Does Texas Have The Desire And Ability To Enforce Trucking Safety Regulations?
There are dozens of reasons 18-wheeler truck accidents occur on Texas roads. Most of them can be traced to trucking safety violations and truck driver error, according to Tim Riley, a Houston, Texas, truck accident lawyer. Mr. Riley owns and manages the Riley Law Firm and has years of experience with truck wreck personal injury lawsuits.
Common Trucking Safety Violations In Texas
There are literally thousands of catastrophic injuries and fatalities every year in Texas attributed to intentional safety violations and / or negligence by truck drivers or trucking companies. The common thread among these violations is profit motive.
Falsification Of Data Input to Various Logbooks
Probably a majority of 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck safety violations fall into the category of intentionally reporting false data. The obvious purpose of falsifying data is to maximize the income for the truck driver and / or trucking company.
Hours Driven Violation
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules that define the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road. These regulations also specify how often truck drivers must take a break. These rules are in place to limit or eliminate driver fatigue. Truck driver fatigue is almost always the result of an excessive number of hours driven in a given time period. Currently the regulations state that an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, and semi-truck driver is limited to a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Regulations also state that a 30 minute break must be taken after 8 consecutive hours of driving. There are some exceptions to these hourly limits, such as driving during “adverse driving conditions.”
The number of hours slept between long driving periods must generally add up to at least 10 hours. Truck drivers do have some flexibility with these regulations in that they can split some of their off-duty time in their sleeper berths. A more complete discussion of the regulations regarding driving hours and hours slept can be found on this FMCSA service hours page.
Insufficient training for truck drivers has been discovered numerous times by safety authorities. This is true not only for Texas but across the United States. It is a decades-long problem because intensive training for truck drivers has been opposed by the trucking industry. The primary reason for the industry’s opposition is the cost – the cost in time and money to properly train drivers to operate 40,000 pound trucks in different terrain in different weather conditions. In addition, lobbying groups hired by the trucking industry argued that there was “no scientific evidence showing that behind-the-wheel training led to safer drivers“.
Earlier this year new standards for training truck drivers became effective. However, there is no requirement for a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel training. This is considered the most important part of training for prevention of 18-wheeler truck accidents in Texas.
Classroom study and online classes are poor substitutes for behind-the-wheel training. In contrast, it requires 1000 hours of training for a barber to be licensed in the state of Texas.
Maintenance Records of Trucks
Falsifying the maintenance records of trucks is another problem area. Failure to maintain brakes and tires has led to numerous 18-wheeler truck accidents.
However, other equipment should also be inspected and maintained periodically. This equipment includes turn signals, mirrors, reflectors, and all lights.
Insufficient driver screening is legendary in the trucking industry and has led to many 18-wheeler truck accidents in Texas.
These violations include failure to perform criminal, driving, and other background checks, failure to screen for drug and alcohol violations, failure to obtain an up-to-date medical examination.
Improperly Loaded Freight describes excessive weight and unbalanced loads. Large trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Both heavy loads and unbalanced loads make it more difficult for truck drivers to maintain control during hard braking or emergencies. Unfortunately, truck drivers in Texas are often pressured by their employers to carry excessive loads. A Texas truck accident lawyer will have a very strong personal injury lawsuit if an excessive or unbalanced load caused or contributed to a 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, or semi-truck accident.
All citizens of the United States and Texas can report trucking safety violations to the federal authorities. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will accept reports on their website. The webpage linked above also contains a phone number.
Truck Driver Retention
Truck driving is a difficult job and that is reflected by the turnover rate. Various surveys have stated that between 30% of new truck drivers quit within their first 3 months on the job. And that number jumps to 50% within the first 6 months on the job. This is a powerful indictment against the trucking industry. They are telling the public that truck safety is not that important.
Tim Riley is a well known Houston truck accident attorney and has represented numerous victims in truck accident lawsuits. He is a dedicated and aggressive Houston truck accident lawyer with 30+ years of experience. There will always be reckless, negligent, and apathetic people in the trucking industry. They should be forced to compensate those who have been injured or killed due to their irresponsible behavior. Sometimes they are sent to prison. And a personal injury lawsuit will force the responsible parties to face a jury and pay for the medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering of the victims. That is the job of Tim Riley, to help the victims and families repair their lives and move forward.