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Link confirmed between truck accidents and bad truck drivers

May 3, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan truck accident attorney explains the importance of negligent entrustment claims

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone, but the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has confirmed in a study released on April 21, 2011 that a trucker’s bad driving record — especially a driving record showing previous truck accidents — is a strong predictor of future truck accidents.

This is something every experienced truck accident attorney already knows — especially in Michigan. When I’m hired by someone injured in a truck crash, I always carefully research the truck driver’s record (tickets and points on license), past truck accident involvement, speeding and hours of service violations.

The ATRI study, called “Predicting Truck Crash Involvement: A 2011 Update,” was based upon tracking 582,772 U.S. truck drivers over a two-year period. The report highlights 12 driver behaviors that make a truck driver over 50 percent more likely to be involved in a truck accident — as compared to truckers with good driving records.

Said Keith Klein, EVP/COO of Transport America, “By understanding how driver histories relate to future crash probability, carriers can develop targeted solutions for minimizing future safety risks.”

Of course, the reality is that far too many trucking companies ignore driver history entirely. These companies continue to hire truck drivers who have caused many prior accidents. I’ve written about one of my cases, where the trucker who caused the accident already had more than a dozen suspensions to his CDL license. When companies won’t act to hire safe drivers and stop truck accidents, at least lawyers can add counts in injury lawsuits based upon negligent entrustment, supervision and monitoring. Michigan may not have punitive damages, but these common law causes of action are still good law and should be pursued by attorneys in serious truck accident cases.

In this latest report, ATRI compared these findings to those from 2005 and found that the same factors still predict driver involvement in causing truck crashes. The ATRI also describes best practices for safety enforcement and for the trucking industry to help address the dangers identified in the study.

Last week, I spoke about the disappointment I felt as a truck accident attorney regarding how the Obama Administration and the FMCSA has watered down the safety information available on dangerous trucking companies and truck drivers, as a result of intense lobbying by the trucking industry. Perhaps this new study – as obvious as it is – will cause them to change their mind. Identifying dangerous truck drivers and bad trucking companies is one step closer to preventing trucking accidents.

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 Accident Litigation Group, and has received the top-reported jury 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.

Related information:

Why truck accident lawyers must investigate a trucker’s background

Discovery documents for Michigan truck accident attorneys

Truck rules and regulations

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 with one of our truck accident attorneys.

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