NJ residents urged to drive cautiously around tractor trailers

The rate of commercial truck accidents in the U.S. has been steadily climbing, prompting the FMCSA to impose strict truck driver regulations.

Commercial trucks are a crucial part of the American economy, as people rely on them to deliver and distribute goods across the country. In 2012, over 10.6 million commercial trucks navigated U.S. interstates, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That same year, approximately 3,802 people were killed nation-wide in large truck accidents, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As truck accident incidents continue to occur, New Jersey residents are urged to take caution when maneuvering around tractor trailers.

A high-profile commercial truck accident that hit close to home for many New Jersey residents, involved a tractor trailer, which rear-ended a limousine carrying comedian and actor Tracy Morgan. NJ.com news reported that the semi-truck operator, who had not slept for nearly 24 hours before the accident occurred, failed to slow down in traffic and smashed into the limo on the New Jersey Turnpike. The accident severely injured Morgan and killed fellow comedian Jimmy Mack. The truck's state-of-the-art automatic braking system was not working at the time of the incident. Morgan, as well as several other people who were involved in the accident, are filing a third-party lawsuit against the company who was in charge of maintaining the commercial truck.

FMCSA regulations

In an attempt to decrease the number of truck accidents that are caused each year by drowsy truck drivers, the FMCSA revised their current Hours of Service regulations. The new directives took effect in July 2013, and include the following:

  • Truck drivers are prohibited from spending more than 11 hours a day behind the wheel of a truck, and from working more than 14 hours daily.
  • Truck drivers are limited to a 70-hour work week.
  • Truck drivers who work a full 70-hour work week are required to rest for 34 consecutive hours, which must include a minimum of two nights.
  • Truck drivers are required to break for 30 minutes within the first eight hours of each shift.

In addition to Hours of Service regulations, the FMCSA has restricted the use of hand-hand cellphones while driving, including texting, in hopes of reducing the number of truck accident injuries and deaths.

Equipment malfunction

According to the American Trucking Associations, just 10 percent of all tractor trailers on the road are equipped with some type of active safety technology. The FMCSA also reports that in 2012, just over 20 percent of trucks, more than 2.1 million, were removed from service due to excessive violations.

It is the responsibility of the motor carrier to ensure that all parts, accessories and equipment on their fleet of commercial trucks are properly maintained, inspected and quickly repaired if an issue should arise, according to FMCSA regulations. The company may be held liable in cases where equipment malfunctions lead to truck accidents.

Contact an attorney

Truck accidents can be extremely traumatic for all parties involved. People who suffer from physical and emotional trauma due to the negligence of a truck driver or truck company may be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering.

Keywords: truck, accident, injury