How Common Is Trucking Company Negligence?
Situated between California State Route 213 and Interstate 110, the neighborhood of San Pedro is located within the larger city of Los Angeles and has a relatively small population of 86,000. Despite this, our roads are frequently traveled by large tractor-trailers that are transporting goods in and out of the area, traveling to other parts of California, or delivering goods out of state.
We trust truck drivers and their employers to comply with trucking regulations as set forth by both the state of California and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Unfortunately, negligence by both truck drivers and trucking companies is far from uncommon. Here are some facts about truck company negligence and how often it occurs:
Common Trucking Violations
State and federal trucking regulations are intended to keep everyone on the road safe. When truck companies and drivers violate these regulations, they put you and everyone else who travels by vehicle at risk for being involved in a serious truck accident. Below are some of the most common trucking violations that cause accidents in Los Angeles County.
FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) regulations are supposed to prevent drivers from spending too much time driving. Driving or being on duty for too long can result in truck drivers becoming drowsy or complacent behind the wheel. Current HOS regulations limit tractor-trailer drivers to:
- A maximum of 11 hours of driving time following 10 hours off duty
- No driving beyond 14 hours of being on duty
- No driving following 60 on-duty hours in seven consecutive days OR 70 on-duty hours in eight consecutive days without a 34-hour off-duty period
Truck drivers must also take regular breaks following eight hours of driving. Additional HOS regulations set by the FMCSA can be viewed on their website. Your truck accident attorney can help review these regulations when investigating your crash to determine whether any negligence occurred.
Overloading and Improper Loading
Because of their size and height, tractor-trailers are more prone to tipping over than smaller motor vehicles. Correctly loading the trailer portion of these large trucks is an important step to minimize the risk of rollover accidents.
Accidents may occur when truck drivers or those responsible for loading cargo:
- Overload a truck
- Do not tie down cargo
- Improperly distribute the weight of the cargo
When a truck is overloaded, it is susceptible to transmission damage, brake damage, engine failure, and tire blowouts, all of which may cause an accident. An improperly loaded truck is also more susceptible to rollover and jackknife accidents, especially if cargo is not properly tied down and shifts during travel.
Failure To Perform Pre-Trip Inspections
FMCSA regulations require all truck drivers to perform a pre-trip inspection every day before driving. If the driver is not satisfied that the truck and all its components and accessories are in working order, they must not drive until all issues have been fixed.
The minimum requirement for pre-trip inspections involves the following equipment:
- Coupling devices
- Emergency equipment
- Hand brake
- Lights and reflectors
- Rearview mirrors
- Service brakes
- Steering mechanism
- Wheels and rims
- Windshield wipers
If a prior pre-trip inspection noted any deficiencies with the above items, a driver must sign a document acknowledging that all required repairs were made before being allowed to drive again. Drivers or trucking companies that are eager to get a delivery back on track may rush through this process or even forge inspection documents, allowing vehicles that are not road-worthy to continue operating.
Alcohol and Drug Use
Supervisors that oversee drivers with commercial driver’s licenses who operate large vehicles are required by the FMCSA to undergo a total of 120 minutes of training on how to identify alcohol and drug abuse. Despite this, alcohol and drug use among truck drivers are shockingly high.
It is never safe to ingest alcohol or drugs before or while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These substances impact decision-making abilities and typically slow reaction times. Large tractor-trailers take longer than the average car to come to a full and complete stop, so a truck driver that has drugs or alcohol in their system would not be able to identify a hazard, apply the brakes, and come to a stop in time to prevent a collision.
Tractor-trailer drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) before they are permitted to work in the industry. Some trucking companies provide training and practice hours to new drivers who are seeking a position within the trucking industry, although some drivers choose to study and secure a CDL on their own.
When a trucking company is short on drivers or having trouble finding qualified drivers with the correct licenses and endorsements, they sometimes choose to employ drivers who do not have CDLs. The average person does not have the skills, knowledge, or experience to drive a large tractor-trailer. These vehicles present many unique challenges, including:
- Longer braking times
- Wide right turns
- The separate movements of the tractor and the trailer
- Limited field of vision and blind spots
If an unlicensed driver caused your accident, contact a truck accident attorney immediately to begin the process of filing a truck accident claim. The sooner you begin this process, the less opportunity the truck company has to hide, cover up, or destroy evidence.
Fighting for Compensation After a Truck Accident
No one deserves to be seriously injured because of another person’s negligent or wrongful actions. If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, you may have a legal standing to recover compensation for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact our law office today to schedule your free case evaluation. You’ll have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with a truck accident lawyer at no cost, and there is never any obligation to move forward with the services of Frost Law Firm, PC unless everyone involved feels that we are the right fit for your case.
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