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Is that truck driving behind you dangerously out of service?

June 7, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

“Roadcheck” is June 7-9, 2011, but Michigan truck lawyer estimates the real number of unmaintained trucks reaches public safety crisis

As a truck accident lawyer, many of the cases I’ve handled involve crashes that could have easily been prevented if the trucking company would just maintain its fleet and have its drivers comply (not willfully violate) federal truck safety regulations.

For example, almost one in four trucks are driving on Michigan roads in a dangerous, out of service condition. If a truck is considered “out of service,” it means that there are safety violations are so dangerous, that the truck would need to be towed away for immediate repair if it were stopped by a police officer.

But as I’ve said and written many times before, this number of dangerous, unmaintained trucks is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Last year, safety inspectors from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration performed 72,782 “Roadcheck” truck inspections at 2,148 locations across the country. They found 22 percent of trucks on the road failed safety inspections. And that 22 percent number is staggering when you consider these trucking companies and truck drivers knew the dates of the “pop quiz” safety inspections for months in advance!

Number of out-of-service trucks is actually much higher

Twenty two percent of out-of-service trucks on our roads is a very sobering number to begin with. But the real numbers are much higher.

Why? Because these safety inspections are announced five months in advance, most trucking companies will keep their “bad trucks” off the roads and the truck drivers they strongly suspect of using drugs and alcohol off the road during this three-day inspection period.

Scary thought: What if half the trucks driving on our roads are actually out of service? What if the 100,000 truck drivers who were stopped during Roadcheck that were under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol is actually more like 200,000 truck drivers behind the wheel with substance abuse or alcohol problems? Or 300,000? Imagine that!

Lawyers like myself, who specialize in helping people injured or killed in truck accidents, suspect the real numbers are much higher. But since the inspection dates are announced months before, the true extent of the problem will remain hidden. Truckers with drug and alcohol problems will continue to take a few days off or call in sick, and safety directors will keep the out-of-service trucks with the bad brakes and steering problems off the road at headquarters during the Roadcheck days. After all, Roadcheck is nice enough to let them all know well ahead of time.

Roadcheck 2011 truck inspections are here

The reason for this latest vent of frustration at giving the trucking industry a pass on safety at the expense of the public and our families? Roadcheck 2011 is this week – June 7-9, 2011. I guess the bright side is that your chances of being injured or killed from a truck accident during those three days is much less than the other 362 days of the year.

Every trucking magazine and industry publication has been carrying the dates for Roadcheck 2011 for months now. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to let everyone know the dates for the pop quiz, does it? Especially when the purpose of that quiz is to save lives.

Steven Gursten is a partner of Michigan Auto Law and one of the top truck lawyers 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 work to promote national truck safety.

Related information to protect yourself:

How to drive safely around trucks

Link confirmed between truck accidents and bad truckers

How to file a truck accident lawsuit

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 lawyers.

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