Drivers in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas and surrounding areas must routinely share the roads with truck drivers. While most truckers and truck drivers are safe and responsible, some are not. Truck accidents can occur and victims may be seriously injured in a collision with a large big rig. A personal injury lawyer knows that there are many primary causes of truck crashes including driver behavior. However, there is also another big issue when it comes to truck safety: trucks are not being properly maintained.
Truck Maintenance Issues Endanger Motorists
Since 2009, approximately 14,000 people have been killed in the United States in car accidents with big-rig trucks and tractor trailers. A total of 390,000 total truck collisions occurred between 2009 and 2013. Texas is one of the states with the highest accident rate per vehicle miles traveled. There are .38 collisions per vehicle miles traveled in Texas compared with just .07 in Hawaii and .11 in New Mexico. Only New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Wyoming and Virginia have higher rates of big rig accidents per vehicle miles traveled. Truck accidents are a major risk for Texas motorists and identifying and resolving the causes is essential to improving road safety.
The Post Gazette recently reported on the rising problem with inadequately maintained trucks in the United States. Around 25 percent of all fatal collisions involving big rig trucks in the United States involve vehicles that had previously been cited for safety violations. As many as one out of every six trucks that is pulled over to be inspected is in violation of safety laws. These trucks don't just have minor problems. They are "deemed so badly out-of-order that... [the vehicles] are unsafe to drive."
Some of the different types of violations that trucks are being cited for include:
- Violating local safety laws (1,834,850 citations).
- Violating requirements for signals and headlights (1,466,874 citations).
- Headlights and signals that are broken (1,381,950 citations).
- Having other broken truck parts (1,152,071 citations).
- Low tire tread (1,138,237 citations).
A part of the reason so many trucks are not in compliance with safety rules is that there is no uniform enforcement mechanism in place. Laws and requirements for big rigs vary from state to state, even though trucks routinely travel across state lines. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has some uniform federal guidelines that apply across state levels, there is still a lot of variation and many trucks and trucking companies do not take the time to understand the laws of all locations where the big rigs will be traveling.
Enforcement efforts are also highly inconsistent, with some states doing many more inspections and imposing stricter penalties than others.
There have been suggestions to create some type of national solution to the crisis of unsafe trucks and a new scoring system called Compliance, Safety, Accountability has been launched on the federal level in an effort to raise awareness. Unfortunately, when the federal government has tried to impose broad national safety regulations in the past for things like occupational safety, federal oversight efforts have proven to be largely ineffective and enforcement programs under budgeted and understaffed. A federal solution is not likely to solve this problem and trucking companies and drivers need to take personal responsibility to ensure that they are not putting unsafe big rigs on the road.
If you or a loved one has been injured contact Coby L. Wooten, Attorney at Law, P.C. at 800-994-1966 or visit www.cobywootenlaw.com. Serving Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, TX and surrounding areas.