Truck Accidents and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Truck Accidents and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Apr 08

Driving for as long as 11 hours straight is normal to many truck drivers, especially if the cargo they carry needs to be delivered fast and on time. Thus, even feeling fatigued or sleepy, the mental resolve to make a timely delivery makes them forego personal needs for the sake of work requirement. This attitude, however, has proven detrimental many times as this takes away their focus on driving and reduces their ability to react to emergency situations on the road. Furthermore, it increases their inability to notice smaller vehicles, whose drivers also fail to observe proper care, tailgating the truck or driving in its “no zone” area when they know they shouldn’t.

A commercial freight truck, otherwise called a big rig or an 18-wheeler, weighs 20-30 times heavier than a car. Its enormous size requires a longer stopping distance, while its height and length often only serve as obstacles for its driver to notice smaller vehicles driving behind it or along the passenger side. Thus, when making a right turn, trucks often accidentally squash unnoticed cars driving on its right or “no zone” area, while failure to make a full stop when necessary usually results rollover accidents or crushed lighter vehicles that are lined along its path.

The risk of an accident and possible serious injuries to innocent victims are among the major reasons why the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed into law in 1986. Prior to the issuance of a license to operate a commercial vehicle, the Act mandates the necessity of a special training, the possession of the skills and knowledge necessary in operating a truck safely, and passing a three-part skills test on basic control, vehicle inspection, and road test. These are supported by other requirements, which include having a Commercial Learners Permit (CLP), acquisition of a copy of a Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL) Manual issued by the applicant’s state, proof of residency and medical tests.

Besides the special training, tests and other requirements which are intended to guarantee safe operation of the vehicle, different federal and state laws have also been put into effect to make sure that truck drivers are always focused on the road and never sleepy and that their vehicle is always in good condition and without any defective or malfunctioning parts. Laws pointing to these concerns include the maximum number of hours of service and required length of rest between duties, the prohibition of the use of a cellphone while driving, the lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit, which is 0.04%, maintenance and regular check of the truck, required standard on truck parts, and so forth.

In 2013 more than 3,500 large truck accidents were reported to the Highway Loss Data Institute, a non-profit research organization. In these accidents, 2400 cars and other smaller vehicle passengers died, while the fatalities on the side of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists was 540 and on the side truck passengers, 570.

While there are studies which show that, more often than not, car drivers are the ones at fault whenever they figure in an accident with trucks, there is one fact that holds true in majority of road mishaps: that most happen because of negligence.

Negligence is the basis of personal injury and, under the law, victims of personal injury can file a claims lawsuit against negligent individuals who cause accidents. Many victims, however, are not aware of their legal rights, how to go about legal procedures and how much compensation they can be entitled to receive. Tennessee personal injury lawyers may be able to help victims in matters relating to legal concerns. More than just providing victims with professional service, strong representation and tough defense, these law experts treat victims not merely as clients, but as friends in need of genuine assistance.