If you have been involved in one of the many truck accidents that take place every winter here in Western Pennsylvania, then you're lucky to be reading this because chances are that you may have been killed and have likely suffered serious injuries. The sheer mass of a commercial tractor trailer offers you virtually no room to avoid a collision when one seems imminent. Many truck accidents end in lifelong injuries and one in every eight end in at least one fatality. And the number one reason for these accidents is driver fatigue. Even the best truck drivers in the world need rest. Unfortunately, however, truck drivers spend long hours on the open road each day to ensure their loads reach customers in a timely manner. When drivers don't get enough sleep, they fail to safely operate what are essentially multi-ton death machines speeding down highways at speeds of up to 75-80 mph.
Federal trucking laws
Of course, there are federal laws that regulate the amount of hours a driver is able to spend behind the wheel of his or her truck. Current restrictions confine drivers to no more than fifteen driving hours within a twenty-four hour time period. And during those fifteen hours, a driver may not spend more than ten hours driving without a stop or break. Newer laws also require commercial truck drivers to keep continual data entries in a log book that shows their driving, sleeping, and break times. Log books are kept and supposed to be checked regularly in an effort to enforce driver safety laws.
Drivers are lying on their logs
In a recent study, however, researchers found that log books are fudged far more than many people, including lawmakers, may realize. Some anonymous drivers even admitted to bringing two sets of log books along with them to work in case there is ever a problem and they need to provide false proof that they were indeed following the rules.
When a trucker is in an accident, the first call to action is for the driver in question to submit his or her log book as evidence to authorities. Investigators and personal injury attorneys are then allowed to check the log for erroneous entries and long periods of driving times leading up to the accident. But truckers who were interviewed tell researchers that they have "lost" log books in the chaos of an accident and some even admitted to filling out their books moments after an accident has occurred before even exiting the cabin of their truck!
Electronic log books are not as accurate as many assume
To combat problems of truckers "losing" their log books, many of the top trucking companies from around the country have employed electronic log books, or e-logs. E-logs are maintained by the trucking company instead of the trucker. Entries are transmitted via the internet and transportation inspectors at weigh stations all over the country are able to review the log entries upon routine weigh and inspection stops.
The advent of e-books was successful for a while until truck drivers realized that they could simply lie about their location on the road, allowing them to drive longer hours at faster speeds. The person employed to check the e-books has the responsibility of determining how fast a driver arrives at his or her destination compared to the number of miles traveled. However, when a driver lies about his or her location, he or she is able work around the system and travel further, faster, and longer than mandated by federal law. This allows drivers to enjoy an extended amount of break time before they have to pick up another load. Many truckers admit to working longer and getting to a destination as quickly as possible so that they can have a full day off before they have to get back on the road.
This makes it difficult for companies to accurately track where their truckers are, but an experienced truck accident attorney can usually figure out, between close examinations of drop-off logs and personal questioning, when a trucker has given false information about his or her driving habits.
Trucking companies are negligent too
But truckers aren't the only problem. Trucking companies have also been outed by anonymous truckers who say their superiors are in on the scam and receive promotions and bonuses based on the speed and accuracy at which shipments arrive and are picked up. These are serious federal offenses, especially when a life-threatening or fatal accident occurs and you or a loved one is the victim.
Talk to an experienced truck accident attorney today
It takes just less than two seconds for a driver to close his or her eyes to significantly delay reaction times. Because of the extreme sensitivity of these cases, it is highly recommended that you seek a proven truck accident attorney to handle your potential case. More than anything, you will need the knowledge and experience that a good truck accident law firm like Goodrich & Geist can provide. If you have any questions about what you've read here or other questions about truck accidents, please feel free to call the Pittsburgh truck accidents attorneys at Goodrich & Geist today at 412-766-1455.