A Memphis woman lost her son in 2014 in an auto accident involving a tractor-trailer, and now she’s pushing for legislation that would increase safety standards in the trucking industry.
Per a report by WKRN.com and WATN, her son was fatally injured when his vehicle collided with a semi-truck that was making an illegal U-turn. The woman is traveling to Washington, D.C., this week to speak with legislators about creating a law that would make side safety panels mandatory on all trucks in the U.S.
The Truck Safety Coalition reports that around 4,000 people are killed in semi-truck accidents every year. Many of those fatalities occur when victims’ vehicles collide with or even drive under the sides of trucks and their trailers.
Tests have proven that side safety panels installed on big trucks can help save lives and reduce the severity of accidents.
Important Laws and Regulations that Govern the Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) operates under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and it’s in charge of regulating the entire trucking industry. Because trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles—and thus more dangerous during accidents—the FMCSA established several strict rules for truck drivers, truck companies, and truck owners to help reduce the risk of crashes.
Some of the most important safety-related rules include:
- Strict work hour restrictions
Time is of the essence in the trucking industry, and the longer truck drivers work and the faster they make their deliveries, the greater their profits. But truck drivers who are behind the wheel for long periods of time without rest pose significant threats to themselves and to other drivers. In response, the FMCSA put strict limits on the number of hours truck drivers can work in a row or without taking time off.
- Weight restrictions
An average semi-truck carrying a full load of cargo can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. However, trucks that are loaded beyond that limit can become more difficult to control and more prone to causing accidents. The FMCSA established strict weight limits for trucks based on their towing capacities to make sure drivers don’t lose control due to overloaded trailers.
- Cargo securement requirements
Another important requirement established by the FMCSA involves the transportation of cargo. Whether it’s in an enclosed trailer or being hauled on a flat-bed, all cargo must be secured correctly to prevent loosening, shifting, or cargo loss. When heavy cargo moves while a truck is in motion, it can change the truck’s weight balance, making it difficult to drive. And when cargo falls off a truck, it can land on or near vehicles, putting drivers and passengers at risk.
- Truck maintenance requirements
Although big trucks are designed to be driven for hundreds of thousands of miles—especially long-haul trucks—they still need frequent maintenance and repairs to run at peak efficiency. When maintenance is neglected, trucks are not only more prone to breaking down, but they can also become dangerous. The FMCSA requires that truck owners or companies schedule and complete routine maintenance on trucks and keep records showing all work that was completed in case of necessary inspection.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville truck accident attorneys know that even the biggest passenger vehicles pale in comparison to the size, weight, and length of semi-trucks and tractor-trailers. That’s why it’s vital to always drive as cautiously as possible when you’re next to a big rig. And while most truck drivers, owners, and companies follow the FMCSA’s rules, some don’t—and that means your own defensive driving skills can be your best way to reduce your risks.
If you or someone you know was hurt in a truck accident, you may be eligible to get compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. Our legal team believes in fighting for the rights of people who were hurt because of other people’s negligence, and we have three decades of experience assisting victims like you. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help your family. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.