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Sen. improving commercial vehicle safety to prevent truck crashes and bus accidents

August 19, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan truck accident attorney says bill is a great step to stopping truck and bus accidents, requiring more training and black boxes to track hours of service

Truck accident injuries and deaths are on the rise due to trucking companies who put profits over people’s lives. Bus accidents in Michigan, and especially in Detroit, have also risen dramatically as mandatory safety regulations are increasingly ignored.

I write about these unsafe truck and bus companies causing these preventable accidents all of the time. So I was very happy to see that Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) is introducing legislation aimed at providing the federal government with the necessary tools “to kick unsafe drivers and carriers out of the industry,” according to an article in thetrucker.com.

In a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of motor carrier safety programs, Lautenberg said his bill would require truck drivers to receive more training before they’re granted a commercial drivers license to drive a truck or bus. And it would require more truck companies to demonstrate that their drivers understand the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules before they get behind the wheel – so as to avoid devastating, preventable truck accidents.

More training is a must. I’ve handled so many truck accident lawsuits that stemmed from inexperienced truckers making terrible mistakes. For instance, in one of my cases, a man was killed when a tractor-trailer driver, with illegal drugs in his system, made an illegal turn around on the highway in dense fog. Not only was he not supposed to turn around in the middle of the highway (where the tail-end of his grey truck was sticking out), he failed to consider how dense fog completely camouflaged his lightly-colored truck. Sadly, my client driving in another truck drove into the hidden truck that was now blocking the highway, and was tragically killed.

Lautenberg’s bill would additionally require electronic on-board recorders (also called EOBRs or black boxes) in trucks and buses to better monitor and manage the amount of time drivers spend on duty. This could stop trucking companies from forcing good truck drivers to drive beyond the hours of service, and prevent drivers from becoming fatigued or falling asleep at the wheel.

Senator Lautenberg stated that given the recent surge of bus accidents and the annual toll of truck-related highway fatalities, Congress should do more to help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration protect Americans on the roadways. Amen.

The legislation — expected to be included in the larger surface transportation reauthorization package currently being developed in both the Senate and the House — also would focus on identifying and removing ‘reincarnated’ or ‘chameleon’ carriers, or those that run afoul of safety regulators yet resume unsafe operations under new names.

I applaud the Senator for continuing the fight against negligent truck companies to prevent more truck accidents.

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

Related information to protect yourself:

Obama Administration cracking down on unsafe truck companies

Obama Administration increasing bus inspections

Michigan truck accident FAQs

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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