5 FAQ on Truck Accidents
Federal regulators define a “large truck” as a vehicle whose gross weight is more than 10,000 pounds. But there’s also the size of the load: up to 80,000 under federal law.
When a vehicle of such size causes an accident, all that weight in a collision often results in devastating injuries and fatalities.
At Summers, Rufolo & Rodgers, Attorneys at Law, in Chattanooga, we help people injured in tractor-trailer accidents and other commercial vehicle crashes pursue full and fair compensation. Give us a call today to discuss your specific situation in a free initial consultation.
How many people a year are killed or injured in truck accidents?
Since the Great Recession ended, the number of fatal truck accidents has been trending up.
In 2015, 3,852 people were killed in large truck crashes nationwide. This total was more than 20 percent higher than in 2009. Most of the people killed (69 percent) were in cars or other passenger vehicles. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists accounted for 15 percent.
Do all large truck accident fatalities involve tractor-trailers?
No, not all. To be sure, it is true that the terms 18-wheeler accidents and semi-truck accidents are often used synonymously with accidents.
The data, however, show that in 2015, 75 percent of deaths caused by large trucks involved tractor-trailers. The remaining 25 percent involved single-unit trucks.
Fatigued truck drivers are a major problem. Are there federal rules that address this effectively?
Because of financial pressure and rigid delivery deadlines, many drivers spend too much time on the road in too short a time. In 2013, federal regulators proposed a rule that would have cut the maximum allowable driving hours in a week from 82 to 70. But the trucking industry succeeded in getting Congress to delay enforcement of the new rule.
What about truck drivers with sleep apnea?
Federal regulators have also failed to put in place a rule to require truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea. Many truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, which leaves them fatigued and leads to many accidents. But there is no requirement in federal law for apnea screening for someone to get a commercial drivers’ license.
Are there laws against texting or cellphone use by truck drivers?
There has been a federal ban on texting by commercial vehicle drivers when driving buses and big rigs since 2010. Federal rules have also prohibited hand-held mobile use by truck drivers behind the wheel since 2015.
Drivers can be fined up to $2,750 and employers up to $11,000.
Tennessee is also one of 46 states that prohibits texting while driving by all drivers.
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