Published on January 11, 2008
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice whaT Causes LaRge TRuCk aCCiDeNTs Mr. Ronca is a truck accident attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. he has twice been named a Pennsylvania super Lawyer . Index: The Most Common Causes for Fatal Traffic Accidents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2a Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2b danger, danger, Truck driving at night Causes More Truck Accidents . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Truck Overloading Accounts For 5 Percent Of Tractor Trailer Accidents . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Big Rig Accidents Caused by Large Truck design defects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-6 Bad Weather Is Another Major Cause For Truck Accidents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7-8 drug and Alcohol Abuse: Why do Commercial Truck drivers Take the Risk? . . . . . . . .9 What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice TRAFFIC ACCI- MOTOR CARRIeR denTS kILL ThOu- MAnAgeMenT SAndS OF PeOPLe InFORMATIOn eACh yeAR. SySTeM (MCMIS) Every year thousands of trucking all states are required to report crash- fatalities occur—and hundreds of es involving a truck or bus along thousands more are injured as the with defined severity criteria, to the result of truck accidents. MCMIS Crash file, maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier safety ad- In 2003, 457,000 large trucks with a ministration (FMCsa). The FMCsa gross vehicle weight rating greater than uses safety event data provided by 10,000 pounds were involved in traf- the states to evaluate their safety fic crashes in the United States; 4,669 programs. trucks were involved in fatal traffic ac- State-reported crash and roadside cidents. inspection records in MCMIS have Of the fatalities that resulted from been evaluated based on snapshot truck accidents involving large trucks, of the events that occurred April 1, 78 percent were occupants in another 2006 through March 31, 2007. vehicle, and only 15 percent were occupants of a large truck. Consequently, the majority who suffers as a result of fatal traffic accidents is innocent drivers and Pa was one of 10 states with fair passengers just like you. However, truck driver fatalities are also a great concern. rating. Thirty-seven states had good ratings and 3 states had poor ratings The most common causes for fatal traffic accidents are: (New Mexico, New Jersey, and Mas- sachusetts). • Lack of truck driver training or ex- • Driving over the speed limit or at perience high speeds for the road conditions Pa rated fair overall. Pa rated fair in • Overloaded or oversized trucks • Driving in conditions of poor vis- the number of crashes reported and ibility due to fog, snow, rain, or the number of truck inspections re- • Poorly maintained truck brakes smoke ported as timelines. Pa rated poorly • Fatigued driver; driving too long in the number of crashes accurately • Dangerous or reckless truck driver and too many hours without rest reported. with a long record of wrecks and fa- • Failure to yield the right of way tal traffic accidents New Jersey did worse, rating poorly • Truck drivers driving under the in- • aggressive driving behavior in overall crash reporting timelines. fluence of drugs and alcohol NJ rated good in the number of • Failure of truck to install an under- • Unsafe safety systems, reflectors, crashes reported and poor the num- ride protection under-guard. lights, and other warning devices ber of truck inspections reported as timelines. • Running off the road What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com. 2
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice In a recent case, a night driving ex- pert who was published in respected engineering journals was able to show how construction ahead warn- ing signs were not back far enough to allow truck drivers to adjust their speed. as the truck approached traf- fic, which had slowed to a stop be- cause of construction, the truck driv- er was too close to bring his truck to a stop without crashing into the cars ahead of him. while the truck driver bore respon- sibility for not being able to stop dAngeR, TRuCk dRIvIng AT nIghT his truck, the construction company CAuSeS MORe TRuCk ACCIdenTS also was responsible for not giving enough warning. The requirements set forth in the Department of Trans- “Driving a truck at night is particu- as he approaches is inhibited at night. portation publications for warnings larly dangerous because the truck Frequently, a truck driver doesn’t real- before a construction site (barrels, has a much longer stopping distance ize that the vehicles ahead are stopped cones, warning signs) are consid- than a passenger automobile,” af- until he is too close to stop his truck. ered minimum standards and a traffic firms Jim Ronca, Pennsylvania truck even if trucks are traveling at low control plan has to be established for driving attorney. speeds, their sheer massive size will each construction zone based on the do tremendous damage to a passenger “In fact, if a truck is going over 50 mph circumstances at that particular con- automobile. at night, it cannot stop with the range struction zone. of its low-beam headlights. Despite Pennsylvania law firm Anapol “Frequently, for the reasons stated the fact that truck drivers have had schwartz had a lawsuit case where a above,” says Ronca. “Road construc- commercial driver’s license training, truck moving at under 10 mph folded tion should provide more advance most have no idea what is the stopping a Toyota Camry completely in half, warnings to protect the driving pub- distance of their truck, nor the range of trunk over hood; then, rode up on top lic and prevent big truck crashes.” their headlights.” of the Toyota Camry and crushed it like a pancake. Do you need a truck accident lawyer Night driving presents significant in your corner? Tell us what happened problems of determining how fast The reason drivers need to act and and let’s find out how we can help other vehicles are going on the road. drive like professionals are because you file a truck accident lawsuit. established engineering studies dem- of the massive amounts of energy and onstrate that a driver’s ability to de- force associated with trucks even at Continued Online termine whether vehicles ahead are slow speeds. stopped or are simply moving slowly What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice Lookout. An overloaded large truck is a fatal accident waiting to happen to you. There’s a potential killer domino ef- fect here. an overloaded vehicle is already in the wrong. it’s overloaded because of the pressure to deliver on schedule. another way to arrive on schedule is to drive too fast. Now you have a tractor trail- er with an overloaded vehicle who is driving too fast. Both of TRuCk OveRLOAdIng ACCOunTS FOR these nega- tives will 5% OF TRACTOR TRAILeR ACCIdenTS affect a driver’s ability to control a Why do trucking companies overload trucks? truck. Loads that are overweight, overloaded, unbalanced, or shift Commercial trucking companies overload cargo because of greed and time. while moving are lethal elements in Trucking companies are under pressure to deliver on a schedule which most causing a driver to lose it all and lose likely encourages overloading. Also with higher fuel costs, the less trips having control. if the load shifts when mak- to be made – the more profitable the journey for the trucking company. ing a lane change or sudden turn, the truck may rollover. What’s not being taken into consideration is that by overloading, it shortens the service life of the truck. Overloading is a huge liability especially since it’s so Federal, state, and local regulations avoidable and unjustified. govern the weight of commercial ve- hicles. However, that is not enough Overloading causes increased tire failure because the tractor trailer runs hotter, of a deterrent to overloading. has faster brake wear, less fuel economy, and unnecessary downtime caused by premature wear and tear on the transmission. an overloaded tractor trailer truck takes longer to stop and will most likely rear end another vehicle when it needs to make an emergency stop. Overloaded commercial trucks go slower uphill and faster downhill. Continued Online What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice The Large Truck Crash Causation BIg RIg ACCIdenTS SOMe BIg RIg Study (LTCCs) was conducted by the CAuSed By deSIgn deSIgn deFeCTS Federal Motor Carrier safety adminis- deFeCTS CAuSe: tration (FMCsa) and the National high- way Traffic Safety Administration (NHT- Brake Deficiency Big rig accidents almost always in- sa) of the united states Department volve severe injuries that may include of Transportation (DOT). Large Truck Big rigs use air brakes. Most are drum permanent disabilities and loss of life. Crash Causation Study is the first-ever like units. air enters the chamber when More than 25% of all big rig accidents national study to attempt to determine the brakes are applied, the push rod are caused by large truck design defects. the critical events and associated factors moves out turning the slack adjuster Big rig brake that contribute which rotates the s-cam and forces the problems ac- to serious large shoes into the drum. counted for al- truck crashes most 30% of Brakes are one big heat engine con- so agencies the truck acci- verting kinetic energy or motion into within DOT dents compared thermal energy or heat. suppose a 400- and others can to only 5% of passenger vehicles. Other horsepower engine grosses out at 80,000 implement effective countermeasures to truck design defects included vehicle pounds. A full stop from 60 mph might reduce the occurrence and severity of rollover, fires, jackknife, cargo shift, and raise the drum temperatures to 600 de- these crashes. component problems with brakes, tires, grees F. This is about the limit for safe steering, engine, and lights. Accord- This table shows the estimated number operation. if the brakes aren’t right or ing to a three-year study based on the of trucks involved in crashes nationwide the load is not distributed properly, causes of large truck accidents, brake by specific factors (in this case large then some drums might go up to 800 to deficiencies account for 26% of big rig truck design defects) associated with the 1,000 degrees F. The drum will increase accidents. The study was released by the particular crash in which that truck was in diameter as the temperature rises. Federal Motor Carrier safety adminis- involved. Continued on page 6 tration (FMCSA) in March 2006. What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice SOMe CAuSeS OF BIg RIg deSIgn deFeCTS: (COnTInued) Brake Failure Wheel Blowouts Downhill runs make severe demands on when tire tread on a big rig becomes old brakes. Big rig brakes had better be right or defective, a blowout will most likely used with the correct braking technique occur. a blowout can result in immediate for optimum safety to the bottom. in re- loss of control, such as when the back end cent years there had been erroneous infor- of the truck begins to fishtail. When this mation about how to brake on long down happens, the truck can flip or go airborne, hills by incorrectly suggesting that a con- causing a rollover. a blowout can also tinuous application of the brakes was the cause the truck to stop abruptly, which can preferred method. intermittent application start the ripple effect for a massive pile up or what the trucking industry refers to as especially during bad weather. snubbing is the preferred method. Unsecured Loads The key to correct brake procedure is air when equipment or loads are not prop- pressure -- the application pressure should erly secured, it can shift or fall off the big be high enough to get all the truck brakes rig which causes a debris-laden obstacle working. Downhill break failure can be course for other vehicles. when a truck prevented when all the brakes are work- driver changes lanes or turns with an un- ing some of the time instead of some of secured load, the inside of a trailer can the brakes working all the time. The ap- shift and cause the vehicle to lose control. plication pressure must be high enough to ensure that all brake chambers apply and A big rig accident causes bigger prob- that all linings make solid contact with the lems. Now is the time to retain a lawyer drums - about 20 psi or higher. who will get tough with the trucking com- panies and those responsible for your ac- Jackknifes cident. Contact Jim Ronca, a Pennsylva- a jackknife occurs when a big rig with nia big rig lawyer who doesn’t take no for a tractor goes into a skid and the trailer an answer. swings out and stops at a 90-degree angle. Continued Online Jackknifing usually occurs when the drive wheels lock while the front wheels and the trailer keep rolling forward. a jackknife most likely starts the ripple effect for mul- tiple car pile ups, which can be the horrific cause of many fatalities. What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice BAd WeATheR IS AnOTheR MAjOR CAuSe FOR hIghWAy TRuCkIng ACCIdenTS. you cannot blame Mother Nature for high winds, fog, dust storms, snow- storms, slippery roads, wet pavement or torrential rains but you can blame the truck driver who continues to put the pedal to the metal regardless of danger- ous road conditions. and you can blame the trucking company who doesn’t allow their truck drivers to cut back or adjust their working schedule to accommodate hazardous road conditions. Pennsylvania’s Department of Transpor- tation (PennDOT) has expanded Rwis to 79 sites that collect real time winter roadway conditions, using meteorologi- cal and pavement sensors. each site re- ports pavement temperature; wet, dry, frost, frozen surface characteristics’ and amounts of de-icing agent on the surface. each site updates the information every 15 minutes to one hour. In winter, more frequent updates can be obtained during been nominated by their peers, reviewed as a result of the increasing number of winter storms. by a blue ribbon panel and evaluated by tractor trailer wrecks, large truck colli- “There’s no excuse for not knowing an attorney-led research staff. sions, and other accidents, the federal weather conditions”, stresses Jim Ronca, government created the Federal Motor Federal truck regulations require driv- Pennsylvania Truck Lawyer. “By using Carrier safety Regulations (FMCsR.) ers to adjust their truck operation during the Road weather information system The FMCsR are laws that certain truck inclement weather. hazardous road con- RWIS, drivers can stay informed about drivers and truck companies must follow ditions negatively impact visibility and road conditions throughout Pa’s inter- when operating their tractor trailers. traction. Drivers are required to slow states.” down regardless of schedule conflicts Continued Online For the past two years, James R. Ronca or cease operation until road conditions (Jim) has received the Pennsylvania Su- improve. Most truck drivers have had per Lawyer designation which is present- little if any training how to operate their ed to outstanding attorneys who have trucks in bad weather. What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com. 7
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice The United States Code of Fed- The Surface Transportation Assistance Act (known eral Regulations [49 C.F.R. as STAA) §392.14] provides in pertinent sTaa prohibits an employer from dis- Driving a truck is a macho job. Driv- part as follows: ciplining or firing a commercial driver ers don’t like to appear weak and truck extreme caution in the operation of because that driver refuses to drive a companies don’t like to lose money a commercial motor vehicle shall be commercial motor vehicle on the high- which is why truck drivers continue to exercised when hazardous condi- ways in violation of Federal safety reg- drive recklessly and cause fatal truck tions, such as those caused by snow, ulations. The sTaa also prohibits an accidents. ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or employer from disciplining or firing a smoke, adversely affect visibility commercial driver because that driver “are you ready to get tough tactics for or traction. speed shall be reduced refuses to operate a commercial vehicle truck accidents,’’ says Jim Ronca. “You when such conditions exist. if con- when he has a reasonable apprehen- deserve a fair shot at justice. Let me ditions become sufficiently danger- sion of serious injury to himself or the help!” ous, the operation of the commercial public because of the vehicle’s unsafe motor vehicle shall be discontinued condition. and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. when a driver claims that he has been wrongfully disciplined or fired in viola- While this sounds good on paper, tion of STAA, his case may be heard by there is no clear cut explanation de- officials of the U.S. Department of La- fining when a driver shall discon- bor (DOL). The DOL has decided only tinue operations due to bad weather. a handful of cases where a driver has particular crash in which that truck been fired for refusing to drive due to was involved. bad weather. Continued Online What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice dRug And ALCOhOL ABuSe: Drugged Driving is Hazardous Drugs act on the brain and can alter Why Do Commercial Truck Drivers Take the Risk? perception, cognitive behavior, at- In one study of 168 fatally injured truck drivers in eight states, 33 percent tested tention, balance, and coordination, positive for psychoactive drugs or alcohol. required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ de- a psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical substance that pri- pending on their mechanisms of ac- marily acts on the central nervous system where it alters brain function resulting tion, the amount consumed, the his- in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness, and behavior. These tory of the user, and other factors. drugs may be used recreationally to purposely alter a person’s consciousness or therapeutically as medication. Marijuana affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, Psychoactive substances include anes- balance, coordination, memory, and thesia; painkillers such as narcotics with judgment abilities, as well as sensa- morphine and codeine and NsaiDs and tions. Because these effects are mul- aspirin; psychiatric medications such tifaceted, more research is required as antidepressants and stimulants and to understand marijuana’s impact on drugs that are used as mood stabilizers, the ability of drivers to react to com- depressants, and anti-anxiety meds; plex and unpredictable situations. plus recreational drugs like marijuana. studies have found that many driv- Truck drivers have a buffet of drugs at ers who test positive for alcohol also their disposal including meth which is test positive for marijuana, making becoming more and more popular be- it clear that drinking and drugged cause a truck driver will be wide awake driving are often linked behaviors. (and terribly impaired) for hours on end. Truck drivers report that finding Many prescription medications act a meth fix at truck stops has become on systems in the brain that could incapable of driving safely, or causes easier and easier. If there’s a demand; impair driving ability. In fact, many the driver to be impaired. there’s a supply. prescription drugs come with warn- The main concern regarding drugged ings against the operation of ma- In 12 states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, driving is that driving under the influ- chinery—including vehicles—for Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, ence of any drug that acts on the brain a specified period of time after use. Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, could impair a truck driver’s motor when prescription drugs are taken Utah, and Wisconsin), it is illegal to op- skills, reaction time, and judgment. without medical supervision im- erate a motor vehicle with any detect- Drugged driving is a public health con- paired driving and other harmful re- able level of a prohibited drug, or its cern because it puts not only the truck actions can also result. metabolites, in the driver’s blood. Oth- driver at risk, but also every other vehi- er state laws define drugged driving as cle and pedestrian that shares the road. Continued Online driving when a drug renders the driver What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com.
Free Case Review. Toll Free. No Obligation. 877-55-highway Direct: (877) 554-4449 Truck AccidenT Advice About Jim Ronca Mr. Ronca is a civil trial attorney with over twenty years of experience. This is the second con- secutive year that he has been named a Pennsylvania su- per Lawyer—a des- ignation given to outstanding attorneys who have been nominated by their peers, reviewed by a blue ribbon panel and eval- uated by an attorney-led research staff. Jim practices includes Medical Injury cases, pharmaceutical and medical device cases, construction site injury litigation and major car and truck collision cases. Jim has given over 250 individual semi- nars on these topics for various state and national bar and trial lawyer associations. Every year thousands of trucking fatalities oc- Jim has also served on the steering com- cur—and hundreds of thousands more are injured mittee for a statewide medical device liti- as the result of truck accidents. gation and as co chair of a litigation group on prescription drug litigation. Of the fatalities that resulted from truck accidents involving large trucks, 78 percent were occupants in another vehicle. Consequently, the majority Mr. Ronca has been appointed to numer- who suffer as a result of fatal traffic accidents are innocent drivers and ous committees including the Pennsylva- passengers just like you. nia Bar association’s special Committee to study Tort Law and Pennsylvania Judi- If you or a loved one has been the victim of a truck accident injury or cial evaluation Commission. he also co- fatality, contact an expert truck accident injuries lawyer, for a NO- authored the most widely used reference OBLIGATION, free consultation. book on automobile personal injury insur- ance law. Call (877) 554-4449 Jim has opened the Harrisburg office of Or log on to: anapol schwartz and will continue to www.anapolschwartz.com/pa-truck-accident handle cases throughout Central Pa. What Causes Large Truck Accidents Prepared by Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz. © 2007 All Rights Reserved. Read more information online at www.anapolschwartz.com. 0
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