In November, we wrote about the investigation into a serious truck accident that occurred in Ithaca last June. A semi-truck with a loaded car carrier crashed into a restaurant, injuring seven people and killing one more. As with many New York truck accidents, this one likely could have been prevented if the truck had been pulled out of service (due to its horrendous safety record and other problems).
Why do dangerous trucks, unsafe truck drivers and negligent companies continue to operate on U.S. roads and highways? In short, it is due to problems with enforcement of federal regulations. Interstate trucks must comply with regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. But the FMCSA leaves it up to states to handle inspections, citations and other enforcement measures. Needless to say, some states fulfill this duty more effectively than others.
Theoretically, a commercial truck can be stopped anytime and anywhere and subjected to an inspection. But some truck drivers go out of their way to avoid weigh stations and other inspection points if they know their vehicle is in disrepair. Moreover, inspectors in different states tend to prioritize certain safety features over others. A truck driver might get his headlights and turn signals inspected in one state, for instance, with very little attention paid to his brakes.
Since 2009, truck accidents on U.S. roads have killed 14,000 people. Of the trucks involved in those crashes, nearly 25 percent had previously been cited for safety violations. It's possible that many more were in disrepair but were never cited.
When we talk about truck accidents, we often focus on truck driver behavior such as fatigued driving and distracted driving. We need to pay just as much attention to vehicle problems that can lead to serious and fatal crashes.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a truck accident, there's a good chance that inadequate vehicle maintenance or truck driver negligence was to blame. Please seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who can thoroughly examine the details of your accident.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Is that big rig road worthy?" Dec. 21, 2014