We’ve all seen them on the freeway – massive 18-wheelers hauling goods that keep our shelves stocked and our economy humming. In this article, we look in detail at trucking company negligence and the impact of rule violation.

The trucking industry delivers everything, from groceries to construction materials. However, these vehicles’ sheer size and power also come with a hefty responsibility for safety. When trucking companies prioritize speed and profit over safety, the consequences can be devastating.

Negligent trucking practices, like driving while tired or exceeding speed limits, are among the major causes of truck accidents. These accidents can lead to serious injuries and fatalities for drivers and passengers in other vehicles.

In this article, we’ll explore how some trucking companies incentivize practices that put other motorists’ lives at risk. We’ll also discuss the impact these violations have on our communities and explore strategies to keep our roads safe.

Common Safety Rules in Trucking

Before we dive into the issue of trucking company negligence, let’s review some common safety rules that are in place to protect everyone on the road:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) regulations: These rules limit the hours a driver can be behind the wheel without taking a break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets limits for both daily and weekly driving hours to prevent driver fatigue.
  • Speed limits: The FMCSA regulates the maximum speed at which commercial trucks can travel on highways. These regulations take into account the truck’s size and weight, as well as road conditions.
  • Following distances: Due to their size and weight, trucks need more time and distance to come to a complete stop. This is why regulations exist for following distances between trucks and other vehicles.
  • Vehicle maintenance: Regular inspections and maintenance are crucial to keeping trucks in safe working condition. Trucking companies are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are well-maintained and meet safety standards.

Incentives for Rule Violation

So why do some trucking companies still choose to violate these safety rules? The answer lies in the incentives and pressures they face.

Pay by the Mile

Many trucking companies compensate drivers based on the miles they travel. This system can create a perverse incentive – drivers who earn more for covering greater distances faster might be tempted to prioritize speed over safety.

Imagine a trucker facing a tight deadline for a delivery from San Diego to Phoenix. They might be pushed to exceed speed limits on stretches of I-8, especially during lighter traffic hours, to maximize their earnings. This pressure can lead to reckless driving and increase the risk of accidents.

Unfortunately, speeding isn’t the only concern. Drivers might also be tempted to skip mandatory rest breaks to squeeze in extra miles, compromising their alertness and reaction time behind the wheel.

Tight Deadlines

Trucking companies often set strict delivery deadlines, which can become unrealistic, especially considering factors like traffic or unexpected delays. Unpredictable weather patterns or accidents can significantly impact travel times.

To meet these tight deadlines, drivers might be tempted to:

  • Falsify logbooks: Drivers may tamper with their logs to show they adhered to rest breaks even if they didn’t.
  • Drive while fatigued: Exhaustion can severely impair a driver’s reaction time and decision-making abilities, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Use fatigue medication irresponsibly: Some drivers might resort to over-the-counter stimulants or prescription medications to stay awake for extended periods. However, these medications can have side effects that further compromise driving safety.

Pressure from Dispatchers

Dispatchers are responsible for assigning routes and ensuring deliveries are on time. Unfortunately, some dispatchers prioritize meeting deadlines over driver safety. They might pressure drivers to:

  • Overload trucks: Exceeding weight limits compromises stability and increases the risk of rollovers.
  • Drive with unsecured cargo: Improperly secured cargo can shift during transit and become a deadly projectile on the road. Under dispatcher pressure, drivers might skip thorough cargo inspections or use inadequate securing methods.

Impact of Rule Violations

When trucking companies incentivize practices that violate safety regulations, the consequences can be severe. Fatigued or speeding drivers significantly threaten themselves and everyone else sharing the road. These accidents can result in serious injuries, fatalities, and emotional trauma for those involved.

Beyond the human cost, there’s a significant financial impact. Accidents involving large trucks often require extensive medical care and can lead to long-term disabilities. Additionally, overloaded trucks can cause damage to roads and bridges, leading to costly repairs and traffic disruptions. The ripple effect of these incidents can hurt the economy.

Addressing the Issue

So, what can be done to prevent trucking company negligence and keep American roads safe? Here are some strategies that could make a difference:

  • Stricter enforcement: Government agencies like the FMCSA must increase efforts to identify and penalize trucking companies that incentivize rule violations.
  • Education and training: Drivers should receive proper training on safety regulations and be educated on the importance of adhering to them. Furthermore, trucking companies must prioritize safety and create a culture that encourages responsible behaviour.
  • Technology and data analysis: Technology, such as electronic logging devices (ELDs), can help track driver compliance with HOS regulations. Additionally, analyzing data on accidents and near-misses can identify patterns and areas for improvement for trucking companies.
  • Collaboration: It’s crucial for stakeholders, including trucking companies, drivers, government agencies, and the public, to work together to address the issue. Open communication and collaboration can lead to more effective solutions.

Protecting Yourself from Trucking Company Negligence

Sharing the road with large trucks requires extra caution. Drivers should

  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Avoiding blind spots
  • Be mindful of truck turning signals.

If you see a truck driver exhibiting erratic behaviour, change lanes and give them ample space.

Unfortunately, accidents can still happen. If you’re involved in a collision with a truck, especially if you suspect the truck driver violated safety regulations, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help investigate the cause of the accident, determine if negligence played a role, and fight for the compensation you deserve.