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Truck accident attorney responds to reader comment

December 1, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Fatigued truckers have impaired judgment, perception and reaction time – the problem with “lie books” and pre-trip inspections

Today I’d like to thank and also respectfully respond to a comment by a trucker in Michigan named Mike Purcell. Mike commented on one of my blogs, Why is the pre-trip inspection the most violated safety rule in truck accident cases? Purcell’s point was that a trucker can perform a pre-trip inspection in a short amount of time, and that truck accident attorneys should look at all drivers on our roads if we want to make things safer, not just truck drivers.

Here’s what Mike wrote:

“Dear Sir,
First of all, in your article you mention a driver that shows 10 min. for a (truck) inspection is lying. If you look at the log books that truckers use, they cannot log anything unless it is in 15-minute intervals. When talking about how long it takes to do an inspection, you can do a proper pre-trip inspection within that time. As a matter of fact, when I went to take my test at a DOT (Department of Transportation) testing site, the pre-trip inspection was part of the process and was done in 15 minutes with a DOT officer watching me. And guess what? I passed. One other thing is everyone wants to point at the truck driver and I will admit, there are some who are at fault. But if you would watch while you are traveling on any road where there is truck traffic, just pay attention to how the cars and pickups drive and give no regard to the truck when entering traffic and when they pass then cut off the truck. While I am here, let’s just think about the person behind the wheel of the car or pickup. How long did they work at their job before they got behind the wheel to drive home? Did they get a required amount of rest? These are questions that should also be taken into consideration. So in closing, just remember that there are more factors involved in any accident than the truck driver.”

This was my response::

“Dear Mr. Purcell,
I really appreciate your comment and the fact that you took the time to read my blog and offer your own additions to it. I consider much of my work on trucking to be pro-safety, and certainly not anti-trucker. In fact, I have many truck drivers like yourself who read the blog, and represent quite a few truckers who have been injured in truck accidents. Regarding your comment, while I don’t doubt that it is possible for some very experienced truck drivers to perform a full and proper pre-trip inspection in less time than the average, the vast majority cannot perform a proper pre-trip inspection in only 10 minutes. Even the most hard-core, so called “safety experts” that defendants hire in my truck accident cases will admit that to properly prepare, in writing, a pre-trip inspection report that covers:

o Service brakes (including trailer brake connections),
o Parking brakes,
o Steering mechanism,
o Lighting devices and reflectors,
o Tires,
o Horn,
o Windshield wipers,
o Rear-view mirrors,
o Coupling devices,
o Wheels and rims and
o Emergency equipment
in 10 minutes is likely impossible.

Regarding your comment about how many drivers actually drive around trucks, I agree with you. I think many people make very foolish decisions around big trucks, and many serious truck accident cases were not the truck drivers’ fault. No disagreement from me there. Bad decision making by car drivers that result in serious accidents is unfortunately one of the reasons why I end up having so many truck drivers as clients (Read here on how to drive safely around trucks).

But, when it gets to driver fatigue and hours of service and time behind the wheel, we are going to have to part ways.

You are a professional truck driver and required by federal and state law to drive in a safe and alert state. You are driving an 80,000 pound truck. And the potential for causing incredible carnage, including injury and death, by a big truck is far greater than for a person driving an ordinary passenger car. That potential for devastation is obviously why truck drivers are required to be professional drivers, have CDLs, and have special safety rules that don’t apply to ordinary car drivers. There is far too much scientific evidence that proves that truck drivers over hours of service make bad driving decisions, have delayed perception and reaction times (in some cases a fatigued driver has the same perception, reaction times as an intoxicated driver) and are unsafe.

Again, Mike, I really appreciate your comment. Best.”

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the most renowned truck accident attorneys in the country. He is past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported trial verdict in Michigan for truck accidents. Steve was named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leader in the Law for his efforts in promoting truck safety.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by jasleen_kaur

Related information:

Insurance for truckers injured in Michigan truck accidents

Truck driver safety to prevent truck accidents

Truck accident law blogs

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation from one of our truck accident attorneys.

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