millions of American families that will pack-up and hit the road for the Labor Day holiday, most of whom are completely unaware of the danger posed by these trucks that are rigged for disaster. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 4,000 people die each year in collisions with trucks, and another 80,000 are seriously injured. While trucks make up less than 4 percent of all passenger vehicles on the road, they are involved in 12 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

These safety violations pose a serious threat to the American public, and require immediate attention. Regulation of the trucking industry must be stepped up to ensure that our roads are safe for commuters. Legislators should also seriously consider increasing the minimum insurance requirements for motor vehicle carriers. The current standard was set nearly three decades ago and has never been raised, leaving those injured by these dangerous rigs with little to protect them from financial ruin.

There are 18 states with operator violation rates above the national average: West Virginia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont, Iowa, Montana, Delaware, Idaho, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Indiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin and South Dakota. The full report, as well as a full list of violating companies is available, searchable by state, at www.justice.org/trucksafetyviolations.

3 Comments

Have an opinion about this post? Please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

  1. Mike Bryant says:
    up arrow

    The be safe message never gets old and hopefully will be heeded.

  2. Truckie D says:
    up arrow

    I think clarification about a number of points in this article is badly needed — and I’m just the guy to do the clarifying.

    First, let’s take on “28,000 motor carrier companies, operating over 200,000 trucks, are currently in violation of federal safety regulations”

    First, I dispute the validity of these numbers. I looked at the first three entries in the AAJ database for Indiana. Here’s what I found on SAFER web (http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov) for these three carriers.

    Akron Concrete Products had one out-of-service inspection. In that case, the truck inspected had an inoperative right turn signal. While it should be fixed, it’s not what I’d consider a major safety problem.

    Pike Lumber had two reported crashes, without fatalities or injuries. They did have 5 speeding citations. For vehicles, they have 2 OOS inspections; one for a loose tiedown, and one for defective brakes and axle positioning parts missing or defective. Overall, not great, but not really too terrible. They could probably benefit from some increased scrutiny.

    Hartzler Trucking didn’t have a thing. Zilch. Nada. No tickets, OOS, crashes, or anything else.

    Based on this, that 200,000 truck figure should be more like 66,000 or so.

    Now, let’s look at the real impact of violations.

    According to the 2009 CVSA RoadCheck numbers,(http://www.cvsa.org/news/2009_press.aspx)about 20% of the vehicles inspected were placed OOS. Of that number, about 70% were for brakes, lights, or tires. Sounds pretty bad, until you look at it’s actual impact. According to the LTCCS at (http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/NRD/Articles/ESV/PDF/18/Files/18ESV-000252.pdf), tire and brake failures together accounted for less than 1% of crashes in their sample. So, that pares our number of dangerous trucks down again to a bit less than 20,000. Hmmm….that’s a quite a distance from 200,000, isn’t it.

    In my opinion, the above items show AAJ’s information could have some potentially serious validity issues.

    The DOT’s own statistics at (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/ab99-011.pdf) show that about 80% of the car vs. truck collisions are the fault of the car driver. I don’t dispute that there are defective trucks out on the road. However, many of these defects won’t be apparent during normal operation. It’s when a truck driver needs to do some max-performance braking or evasive maneuver to deal with a situation caused by someone in a car that such defects can potentially cause problems.

    Rather than using such scare tactics, wouldn’t it be more productive to do something to help alleviate these problems? How about supporting Jason’s Law? If you’re not familiar with it, you can go to (http://truckied.wordpress.com/jason/). What about the serious long-term problems with grocery warehouses? (see: http://voices.injuryboard.com/tractor-trailer-accidents/why-groceries-cause-truck-crashes.aspx?googleid=263138).

    Truck bashing doesn’t solve problems; what it does, is give us badly written regulations and ineffective programs, which is the situation we’re in now. Things are slowly changing, but until the hysteria stops, and logic, science, and good sense are applied, there will be a lot more preventable deaths and injuries.

  3. TruckerBob says:
    up arrow

    TruckieD, I think you missed the point. Those 28,000 motor carriers are rated as conditional or unsatisfactory and they’re still operating trucks on the highways. Doesn’t matter what enforcement has found recently; they did something wrong to be placed in conditional/unsat status and they haven’t gone thru the process to be brought back to satisfactory yet.