I recently received a shocking email from the American Association for Justice (AAJ) about the number of unsafe trucks on the road. A new analysis of government data shows than more than 28,000 motor carrier companies, representing more than 200,000 trucks, are operating in violation of federal safety laws.
Each day, drivers like you and I share our roadways with trucks that have incurred thousands of safety violations for problems such as defective breaks, bad tires, loads that exceed weight limits, and drivers with insufficient training or a history of drug and alcohol dependency. Some trucking companies violate federal laws with salary systems that encourage truck drivers to speed and drive long hours.
Trucks make up less the 4 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads, but they are involved in 12 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities. Over 4,000 people die each year in tractor trailer truck accidents, and over 80,000 people are seriously injured. In fact, more people die in wrecks with trucks than in wrecks with planes, trains, ships, and interstate buses combined! There are many different causes of trucking accidents, but a large percentage of them can be traced to trucking companies that violate federal safety standards to maximize profits.
AAJ researchers examined over a million lines of data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in their new analysis. Here are some 2007 truck crash facts from the FMCSA:
Fatalities involving large trucks: 4,808
Fatalities involving large trucks in Georgia: 229
Injuries in crashes involving large trucks: 86,245
AAJ researchers found that, as of April 2009, 28,274 companies and 211,542 trucking companies were operating on roadways with safety violations.
Profit margins for many trucking companies are slim. Therefore, truck drivers are often encouraged to drive long hours with loads that are too large. They’re encouraged to get the job done quickly, even when safety issues arise. For example, the AAJ report tells this story of a unnecessary death that could have easily been prevented:
In March 2002, married truck drivers Nelta and Tom Osborn discovered that the air brakes on their rig were compromised by a small hole caused by a hose dragging on the ground, which made the emergency brakes suddenly engage. Rather than call a mobile mechanic, the pair fixed the hole with a toothpick and electrical tape and continued driving. The dispatcher for the trucking company complimented them on their resourcefulness and for two hours they drove with the makeshift repair, passing numerous repair shops where a $12 fix would have made the hose safe again.
Just outside of Texarkana, Texas, the hose failed and the emergency brakes screeched the truck to a stop. Driving behind the truck was23-year-old Matthew Giuliano, a newly-commissioned Army officer,who was on his way to Fort Hood for his first assignment. Giuliano,without any brake lights or flashing hazards to warn him of the impending danger, did not have time to react and slammed into the stationary truck. He was killed instantly.
Giuliano was the unfortunate victim of the largely ignored issue of truck safety. Every year, tens of thousand of people are killed or seriously injured in trucking accidents.
Next time you’re driving behind a tractor trailer truck, keep this story in mind. It’s best to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and large trucks at all times. You never know when their brakes might be held together by electrical tape and a toothpick.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation. We’ll inform you of your legal rights, and if you decide to hire us, we’ll work to make sure that you receive just compensation.