Minnesota motorists should use caution around tractor trailers

The FMCSA released regulations aimed at decreasing the number of truck accidents that occur each year, as truck accident fatalities are on the rise.

Although Minnesota drivers are used to sharing the roads with large commercial trucks, they should still remain aware of the potential dangers that tractor trailers can bring. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,802 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2012. NBC News reports that more than 100,000 others are injured each year in similar truck accidents. As the economy continues to improve, more goods are being distributed across American highways despite a shortage of truck drivers. This leads to a myriad of issues, including distracted and drowsy truck drivers.

A high-profile truck accident involving famed comedian Tracy Morgan made headlines this summer, when a tractor trailer rear ended Morgan's limousine, severely injuring him and killing his comedian friend Jimmy Mack. According to Businessweek, the driver of the truck had been awake for close to 24 hours at the time of the accident and failed to slow down in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. It was also found that the truck was equipped with advanced safety devices, none of which worked to stop the speeding truck. Not only is the truck driver charged with assault, vehicular homicide and reckless driving, but a third party lawsuit is also pending against the trucking company.

Hours of service regulations

In an attempt to decrease the number of truck accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has revised its hours of service regulations, which limit the amount of time a truck driver can spend behind the wheel. The new regulations include the following:

  • Large truck operators cannot drive more than 11 hours each day
  • Truck drivers are limited to a 70-hour week
  • Drivers are required to take a half hour break within the first eight hours of their shifts
  • Drivers who work a full 70-hour week must take 34 consecutive hours off to rest, including at least two nights.

Although truck companies and drivers are required to follow these strict regulations, many choose to disregard them in an effort to ship more product or make more money.

Distracted truck drivers

The FMCSA has also banned commercial truck drivers from texting while driving. This includes reading, composing or sending a text message, emailing or instant messaging while operating a commercial truck. It also includes viewing any type of video on a cellphone while driving.

Unfortunately, a truck driver traveling through Arizona did not follow this regulation, resulting in the death of a law enforcement officer. The Huffington Post reported that the driver was watching videos on his cellphone when he struck an officer's vehicle going 65 miles per hour. The entire incident was recorded on the truck driver's dash camera. He was charged with 13 counts of endangerment, six counts of criminal damage and one count of second-degree murder.

Contact an attorney

People who have been involved in a large truck accident may suffer from extensive physical and emotional injuries. An attorney can help you explore your legal options and ensure that you receive proper compensation for your trauma.

Keywords: truck accidents, distracted driving