As a Missouri 18-wheeler collision attorney, I have seen many families devastated by horrific accidents caused by careless semi truck drivers. The vast majority of these accidents could have been prevented if truckers had not been too exhausted or distracted to drive safely, or had not made poor judgments about their speed or following distance. Having seen so many of these cases, I was glad to see an article aimed at truck drivers that points out the benefits of driving safely and obeying the law for them and their careers. I hope that this article will be widely read and heeded.
Jim C. Klepper, the author of the article, says truck drivers need to take responsibility for educating themselves about all trucking laws and regulations, which may differ from state to state. They also must be aware of all of their company’s rules, policies, and procedures, and should keep copies of all of the laws, regulations, and company policies with them in their trucks so that they can keep on top of them. Obeying the law by avoiding speeding and tailgating helps truckers avoid accidents and hold onto their commercial driver’s licenses and their jobs. All trucking companies and their insurers want accident-free truck drivers, and under the new Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 program that I discussed recently, even the smallest infraction will show up on truck drivers’ records. Maintaining a scrupulously clean, law-abiding record, Klepper advises, is the surest way to move ahead as a truck driver.
Klepper is the president of a law firm that defends truckers, so he has truckers’ interests in mind. As a St. Louis semi trailer crash lawyer, my mind is always on the rights of victims of negligent truck drivers, so I’m pleased to see that Klepper and I agree that preventing accidents with safe driving and obeying the law benefits both groups. From the truckers’ perspective, complying with laws, regulations, and company policies helps them to be team players with their employer and helps them avoid getting in trouble with the Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or law enforcement. But it’s also vital that truckers drive safely and lawfully for the sake of drivers who share the roads with truckers, and who are vulnerable in crashes with trucks due to the sheer size and weight of large trucks.
As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study showed, many of the fatal crashes in which truck drivers were at fault resulted from exactly the kinds of illegal behaviors that Klepper cautions against. For example, 23% of truck drivers in the crashes under study were speeding, 9% were making illegal maneuvers, 7% were driving aggressively, 5% were following too closely, and 1% had used alcohol. Most of the other accidents in the study could be attributed to the drivers’ failures to obey trucking laws and regulations on things like the number of hours they could drive before taking a required rest period, or maintenance of their rigs.
Klepper doesn’t mention this in his advice to truck drivers, but as a southern Illinois semi truck accident attorney, I can tell them that there’s one more extremely important reason to know and obey trucking laws, regulations and policies: the law. If a truck driver is negligent and hurts someone, that driver may be required to pay large sums of money as compensation to that victim; will probably lose his or her job; and might even go to jail. Victims or their survivors can sue truckers and trucking companies for financial compensation, requiring those who caused the harm to pay for it. The compensation victims are entitled to may include medical costs, funeral costs, replacement of destroyed property such as the family car, lost past and future wages, and pain and suffering. This can, and often does, add up to six figures or more.
Precisely because that number can be so high, it’s important for anyone involved in a crash with a semi truck to contact a southern Illinois semi truck accident attorney right away. Truckers’ insurance companies sometimes try to persuade victims to sign away their rights to sue in exchange for a small sum of money. This has the effect of barring victims from being able to recover full compensation later — and the insurance companies know it, but most victims do not. Truckers’ insurance companies have their own interests in mind and their own professionals with expertise in protecting those interests. It’s only fair that victims also have their own professional, expert representation to help them put their lives back together after a truck driver’s negligence hurt them.
If you or a loved one have been hurt by a negligent semi truck driver, please contact Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. To set up an appointment, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.