When an 80,000 pound semi-truck plows into a sedan or minivan on the highway, the occupants of the smaller, lighter-weight passenger vehicles hardly stand a chance. If they're fortunate enough to survive the accident, they'll likely spend the rest of their lives living with the effects of the injuries they sustained.
While truck driver error is one of the most common causes of serious truck crashes, commercial drivers are by no means the only ones at fault in many of these horrific wrecks. Often, a thorough investigation of the accident reveals the trucking company they work for is also at least partially to blame.
Here are some of the ways trucking companies cause serious accidents.
Improper Hiring Practices
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the interstate trucking industry in the United States, requires trucking companies to hire qualified drivers who can be trusted to operate large commercial vehicles safely. Trucking companies should thoroughly vet all applicants to ensure they have a valid commercial driver's license (CDL), clean driving and criminal records, and no health conditions that could pose a danger on the road.
Trucking companies that fail to adequately vet their drivers could inadvertently hire someone who isn't properly licensed, or who has a history of dangerous behavior, behind the wheel or otherwise.
FMCSA regulations require commercial drivers to:
- Keep thorough daily service logs
- Conduct daily vehicle inspections
- Avoid on-the-road distractions like texting
- Comply with hours-of-service rules that limit the length of their shifts and mandate breaks
It's up to supervisors at the trucking company to ensure the driver is compliant with all regulations. Commercial drivers who aren't supervised may cut corners, falsify logs, skip daily vehicle inspections, or drive fatigued, all of which make them a danger to others on the road.
Failure to Screen for Drug and Alcohol Use
Driving a large commercial truck is inherently dangerous due to its sheer size and weight, which is why it's absolutely imperative for transportation employers to make sure their drivers aren't taking any unnecessary risks behind the wheel.
FMCSA regulations strictly prohibit impaired driving, and even require trucking companies to screen drivers for drug and alcohol both randomly and following their involvement in accidents causing serious injuries, property damage, or fatalities. When trucking companies fail to administer drug and alcohol tests, it allows drivers with substance abuse problems to escape detection.
Insufficient Vehicle Maintenance
Commercial truck drivers must carefully inspect their vehicle at the beginning and end of each shift. If they discover a maintenance issue, it's up to the trucking company to have the issue repaired in a timely fashion, and even take the truck out of service, if necessary. When trucking companies put off needed repairs or fail to equip their vehicles with safety features, such as reflectors and undercarriage lights, they endanger their drivers as well as other motorists.
Encouraging Rule Violations
Trucking companies know exactly what the FMCSA requires of commercial drivers, and yet unscrupulous supervisors may encourage or reward drivers for skirting the rules. For example, when employers are willing to reward truckers for making deliveries ahead of schedule, they're more likely to violate hours-of-service rules and falsify their service logs. The FMCSA's hours-of-service regulations were designed to keep fatigued drivers off the road. When drivers fail to comply, they run the risk of causing drowsy driving accidents.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney?
Are you living with injuries from a serious truck crash and wondering if the company that hired the driver who caused the accident could be liable? McGartland Law's team of skilled personal injury attorneys will thoroughly investigate your claim to identify all the responsible parties. Our firm can provide the knowledgeable representation you need when going head-to-head with a trucking company's corporate counsel.
Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation review of your truck accident case.