The trucking industry is important to Montana farmers, ranchers and businesses. But some argue the trucking industry puts profits over safety. In 2012, big trucks were involved in 333,000 crashes, according to data from the National Transportation Safety Board. Those accidents resulted in 3,921 deaths and injured over 104,000 people. Recently truck driver fatigue, one of the most critical safety issues for long-haul truckers, has become a national political issue.
The June 7 semi truck accident in New Jersey that nearly killed comedian Tracy Morgan has drawn the attention of lawmakers on a national level. According to authorities, the semi driver who allegedly rear-ended Morgan’s limo had gone without sleep for over 24 hours before the collision, which left Morgan in critical condition, killed another comedian, and caused serious injuries to several other people.
Federal trucking regulations prohibit truck drivers from driving more than 70 hours per week. Truckers are required to keep a trucking log to verify their compliance with the regulations.
But paper logbooks can easily be faked, according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York. Schumer has therefore proposed that the U.S. Department of Transportation require electronic logs, sometimes called black boxes, to ensure accuracy in the recording of truckers’ hours. Black boxes have been legally available for a couple of years, but the government has not required their installation. Whether Schumer’s proposal will become law remains to be seen.
When a negligent or inattentive truck driver injures a person in another vehicle, that person has the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver and the truck company. An experienced truck accident attorney will know what evidence to look for to determine whether violation of federal trucking regulations was a factor in the crash.
Source: New York Daily News, “Citing Tracy Morgan accident, Sen. Charles Schumer urges government to force truck drivers to install black boxes,” Laura Bult, June 16, 2014