Despite an increase in regulations on the trucking industry designed to make our highways safer, accidents involving semi-trucks occur regularly and can be extremely devastating. Simply by virtue of their size and weight, collisions with semi-trucks are more catastrophic than other motor vehicle accidents.
Disaster in the Desert
Two semi-trucks were involved in related but separate fatal wrecks along a heavily traveled stretch of Interstate 10 between Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona. The first accident occurred when a westbound semi-truck crossed the median and flipped over in the eastbound lane. A car driven by 44-year-old Hussian Ziagulmirza crashed into the overturned semi. Ziagulmirza died when his car burst into flames. Four family members were able to escape the car, sustaining minor injuries, which were treated at a nearby hospital.
As traffic slowed to a crawl while emergency workers put out the fire and cleared the highway, a van towing a car slammed into another semi-truck that had been stopped by the traffic jam. The van’s driver and an 11-year-old were killed, while a third passenger was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.
Alcohol was not believed to be related in either accident, although police suggested the driver of the overturned truck that caused the first accident may have been too tired to be behind the wheel.
Driver fatigue is one of the least studied and most insidious causes of highway accidents. Unlike cases of drug or alcohol use, fatigue can’t be tested for after an accident, yet it can impair a driver in ways similar to alcohol and other drugs. While truck drivers previously used log books and receipts to track their hours, current technology allows semi-truck dispatch centers to track a truck’s hours of operation. However, many companies have not installed this technology and still rely on outdated log books that can be fraudulently filled out.
Truck Driver Regulations
- May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off-duty
- Minimum 10 hours off-duty before driving again
- Maximum 14 hours on-duty (includes paperwork, loading/unloading, maintenance, etc.)
- Maximum 60 hours on-duty per 7 days, or 70 hours per 8 days
Fatal Crash Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passenger cars and light trucks dominate the number of fatal accidents on the highways. In 2009, the year for which data is most recently available, NHTSA linked semi-trucks to 3,215 fatal accidents. Although statistics indicate that cars and light trucks account for 92.9 percent of fatal accidents, they far outnumber semi-trucks in terms of vehicle miles traveled. It is also important to remember that 3,215 fatal accidents simply means that at least one person died; it doesn’t take into account multiple fatalities or serious and debilitating injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a trucking accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation. Contact our attorneys for a free, confidential consultation to review the details of your case and help you determine the best course of action.