Even when there are federal and state standards in place to regulate transportation safety, sometimes these regulations are either ignored, enforcement is lax, or enforcement is delayed. This has proven the case recently in the federal regulation of commercial driver safety, and as a result, fatal collisions have occurred.
According to a recent story, a truck driver crashed into emergency vehicles on the highway, resulting in the death of a tollway worker and critical injury to a state trooper. The exact cause of the accident is not yet known, but what has been established is that the truck driver had been driving for more than 36 hours at the time of the crash, and was working after having as little as 3 and ½ hours of sleep.
Trucking Safety Regulations
All truck drivers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country must abide by strict state and national safety guidelines. For example, the federal safety rules mandate that a licensed commercial driver can work no longer than 14 hour shifts, only 11 hours of which they can actually spend driving.
Unfortunately, many drivers circumvent these rules by falsifying their logbooks to reflect fewer hours than they have actually worked. For this reason, there has been a push by safety advocates to move trucking companies from paper logbooks to e-logbooks. The argument is that these electronic books are far harder to falsify, allowing up to the minute reporting of driving status. Yet, the shift to e-records has only just begun, and early indicators suggest that there are still many technological kinks to be worked out. In fact, during the transition, it has actually been more difficult to identify when workers are falsifying their logbooks and causing potentially dangerous and life-threatening scenarios on our highways.
Legal Action Following Truck Accidents
As with all accidents that cause serious harm, there is the potential for both criminal and civil penalties. For example, the truck driver in this incident was charged with “operating a commercial vehicle while impaired/fatigued, filing a false report of record and duty status, driving more than 14 hours, and driving beyond the 11 hour rule.”
In addition to criminal charges for those breaking traffic rules and safety regulations, those actually harmed in the incident may have civil options. When a driver intentionally or negligently jeopardizes the safety of others on the road and causes an accident, a victim of the collision may have options to seek compensation for the harm that they have suffered. Commercial drivers must comply with both federal and state standards of conduct. When they breach such standards, whether it is by intentional noncompliance (like falsifying logbooks) or through their own negligence (like driving when sleep deprived), and when it results in an accident, a victim may have a cause of action for any damages.
The Pennsylvania truck accident lawyers at Solnick & Associates LLC are here to help families in the aftermath of devastating truck accidents. Contact us or call (215) 481-9979 today for a free confidential consultation.