Truck accident lawyer says fatal car crashes are decreasing in Michigan – but the truck safety crisis grows worse
First the great news: auto accident deaths throughout the country, including car accidents in Michigan, are at their lowest since 1950 – the year fatalities behind the wheel began to be tracked. Auto accidents killed 33,808 people in 2009, a nearly 10 percent drop from the year before, according to the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There were 33,186 deaths on U.S. roads in 1950.
You can read the full article on CNNMoney.com: Traffic deaths lowest since 1950.
And in Michigan, fatal auto accidents – and crashes resulting in personal injury – are dropping.
According to the Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Facts, there were 871 people killed and 70,930 people injured in 290,978 reported motor vehicle accidents in Michigan during 2009 (the latest statistics available).
Compared with 2008, the number of deaths decreased 11. 1 percent, people injured decreased 4.9 percent and total reported crashes decreased 7.9 percent.
As an attorney handing auto accidents and truck accidents, of course I am happy to see the number of personal injuries and deaths drop in Michigan. But things are not fine and dandy…
The truck accident crisis in Michigan today
This is where truck accidents come into play, the not so great news. In Michigan, there are far too many truck accidents that occur that are very completely preventable.
Because unsafe truck companies are bidding lower on jobs and paying their drivers less. This puts tremendous pressure on truck drivers to speed, drive past their federal regulated hours of service, and in turn they become fatigued or use illegal and prohibited substances to stay awake. And all of these things cause truck accidents.
Sadly, this happens more in Michigan than in many other states, because Michigan is one of the few states where lawyers cannot sue for punitive damages. Without this deterrent, many trucking companies will hire clearly unfit truck drivers and truckers who have caused too many truck accidents.
These truck companies attempting to undercut their competition also are not putting stringent rules in place that ensure safety, such as requiring their drivers to perform thorough, legal pre-trip inspections. These truck companies are hiring drivers that “grasshop” from truck company to truck company to remain undetected after causing horrific truck crashes. Many “grasshop” to Michigan from other states after causing too many truck accidents, because trucking companies will still hire them here. This doesn’t happen in other states where truck accident lawyers can pursue punitive damages for hiring such dangerous drivers.
I cannot stress this point enough: As long as we allow truck companies that violate laws to undercut the good guys, we are putting everyone in substantial danger, and there will continue to be more preventable truck accidents.
– Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the most renowned truck accident lawyers 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 national truck safety.
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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 lawyers.