A tractor-trailer hauling a mobile home collided with a car on Interstate 485 recently, sending five people to the hospital, three of whom had suffered potentially life-threatening injuries.
Our North Carolina personal injury attorneys know that crashes involving tractor-trailers are far too common.
Drivers of these vehicles are often dealing with wide or shifting loads, some of which are too heavy per federal regulations. Even when truck drivers are trained and acting according to protocol dictating how long they can remain on the road, they make mistakes or take a risk they shouldn’t. Unfortunately for the rest of us, these errors in judgment can have major consequences, just based on the sheer size of the cargo being carried. The current maximum allowable weight is 80,000 pounds – but that amount is more than capable of inflicting serious damage.
In these case, it doesn’t appear there were any significant outside factors, such as inclement weather or reduced nighttime visibility, as reports indicate that the crash, just past Providence Road, occurred on a clear day around 12:30 p.m.
As those injured continue to recover and authorities work to piece together exactly what transpired, it is our hope that this incident will serve to heighten awareness – not only for motorists who share the road with these vehicles, but for the companies responsible for safety and maintenance.
Positive developments have been made and continue with the federal MAP-21 initiative, which has placed a priority on truck safety. Among the efforts being made are those that pertain to enhanced driver safety, stronger oversight powers, stricter registration requirements and general improvements in road safety.
Specifically for drivers, federal authorities intend to require electronic on-board recorders that will automatically calculate whether the driver is complying with hours of service rules so that trucker fatigue is less of a problem. Additionally, regulators have implemented certain training standards for entry-level drivers, and states are now being required to report any convictions of out-of-state commercial drivers to a central source. From there, the federal Department of Transportation will have the authority to make a determination on whether to revoke the driver’s operating authority if he or she fails to pay civil fines.
In fact, the DOT’s power in general was expanded under the new law, allowing it to now revoke registration for carriers deemed unsafe or those who are operating without proper registration. The penalties for companies failing to follow these rules have also been increased.
The law didn’t move to change the 80,000-pound limit, unfortunately, but it does call for an extensive two-year study to evaluate whether that limit is in fact safe or if the standards should be reconsidered.
A separate study was also commissioned to learn more about the safety of rental trucks that are used by non-commercial drivers. At this point, no special requirement or training other than a standard license is necessary for someone to drive one of these vehicles, despite the fact that many of those in service are large and much wider than the average passenger vehicle.
We will be continuing to follow developments closely.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
5 injured in accident on I-485 at Providence Road, Feb. 6, 2013, Staff Report, WCNC
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NC Traffic Safety Watch: Drivers Push through Ice Storm, Feb. 1, 2013, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog