Federal Regulations Pertaining to Large Trucks

Tractor trailers are essential to the U.S. economy. They haul goods from factories, warehouses, ports, rail yards, and farms to destinations all over the country. Without them, the economy would surely buckle.

trucks-on-the-road-1449684One of the few downsides to tractor trailers, however, is that they are an added danger to America’s already crowded roads and highways. They make it difficult for drivers to see other cars and trucks on the road, and the trucks themselves are difficult to maneuver, even for the most skilled and experienced drivers. On top of that, truck drivers are often tasked with driving long distances in short timeframes, and despite federal regulations capping the number of hours they can drive without a rest, they are often tired and rushing to reach their destination.

Not surprisingly, accidents involving tractor trailers are a common occurrence. Traffic reports and the news media regularly report long backups because of overturned tractor trailers, and just about every driver has been caught in a seemingly endless traffic jam caused by a tractor trailer accident. By some estimates, there are 500,000 trucking accidents each year in the United States.

Unfortunately, accidents involving tractor trailers often cause catastrophic injuries, including approximately 5,000 deaths each year. Not only are truck drivers injured in these accidents, but also drivers and passengers in other vehicles are often severely injured as well.

To prevent truck accidents, trucking companies must take reasonable care to ensure that their trucks are safe for driving, and drivers are required to be fully licensed and rested enough to be alert and responsive behind the wheel. In Illinois, if a truck is involved in an accident, and the trucking company failed to conduct safety inspections, put off necessary repairs, allowed the truck to exceed certain weight and size limits, or allowed it to drive on a road that prohibits a truck of that size, the company may be liable for injuries to other drivers and passengers involved in a resulting accident. In legal terms, failures like these, as well as others like speeding or texting while driving, are called negligence.

Even though truck companies are aware of the dangers trucks pose to other drivers, they often fight new regulations that would enhance driver safety. By arguing that the proposed safety measures would increase costs, these companies are, in effect, placing more value on profit than on the lives of those who share the road with their trucks.

According to a recent news article, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed new regulations that would require trucking companies to install stronger under-ride guards on their trailers. These guards, which are installed on the back of all trucks, are designed to prevent serious injuries in the case of rear-impact collisions. The new guards would protect passengers from serious injury, including decapitation, in crashes at up to 35 mph. The current guards only protect up to 30 mph. According to the NHTSA, there are approximately 400 deaths each year resulting from rear-impact truck collisions.

Trucking companies, trade groups, and safety advocates now have 60 days to submit comments on the proposed regulations before a final version is published. As it happens, over 90% of trucks now being sold in the U.S. already meet the proposed standard, which mimics the standard for under-ride guards used in Canada. However, the article also points out that for some safety advocates, the new regulations are not strong enough, since tests revealed that the guards did not perform well when cars crashed into trucks at an angle, rather than straight on from behind.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured by a Tractor Trailer?

Chances are, if you or a loved one were involved in an accident involving a tractor trailer, your injuries were serious. Given how much larger and more powerful trucks are than cars, very few walk away from an accident involving a tractor trailer unscathed. Your scars may be physical or emotional, since it is not uncommon for trucking accidents to be harrowing and somewhat gruesome. The lawyers at Moll Law Group are available to work with victims of tractor trailer accidents every day. We know that trucking companies will do anything to avoid having to pay for your injuries, and we have a proven track record of not letting them off the hook when it comes to your safety. Whether your injuries are physical, emotional, or both, we will fight for everything to which you are entitled under the law. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at 312.462.1700.

See More Posts:

Child Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.

Public Schools Enjoy Some Level of Immunity for Injuries to Students, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 16, 2015.

Doctors and Drug Companies May Be Liable for Medication Side Effects, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 22, 2015.