Recently in Truck Accidents Category

January 16, 2014

Carolina Trucking Companies Declared "Imminent Hazards"


A number federal agencies are charged with ensuring safe interstate motorways for drivers. This includes regulating the national trucking industry to keep drivers and large truck companies from violating safety standards and laws. According to a recent government report, The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared two South Carolina based trucking companies, and its owner-driver, to be imminent hazards to public safety. The federal agency has ordered the companies and affiliated drivers to promptly halt all business operations.

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Trucking companies with a focus on generating profits by transporting goods across state lines have an incentive to drive quickly. In addition to getting from A to B quickly, many of these trucking companies will also flout national trucking regulations involving weight limits, maintenance, and driver limitations. All of these violations can create serious hazards for other motorists sharing the roads. Our Charleston truck accident attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims throughout the Carolinas and nationwide. We are committed to raising safety awareness and to staying abreast of truck industry legal issues that may affect Carolina drivers.

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December 24, 2013

Holiday Travel and Trucker Fatigue Can be Disastrous Mix


A new report from the AAA Carolinas reports that a record 2.8 million North Carolina travelers will be traveling at least 50 miles from home for the holidays.
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In total, the number of travelers is expected to increase by 48,500 compared to last year, and 9 out of 10 are going to be driving.

Sharing those roads are going to be tired truckers, often rushing to meet end-of-year deadlines - sometimes with too much cargo and too little sleep.

Continue reading "Holiday Travel and Trucker Fatigue Can be Disastrous Mix" »

April 22, 2013

Preventing Underride in Carolina Trucking Accidents


For the most part, the underride guards of large, commercial trucks are doing a good job in helping to protect passenger vehicle occupants.

The standards for the strength of these guards have improved in recent years -- and we're all safer for it. On the other hand these guards are primarily helping to prevent injury in straight-on rear-end accidents, and not when passenger vehicles make contact with side portions of the rear of these trucks.
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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most semi-trucks are required to have these underride guards. Officials with IIHS are pushing to get these guards on even more vehicles though -- including dump trucks. These guards are steel bars that hang from the back of a large trailer or truck to help to keep passenger vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. Back in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enacted tougher standards for these guards following a number of studies that proved they initial standards weren't strong enough. Unfortunately, Canada still has better standards.

Our Asheville trucking accident lawyers understand that our passenger vehicles don't stand much of a chance against large, commercial vehicles. We should rely on our safe driving habits to keep us out of accidents with these trucks, but we should also be able to rely on their underride guards to help to protect us in the event of an unavoidable accident.

The IIHS is working for tougher standards, but still haven't heard back from the NHTSA. According to recent IIHS studies, these guards generally work well to prevent underride, except in crashes occurring at the outer edges of trailers. It's time to make them work under all conditions.

The good news is that many underride guards do meet the current standards. As a matter of fact, many of them exceed the current standards. Officials believe that this is because the trucks are keeping up with the Canadian standards. Still, all of this is virtually worthless if you're slamming into only a portion of the rear end of a truck.

In 2011, less than 300 of the estimated 2,240 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in accidents with a large truck were killed when the front of their vehicle slammed into the back of a truck. While that's still an alarmingly high number, that's a number that was nearly cut in half since 2004. Although many would like to credit the tougher standards for this decrease, officials also place a large part of the credit to the fact that both trucks and passenger car drivers have been spending less time on the road with our struggling economy.

In the meantime, we're asking drivers to be on their best behavior out there while sharing the road with these large trucks. You never want to travel too closely. They take a lot longer than we do to stop, and your risks for a rear-end accidents jump when you don't allow any ample amount of following space. Back off and stay safe.

Continue reading "Preventing Underride in Carolina Trucking Accidents" »

March 12, 2013

Fatigued Trucker Accused of Carolina Accident, Killing 5


A trucker from Wisconsin is looking at years behind bars after a serious traffic accident in North Carolina. The trucker pleaded guilty after slamming his big rig into a line of stopped traffic along Interstate 26. According to JS Online, 5 people were killed in this accident. The driver pleaded guilty to five counts of involuntary manslaughter from the October accident. Three of the victims were from Hendersonville. The two others were from Lexington. A judge sentenced the 50-year-old Bulgarian immigrant to between 48 months and 60 months in prison.
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According to authorities, the driver was heading east on the interstate when his big rig slammed into a line of cars that were stopped by another accident. Officials say that the truck was traveling at about 70 miles per hour when the accident happened. They say it happened because the driver was fatigued.

Our Charlotte trucking accident lawyers understand that the U.S. government has already established laws regulating exactly how long a commercial driver can work in a given period of time. These laws were enacted to help to protect both the truck drivers and the motorists. Fatigued and drowsy driving is unsafe for everyone on the road.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off the clock. They're also not allowed to drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

According to DrowsyDriving.org, there are about 100,000 accidents that are reported every year as a result of driver fatigue. Unfortunately, the actual number may be a lot higher as there's no real way to determine if a driver is drowsy or tired behind the wheel. We've got breathalyzers to test to see if drivers are under the influence, but nothing to test for drowsiness. With what we know, officials predict that drowsy and fatigued driving contributes to close to 2,000 fatalities and more than 70,000 injuries each and every year. These accidents are costly, too. Officials estimate that these accidents run a tab of more than $12 million in monetary losses.

Close to 75 percent of American adults drive a vehicle to and from work. Many of them are drowsy drivers. The ones who are driving while on the job may be even worse. Imagine spending more than 10 hours behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. You'd get tired, too. That's why it's important that our truckers are getting the rest that they need. Their trucks serve as death weapons out on our roadways. Our passenger vehicles stand little to no chance against the size, weight and power of these big rigs.

Continue reading "Fatigued Trucker Accused of Carolina Accident, Killing 5" »

December 13, 2012

Tractor-Trailer Crash: I-20 Closed After Big-Rig Flips


In Darlington County, all lanes of I-20 were closed after a big rig flipped.

It wound up blocking traffic for most of the day, according to WISTV10.
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Accident reports from the South Carolina Highway Patrol report that the accident happened in the westbound lanes at roughly 9:00 a.m. near mile marker 127. It happened right near the Lee County Line. Traffic was rerouted. The truck was carrying batteries and officials have yet to pinpoint what caused the catastrophic accident.

Our trucking accident attorneys understand that tractor-trailer accidents, like the recent one right here in South Carolina, kill thousands and injure even more each and every year. But do you really know how serious the problem is? Each year, there are about 500,000 accidents involving big-rigs, semis, tractor-trailers and big wheelers. Roughly 5,000 people are killed annually. It's so bad that officials estimate that one out of every 8 traffic accidents out there involves a large truck. Many of these accidents are serious and even fatal!

Of all of the traffic accidents in the state of South Carolina, about 10 percent of them involved a large truck.

What's most alarming is that many these accident are avoidable. Both drivers of passenger vehicles and of large trucks can do their part in helping to ensure that these kinds of accidents do not happen.

We're turning to the drivers of passenger vehicles for this road safety. It's important to practice your most defensive driving habits out there to stay out of these kinds of accidents. Luckily, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is here to offer you some safe driving tips to keep you safe when traveling with large trucks.

Safety Tips for Car Drivers:

-Avoid cutting off large trucks. They take longer to stop and could wind up slamming into the back of you.

-Always wear your seat belt. This is your best protection in the event of an accident.

-Keep out of large vehicles' blind spots. These are the areas around the truck in which a driver can't see you. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't see the driver then the driver can't see you.

-Never drink and drive. This is dangerous in any situation on our roadways, but especially when large trucks are involved!

-Don't squeeze your way in. When these large vehicles are making turns, don't squeeze in between them and the side of the road. They make wide turns but then bring it back in. Don't get caught in the squeeze.

-Keep your cool behind the wheel. Remember that these vehicles take longer to accelerate, take longer to stop and sometimes travel slower than some of us might like. Stay calm and avoid succumbing to aggressive driving habits. That's only going to heighten your risks for an accident.

-Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and put away the distractions.

Continue reading "Tractor-Trailer Crash: I-20 Closed After Big-Rig Flips" »

June 19, 2012

Bicycle Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Injure Thousands Each Summer


There were more than 50,000 people who were injured in bicycle accidents in Asheville and elsewhere in 2010, according to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Throughout the entire year, nearly 620 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle-related accidents. These fatalities accounted for about 2 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities.
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We may have seen a decrease in the number of bicycle fatalities from 2011 to 2012, from 628 to 618. But the truth of it all is that these fatal bicycle accidents still accounted for the same percentage of traffic fatalities. We saw a slight decrease in the overall number of traffic accidents during this time, too.

Our Asheville bicycle accident lawyers understand that safety experts are expecting the risks for these kinds of accidents to increase in the coming months. Right now, in the summer travel season, we're already seeing increasing risks for these accidents. More motorists are heading out and more bicyclists are pedaling through. With more of these travelers, the risks and the number of accidents is expected to increase alongside. Drivers as asked to be careful when traveling near our two-wheeled friends as bicyclists are asked to make themselves as visible and predictable as possible when traveling near motor vehicles. Both parties need to be responsible for their own actions and they need to work with one another to help to preserve traffic safety.

If you're riding a bicycle in the area, there are few things that you should be on the lookout for. First off, you want to make sure that you're careful when traveling through urban areas and through non-intersection areas as most accidents occur in these locations. You're also warned to be cautious when traveling during the evening hours. About 30 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents in 2010 happened between the hours of 4:00 and 7:59 in the evening. The second most dangerous time to be out on our roadways was from 8:00 and 11:59 at night. The fewest number of fatal bicycle accidents occurred between midnight and 4:00 a.m. We're not saying that you should go out and ride your bike during this time, because you're less likely to be involved in an accident, we're just saying that fewer bicyclists were out during then and therefor there weren't a lot of accidents.

In 2010 in the state of North Carolina, there were nearly 25 people who were killed in bicycling accidents throughout the state. Although the state has been working on a number of initiatives to help to improve safety for all, drivers are asked to do their part and to keep an eye out for these vulnerable travelers. According to the recently-released statistics from the NHSTA, bicycle accident-related fatalities accounted for more than 1.5 percent of the total traffic accident fatalities for the year. These accidents are usually the result of driver inattention. Please be on your best behavior behind the wheel to help to keep everyone safe! The change starts with you.

Continue reading "Bicycle Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Injure Thousands Each Summer" »

May 22, 2012

Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Targeted with New NSC Kit


Employers from across the U.S. are realizing the dangers that are presented on our roadways when workers use their cell phone behind the wheel. To help to make our roadways safer for everyone, employers are taking it upon themselves and their companies to implement comprehensive cell phone policies.


To help these employers, the National Safety Council is recommending policies that ban the use of both handheld and hands-free devices behind the wheel. The Council recently announced the release of an updated Cell Phone Policy Kit that aims to keep up with the most recent distracted driving trends and statistics.

Companies, communities and organizations are all encouraged to take advantage of the NSC Cell Phone Policy Kit. By implementing more laws and regulations to regulate distractions behind the wheel, we can work our way to safer roadways be helping to reduce the risks of car accidents in Asheville and elsewhere.
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In a 2009 survey conducted by the NSC, more than 2,000 NSC members responded and concluded that nearly 500 companies ban the use of both hands-free and handheld devices for some or all of its drivers. Nearly all of those who were surveyed said that productivity remained the same.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that distracted driving is alarmingly common on roadways worldwide. According to recent surveys, drivers understand the dangers that are presented by distracted driving and support measures to help to stop this behavior, but still drivers aren't willing to hand up the phone behind the wheel. Currently, there are 35 states that prohibit all drivers from texting behind the wheel. There are only 9 states, including the Virgin Islands and DC that prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones. In addition, there are 30 states, as well as DC, that ban novice drivers from using a cell phone while driving.

Still, with these laws in place our country saw nearly 5,500 roadway fatalities in 2009 because of distracted driving. Included in these statistics are another 450,000 injuries. Officials believe that this number is actually much higher as they believe that not all cases of distracted driving were reported in accident reports. With the statistics that we do have, nearly 20 percent of all fatal accidents involved a distracted driver.

The NSC Phone Policy Kit Includes:

-A sample of an effective comprehensive cell phone kit.

-FAQs.

-A sample letter for the NSC President to company employees.

-Various posters and tip sheets to help to raise awareness about and educate employers of the dangers of distracted driving and of the new policies.

-A one year plan and roll out calendar.

-Various activities to help employers to discuss the topic of distracted driving. It's important to get everyone on the job on the same page!

Continue reading "Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Asheville and Elsewhere Targeted with New NSC Kit" »

May 20, 2012

The Court in Roquemore v. E.R. Express Explains the Distribution of Liability in North Carolina Truck Accident Cases


The transporting of large loads can be a multifaceted and very detailed process that involves several different parties. But if there is an accident caused by the recklessness of more than one of those parties, what happens?
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If you have been injured in a Carolina truck accident, it is important to know who you can sue for damages. Our Charlotte injury attorneys understand that the process can be tough, but we want to help you identify the liable parties in your personal injury lawsuit.

Roquemore v. E.R. Express is case that exemplifies the legal intricacies surrounding trucking accidents. This case began where American Bridge Manufacturing (ABM) had an extremely large beam it needed to transport from Oregon to Michigan. ABM hired Sherman Brothers to arrange for the logistics of the transport, including obtaining the permits necessary and the driver. Sherman Brothers hired Trans/Mid-American to obtain these permits.

American Bridge loaded the beam onto the tractor trailer. And Karkhu, who was employed by E.R. Express, prepared to drive this E.R. Express tractor trailer to Michigan. ABM had reported the beam to be measured at 13 feet and nine inches; however, in reality it measured at 13 feet and ten and a half inches. Had these measurements been accurately reported by ABM to Sherman Brothers, and then to Trans-Mid-American, the permit for transport would have never been issued because there was an overpass on route that the truck would not have been able to clear.

Nickie Donald was traveling in a tractor trailer behind the truck Karkhu was driving, which carried the beam. Karkhu approached an overpass, and upon attempting to go under it, the beam smashed into the overpass. The impact of this caused the beam to dislodge from its reinforcements on the truck and the beam went flying back into the cabin of Donald's truck. The weight of the beam was so great that it pinned Donald into the cabin until he bled to death. It was only through the use of a crane that Donald's body was able to be recovered.

Donald's estate was represented by Roquemore, who sued the four companies listed above. The main argument was that each of the four parties had been negligent and this negligence combined caused the death of Donald.

Because the actual truck that collided with the overpass was owned by E.R. Express, the other three companies argued that they could not be held liable. In support of this contention, these three defendants relied on Michigan state statute which they interpreted as stating that only the owner of a vehicle that collides with a lawfully established bridge can be held liable under common law negligence.

The initial court to hear this case agreed with the collective defendants and dismissed the plaintiff's negligence claim against three of the four parties, only leaving E.R. Express as a liable party. Plaintiff appealed this decision leading to this circuit court case.

The final holding of this case illustrates the complexities involved in truck accidents. The court distinguished that where intervening and concurrent causes each contribute to an accident, the liability can be distributed among all of the negligent parties consistent with the amount of negligence each party is guilty of. It is common to see one party held liable in a truck accident because the other parties usually settle beforehand. Thus, there is no precedent that dictates that only one party can be held absolutely liable.

Therefore, this court found that each of the negligent parties can be parties to the litigation as long as they were in fact negligent and their negligence contributed to the plaintiff's damages.

Continue reading "The Court in Roquemore v. E.R. Express Explains the Distribution of Liability in North Carolina Truck Accident Cases " »

May 14, 2012

What Does the Small Print in Your North Carolina Car Insurance Policy Mean? Consult Vann v. Mercury


The legalese in car insurance policies can be very intimidating. And if you are denied benefits in your Carolina vehicle accident case, you may not understand why.

Having an experienced Carolina injury attorney can mean the difference between getting your insurance benefits and going medically untreated.
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A recent case out of New Jersey deals with questions arising from insurance policy exclusions. Vann v. Mercury Indemnity Company, No. A-4264-10T4 (N.J. Apr. 25, 2012). Richard Vann (plaintiff) worked as a truck driver for his father's company named Vann Trucking. Vann Trucking owned three trucks which they used to attach and transport trailers. Plaintiff preferred using just one of the trucks for the three to five days a week that he was working with Vann Trucking.

Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy with Mercury Indemnity Company (defendant) for the two personal passenger vehicles that he owned. Under this insurance policy, the defendant was to pay personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and med-pay benefits. Vann Trucking had a commercial policy with a different insurance company that did not offer PIP or med-pay benefits.

Plaintiff was driving the Vann Trucking truck he usually used when he decided to stop on a service road outside of Philadelphia. He had been traveling to pick up a trailer to hitch to his truck and transport. As the plaintiff was stopped in the truck, a train came and collided with the truck where plaintiff was. As a result of this train-truck accident, plaintiff sustained injuries to his head, neck, shoulders and back.

Because the plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay from the Vann Trucking commercial insurance policy, he decided to enter a claim with the defendant because it was his personal insurance carrier.

The defendant denied plaintiff med-pay benefits because of a provision in the policy called the "regular use" exclusion. Insurance policy exclusions are where insurance companies specify which circumstances would render the insured excluded from obtaining benefits.

A "regular use" exclusion was created by insurance companies to encourage people to purchase insurance for all vehicles they own and operate. These provisions were also created to protect insurance companies from having to pay for injuries sustained when those they insure are driving a vehicle for work and are injured.

The exclusion applicable to this case stipulated that the defendant would pay medical expense benefits where someone they insure suffers bodily injury in an accident with a vehicle they own. The part that excludes benefits states that where an insured is injured while using a vehicle customarily used, the defendant does not have to pay med-pay benefits.

Essentially, an insurance company will extend benefits to you where you are involved in an accident in a car you do not own, only when it is a rare occurrence for you to drive that vehicle.

The court in this case analyzed previous case law that dealt with this type of insurance exclusion provisions. In the past in New Jersey, courts have held that employees who are injured while driving a vehicle owned and insured by their employer, cannot seek med-pay benefits from their private insurance carrier. This is because these cases usually involved the insured customarily driving this work vehicle.

In order to be consistent with previous case law, this court entered summary judgment for the defendant. Plaintiff was unable to collect med-pay benefits as a result of this truck-train accident.

Continue reading "What Does the Small Print in Your North Carolina Car Insurance Policy Mean? Consult Vann v. Mercury" »

April 13, 2012

Punitive Damages for Excessive Speed in South Carolina Trucking Accidents Discussed in Fairchild v. SCDOT


Knowing and following the rules about speed and driving methods are critical to avoiding vehicle accidents in South Carolina.
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The way a person drives and the vehicle they are driving, can affect the damage award in your personal injury case. Our experienced Carolina injury attorneys can help you get the award you deserve.

Truck accidents can be very dangerous because of the weight and force of truck involved in a collision. Fairchild v. South Carolina Department of Transportation involves a multiple car and truck accident in South Carolina.

James Rabb (Driver) was an employee for the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). He was driving a dump truck with a trailer attached to the back. Driver went into the median of the highway to make a u-turn but the back of his trailer remained sticking out into the traffic lane where plaintiff was traveling. When Fairchild saw the trailer sticking out in the road in front of her, she flashed her brakes causing the truck behind her to crash into the rear of her vehicle. The truck behind Fairchild was driven by Palmer, who also had a trailer attached to the rear of his truck. Due to the force of impact, Fairchild's vehicle flipped over and landed in the median of the road. Rabb's truck and trailer were never hit.

Plaintiff sued Palmer and Palmer Construction Company in a negligence action. She sought actual and punitive damages for her physical injuries and property damages. When a plaintiff is seeking punitive damages, a jury is to be charged with the decision of whether to award this type of damages.

When determining the type of damages you are entitled to, it is important to analyze the areas of your life that have been impacted because of your car accident.
Punitive damages are non-compensatory. The purpose of a punitive damage award is to send a message to the public and deter behavior such as that of which the defendant was guilty. This type of damages award is reserved for cases where the defendant acted egregiously, with negligent or with malice.

In this case, Palmer argued that the inference from the evidence that indicated that he acted recklessly was incorrect. Additionally, because this inference was incorrect the defendant argued that the jury should not have heard the issues surrounding punitive damages.

The court looked to South Carolina governing statute. In car accident cases, the behavior of the guilty party is governed by what a reasonable and prudent person would do. In this case, the court specifies that speed must be controlled in order to avoid collisions. A driver has the duty of using care when entering a highway or traveling on it, to avoid potential or actual hazards. Also, the court looks to state statute that prohibits the following of another vehicle too closely.

Therefore, when driving in South Carolina it is your duty to drive with the prudence of a reasonable person in your same predicament.

Because of Palmer's speed in causing the accident the court found that it was sufficient proof to be presented to jury about Palmer's driving. The jury, not the judge, is charged with determining whether a party acted recklessly, willfully and/or wantonly.

Driving recklessly is a violation to the South Carolina statute; therefore, if the jury finds that the party so acted, negligence can be imputed.

Thus the court held that it would be wrong not to submit the question of punitive damages to the jury in this case. Because of this finding, the plaintiff won over $700,000 in damages.

Continue reading "Punitive Damages for Excessive Speed in South Carolina Trucking Accidents Discussed in Fairchild v. SCDOT " »

November 30, 2011

Confrontations with Aggressive Drivers Lead to a High Number of Car and Trucking Accidents in Charlotte, Statewide


Past studies have shown that North and South Carolina drivers rank near the top when it comes to aggressive driving behaviors. It isn't uncommon for a driver who has had a bad day to take out their frustrations on other motorists. But these behaviors can often lead to car or trucking accidents in Charlotte, Greensboro or elsewhere in the state. Aggressive drivers by nature may not even have to have a bad day but rather speed or cut other vehicles off because that is what they have learned to do over time.
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North Carolina Department of Crime Control & Public Safety reports that car-truck collisions are often caused by car drivers as opposed to truck drivers. Aggressive driving by car operators causes two-thirds of all collisions between cars and large trucks. Many of these collisions result in injuries or fatalities because a truck driver can't compensate or react quickly enough to an aggressive driving act exhibited by a driver in a car.

Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys hope that as we head into the busiest travel time of the year for large trucks and holiday travelers that motorists maintain a little extra patience and keep aggressive driving behaviors in check.

WSOCTV reports that there are certain things we have learned about aggressive drivers over time. These drivers have a low level of concern for other motorists and participate in risky behaviors without regard for the consequences that may occur. Aggressive drivers run through stop signs, tailgate other motorists, weave in and out of traffic, disregard traffic signals that are changing or have turned red, travel at high rates of speed, honk or make body gestures at other motorists who irritate them.

Speeders are often classified as aggressive drivers because speed is what causes a chain reaction to many of the other unsafe aggressive acts that follow. When a motorist drives at excessive speeds, it often causes them to follow too close behind another truck or vehicle, change lanes swiftly to avoid making contact, pass on the shoulder or unpaved sections of the roadway, or get annoyed when other motorists don't get out of their way.

Large trucks will likely be congesting roadways with package deliveries and store product the next several weeks as we work our way through the holiday season. North Carolina Department of Crime Control & Public Safety offers these tips to motorists in order to avoid an aggressive driving accident:

-Always drive safely to help save lives and reduce injuries in an accident.

-Reduce your speed on major highways and roadways. Maintain a safe speed when passing a large tractor-trailer.

-Remember to leave ample space when traveling in front or behind a large truck. Quick stops can cause serious injury in a rear or front-end collision with a big rig because they need extra time and distance to stop due to the size and weight of the vehicle.

All motorists should make every attempt to avoid an aggressive driver. Rather than retaliating, contact the local authorities and report their unsafe behavior to help protect you and other motorists from being involved in a serious or fatal accident caused by heightened emotions and dangerous acts.

Continue reading "Confrontations with Aggressive Drivers Lead to a High Number of Car and Trucking Accidents in Charlotte, Statewide" »

September 8, 2011

Truck Driver Shortage Leads to a High Risk of Trucking Accidents in North Carolina due to Driver Fatigue


The trucking industry will likely face a problem by 2014 considering it is expected to increase wage bills by as much as 30 percent, but there is a deficit in truck drivers and a high demand for loads to be transported.

Asheville personal injury lawyers know that this will likely translate to more trucking accidents in Charlotte, Statesville and elsewhere because employed drivers will be asked to extend their hours of service, make longer trips, transport heavier loads which directly affects the safety of truck drivers and other motorists sharing the roads with them.
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Bloomberg reports the driver shortage is likely due to the high demands and stricter regulations being placed on the trucking industry and truck drivers in general. By next year, it is expected the shortage will grow to 300,000 vacant full-time positions which equates to approximately ten percent of the workforce. There is a high demand for shipments with a slowly recovering economy, but there aren't enough quality truck drivers to get the cargo transported. Trucking companies are being forced to increase wages just to keep drivers employed, some as much as 2 to 3 percent.

Government restrictions on hours of service, size of loads, federal emissions rules and driving experience or poor driving record make it less desirable for truckers to continue driving for companies but on the flip side trucking companies have a smaller pool of applicants when they sift out drivers with less than reputable driving records.

The financial burden placed on trucking companies is in large part due to the federal emissions rules placed on companies to put more fuel-efficient trucks on roadways as well as the high-priced diesel fuel used to operate them. The cost of diesel fuel on average has been 30 percent higher this year than through August of last year. The only saving grace for the trucking industry is that the speed of transport is faster than if companies needing freight or cargo transported were to switch to rail shipment.

It is amazing that we are even discussing a truck driver shortage considering the nationwide unemployment rate remains over 9 percent. If truck drivers could travel for less than 3 week jaunts for a single customer at a time it may make being employed by a company more attractive.

The average yearly salary for a driver is $40,000, which isn't all that much considering the wear and tear on their body as well as the required time away from home and family. Drivers who get laid off don't rush right back into another trucking job because they prefer to find something with fewer hours and closer to home.

The long and the short of it is, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists continue to be at risk for serious or fatal injury on roadways due to the fact that truck drivers are overworked, are in a hurry to make deliveries or carry more weight for long periods of time on their truck because there aren't enough drivers employed in the trucking industry. Stay alert and use caution when occupying the same roadway as a truck driver as they may be too drowsy or distracted to see you.

Continue reading "Truck Driver Shortage Leads to a High Risk of Trucking Accidents in North Carolina due to Driver Fatigue" »

June 13, 2011

Blind Spots Increase the Risk of Asheville Trucking Accidents


Staying out of a truck's blind spot is important to reduce the number of fatal teen car accidents in North Carolina or elsewhere in the country. Asheville personal injury lawyers hope that teens from our state follow the example being set by teens from our nation's capital by pledging to drive safely this summer.

Young drivers should make an effort to stay clear of a truck's blind spots, give trucks plenty of space and sign a "No Texting Promise."
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The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Organization for Youth Safety and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance recently teamed up to speak to teens about driver safety around trucks.

"Do not expect that having a driver's license is a right that comes without responsibility or risk," said Steve Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). "Be accountable for your actions, spread the word to your friends and parents, and help create a culture of safety. Most importantly, take the driving task seriously. You never know the impact you can have that ultimately could save your life or someone else's."

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to report deaths each year indicates that the 16-24 age group is most at risk of dying in a fatal crash each year. The most recent data (from 2005-2009) reported almost 4,000 young drivers were killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks in this age group. We are in the midst of the most fatal days of the year for teen drivers. There are roughly twice as many teen deaths daily in May, June, July and August as there are during the rest of the calendar year. These four months alone average almost 16 deaths per day compared with the average 8.8 deaths per day throughout the rest of the year.

The CVSA offers a Teens & Trucks Student Workbook that lays out the dangers of driving around large trucks.

Special attention should be given to safety issues such as:

-The different types of vehicles found on roadways, from passenger cars to cab-over tractor trailers.

-Be advised of the North Carolina Move Over Law, which requires all vehicles, including large trucks, to move to the side of road when an emergency vehicle or flashing lights at a construction site is present. Large trucks often create a hazard for vehicles merging back into traffic, so motorists should use extra caution.

-The ability to stop and the amount of distance it takes to do so relies on a driver's perception, reaction and braking. Other factors that contribute to how quickly a driver can stop are the driving surface, speed, weight of the vehicle, and the condition of the tires.

-Trucks making a turn have a wide turning radius, meaning they go off the short course that most cars use to turn. Drivers should allow plenty of space for trucks making turns at intersections to account for the extra room they need.

-Following a truck too closely is dangerous due to the limited visibility that drivers have ahead of them. Tailgating a large truck forces a driver to be defenseless and rely on the brake lights only. You should leave plenty of following distance between your vehicle and the truck.

-Large trucks have more blind spots than passenger vehicles because of their size and length. Motorists need to stay clear of a truck's "No Zones."

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March 22, 2011

Underride Guards Fail in Majority of North Carolina Trucking Accidents


Nothing is more terrifying than the thought of rear-ending a tractor trailer that has stopped suddenly in front of you. Our Greensboro personal injury lawyers know the devastating injuries caused by a passenger car involved in a North Carolina trucking accident.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), confirms that all too often, the underride guards fail to keep vehicles from going under the trailer in a rear-end crash. Serious injuries and many times death from decapitation occurs from the vehicle being sliced in half.
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What is an underride guard? It is those flimsy pieces of metal that hang under the back of a tractor trailer.

In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 4,066 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes. Over 4,200 people died in those crashes and another 90,000 were injured. In large trucks involved in fatal crashes, 74% of the deaths were occupants of another vehicle. In a two-vehicle crash, large trucks are 3 times more likely to be rear ended than other vehicles. Of the 1,892 vehicles involved in fatal crashes in North Carolina, 143 were large trucks.

The IIHS looked at 1,000 real crashes, from 2001 through 2003, where 115 involved a vehicle rear-ending a tractor trailer. In those crashes there were 28 occupant deaths. In 23 of the 28 cases where an occupant was killed there was catastrophic underride. Only 25 cases had no underride at all.

The IIHS conducted its own testing using 3 trailer guards that comply with the current U.S. rules. Two of the trailers were also in compliance with the more stringent rules of Canada that exceed the U.S. standards for strength and energy absorption.

In tests that involved a vehicle traveling at 35 mph crashing into the guard dead center, only 1 guard (that met Canadian standards) kept the vehicle from going under the truck. When any of the guards were hit off center, severe underride took place.

"Under current certification standards, the trailer, underride guard, bolts, and welding don't have to be tested as a whole system. That's a big part of the problem. Some manufacturers do test guards on the trailer. We think all guards should be evaluated this way. Underride standards haven't kept pace with improvements in passenger vehicle crashworthiness. Absent regulation, there's little incentive for manufacturers to improve underride countermeasures, so we hope NHTSA will move quickly on our petition," says Adrian Lund, Institute president.

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March 14, 2011

Compliance with Safety Regulations an Issue for Experienced Attorneys Handling North Carolina Trucking Accidents


Our Charlotte trucking accident lawyers wonder if the disclaimer change on Safety Measurement System data was heavily influenced by the trucking industry.

Recently a settlement agreement with three trucking associations was reached, thus ending litigation over information published on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) website.
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"CSA is a safety-critical program that helps to reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes and save lives," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Through this settlement agreement, we addressed the concerns raised by petitioners without compromising the CSA program and its safety benefits."

The trucking associations that filed the suit were: Air & Expedited Motor Carriers Association (AEMCA), The National Association of Small Trucking Companies, Inc. (NASTC) and the Expedite Alliance of North America (TEANA). FMCSA agreed to change CSA's Safety Measurement System (SMS) public website regarding how to display commercial motor carriers' safety performance.

The FMCSA, by March 25, 2011, will make the following key changes to the SMS public website:

-ALERT symbols displayed in orange on the SMS website, will be replaced with a symbol that is a gold triangle with an exclamation mark inside.

-The disclaimer language on the SMS website will be revised to read:
"The data in the Safety Measurement System (SMS) is performance data used by the Agency and enforcement community. A (gold triangle with an exclamation mark inside) symbol, based on that data, indicates that FMCSA may prioritize a motor carrier for further monitoring. The (gold triangle with an exclamation mark inside) symbol is not intended to imply any federal safety rating of the carrier pursuant to 49 USC 31144. Readers should not draw conclusions about a carrier's overall safety condition simply based on the data displayed in this system. Unless a motor carrier in the SMS has received an UNSATISFACTORY safety rating pursuant to 49 CFR Part 385, or has otherwise been ordered to discontinue operations by the FMCSA, it is authorized to operate on the nation's roadways. Motor carrier safety ratings are available at http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov and motor carrier licensing and insurance status are available at http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov ."

The safety records of truckers and trucking companies is frequently an issue in the event of a serious or fatal accident. A company with a poor safety record -- or a driver with numerous safety violations -- should be made to answer questions in court. An experienced North Carolina tractor-trailer accident lawyer understands the many complex state and federal regulations under which truckers and trucking companies must operate. If companies and drivers put as much effort into ensuring the safety of the motoring public as they do into fighting government regulations, fewer people would surely die on the nation's roads as a result of the 380,000 commercial trucking accidents that occur each year.

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