You might be wondering just what a fifty-something truck driver is doing writing a blog on a website run by attorneys.
The answer is, there’s a lot of myths, misconceptions, just plain wrong information, and some outright lies circulating about trucks, truck drivers, and the trucking industry. I see the results of this everytime I read about some person or group wanting more truck regulations or restrictions or whatever. The general public, and many regulators, simply don’t have accurate information. My goal in blogging here is to educate and inform (and maybe occasionally amuse). The one thing that I’ll promise you, is that any information I give you is accurate to the best of my knowledge and resources, and free of "spin". Ask me a question, and I’ll give you a straight answer — and I strongly encourage questions. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
My focus blogging here is going to be very oriented toward highway safety and related subjects. I also have a blog at http://truckied.wordpress.com where I rant about other things as well. Give it a look when you get the chance.
My posts here aren’t going to follow anything resembling a regular schedule. As and when I get the urge, or when something particularly noteworthy happens that I think needs commenting on, I’ll write something and post it. If you have any suggestions for posts, those are also welcome.
In honor of the fact that this website is run by attorneys, I thought I’d make the subject of this first post, "The Effect of Attorneys on Highway Safety".
There are a lot of people who love to rant about the deleterious effects that lawyers have on our (litigious) society in general. Whether those rants are true or not, lawsuits over crashes have had a profoundly positive effect on truck safety in general, and regulatory compliance in particular.
(Please note that I do not refer to these things as "accidents". There’s really no such thing. They may not be intentional, but they’re generally the result of choices that somebody made.)
Trucking is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. Many of these regulations were "written in blood"; that is, they came about as the result of somebody getting killed. As a result, there are lots of I’s to dot, and T’s to cross in order to be fully compliant.
For many years, leaving out the occasional dot from an I or cross from a T had little effect. In recent years though, damage awards have climbed markedly, particularly when one or more regulations was (or at least appears to have been) violated. A recent case of a truck vs. car crash with a fatality netted the plaintiff a huge damage award, since the trucking company couldn’t produce copies of the driver’s logs, as required by the regulations.
Every large damage award (and lots of small ones too) are carefully looked at by trucking companies and their insurance carriers. The end result of this is a great deal of attention being paid to the letter of the law, and much more scrutiny and training of drivers. Gone are the days where almost any non-fatal collision was treated more or less casually by trucking companies. Nowadays, even minor collisions frequently end up with the truck driver in the unemployment line. Truck insurance being very expensive, many companies opt for policies with relatively high deductibles. Thus, even a minor wreck can eat up all of the profit that driver would make the company – and then some.
Overall, I’d have to say that the net effect on saving lives is a major positive, and the effect on trucking and insurance company bottom lines is a (relatively) minor negative.
Comments and questions welcome.