Have you ever wondered by trucking companies are regulated by the federal government? One important reason is that trucking companies located in one state can send their trucks on deliveries across the U.S., and even into Canada and Mexico. We can’t have different traffic and safety rules for trucks from different states; we need nationwide standards everyone has to meet.
It’s true that individual states have their own rules, too, however. Here in Pennsylvania, PennDOT regulates trucking separately from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, however, are our nation’s primary way to ensure commercial trucks and their drivers are operating safely. Trucks need to be maintained and kept in good driving condition. Drivers must be adequately trained, have clean driving histories and be given sufficient time and rest to meet their deadlines safely. In fact, chronic driver fatigue is one of the most serious weaknesses in the current system.
A recent accident may illustrate this point. According to reports, the 39-year-old driver of a semi-truck was recently traveling along I-75 near Chattanooga when he failed to notice that traffic had stopped due to construction. He slammed his truck into eight vehicles. Six people were killed, and another six injured.
That’s a terrible tragedy in itself, but one peculiar fact stuck out: That driver had been in another accident just the day before — in Florida.
The earlier accident hadn’t seemed significant at the time — it was just a sideswipe during a pass, and the driver was ticketed for careless driving. According to police, he’d driven 400 miles before arriving in Tennessee, although it’s not clear yet whether he had rested.
A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board said it was too soon to determine whether driver fatigue was a factor in the fatal wreck. What the agency does know is that the trucking company he worked for is just a small carrier with only six trucks and nine drivers — and that it has a pretty deplorable safety record.
The fact that we live and drive in Pennsylvania provides no immunity. Poor safety practices by truckers and trucking companies in other states can easily affect us — and it can add complexity to truck accident claims. If you’re in an accident with a commercial truck, you owe it to yourself to have your case reviewed by an attorney.