Trucking Safety Rules
While Trucking Safety Rules Are Under Attack in the US Senate, Walmart Truck Causes Fatal Wreck
In a high-profile crash last Friday, a Walmart truck driver allegedly fell asleep behind the wheel before causing a collision that killed James McNair and critically injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan. According to the criminal complaint, the truck driver hadn't slept for at least 24 hours when the crash happened.
If it is true that truck driver fatigue caused the fatal collision, it is a tragic example of why we need the trucking safety rules that were put into effect by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) less than one year ago. These federal regulations are designed to improve safety for everyone on our highways and streets by reducing truck driver fatigue. Under these rules, truckers are still allowed to drive up to 11 hours a day in a 14 hour workday.
The FMCSA safety rules for truckers:
-Limit the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours;
- Allow truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, which must include at least two nights from 1-5 a.m.;
- Require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Drunk driving, distracted driving, and drowsy driving are all equally dangerous. Still, last week the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would suspend the Motor Carrier Safety Administration requirement that truck drivers rest for at least 34 consecutive hours between work weeks. Lobbyists for the motor carrier industry back the proposed amendment, saying that the rule has cost trucking companies money and that drivers have complained that they earn less when the safety rules are enforced. The injury lawyers at Ross Law Group urge you to contact your U.S. Senator and Representative and tell them that you oppose the amendment.
According to its website, Walmart has a private fleet of over 7,200 drivers, 6,000 tractors, 53,500 trailers and 5,600 refrigerated trailers that travel as many as 700 million miles a year. Walmart issued a statement on Saturday about the wreck that injured Tracy Morgan, saying, "The facts are continuing to unfold. If it's determined that our truck caused the accident, Walmart will take full responsibility.
In our experience as injury lawyers, trucking companies do not always take responsibility when a truck driver fails to follow safety rules and causes harm. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that of the 3,514 people who died in large truck crashes in 2012, 67 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
Daniel Ross and his personal injury team are here if you have been injured or lost a family member in a trucking accident and need help. Contact us for a free consultation at 512-474-7677, or visit our website at www.rosslawgroup.com.