Posted in Tractor Trailer Accidents on February 26, 2020
Everything you buy is brought to you by a truck. And with economic growth, there are more and more things being purchased and transported. That means there are more and more trucks out there, which means there will be more semi truck accidents. But relatively speaking, truck drivers are safer than passenger car drivers. Commercial trucks are involved in 2.4% of all car accidents. More than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver. Trucks are 3 times less likely to be in a wreck than a regular motor vehicle. Yet, even though the statistics seem to point to the relative safety of truck drivers over passenger car drivers, the severity and mortality of a truck accident is extremely high for passenger car drivers.
If you have been involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler, there are far more factors and things to consider than with a basic automobile incident. This is because there are specific regulations that cover a commercial vehicle under both Federal and Texas State law.
What qualifies as a “commercial vehicle” depends upon the size and weight of the vehicle and what is being transported (people, property, hazardous chemicals, etc.) An 18-wheeler is a commercial vehicle, and as such, both the driver and carrier must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).
These regulations are quite broad and cover every aspect of driving a truck, and thus it’s difficult to list every potential violation that might lead to liability of the driver or the trucking company. Nevertheless, here are some general areas.
However, merely obtaining a CDL does not mean that the driver is ready to drive a semi. It just means that they can start to become “qualified” to drive a commercial truck. Measuring the competency and training the driver is the trucking companies’ responsibility.
Good help is hard to find, and a real problem for the trucking industry is that there is a large shortage of drivers, and the issue is expected to double in the next decade.
There are approximately 2 million semi trucks in the United States. There are approximately 3.5 million drivers. There are approximately 1.2 million trucking companies/carriers in the United States. Of that amount, 90% have fewer than 6 trucks, which means that most carriers are “small” carriers.
Larger trucking companies will have a safety department and a safety manager, whose only job is safety. Generally, these companies tend to hire better and more qualified drivers, and to train and monitor those drivers.
At the other end of the spectrum are small companies that have a few trucks, and no safety managers. These companies can even be owned and operated by a person that has never driven a truck before. (Yes, you too can start your own trucking company! All that has to be done is to get a DOT number, hire a few drivers, and you’re in business!) These smaller companies are likely not to have a qualified safety manager and might not understand the DOT/FMSCR requirements. They hire less qualified drivers. They are involved in more accidents.
Some of these smaller fly-by-night companies eventually get shut down by the DOT, after which the company will change its name slightly and apply for a new DOT number. They then start operations just as before. These carriers are known as “Chameleon Carriers,” and they pose a big problem to the driving public.