What Are the Most Common Causes of Atlanta Truck Accidents?
DISTRACTED DRIVING AND COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
Distracted driving is a large problem for people operating regular passenger cars. Distracted driving is a huge problem for truck drivers because of the massive pieces of machinery which they operate on the roadways and highways. The FMCSA performed an outstanding study of distracted driving and the operation of commercial trucks. The FMCSA has banned texting while driving a large truck and may soon ban cell phone use by truck drivers unless a hand-free device is used.
ALCOHOL USE BY TRUCK DRIVERS
The use of alcohol is, of course, regulated regardless of whether one is driving a car or tractor-trailer. However, the use of alcohol is strongly monitored and regulated in connection with the operation of commercial vehicles. In fact, the FMCSA precludes the use of alcohol for a number of hours before operation of a big truck. Further, alcohol testing of truck drivers is mandatory in many post-accident scenarios, regardless of whether the responding police officer believes that alcohol played a role in the wreck.
COMMERCIAL DRIVER FATIGUE
Driver fatigue or “tired driving” is an issue which has become increasingly important in recent years. The FMCSA actually sets forth rules and regulations pertaining to whether a driver is even allowed to operate a tractor-trailer when he may be fatigued. We have handled cases where various documents (the bills of lading, driver’s logs, and meal receipts) show that the truck driver had been driving for too long and was obviously drowsy, thereby causing a wreck.
STOPPED OR DISABLED TRACTOR-TRAILERS
When a small car is stopped or disabled on the side of a road or highway, it may present a problem for passing motorists. When a huge tractor-trailer is disabled on the roadway, the vehicle presents a grave danger for those in the area, particularly if visibility is limited. The truck and trailer are usually massive pieces of machinery. If a passing car collides with the tractor or trailer, there is usually a terrible consequence. The FMCSA has set forth numerous rules which a driver must follow if his truck becomes disabled in or around the roadway. We have seen many cases of motorists colliding with stopped or disabled trucks which were not appropriately marked and did not have the necessary reflective triangles deployed.
It is important to understand that Georgia, and most other states, impose their own rules on commercial drivers and vehicles. Generally speaking, the FMCSA rules are the most important for lawsuits involving truck claims. The Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) regulates motor carriers which operate within the state of Georgia only (i.e., intrastate carriers). In practice, the GPSC had adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations as the law for motor carriers in Georgia.
We encourage you to review our past results in trucking cases, review what our prior clients have said about our work, and then call our firm for a free evaluation of your trucking case. The Atlanta truck accident lawyer is ready to help you today.
UNQUALIFIED TRUCK DRIVERS
As an Atlanta truck accident attorney, I have seen many tragic cases of people badly injured or killed by a truck driver who should never have been on the road. Many truck wreck cases are focused upon the truck driver’s history of accidents while driving commercial vehicles. However, it is important to investigate whether the truck driver even should have been behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.
First, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that, with very limited exceptions, anyone operating a commercial vehicle (think big truck, tractor-trailer) must have a Commercial Driver’s License. CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) Applicants must have a “good” driving record. To the FMCSA, a “good driving record” means that during the two years before the driver tries to get a CDL he has not had his license suspended, revoked, and has not had any serious traffic or driving offense (which would be disqualifying) as noted in 42 C.F.R. 383.51. The common sense purpose behind these rules is that the federal government (and by extension state governments) do not want people who have proven themselves unsafe in passenger cars to be operating a 60,000 pound truck.
A truck driver is also permitted to have only one driver’s license. This allows for consistent and effective monitoring of the driver’s license. In addition, a driver must demonstrate appropriate knowledge and skill with respect to the inspection and operation of a tractor-trailer.
Knowing that even a skilled and qualified driver may cause a serious wreck, the FMCSA mandates that trucking companies maintain a minimum level of financial responsibility. This serves to provide at least some compensation to victims of truck accidents.