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Posted on in Truck Accidents

Big rigs have the potential to take more than just your lane, as the trucking industry proposes changes to safety regulations that have the potential to harm fellow motorists. Big rigs crashes, also known as semi trucks, kill nearly 4,000 Americans and injury 85,000 every year. Despite the known danger these highway behemoths pose to their own and other drivers, few changes have been made to make the driving of these vehicles safer. Big rig fatalities have increased 17 percent since 2009, with big rig injuries also on the rapid rise.

 

There is no shortage of concern regarding the safety of these vehicles, yet the trucking industry continues to push for relaxed regulations. The trucking industry’s wish list seems oblivious to the risks that such large vehicles pose to motorists. They seek to raise the maximum weight from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, lower the minimum age so drivers as young as 18 can take the wheel, eliminate a mandatory 2-night resting period for drivers working long weeks, and remove safety ratings of trucking firms from the public inspection. 

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truck driver fatigue, Chicago truck accident lawyersDriver fatigue is a universal problem that contributes to hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle accidents per year. In fact, according to a recent AAA survey, nearly half of all drivers admitted to falling asleep or nodding off while driving at least once in their lifetime. And an investigation by the NTSB of identified driver fatigue as a probable cause or contributing factor in nearly 20 percent of 182 major commercial-driver accidents; the implications in these sorts of accidents can be downright devastating for all involved.

A Sleep-Deprived Country

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as many as one in five adults fail to get enough sleep. Some do so with sleep disorders, like insomnia. Others suffer sleep deprivation because of work hours, medical issues, or personal obligations that may restrict or diminish the amount or quality of sleep. Still others work hours that are constantly changing, making it nearly impossible to develop a healthy sleep schedule. Whatever the reason, a large percentage of Americans are working through the fog of excessive daytime sleepiness.

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semi truck accidents, Chicago personal injury lawyerVehicle accidents that involve semi-trucks or other oversized vehicles are often the most catastrophic. Many end in death, and those that do not typically cause severe, long-term health problems. Surprisingly though, most collisions with oversized vehicles are caused by the mistakes of other motorists. Thankfully, you have the power to make the roads and highways safer for everyone by learning how to share the road with semi-trucks and other oversized vehicles.

Understand the Limitations of Oversized Vehicles

Semi-trucks and oversized vehicles operate very differently than cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Their massive size creates very large blind spots and makes it very difficult to navigate turns. Most are also loaded with heavy freight, which also limits their ability to stop quickly. If you understand these limitations, and know how to effectively accommodate them, you can decrease your risk of a collision with an oversized vehicle.

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commercial truck accidents, insurance coverage minimumsCatastrophic crashes with freight or commercial trucks are rare, but when they do happen, the implications can be extensive and long-lasting. Death, lifelong health complications, expensive medical bills, loss of income, and decreased quality of life are just a few examples. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the insurance coverage minimums for freight-liners, and victims are the ones suffering from it.

Current Coverage Minimums Fail to Cover Costs for Victims

In 1985, liability insurance coverage minimums for freight trucks were set at $750,000. That amount has not changed since. This is a serious problem—so serious that a government study examined those minimums and found that, not only are they failing to keep up with the rising cost of medical care, but that, based on inflation, the amount should have been $3.2 million dollars in 2013.

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The U.S. Transportation Department recently proposed a mandate requiring electronic stability control in trucks and buses. Rollover crashes result in approximately 700 deaths each year. The U.S. Transportation Department expects that this mandate could significantly reduce this type of accident and the amount of deaths that result from it.

Electronic stability control systems utilize engine torque and separate, computer-controlled braking of wheels to help the driver maintain control in dangerous situations such as on slippery roads or during evasive maneuvers. Specifically, these systems hold wheels on the ground and prevent trailers from swinging.

As a Chicago trial attorney with extensive experience in automobile cases, I strongly support the Transportation Department’s proposed mandate. Also, I am surprised that automakers have not yet implemented these stability control systems on their own. Any innovation that can make our nation’s roads safer should be immediately embraced.

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