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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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truck driver texting, Chicago personal injury lawyerDistracted driving is becoming one of the most cited causes for motor vehicle accidents in the United States with the increased use of cellphones while driving. More than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured each day in accidents caused by distracted driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates all drivers involved in interstate commerce or intrastate transportation of hazardous materials and inter- and intrastate Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) drivers. FMCSA describes commercial drivers as those who operate buses and large trucks, such as single unit trucks or tractor-trailer trucks. These drivers make up approximately 5.6 million drivers in the United States.

With so many commercial vehicle drivers on the roadways, FMCSA banned the use of texting for commercial truck drivers in 2010 to help prevent distracted driving. Companies are not allowed to require commercial drivers to text or call from their cell phones while driving.

The FMCSA regulations prohibit text messaging, reaching for or holding a cell phone in their hand or making phone calls that require the driver to push more than one button while they are operating commercial vehicles. If commercial drivers are found to be breaking the regulations, they can be fined up to $2,750 and have their CDL revoked for multiple offenses. The company the driver works for may also be fined up to $11,000.

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