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FMCSA Restrictions Aimed At Protecting Pennsylvania Motorists

On behalf of Soloff & Zervanos, P.C.

Commercial trucks operated by drowsy drivers or that are poorly maintained are at an increased risk for causing truck accidents.

The commercial truck industry is certainly booming. With nearly 35,000 unfilled truck driver positions in the U.S. and an expected 23.5 percent increase in freight tonnage within the next 11 years, it is hard for truck companies to keep up with the demand, according to the American Trucking Associations. Not only is there a significant strain on truck drivers to make their deadlines and earn a paycheck, but all others motorists on the road are in danger of becoming victims of serious truck accidents in Pennsylvania.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that truck accident fatalities in the U.S. have increased substantially from 3,211 deaths in 2009 to over 3,800 deaths in 2012. This coincides with an increase in deaths involving large trucks in Pennsylvania, reaching 175 deaths in 2012.

This summer, a limousine carrying popular comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was struck by a commercial truck, leaving him with severe injuries and killing his comedian friend, Jimmy Mack. According to a Business Week report, the truck driver responsible for causing this traumatic accident had driven for more than 23 hours straight before striking the vehicle, breaking the strict regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The truck he was driving was equipped with a non-functioning automatic braking device that failed to keep the truck from hitting the vehicle. Not only is the truck driver being charged with vehicular homicide, but the truck company is being sued for negligence and reckless conduct.

FMCSA Hours of Service regulations

In an attempt to decrease the number of commercial vehicle accidents that occur throughout the country, the FMCSA revised their Hours of Service regulations in July 2013. According to the new rules, truck drivers are restricted to a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel each day and a 70-hour work week. Those who work a full 70-hour week must take at least 34 consecutive hours off to rest. Truck operators must also break for 30 minutes within the first eight hours of each driving shift.

Truck equipment malfunctions

The FMCSA reports that in 2012, over 20 percent of commercial vehicles or 2,145,733 trucks were removed from service due to excessive violations. While many new tractor trailers are fully equipped with state-of-the-art safety devices, it is the responsibility of the truck company and driver to ensure that the equipment is functioning properly before taking the truck out on the road.

When to contact an attorney

Truck accidents can cause severe physical and emotional injuries. While some people must deal with expensive medical bills and pain, others may suffer from the loss of a loved one due to truck driver negligence. A personal injury attorney can help explore your legal options, which may include receiving compensation for your injuries, property damage and time taken off work. A lawyer may have the solutions that will get your life back on track.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury