Articles Posted in Trucking Accident

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The trucking industry as a whole has gotten very savvy with the way in which it has structured operations in order to limit liability.
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By hiring independently-contracted drivers, they seek to reduce the chance of a vicarious liability claim for employee negligence. By having separate firms owning the tractors and the trailers, they attempt to shield themselves under the Graves Amendment — federal law written to protect rental car companies from renters’ negligence but which truck companies have used to their advantage.

Despite a powerful trucking lobby that actively seeks to erode public safety protections and limit liability, there are still several key laws that hold trucking firms accountable in these instances.
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As federal authorities continue their efforts to bolster the safety of big trucks through the MAP-21 initiative, it’s imperative that owners of these vehicles also incorporate leadership on this issue. oldtruck.jpg

Reducing incidents of Boston truck accidents will mean an investment of time, money and commitment on the part of these companies. It’s going to mean ensuring that the updated hours of service rules are honored. It’s going to take the careful implementation of policies that will guarantee drivers are properly-trained and trucks aren’t overloaded. And finally, it means making sure the trucks are in good working order.

Unfortunately, as the case of Gaines v. K-Five Constr. Corp. would suggest, we can’t expect that kind of commitment from all truck companies.
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Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a number of improvements to the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program. This is the program that helps safety officials to identify and address safety concerns among bus and trucking companies.
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“Good data plays a key role in keeping our nation’s roads safe,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Our Boston personal injury attorneys understand the risks that accompany commercial buses and large, commercial trucks on our roadways. Not only do we expect commercial buses to be safe for passengers, we expect them to be operated in a safe manner. When a commercial truck or bus driver fails in that regard, it’s typically the occupants of passenger vehicles who pay the price.

The power and the weight of these large vehicles overpower other vehicles on the road. That’s why it’s so important that these vehicles are properly regulated and that they’re kept in safe operating condition.

The changes in this policy will be finalized and implemented by December. The changes include:

-Altering the Changing the Cargo-Related BASIC (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) to the Hazardous Materials (HM) Compliance BASIC. This is going to help safety officials to better point our compliance and safety issues. According to FMCSA, this change will help to supervise more carriers.

-Fatigued Driving BASIC will be changed over to Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC. Officials think that this change will help them to better keep track of these kinds of violations and will allow them to monitor both electronic and paper records more efficiently.

-Now, there will be separate busing classifications for buses that carry more than 15 passengers and those that carry fewer.

-There will no longer be classifications for those carrying fewer than 8 passengers, like taxis, limos, vans, etc.

-Violation records will be kept in accordance with the specifications of the inspections. Drivers’ violations will be kept under driver inspections instead of in the broad “inspection” category.

Last year, there were close to 4,000 people who were killed in accidents with large trucks and buses — down about 4.5 percent from the previous year. Still, enforcement of exisiting laws is critical to improving safety for everyone. Consumers are urged to check out a company’s safety rating before hiring a busing company. Drivers are also asked to beware when driving near large, commercial vehicles.

Drivers who operate these vehicles are required to have their Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver’s license. Even the most experienced drivers are at serious risks for engaging in dangerous driving activities that could end up caused fatal accidents, according to the FMCSA.

Common Dangerous Driving Habits Among Truck and Bus Drivers:

-Failing to alter driving habits to accommodate current weather and traffic conditions. Never travel too fast for safety.

-Neglecting to look for other vehicles before making a move in traffic.

-Being too tired to drive.

-Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

-Inattention and even daydream oftentimes affect these drivers on long road trips.
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There’s a new real-time travel information initiative that was recently designed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). The new initiative will be found along Interstate 93. It is designed to help alert commuters about the Lowell Line rail option. Officials are hopeful that this information will help to reel motorists off the Interstate and onto the train, helping to reduce the risks of motor-vehicle accidents.
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Here’s how it will work: A variable-message sign (VMS) will be located near Exit 29, Concord Street, on Interstate 93. The sign will display the exact time of when the next Lowell Line train will leave the Anderson-Woburn Regional Transportation Center. This message will remain on the board to allow commuters to exit the interstate and get to the rail station in time. When drivers wouldn’t be able to make it safely from the sign’s location to the train, the message will be removed. This is to help to eliminate confusion and speeding on the busy Interstate 93. Many times, daily commutes and rush hours can result in serious accidents and injuries because drivers are rushing to their destinations. With real-time updates, we can help to ease drivers’ minds, help to increase roadway safety and help reduce the risks of auto accidents in Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts.

Our Boston injury attorneys understand that MassDOT’s Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Davey continues to keep customer safety and customer service as high priorities. With the new real-time technology, nearby commuters will be alerted about the public transit option. This will help to slow down rushing drivers and maybe even pull a few motorists off our roadways and into the world of mass transit. Spreading the word about the convenience of public transportation in the area may help to significantly reduce the risks of car crashes.

“This is another innovative step in encouraging commuters to park the car and take public transportation to work,” said Jonathan Davis, MBTA general manager.

The new sign on Interstate 93 will be used to display the departure times on the Lowell line from Anderson/Woburn. These displays will be available all day from Monday through Friday. The first train departs just before 6 a.m. and the last one leaves at just after 11:30 p.m. You can expect this display the entire time. Departures with more than a 10-minute delay will not be shown on the VMS.

The parking lot at this station costs motorists $4 to park all day. This train goes to Commuter Rail Zone 2 and has a one-way trip to Boston for less than $5! It takes less than 30 minutes to get to North Station. One train even takes about 20 minutes (the 8:05 train because it has fewer stops).
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All of the trucking accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere have raised an important question among officials — What does it take to drive a truck? Now, attention is being focused on the rules and regulations that govern commercial driver’s licenses. Officials are now shifting their attention to help to reduce the risks of these kinds of accidents.
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You may remember the accident that happened in Fall River on Route 79 in which the truck driver involved allegedly had a four-page driving record. It was his truck that burst into flames in the accident, endangering nearly everyone on the roadway. The driver had five speeding citations, three accident infractions and a number of other violations, including impeding police operation and failing to obey. To make it even worse, he has drug distribution charges that led to a suspended license. Yet, he remains behind the wheel.

Our Boston trucking accident attorneys understand that even with all of these violations, the driver was able to get his CDL license in late November. And after the most recent Fall River accident, the driver faces no charges. He is a self-employed trucker who had an active driver’s license and a CDL at the time of the accident. Even with all of the previous driving infractions and the most recent accident, he’s still on our roadways, according to Wicked Local Westport.

Currently, in the state of Massachusetts, you need a CDL to operate any kind of vehicle with a maximum weight (when loaded) of 26,001 pounds or more. According to Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), if a vehicle weighs less than that, a CDL is needed to transport hazardous materials or 16 or more people at one time. There are also different CDLs, depending on whether the driver is towing another vehicle that’s more than 10,000 pounds.

A driver must be at least 18-years-old to get one of the licenses in the state. Drivers have to be at least 21-years-old if they drive between states. These drivers aren’t allowed to test for a permit or a license when their license in suspended. Suspension can result from charges of drunk driving, drug distribution, leaving the scene of an accident, etc.

Criminal records do not have to be examined before taking the license test even though a commercial trucker isn’t allowed to have any of these offenses (resulting in license suspension) on their record. While many companies won’t hire truckers with shoddy driving records, there are some that do.

Still, those looking to obtain a CDL are not required to take a driving class.

How a driver can lose a CDL:

-If they receive a first-year offense, such as driving under the influence, using a commercial vehicle to commit a felony or leaving the scene of an accident, their license will be taken away.

-If the offense is committed when a driver operates a vehicle carrying hazardous material, they lose the license for three years as opposed to one. If that’s committed twice, the license is lost for life.

-The license is suspended for life if a CMV is used to commit a felony involving controlled substances.

-If a driver gets two serious traffic citations in a three-year time frame, their license is suspended for 60 days.

-If a driver gets three serious traffic citations in a three year time, their license is suspended for 120 days.

“As far as the number of citations issued, we are probably more in the middle of the pack, in following with those federal standards,” said Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for MassDOT.
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The dashboards of our vehicles are beginning to mirror a scene out of Star Trek. They’re getting more and more advanced and new technologies are making it easier for drivers to access text messages, phone calls, GPS devices and the internet all while driving. What they’re also doing is increasing our risks for car accidents in Boston and elsewhere, according to the federal government. The Boston Globe reports federal officials are now asking auto makers to put an end to it. They want companies to stop manufacturing vehicles that allow drivers to access these features while the vehicle is moving.
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Car makers have been flooding new-model vehicles with a plethora of gadgets to try to make them appealing to today’s on-the-go buyer. These are the people who try to multitask to get everything done while they’re getting to the next place they have to be. As social media advances, the desire to stay connected with friends, family members and coworkers is growing rapidly. Our Boston car accident attorneys know it’s actually a pretty common sight throughout the state: drivers engaging in activities at the wheel other than driving. To help stop this dangerous behavior, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is stepping in.

Recently, the NHTSA recommended some voluntary guidelines for car makers. In these guidelines the NHTSA suggested they make vehicle dashboards that shut off all interactive features while the vehicle is moving or in the drive setting, meaning drivers can only engage in these distractions when the vehicle is stopped and the car is in park.

“The guidelines we’re proposing would offer real-world guidance to automakers to help them develop electronic devices that provide features consumers want without disrupting a driver’s attention,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

According to the vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Gloria Bergquist, automakers are going to look over the new recommended guidelines that come with a two-month comment period.

Since 2002, the industry has operated under its own set of guidelines regarding this matter.

Bergquist says that drivers are still going to use phones, play loud music and look at driving directions behind the wheel automakers are just trying to make these activities safer.

Not all new-car technologies are covered under the new recommendation though. Electronic-warning systems, GPS devices and other navigation devices still have the okay to run while the car is on and moving. The NHTSA is just asking that these technologies have a design that prohibits drivers from messing with them while the car is moving and is in drive.

If you think about it, the only other option is to go back to reading a road map in these cases, which is even more dangerous, according to Strickland.
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A recent New England trucking accident took involved parties to the Oxford County Superior Court after faulty brakes were blamed as the cause of the accident. A Maine State Police Trooper recently testified in court saying that the truck’s brakes made the 2009 accident in West Paris much worse than it had to be, according to the Sun Journal.
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In the wreck, a 60-year-old man was killed on Route 26 during that three-vehicle accident. The man’s family is suing a Sommerville woman who fell asleep at the wheel causing a large commercial vehicle to swerve and drive directly into the man’s car. The woman reportedly woke up just before crashing head on with a trailer-truck. When she served back into her lane, she hit the truck and broke a spring that was used to steer that truck. The woman was injured. The tractor-trailer swerved out of the way and into the Sommerville man’s vehicle after it failed to brake.

Our Massachusetts tractor-trailer accident attorneys understand that jurors recently heard expert analysis of the accident from Steven Thomas, an engineer who is oftentimes used in these types of trials to provide expert testimony. The man said that after looking at the fatal accident he concluded that it could have only resulted as a fender-bender if the truck’s 12 brakes had been in good working condition. He added that if the tractor-trailer could have stopped just 5 feet shorter that the impact to the Sommerville man’s vehicle could have been minimal.

The expert was also asked to look at the analysis of the accident that was provided by Midwest Price Co., the trucking company. The company argued that the truck was not traveling fast at all and the accident was a result of the road’s soft shoulder.

Thomas said the shoulder of the road would have caused the truck to flip to the left and not to the right like it did.

A Main State Trooper, Daniel Hanson, said that the truck didn’t have enough power in its brakes and that’s what contributed to the severity of the accident.

“Lack of proper braking aided in the trailer overturning,” said Hanson.

The trial will continue at a later date.

This accident is a perfect example as to why properly maintaining large commercial vehicles is so important. Traffic-related accidents with these big rigs can oftentimes turn deadly.

If you have been involved in an accident with one of these large vehicles and you believe that faulty equipment is to blame, it is vital for you to contact an experienced attorney. Companies are required to keep timely maintenance records for every vehicle and an attorney can help to retrieve this information.

Failing to keep trucks up to par on safety requirements and other safety standards can result in a serious accident and a costly litigation.
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A fatal accident between the Amtrak Downeaster and a tractor-trailer is being blamed on a distracted truck driver. Officials believe that the driver was operating a mobile communication device when the collision happened just south of Portland as he was heading to Boston, according to Bangor Daily News. In the fiery collision, the truck driver was killed and several others were injured.
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Our Boston personal injury attorneys understand just how dangerous using a cell phone or a text messaging device while driving can be. Unfortunately, there are many motorists who are unaware of these dangers, or fail to recognize them, and continue to put innocent residents in serious danger. To help combat this problem, the state of Massachusetts has enacted a law prohibiting drivers from texting at the wheel. As for talking on a cell phone, only drivers under the age of 18 and bus drivers have been banned, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

According to distraction.gov, there were about 5,500 people killed in 2009 in the United States because of car accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere that involved a distracted driver. Another 500,000 people were injured. These accidents accounted for about 20 percent of all of the accidents that were reported to have resulted in injury. Of distracted driving-related accidents, nearly 1,000 reports concluded that the use of a cell phone was the driver’s distraction. These types of accidents are becoming more and more frequent as technology continues to advance.

Officials looked into the truck driver’s GPS records, phone records and the records of other electronic equipment after the fatal Maine accident. They believe that a distraction was the most plausible reason as to why the truck, which was carrying about 20 tons of trash, was unable to stop for the passing train in time.

“The cause of this crash is driver inattention/distraction,” said North Berwick Police Lt. James Moulton, according to a press release.

According to accident reports, the garbage truck skidded for about 200 feet before colliding with the passing train, which burst into flames. Four train passengers and two Amtrak employees were injured. Police reports also indicate that the crossing’s gates and lights were working properly when the accident occurred.

The Downeaster was traveling with more than 100 passengers at about 70 mph when the accident happened.

Distracted driving habits are typically caused by three characteristics: visual, cognitive and manual. All three are required to safely navigate your way through congested city streets. Cell phone, text messaging devices and other hand-held devices all take a driver’s attention on our roadway. All of these activities greatly increase your risks of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. These risks can also be greatly reduced by simply putting down the phone. Help to make our roads a safer place.
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A recent Somerville trucking accident on Interstate 93 near Exit 29 took the life of a 27-year-old man from Lynn. According to state police, the accident happened as a flatbed truck was traveling southbound when one of the heavy-duty tires snapped the lone strap that was holding it to the bed of the truck.

Once the tire was launched into the highway, it bounced across the median into northbound traffic and smashed into the vehicle driven by the 27-year-old man, according to The Boston Globe. The incident caused the man’s car to roll on its side. The driver was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead from injuries sustained during impact.
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Our Massachusetts injury attorneys understand that truck cargo can kill when improperly secured. The tires that were being transported on the flatbed weighed approximately 400 pounds each. This is yet another example of the importance of ensuring a truck’s load is secured properly.

Highway officials shut down the interstate for about an hour and a half to conduct an investigation. Criminal charges are pending.

Unstable loads can happen to you, too. Inexperienced individuals can often over-pack and neglect to secure cargo when moving furniture, appliances and other household items. But most often, you’ll witness an unstable load on the bed of a commercial truck. These conditions can produce serious, costly and potentially fatal results.

Commercial truck drivers are required by law to make sure that the goods they’re transporting are properly restrained. There are a number of federal regulations in place to monitor the cargo of these truckers, including the requirement that limits the truck’s cargo weight. This is why you’re likely to see weigh stations along interstate roads, a clear effort to help enforce these limits.

These drivers are also required to ensure that their loads are secure. A truck’s contents must be restrained so that cargo does not slide around or fall off the truck. The proper restraint of these items helps to prevent rollover accidents and can prevent accidents. Neglecting to ensure that materials are secure can result in liability for damages to the trucker or trucking company.

According to the most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were nearly 3,400 deaths that were the result of traffic accidents that involved a large truck in the U.S. in 2009. Nearly 75,000 people were injured in these accidents. It was estimated that there were nearly 300,000 large trucks, with the gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more, on our roadways that year.

It is important to remember that if you experience an accident because of an unstable truckload, there are a number of parties that may share liability. All involved parties are responsible for following federal regulations to help reduce the risks of these types of accidents. If they fail to do so, they can be held liable for providing you with the proper compensation.
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Officials are looking for a way to make Interstate 93 a little bit safer. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently made a proposal to keep hazardous materials off of Boston’s waterfront and North End routes to I-93, according to The Boston Globe. Commercial vehicles with dangerous cargo can easily cause fatal accidents if not properly regulated, like in the Somerville car accident we recently told you about on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog.
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Our Boston injury attorneys understand that this proposal makes sense as it could potentially help to prevent fatal accidents on the interstate, but does it make sense to reroute these hazardous trucks through our neighborhoods? Everyone knows that both Routes 93 and 128 frequently experience heavy congestion. With more and more trucks on our roadways, the dangers are increasing. It’s not uncommon for motorists to hop off the interstate to continue their journey through nearby neighborhoods, but what happens when trucks are taking these alternative routes?

State Senator Katherine Clark is working to find a solution for this matter. She’s working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to help relieve the stress of overcrowded highways while maintaining neighborhood roadways. She’s looking to help reroute traffic through areas that are able to handle the traffic and the potential dangers that may come along with it.

Transportation department officials already have taken notice to the congestion problems at the Routes 128 and 93 interchanges. As a matter of fact, through recent investigation, that area was named as the most dangerous area for trucking accidents in Massachusetts, as hundreds of trucks navigate through these roadways carrying dangerous materials.

The Battelle Memorial Institute recently conducted a study and concluded that Cambridge and Boston are the only two cities in the area that have dedicated Hazardous Materials Teams. Many communities are dependent on the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services Regional Hazardous Materials Teams. The problem with this is that while the Boston team is able to respond to a call with 15 minutes on average, a regional team takes much longer. Smaller, residential fire units are not properly staffed to guarantee an efficient response time to a roadway disaster. Boston and Cambridge on the other hand have sufficient staff. That’s why traffic has been proposed to be rerouted through areas that are better equipped to take on the heavy traffic and to handle the potential dangers from certain trucks.

The state senator has been working alongside legislators in a number of communities in an attempt to sway transportation department officials to adopt a new route that can help relieve overburdened highways and maintain all safety standards.

Our Boston roadways can be extremely dangerous at times. Officials have enacted a number of road laws to help reduce the risks we often face while traveling along our congested interstates and highways. While some conditions may seem completely unavoidable, officials will continue to search for ways to eliminate these dangers, even if it means completely rerouting traffic.
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