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Shortages of Drivers Causes More Truck Wrecks

 

 

 

 

 

Trucking Vital to US Economy

 

There is no doubt that the trucking industry is the lifeblood of our American economy. The proof is in the pudding, with over 70% of all freight transported throughout the United States arriving on big rigs. Tractor-trailers haul more than 10.5 billion tons of goods and freight each year.

The United States has over 11 million big rigs registered in the United States which is an increase of 3% over the prior year. One-half of all commercial truck drivers are hauling freight interstate and 15% or so intrastate.

 

Increasing Violations

 

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, commercial truck drivers were cited over 320,000 times for violation related to duty status during roadside inspections. Fudging the duty status or failing to keep accurate logs is one of the most common safety violations by truck drivers. Additionally, the FMCSA indicates there were over 136,000 hours of service violations where truck drivers drove when they were prohibited from doing so by the safety regulations.

 

Shortage of Qualified Drivers

 

While the lack of truck drivers has been consistent at about 30,000 drivers over the last several years, industry analysts suspect that the driver shortage will reach between 50,000 to 100,000 per year. There are several reasons for the driver shortage one of them being the age of the existing drivers set at about 50 and younger drivers not finding the profession that attractive.

Turnover has been a big problem for the motor carrier as drivers find other vocations that may provide a better environment for time with the family. Trucking companies have struggled to find enough qualified drivers and are forced to accept a driver who may not be as professional and safe as the motor carrier would prefer. All one has to do is turn on the radio to hear many ads from trucking companies seeking drivers to understand the depth of the truck driver shortage.

Retiring truck drivers who are not easily replaced is probably the single largest factor in the shortage of drivers.

Many motor carriers are offering substantial incentives for the best truck drivers. Some of the bigger trucking companies in America boosted pay by $5000-$10,000 a year for some of the best drivers. The competition for highly qualified and safe drivers has never been fiercer.

 

Big Rig Crashes

 

Last year there were over 475,000 large trucks and buses involved in accidents. There is a direct correlation to the experience of a truck driver and the potential for a serious truck wreck. It is just common sense that the more experience a driver has behind the wheel with a tractor-trailer, the less likely the driver is to be unprepared on the roadway.

The number of injury crashes from big rigs as increased by over 55% from 2004 two 2014 according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Inexperienced drivers and new drivers are clearly the most dangerous truckers on the highways. Many truck drivers quit the profession after they have been in us very serious truck accident where someone else was seriously injured or killed. Controlling an 80,000-pound vehicle requires more than a commercial driver’s license and minimum safety training by a company.

 

Solutions to the Driver Shortage

 

There certainly has been a sustained increase in the freight shipped in the United States and the need for qualified truck drivers. One of the biggest problems besides the age of the drivers is the inability to attract younger drivers to stay in the profession.

Trucking companies are offering financial incentives. However, the increased pay and sign-on bonuses are insufficient to deal with the magnitude of the driver shortage. Increased flexibility and home time for drivers is a big factor in the satisfaction in the profession. There is no doubt that trucking can be a difficult lifestyle for families.

Technology advances will help trucking companies become more flexible with their drivers as long as the companies are willing to invest resources into the technology. Recent rule changes requiring electronic logging are a step in the right direction for motor carriers to embrace technology to reduce costs and improve safety.

Better communications are also proven to reduce aggravation for drivers and also improve on-time delivery.

 

Summary

 

In the United States, we face a serious truck driver shortage which has the effect of forcing Motor Carriers to hire lesser qualified drivers to fill positions. The shortage of qualified drivers is predicted to increase substantially shortly. Trucking companies are taking steps to attract higher quality drivers, but the problem for the industry remains a lack of drivers.

A correlation exists between the age, experience, and training of the truck driver and the likelihood of an accident. A new driver is much more likely to be involved in an unnecessary crash than an experienced driver.

 

Visit our The Woodlands, Conroe attorney for truck accident page.

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/trucksdotcom/2016/05/23/a-glance-at-the-state-of-the-trucking-industry/#7c5c8dec3d84

 

http://www.npr.org/2015/12/14/459348786/trucking-shortage-drivers-aren-t-always-in-it-for-the-long-haul

http://www.trucking.org/ATA%20Docs/News%20and%20Information/Reports%20Trends%20and%20Statistics/10%206%2015%20ATAs%20Driver%20Shortage%20Report%202015.pdf

Harris County Has the Highest Commercial Vehicle Fatality Rate in Texas

 

Each year the state of Texas is required to collect and analyze crash data gathered by Texas officers when filling out crash data reports.

 

The data is helpful to authorities for planning purposes and anticipating safety needs within the state of Texas. Currently, the state of Texas retains ten years of data from the crash reports.

 

HIGH NUMBER OF COMMERCIAL VEHICLE WRECKS IN TEXAS

 

One of the areas analyzed by the state of Texas is the number of crashes that involved commercial vehicles and injuries by County. In 2015, there was 505 fatal commercial motor vehicle crashes in the state of Texas. In those accidents, 601 people died, 1522 people were seriously injured, and another 4640 people were listed with non-incapacitating injuries and another 4800 with possible injury.

 

 

HARRIS COUNTY LEADS TEXAS IN FATAL CRASHES

 

Overwhelmingly, Harris County had the highest number of fatal crashes, fatalities and serious injuries from a commercial vehicle wreck. In one year alone, 37 people died in Harris County from commercial vehicle crashes in 1678 people were injured or possibly injured in a truck accident.

 

Dallas County was second in fatal crashes and injuries followed by Travis County. Obviously, the denser the population, the more likely it is for a tractor-trailer crash.

 

In total, Texas had a traffic accident death toll of 3531 people in 2015 which was a very slight decrease in the number of deaths in 2014. There were also 13,616 serious injury crashes with over 17,000 people seriously injured. About one-half of the fatal crashes occurred in rural areas.

 

TRAFFIC CONGESTION A FACTOR

 

One of the areas of concern throughout the state of Texas is traffic congestion which leads to more accidents. The major metropolitan areas such as Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio are much more likely to have traffic problems which lead to unnecessary crashes.

 

Houston Commercial Vehicle Crash Attorney

 

Commercial vehicle accidents require speedy action on the part of the victims. Many trucking companies and their insurers seek to put the commercial vehicle back in service as quickly as possible often, voiding the black box data that may be available to help make the personal injury case.

 

Most injury truck accidents are caused by driver error or a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or a combination of both. For a no obligation consultation with the go to truck wreck law firm in Houston call 281-893-0760 to discuss your truck wreck.

New Electronic Logging Devise Rule Will Reduce Truck Accidents

 

 

It’s no secret that a tractor – 80,000 pounds and for that reason, the truck driver and the trucking company are regulated to protect the motoring public.  The governmental entity that promulgates and enforces truck safety regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

 

 

One of the ways that the FMCSA protects the public is by regulating the hours a truck driver can work and drive a commercial vehicle. These rules are known as “hours of service” and provide that a truck driver may drive at maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of duty. Additionally, a driver may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty. These safety rules are intended to prevent fatigued drivers from causing an accident when they should not be behind the wheel.

 

 

 

Truck drivers are required to keep daily logs showing the time they have spent on duty and behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it is relatively easy for drivers to cheat on their logs and drive far more than the hours they were permitted behind the wheel. In a recent commercial vehicle accident case, we handled, the driver falsified his logs and was only caught after we downloaded data from the onboard computer that showed the driver drove over the hours of service.

 

 

Fraudulent logging is a common occurrence in the trucking industry. It is difficult for the motor carrier to police their drivers when the documentation is paper created by the driver. However, the FMCSA has promulgated a new rule called the Electronic Logging Devices rule which mandates that trucking companies transition to electronic recording of driver’s hours of service.

 

 

The rule is phased-in depending on the method that the carrier uses for record-keeping of duty status of their drivers.  Trucking companies who are using the old paper logs must transition to the electronic logging device before December 18, 2017. Companies who were using electronic compliance must transition their fleet to the ELDs on or before December 16, 2019.

 

 

While there is an expense to the trucking companies for installation of the new equipment, the electronic logging device will create a much safer environment for drivers and the public and allow for very accurate tracking and management of the duty status records.

 

 

ELD’s also track location and are required to be registered to verify their accuracy. By transitioning to electronic record keeping, companies can keep track of their driver’s hours of service in “real-time”. This new rule will greatly cut down the cheating that has become so prevalent on driver’s paper logs. And it will be much easier for a company to catch a driver driving past his allotted hours.

 

 

 

Further, manufacturers or providers of electronic logging devices must certify and register their devices with the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The certification includes that the ELD meets the technical specifications of the new rule.

 

 

 

Undoubtedly, this new rule will save lives and the FMCSA estimates that over 1800 wrecks will be avoided each year and more than 26 lives will be saved by the implementation of this rule.

 

 

If you have been injured in a truck accident make sure the lawyer you seek to hire knows the new ELD rules.

Call us for a no obligation consultation – 281-893-0760. 

 

Sources:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/summary-hours-service-regulations

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices

https://3pdp.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/ELDList.aspx

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-16/pdf/2015-31336.pdf

Will Self-Driving Semi Trucks Really Happen?

 

There is little doubt that technology assisted driving both for passenger cars and semi trucks is going to become a reality soon. Almost every major automobile manufacturer has jumped into the self-driving automobile parade.

Not only are manufacturers working on self-driving vehicles but also the major technology companies including Google, Apple and others are working to develop autonomous vehicle technology. Recently, a patent from Amazon may be a signal that the company is intending to use technology to deliver goods more efficiently.

 

Other companies have already tested self-driving 18 wheelers for delivering goods. Recently, a self-driving truck made a trip across Colorado delivering a load of beer. The project was a partnership with Anheuser-Bush and Uber. While the semi had a driver, the driver reportedly spent most of the trip in the sleeper berth.

 

According to Uber, the trip was the first commercial shipment with a fully autonomous big truck.

 

Daimler Trucks has also been active in the design and development of self-driving tractor-trailers. Last year they released a concept truck that will “reduce accidents, improved fuel consumption and cut highway congestion.” You can see the concept truck here:

http://www.freightlinerinspiration.com/

 

One of the areas that are being explored for self-driving vehicles is the concept of a truck platoons or caravan of trucks which have a lead driver and other driverless trucks following the lead vehicle. This platooning technology interconnects the trucks for such things as steering, braking, and lane departures. The concept has been tested to much success in Europe.

 

Truck drivers worry about being replaced by technology but the future looks bright for drivers because we currently have a shortage of drivers in the US and platooning may be a profit center for owner-operators.

 

Of course, the big concern of everyone with self-driving cars and certainly with self-driving big rigs is the safety factor. Having a driverless vehicle certainly is cause for concern of others surrounding the vehicles. This is especially true with 18-wheelers because they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and a crash can devastate multiple other vehicles.

 

Experts estimate that truly self-driving trucks are still several years away from becoming more mainstream. Nevertheless, as this article is indicated, the testing as started and self-driving trucks are being tested in the United States and in Europe on an increasing basis.

 

Regulation of the self-driving big truck will be a very challenging situation for the FMCSA.

 

 

Sources:

 

https://www.eutruckplatooning.com/News/495554.aspx?t=Press+release%3a+Dutch+business truck+community+welcomes+truck+platoons+

http://www.atbs.com/knowledge-hub/self-driving-trucks-are-truck-drivers-out-of-a-jo

How Dash Cams Change the Game in 18-Wheeler Lawsuits

 

More and more people are choosing to install dash cameras in their vehicle for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is to establish what happened in an accident in a manner that is not easily contradicted by the other insurance company.

 

A dash mounted camera or dash cam is a camera that records why you are driving. It is similar to a GoPro for your vehicle. The video cameras cost between $50 and $200 depending upon the model that you choose. Some, are mounted by a suction cup on your dashboard and connected to power by a cigarette charger. Others are permanently mounted with direct power lines.

 

As soon as the vehicle starts the video camera will record the scene where the camera is focused. Trucking companies have been experimenting with dash cams both forward and rear in a way to reduce claims and make truck drivers more accountable. Some bus companies have cameras recording the passengers as a way to reduce claims.

 

In a recent Houston 18 wheeler accident lawsuit we are handling, the trucking company produced a dash cam film showing not only the forward view of the big rig but also an interior view of the truck driver. The video indicates that the light had turned red before the big truck enters the intersection. While the driver was ticketed for running a red light, most truck drivers fight their tickets and the citation usually is not admissible in court unless the driver was found guilty of the charge.

 

By having a video showing exactly how the truck accident occurred, liability issues are now somewhat resolved. Without a video showing how the wreck happened, the defense of the case would usually revolve around a ‘yellow light” or perhaps even claims that the injured plaintiff was the one who ran the light.

 

Having evidentiary proof that is admissible in court is a game changer for both parties to a lawsuit. While in this instance, the trucking company will not be able to argue that the truck driver did not run a red light, but another case, the trucking company may avoid a lawsuit by proving that the light was green.

 

In other words, video cameras recording the crash eliminate much of the possibility of different versions of the story about the cause of a crash.

 

Some insurance companies are now accepting dash cam footage to resolve liability issues and pending claims. However, to date insurance companies are not offering discounts for dash cam use. Nevertheless, many drivers and trucking companies are using this new technology to protect themselves from inappropriate traffic tickets and to establish who was at fault for a crash.

 

In Russia, over 1 million drivers have dash cams installed on their vehicles to help prevent police corruption.

 

Many police units come standard with video cameras which can provide evidence about such things as whether the driver arrested for drunken driving, looked intoxicated on the video.

 

The use by trucking companies of a video serves to protect the company from false claims and also gives the company incentive to fairly resolve cases early where the truck driver clearly was at fault.

 

 

Sources:
https://www.cars.com/articles/2014/10/dash-cams-hold-benefits-despite-absence-of-insurance-incentives/
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32622126

http://www.autoinsurancecenter.com/would-dash-cams-resolve-accident-disputes-in-u.s.htm

https://www.cars.com/articles/2014/10/dash-cams-hold-benefits-despite-absence-of-insurance-incentives/

How do I pick the right attorney for my case?

 

 

One of the most frequent telephone calls we get at our Houston personal injury practice is from people who were dissatisfied with their current representation and seeking to change attorneys. Some of the calls are from people who have unrealistic expectations of the claim or the claim handling process and some calls stem from frustration with a lack of communication from the lawyer to the client. Generally, changing attorneys in the middle of a claim is not a productive endeavor.

 

The vast majority of these clients could have prevented much of their frustration by simply doing homework about who they hire and why. Spending time researching the attorney you are considering prior to actually hiring that lawyer is the first step in a satisfactory relationship.

 

Inexperienced in hiring lawyers

 

The vast majority of people seeking out a personal injury attorney have not previously hired an attorney and are unfamiliar with how to investigate the lawyer or law firm. Many see an ad on TV and call the number to get their attorney. Others receive recommendations from friends who have seen the advertisements on TV or otherwise have a friend who is a lawyer.

 

TV attorneys

 

Attorneys who advertise on TV or even billboards most likely have a high-volume practice involving numerous claimants and a reputation for churning the cases quickly in lieu of seeking to maximize the monetary recovery of their clients. Frequently, the engagement between the attorney and the client is almost nonexistent because “legal assistants” handle almost all of the communications.

 

Some questions to consider:

 

  1. How long has the attorney you are considering and practicing personal injury law?
  2. How close is the office to where you live?
  3. Is the attorney located in the city or town with the accident occurred?
  4. How did you feel when you met the lawyer?
  5. What do others say about the firm?
  6. Will this attorney care about me as a person?

 

Researching the lawyer

 

There are many different ways to research the attorney you are considering for your case. In the age of social media, and high-speed Internet, much information is readily available from such sources as state bar associations and the Better Business Bureau.

 

Google also offers reviews as do Yelp and other trusted sources of information. Be wary however of important sounding organizations or awards because many of those designations are not based upon peer-reviewed information but rather a financial arrangement between the organization and the attorney.

 

If you suspect that the law firm is a high-volume firm, consider a more quality oriented approach as opposed to quantity. The more cases an attorney or law firm handles the less individual attention the client can expect from the lawyer. When the entire case is handled primarily with legal assistants the odds of frustration increase substantially.

 

Finally, be wary of the large firm with a great reputation that has a great many inexperienced associates who actually handled the case and do the work. While the “partner” usually conducts the initial client meeting, their involvement in the case usually ends at that point and the client ends up thinking there retaining the high-powered partner only to end up with the inexperienced attorney who is learning on the job-with their case.

 

A little time spent up front investigating a law firm before actually hiring an attorney for your case can radically improve your odds of placing phone calls later on seeking to find another attorney.

New Study Highlights the Risk of A Truck Accident by Inexperienced Drivers

 

 

 

A recently published study by the US Department of Transportation – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration emphasizes the role of less experienced truck drivers in the causation of accidents.

 

The study was aimed at determining the “critical reasons” and associated facts that contributed to serious commercial vehicle crashes. Using available data, the analysis examined the association between professional truck drivers experience in driving a big rig and an accident being attributed to the 18-wheeler driver.

 

The results are not surprising. Truck drivers with less than five years driving experience have a much greater chance of being a cause of a truck crash. The research concluded that drivers with less than five years experience are 41% more likely to be the cause of the truck accident than a driver with more than five years experience.

 

Similarly, the more experience a truck driver has the less likely it is that they will be the cause of the serious truck wreck. This study also dovetails other studies done by insurance companies in analyzing the risks faced by their insured trucking companies.

 

It is no secret that the number of truck drivers in the United States is substantially less than the current demand. You probably have even heard radio ads of trucking companies looking to hire new drivers. The shortage of drivers has forced many trucking companies to hire inexperienced and less than stellar drivers to fill their openings.

 

Many trucking companies are also paying sign-on bonuses to attract better drivers from other companies. Until the shortage of truck drivers evens out, our highways across United States will be less safe than they could be with more experienced drivers behind the wheel.

 

Many activists are calling for increased training prior to licensing new truck drivers to take the wheel of an 80,000 pound vehicle.

 

For further information you can view the report here:

http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/60000/60600/60659/16-014b-Driver-Experience-and-Crash-Risk-FINAL-508C.pdf

Call The Houston 18 Wheeler Accident Law Firm for a no obligation truck wreck consultation. 281-893-0760.

 

Do’s and Don’ts After An 18-Wheeler Injury Accident

 

After a serious accident with the commercial vehicle, there are certain things that personal injury victims should do and shouldn’t do. The following is a list of things to do and things not to do after serious injury crash.

DO
• Get as much information as you can from the scene
• Make sure the investigating officers come to the scene and write a report
• Take photographs if you’re able
• Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses that may be helpful
• Seek medical treatment when necessary
• Always follow up with your doctor’s further orders
• Understand that emergency rooms are only to treat life-threatening conditions and not necessarily diagnose non-life-threatening problems.
• Take photographs of your vehicle showing the damage if you did not get them at the scene
• Take your car to the shop you want to repair it and let them deal directly with the trucking companies insurance company
• Concentrate on your recovery
• Your homework regarding any attorney you’re considering retaining

DON”T

• Give a recorded statement to the adjuster
• Attempt to a settlement before you are released from your treating physicians
• Attempt to get the adverse insurer to pay your medical bills before settlement
• Settle a case based on estimated future medicals
• Try to tough it out by not following up with your doctors
• Believe for one second that by accepting responsibility the insurance company is promising to offer fair compensation
• Hire an attorney who is inexperienced in truck accidents
• Talk to or hire an attorney who approached you, it is illegal and unethical
• Let the adjuster string you along after your medical treatment has ended
• Wait until just before the statute of limitations to seek out a quality attorney
• Believe you will be treated the same without a lawyer as you would with one

For more information about truck accident lawsuits visit our home page at: www.texas-truckaccidentlawyer.com.

Why do I need an attorney who handles mainly 18-wheeler accidents?

18-wheeler-accident-lawyer

 

You’ve been a serious 18 wheeler accident and you’re looking for a law firm and are wondering what type of a lawyer do you need for your case. The truth of the matter is that most attorneys who handle some personal injury want to handle semi-truck accident cases because of the insurance available to cover damages.

 

Unfortunately, truck accidents are governed by separate rules and regulations from mom and pop drivers. Truck drivers require a commercial driver’s license to operate a big rig, and the company that employs them directly or indirectly must also comply with stringent safety rules relating to the driver, the truck, and safety policies.

 

Each of these items requires specialized knowledge that cannot be achieved overnight or on a case-by-case basis. While the ethical rules governing attorneys in the state of Texas require that the attorney has specialized knowledge necessary to handle the case, the simple truth is many lawyers are not adequately familiar with the safety rules or the operation of an 18 wheeler necessary in many cases.

 

You would not go to an ear nose and throat doctor for a back injury. Going to an attorney who handles primarily 18 wheeler accidents will help ensure that you get the best possible representation for a truck accident claim.

 

Not only are attorneys who handle primarily semi-truck accidents knowledgeable about the safety regulations, but they also have access to the needed expert witnesses who may be required to testify about the cause of the wreck, the safety rules and or their violations. The experience is also helpful in reducing case costs by not having to reinvent the wheel, by handling hundreds of similar cases previously.

 

One of the things that we suggest that accident victims do when investigating attorneys is to inquire about the specific types of cases that the attorney handles on a day-to-day basis.

 

A little work up front can save many headaches later on when you discover that the attorney that you hired may not be the best fit for your case. Be careful in selecting resources to evaluate the attorney because many important sounding awards reflect a financial relationship with the company sponsoring the awards. We always recommend that consumers look at “peer review” ratings (ratings given only by other attorneys) of the attorneys as a primary source for the competency and ethical background of the lawyer or law firm.

 

Also, a review of the recent results from the attorney can give you a good idea of the type of cases that the attorney handles on an ongoing basis. Likewise, recent client reviews can provide clarity on the type of case that the attorney generally takes.  You do not want your attorney learning on the job of your case.

 

In short, experience does matter, and the best choice for a truck or an 18 wheeler accident is probably an attorney who has a practice centered around commercial vehicle crashes.

 

Call The Real Houston 18-wheeler accident attorneys- Toll Free 1-866-758-4529.

 

 

Report Highlights the Dangers of Drowsy Driving

 

 

A recent report funded by State Farm Insurance looks at the real effects of drowsy driving and the impact it has on our communities. The report is titled “wake-up call” and contains suggestions for reducing the number of unnecessary accidents caused by tired drivers.

 

Some startling statistics include:

 

Drowsy Drivers

tired drivers

Tired 2The estimated percentage of large truck or bus crashes that involved a tired driver is particularly alarming. Given that commercial passenger carrying vehicles such as buses have pastures lives on the line and 80,000 pound big rigs can wipe out entire families in a matter of seconds.

 

Some of the suggestions include items for Motor Carriers which include not only complying with the federal law regarding hours of service regulations but also adopting policies for enforcing the regulations and identifying fatigue in the workplace. Prudent trucking companies will also monitor the truck drivers logs to ensure that they are accurate and not falsified.

 

It is not known the percentage of truck drivers that cheat on their logs but the number is significant and probably much higher than many would expect. Unfortunately, this usually comes to light only after a very serious accident has occurred.

 

Some of the larger trucking companies have adopted comprehensive policies including classroom training and also screening for sleep disorders. The dilemma for a trucking company is that they are profit driven which requires truck drivers on the road and loads delivered and picked up timely. In effect, taking a truck driver off the road because he is sleepy will impact their bottom line profit wise.

 

Additionally, many truck drivers are underpaid and will cut corners as necessary to earn the paycheck that they so desperately need. All of these things contribute to an unacceptable level of 18 wheeler crashes that involve drivers who should not be behind the wheel.

 

The complete report can be downloaded here:

http://www.ghsa.org/files/pubs/sfdrowsy/FINALdrowsy2016.pdf

 

For a free consultation on a Houston 18-wheeler accident call us- Toll Free 1-866-758-4529 or visit our website: www.texas-truckaccidentlawyer.com

 

 

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