Abels & Annes

Chicago trucking accident lawyers monitor trucking industry safety initiative

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The American Trucking Association is rolling out an 18-point safety plan this month that it claims will improve highway safety, in part as a response to the recent $23.8 million jury award stemming from a 2004 Chicago trucking accident that claimed two lives near Plainfield, Illinois.

The Chicago trucking accident lawyers at Abels & Annes applaud any move that will improve trucking safety. A 4,000 pound passenger vehicle doesn’t stand a chance against an 80,000 pound semi traveling at 70 mph. Jury awards are often high because the injuries are catastrophic and liability can be compounded by overweight trucks, tired or inexperienced truck drivers and unsafe or poorly maintained trucks as trucking companies struggle to remain profitable in a tight economy.

“As the U.S. logistics and freight industry becomes increasingly dedicated to meeting ever-tighter supply chain delivery windows, American trucking fleets are trying to become even safer,” the ATA announced, noting the industry claims to be the safest it has been since the U.S. Department of Transportation began keeping crash statistics in 1975.

Safety advocates believe the 18-point plan is a move in the right direction.

“I appreciate all the work that’s been done and I believe (the new safety agenda) is a good platform as we move into the next highway authorization process,” said John Hill, a former former Federal Motor Carrier Safety administrator. ATA’s new strategies “specifically address driver deficiency areas and give drivers tool they need to improve highway safety.”

Others argue the plan is aimed at improving the group’s image as it pushes for even heavier trucks, approaching 100,000 pounds. The Truck Safety Coalition blasted ATA for not going far enough.

“This is about longer and heavier trucks,” said Jennifer Tierney of Kernersville, N.C., who says her father was killed in a truck-related accident. “That’s what their agenda is. Bigger vehicles are more dangerous vehicles.”

Tierney said if the trucking industry were serious, it would commit to reducing truck driver fatigue by reducing the legal hours they can drive (which is now up to 88 hours in a little over a week), support electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) and support increased mandatory behind-the-wheel driver training.

Yet advocates for the trucking industry say the number of trucks involved in fatal crashes has dropped 10 percent in the past two decades, despite a 50 percent increase in the number of registered trucks and a 70 percent increase in truck miles traveled.

The ATA’s plan calls for:

Improving Driver Performance:
1. Policy on the use of non-integrated technologies while the vehicle is in motion
2. Policy supporting uniform commercial drivers license (CDL) testing standards
3. Policy supporting a CDL graduated licensing study
4. Policy supporting additional parking facilities for trucks
5. Policy supporting a national maximum 65mph speed limit for all vehicles
6. Policy supporting strategies to increase the use of seat belts
7. Policy supporting a national car-truck driver behavior improvement program
8. Policy supporting increased use of red light cameras and automated speed enforcement
9. Policy supporting graduated licensing standards in all states for non-commercial teen drivers
10. Policy supporting more stringent laws to reduce drinking and driving
Safer Vehicles:
11. Policy supporting targeted electronic speed governing of certain non-commercial vehicles
12. Policy supporting electronic speed governing of all large trucks manufactured since 1992
13. Policy supporting new large truck crashworthiness standards Safer Motor Carriers:
14. Policy supporting a national employer notification system
15. Policy supporting a national clearinghouse for positive drug and alcohol test results of
CDL holders
16. Policy supporting a national registry of certified medical examiners
17. Policy supporting access to the national Driver Information Resource
18. Policy supporting required safety training by new entrant motor carriers For more details on ATA’s 18-point safety initiative, go to www.truckline.com.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a trucking accident, the Chicago car accident lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. There is no fee unless you win. Call (866) 99-ABELS.