Drugs On The Highway

Posted on Monday, March 4th, 2019 at 9:36 pm    

While it’s no secret that truck drivers are held to a higher standard of professionalism, the means used to achieve results can be disturbing. In the past, there was a commonly held belief that long-haul drivers were forced to use amphetamines to maintain a higher level of production. Staying awake all night to beat a tight deadline might require chemical aids. And while many drivers might rely on coffee, soda or energy drinks, still others might rely on illegal methods.

Snow and ice hit Louisiana and make trucks even more dangerous

Posted on Thursday, January 18th, 2018 at 3:23 pm    

Louisiana doesn’t see snow and ice often, but when it does, it’s a major hazard. People driving in the area may not be familiar with how to handle their vehicles in these conditions, and some may make mistakes that put themselves and others at risk.

This is particularly dangerous if the driver is behind the wheel of a large truck. Drivers who are trained in the southern states may not be familiar with driving in winter weather conditions like heavy snow or on ice. As a driver, that puts you at risk.

Why do large trucks struggle on ice or snow?

To start with, trucks are heavier than other vehicles most of the time. These vehicles are already harder to stop, but when the fiction of the road’s surface is nullified, this makes for a dangerous combination. When the tires have nothing to grip, the truck driver may not be able to stop the vehicle and could end up causing a crash. If only the rear tires fail to slow or stop but the cabin does, the vehicle may fishtail and jackknife, potentially hitting several lanes of traffic.

While around 70 percent of the country is located in regions where snow and ice are common, Louisiana only gets icy and snowy conditions on rare occasions. Even slushy conditions make it more dangerous for drivers, so combined with a lack of friction, poor education in winter weather driving and the heavy weight of a vehicle, conditions are ripe for serious wrecks.

Another thing that affects drivers is a lack of winter-weather preparedness. Without a fleet of salt trucks or plows, a sudden or heavy snow could make the roads impassible and extremely dangerous for drivers who decide to continue on.

If you’re hit by a commercial driver, understand that he or she should know how to drive in many conditions. Even if not, it’s the individual’s responsibility to stop if he or she can’t handle the vehicle.

Fatal big rig crashes can have a host of causes

Posted on Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at 3:24 pm    

Many drivers choose to drive safely so that they can arrive at their destination in one piece and on time. When drivers aren’t doing this, there is a chance that a fatal accident might occur. One of the big questions that comes up after a fatal accident is what led to the crash.

When one of the vehicles involved is an 18-wheeler, there are some special considerations that have to be factored in when trying to determine the cause of the crash. Here are some of the common causes of big rig crashes:

Tight scheduling

The need to rush to make promised delivery windows can lead to serious problems. These start when the truck is being loaded because workers might rush to get the task done. This can cause a load to be improperly secured, which means it can shift or come loose while it is being transported.

Trying to rush can also cause trucker fatigue and a lax viewpoint regarding compliance with the Hours of Service regulations. In these cases, the trucking company might be liable for any accidents due to negligence regarding the scheduling.

Driver’s action

driver’s actions can lead to crashes. Truckers need to remember that their rigs aren’t as easy to maneuver as passenger vehicles. They need more room to turn and more distance to stop. Other drivers might not respect the No Zones, which are blind spots for the trucker. This means truckers must be careful about changing lanes on busy roads like Interstate 10, especially moving through cities like Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Truckers who are distracted by anything from trying to eat a quick meal to checking in with loved ones can cause crashes. They need to institute a strict policy of remaining focused on the roadway and their driving duties if the truck is in motion.

Truck maintenance and components

Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure that a big rig is roadworthy. The components on the truck must all be in good repair and free from defects. When a truck isn’t maintained or there is an issue with any component, there is a chance that a malfunction will occur that can lead to a fatal accident.

The cause of the crash is only one of the points that comes into the picture when a person is killed in a big rig crash. Family members who are left to pick up the pieces might decide to seek compensation for the crash. The wrongful death lawsuit has many components, including factoring in the monetary amount of damages caused by the tragic and untimely death.

Daimler recalls semis

Posted on Thursday, October 6th, 2016 at 3:03 pm    

German-owned Daimler Trucks, makers of Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner Trucks, Thomas Built Buses, Detroit Diesel and many other auto subsidiaries, has recalled several 2014-2017 models of their Freightliner and Western Star series semi trucks.

There are two separate recalls/defects

Freightliner Cascadia trucks with compressed natural gas engines, model years 2013-2017, have been found to short out from water and other road liquids, which can cause fires and, consequently, traffic collisions.

The other recall affects numerous models from 2014-2017, all bearing the Freightliner or Western Star brands. In these trucks, the front axle hubs may not support the full weight limit, which could cause wheels to separate from the vehicle to crash or would create unsafe road hazards for drivers and other surrounding vehicles.

Auto-truck collisions are dangerous

Given the sheer size and weight difference, truck collisions with smaller vehicles are more dangerous than car on car accidents. A 2009 report from the American Trucking Associations found that 1.0% of truck accidents cause a fatality as compared to 0.5% in car crashes. The fatality ratio leans distinctly against the smaller vehicles and bystanders, showing that 15% of fatalities were truck occupants compared to 83% of fatalities taking place in other vehicles or with pedestrians and bicyclists.

The threat of a collision doesn’t come solely from reckless driving by a car or truck operator. When a semi-trailer makes a sudden stop or collides with another vehicle, debris can be spilled into the road creating unpredictable hazards, messy road conditions and lengthy clean-up.

If you’ve been in a truck accident in the past few years, there may not have been any driver fault at all. Instead, the vehicle may have been operating incorrectly because of faulty manufacturing or equipment. Working with an attorney to determine cause and liability can help determine where the issue lies and begin the process of resolution.

Daimler had a notable recall on airbags earlier this year as well.

A truck’s loose cargo can be deadly

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 3:05 pm    

When you’re rolling down the highway at 70 mph, the impact from a loose item is far more than its weight. It comes at you at highway speed with the added impact of hitting your car and maybe even the person in the driver’s seat.

With all of the trucks hauling equipment through Louisiana, the smallest unsecured or broken piece can have a deadly impact. AAA estimates there are over 25,000 debris-related crashes each year, with 80-90 fatalities. They don’t just happen from an item smashing into a windshield or falling into the road and blowing out a tire, but from drivers’ sudden moves to avoid contact.

Tips for safe driving near debris

Sometimes the debris is from unsecured cargo or a dirty vehicle. In those cases, following at a safe distance in a different lane can make the difference. In other situations, it’s natural debris like a tree branch or a wind-borne item.

Road scanning has always been a primary element to safe driving: defensively preparing for what may happen instead of absentmindedly cruising down the highway. On a long trip it’s easy to slip into highway hypnosis, but most debris accidents take place on the interstate. Anticipation helps to avoid and surprise road conditions, including flying debris.

Many of the debris-related accidents are not with the loose item itself, but with other cars on the road, or with signs, medians, trees and road ditches. When an unexpected object comes at your car, it’s natural to swerve. Sudden movements can cause a car to roll or to leave its lane, potentially hitting oncoming traffic or roadside objects. Slamming on the brakes may cause a rear end collision from the cars behind you.

How trucks can improve safety

Road conditions, weather and regular wear and tear cause many objects to fall into traffic but there is more that truck drivers can do to keep the roads clear. It’s illegal for loose cargo to interfere with traffic and the same AAA report says two-thirds of crashes could have been avoided with better cargo security.

Vehicle and trailer maintenance is also key. Before a truck departs on a delivery it is inspected to identify issues. A thorough examination should reveal rusted or road-worn parts like a drive shaft, brakes, wheel bearings or tires.

Liability and lives are at stake

Securing cargo isn’t limited to commercial drivers and truckers though. An oversized ladder, poorly tied mattress or piece of furniture can fly off any type of vehicle. Louisiana law fines drivers who lose cargo and in most cases those drivers are also liable in case of a crash. It may seem insignificant to a driver when an item blows away from a pick-up box or off the rear of a large trailer but to anyone behind him on the road, it’s a potential catastrophe.

Proposed speed limits could reduce damage after a truck accident

Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 at 3:05 pm    

Drivers in Louisiana will inevitably encounter large trucks when out on the road. Their prevalence can lead to complacency in thinking that they are just part of the landscape and there is little to worry about in terms of being injured in a truck accident. The reality is that these vehicles carry with them a significant danger even in the best of circumstances. A common issue with these trucks is the speed at which they travel. Regulators’ attempts to find a way to limit their speed is indicative of how widespread the problem is.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) jointly proposed that heavy-duty vehicles have a device installed in them that will limit their maximum speed. With this, all new vehicles would have the device set at a speed that cannot surpass a certain number. The weight of the vehicles would be part of the decision as to which vehicles should be equipped with this device. Those at 26,000 pounds would have it installed.

The carriers who operate the vehicles and use it to transport commerce across state lines would have to maintain this device. The speed limit itself is not known, but more research is planned to decide on what would be the optimal number. The reasoning behind this is for the safety of those on the road. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the more damaging a crash will be.

It is natural for drivers who are on the road for extended periods to push beyond the speed limits. While they might be under the impression that this is not dangerous, the research indicates that the faster a vehicle is going, the more damage that can result from a truck accident. This can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.

Those who have been injured or lost a loved one in a semi truck crash due to speed or for another reason need to know their rights to seek compensation. An experienced trucking accident attorney can help people in this situation.

Source: truckinginfo.com, “DOT Finally Proposes Truck Speed-Limiter Rule,” David Cullen, Accessed on Sept. 13, 2016

A better economy raises the risk of a fatal trucking accident

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2016 at 3:06 pm    

Given the vast number of negative aftereffects of a truck accident in Louisiana and across the U.S., researchers are constantly trying to come to a determination as to why they happen and to find ways to prevent them. The common reasons that come to mind including recklessness, speeding, driving under the influence, or truckers who violate the law when it comes to getting adequate rest. However, a recent study has come up with the surprising conclusion that a better economy has led to a greater number of fatal commercial truck crashes.

This study extends from trucks on the interstate to construction vehicles and delivery vehicles. Because a stronger economy can lead to the purchasing of more goods, this will naturally increase the chances that trucks will be in a crash. Given their size and the speeds at which they travel, these vehicles can cause a massive amount of damage, lead to injuries, medical expenses and fatalities. The researcher found that there was a connection between the economy and the number of motor vehicle accidents.

While there was a recession between 2007 and 2009, the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents reduced by nearly 18 percent. With this, the rate of unemployment across the country doubled from what it was. When the economy got better, there came an accompanying increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding fatal crashes showed that in the decade between 2003 and 2013, it was found that trucks that weighed more than 10,000 pounds were the greatest factor in the rise in fatal accidents. As the unemployment rate declined by 1 percent, there was an increase in fatal truck crashes by 8 percent.

While certain safety initiatives might be considered given this information, that does not change the fact that a delivery truck, a commercial truck or other large vehicle can cause injuries and death. Those who are aware of this research might try to take certain precautions, but when there is a truck accident, there is often little that can be done to prevent the worst case scenario. Those who have lost a loved one at any time in a trucking accident need to be aware of their right to seek compensation with help from an experienced legal professional who is aware of the statistics and other aspects of these crashes.

Source: sciencedaily.com, “Study links recession recovery, increase in commercial truck fatalities,” July 11, 2016

Rules a truck company must follow to secure cargo

Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 at 3:07 pm    

Trucks are a familiar a sight on Louisiana roads and fellow drivers are advised to take caution when sharing the roadways with them. While accidents are a danger, one of the more understated issues that can arise with a truck is whether or not the cargo that is being hauled is properly secured. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has certain rules that are in place for a truck company and a truck owner to adhere to make sure that the load is safe. If this is violated and there are injuries or fatalities as a result of a crash, there could be the basis to file a lawsuit to seek compensation.

The rules that the FMSCA has in place are related to cargo except for that which does not have an actual shape or structure such as gases, liquids, grains and other similarly shapeless items. Items that are deemed to be cargo with structure and shape must be immobilized and secured on the vehicle. The devices used to keep the cargo in place must be sufficiently strong, use shoring bars, tie downs, dunnage or dunnage bags. Dunnage refers to an airbag or inflatable type of device. A combination of these can be used.

If the cargo has a propensity to roll, it must be restrained by a cradle, chocks, wedges or the equivalent to stopping a potential roll. That which is in place to prevent rolling must not be at risk to come loose or become unfastened as the vehicle is in motion. With cargo or articles that are next to one another and secured by transverse tie downs, they must be in contact with one another or prevented from shifting towards one another while in transit. There is also a working load limit for the tie downs. It must be a minimum of one-half times the weight of the article or the group of articles.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a truck accident to occur because the company or the operator was negligent in making sure that the rules were followed and the cargo was properly secured. When this happens, the sheer size and weight of the truck and its cargo can cause significant damage and even death to others on the road. Contacting a legal professional experienced in seeking compensation after a trucking accident can help in pursuing a case after failing to follow the FMCSA rules.

Source: fmcsa.dot.gov, “393.106: What are the general requirements for securing articles of cargo?,” accessed on July 5, 2016

Sleep disorder in drivers raises danger of a truck accident

Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 at 3:07 pm    

With large trucks such a prominent sight on the roadways of Louisiana, there is a constant risk of being in an accident with one. It is with this in mind that regulatory agencies are seeking to find ways to increase safety. Part of that is conducting studies as to why certain accidents happen. This information can also provide the foundation for a legal filing for compensation to those who were hurt or the loved ones of those killed.

Information regarding sleep apnea in truckers is indicative of the increased danger of being in a truck accident. According to research, truck drivers who have untreated sleep apnea are at five times greater risk than those who do not have it. The study attempts to analyze obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With sleep apnea, the person might enter a light sleep from a deep sleep because of pauses or shallowness of breath.

The treatment for this is usually a machine that helps with airway pressure. A mask will be placed over the sufferer’s nose and mouth or just the nose. This allows air into the person’s throat while he or she is asleep. In the study, 2,016 drivers were part of a control group that was not deemed likely to have sleep apnea. They were compared with 1,613 who had it. The rates of crashes were then compared. 682 who had been diagnosed used the machines. 571 were partially treated. 360 were not treated. Those who did not receive treatment were five times as likely to be in a preventable truck accident.

When a person is involved in a semi-truck crash, there can be significant injuries that make it difficult for them to return to normal functioning. They might need a long hospital stay, extensive rehabilitation and their family might end up having to provide care for them. If there was a fatality, the family left behind will have to learn how to move forward practically, emotionally and financially. This is made worse when the accident could have been prevented by the truck company and driver vigilance over potential issues such as sleep apnea. Those who have been in a trucking accident due to a driver with sleep apnea need to have a full investigation into the incident to provide the basis for a lawsuit. A qualified attorney can help.

Source: ccjdigital.com, “Study: Truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea pose much greater crash risk,” Jim Dunn, March 23, 2016

What are the mobile phone rules for commercial drivers?

Posted on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 at 3:08 pm    

By now, most people are aware that driving while texting is a dangerous act. Talking on the phone can be distracting while you drive, too. In some states, it’s illegal to text and drive or to hold a phone and drive, but you may be able to drive and talk on the phone if you wear a Bluetooth or have a one-touch answering set up on your phone. Is that the way phone safety works for commercial drivers, too?

Can commercial drivers text and drive?

No. It’s illegal for commercial drivers to text and drive. It’s illegal to read texts from an electronic device as well. Texting itself can be on any electronic device, not just a phone. So, emails and other electronic texting services fall under the regulation.

Can commercial drivers use a cellphone?

Commercial drivers, on the whole, are not able to use mobile phones while they drive. The exact regulation is that the drive may not reach out for or hold a phone to have a conversation, and he can’t dial if more than one key press is required. That means that some drivers can use a phone if it’s within close reach and is a hands-free device. That’s why some taxi drivers are still able to receive calls while they drive.

To make sure a driver is compliant with the regulation, the driver must be able to use the phone while still belted in. An earpiece or speaker function has to be used. On top of that, the phone must be answerable through a one-touch feature or by the use of voice activation.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Distracted Driving,” accessed Jan. 19, 2016

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