Cell phones and distracted driving are causing horrific car and truck accidents every single day. And every single day, people are dying and being terribly injured because people can’t stop themselves from texting while driving.
I recently wrote about a terrible Arizona crash involving a truck driver who was allegedly surfing photos of scantily clad women Facebook on his cell phone, and barreled into a line of emergency vehicles, killing an innocent police officer (full disclosure: I am very close friends with the attorney who is representing the estate in this case, and have also consulted with him on it).
Picture this: A very tired trucker hauling a fully-loaded propane truck has been driving a 20-hour shift. It’s 2 degrees below zero, the highways are iced over, and the snow is starting to pour down again.
And he’s driving on the same roads as your family.
In Michigan, truckers hauling propane and heating oil can drive as many hours as they please this winter – legally.
I’m happy to announce that a Michigan Auto Law attorney has recovered one of the highest-reported truck accident settlements in Michigan for the 2013 year.
This also marks the 17th consecutive year that an attorney from Michigan Auto Law has recovered a top auto accident or truck accident settlement or trial verdict for a client, according to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly year-end listings of the top-reported verdicts and settlements in the state.
Innocent people are being killed in completely preventable truck accidents every day. And it’s getting worse.
This may sound harsh, but the numbers don’t lie.
According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
Truck drivers are professional drivers. And they’re expected to drive that way. They earn their living on the road. They go to “truck school.” They have to pass a special test and have a special CDL license. They have more training and experience. And they’re driving fully-loaded vehicles that weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
Yet in many states, and especially in Michigan, lawyers must refer to these professional truck drivers the same as we would any other driver if a case goes to trial. As a result, dangerous truck drivers can cause serious truck accidents over and over again.
President Obama was all over the media Monday, with his stance that marijuana is no “more dangerous than alcohol”, and that it’s “important” to allow recent legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington State to proceed.
The legal issue is an interesting one, especially when it comes to truck drivers who drive cross country: Is a trucker still breaking the law if he uses legalized marijuana in a state that has legalized the drug?
Incentives work. Paying truck drivers by the hour instead of on total miles takes away the perverse incentives for drivers to speed, drive fatigued, drive over hours, and take short cuts on safety inspections and maintenance. In other words, paying by the hour lowers the likelihood that a driver will cause a preventable truck accident.
Consider also: In 2013, the turnover rate for commercial truck drivers increased, according to the American Trucking Associations.
I served as President of the American Association for Justice Truck Lawyer Group during the Bush administration, and I’ve seen first-hand how politics can trump safety concerns when it comes to regulating the trucking industry and preventing truck accidents. And we’ve seen another example of this with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) stating recently that it’s changing its Motor Carrier Management Information System (MSMIS) to accept adjudication information concerning citations associated with three things:
Cell phones have caused hundreds of horrific car and truck accidents, including one case of mine where a truck driver dropped his phone, and as he was reaching down to pick it up, he collided at full speed into my client’s car.
Chris and one part of the car went in one direction. His legs, and the other part of his car, went in another. Miraculously, Chris survived, but this crash serves as a poignant example of how cell phones can cause otherwise completely preventable truck accidents.
There was a recent 40-vehicle pileup on U.S. 31 in Fruitland Township (which is in West Michigan, about 40 miles west of Grand Rapids). Several published reports chalked up this terrible string of wrecks to an “accident” due to the inclement, snowy weather.
That’s nonsense, of course. Weather is almost never an excuse for a truck driver causing a car accident – or in this case, 40 car accidents.
This pileup was likely kicked off by a commercial truck hauling cattle (that’s an image). The truck spun out of control and the driver was ticketed for speeding, despite the terrible winter weather.