It would stand to reason that government formed to be "of the people, by the people, for the people" should be trusted to take care of its people. New York city's former mayor, after all, proposed mandatory portion control on sodas deemed unhealthy for us. In 2011, the USDA proposed a reduction in the amount of potatoes our kids eat in their school lunches (at the estimated taxpayer expense of 3.4 billion dollars). However, when it comes to vehicle safety, the government is surprisingly not on your side. The trucking industry has been storming Congress with proposals that will increase the danger to innocent occupants of passenger vehicles -- and Congress is listening. If you've been injured in a trucking accident, you need an experienced attorney -- because lawmakers are not on your side.
Trucking accidents: the sheer enormity of the problem
A recent article in the New York Times highlights the enormous danger big trucks pose to the average vehicle occupant. Although trucks account for less than ten percent of road miles traveled in 2013, their drivers were responsible for one in eight collisions. In work zones that same year, they were responsible for one-quarter of the collisions. In fact, if the current rate of trucking accidents continues, collisions involving big trucks are going to kill more people this year than have all the domestic commercial airline crashes in the past 45 years. Consider these statistics:
From 2009 to 2013, fatalities in truck-related crashes rose 17 percent
Each of these four years saw a progressive increase in fatalities
In 2013, deaths from trucking accidents totaled 3,964
Meanwhile, over this same four years, fatalities from car accidents not involving big trucks declined three percent. Researchers point to new safety technology as the reason these numbers are going down. You would think federal regulators would be pushing for this safety technology to be implemented on big trucks too -- but alas, they seem bent on allowing even more dangerous conditions.
Things that make you shake your head
When one looks at the proposals currently before Congress from the trucking companies -- proposals that have the support of many senators and representatives -- it certainly does seem like this is an upside down world. Here are a few of the considerations under debate:
increasing the allowable hours in a truck driver's work week from 72 to 80
allowing bigger, heavier trucks on the road
eliminating a requirement that truckers rest between 1:00 and 5:00 in the morning on two consecutive days to alleviate fatigue
removing the limit on the number of times a trucker can declare the start of a new workday
reducing the minimum age for truck drivers who travel state to state from 21 to 18
In addition, Congress has discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Administration from installing wireless safety technology in big trucks to monitor driver performance.
I need help!
If you have been the victim of a trucking accident, give up on the illusion that the trucking industry and the federal government have compassion for your injuries. Clearly, you can't count on the trucking company who hired the driver responsible for your accident to offer you a fair settlement. If you are now disabled, or are no longer able to work at your usual occupation because of your injuries, don't expect advocacy from your state senator or representatives.
The best way to obtain the compensation you deserve is to hire a truck accident lawyer. The consultation is free, and you will not pay any fees until your attorney secures a settlement in your favor. When you can't expect federal regulations to be on your side, hire someone who is.