July 17, 2014

What Causes Truck Collisions in Miami and Other Cities?

Determining whether you have a personal injury claim in Miami or your Florida community often stems from understanding what caused your traffic collision in the first place. This is because you need to be able to determine whether negligence played a role in the crash. According to statistics, the most common causes of trucking accidents include:

1) Mechanical failure. Mechanical failure can stem from defective brakes or tires. In these cases, it may be possible to pursue a products liability claim in Miami or your community against the manufacture of the defective truck or truck part. However, not all tire blowouts in Miami and other instances of mechanical failure stem from poor design or from manufacturing flaws. In some cases, poor maintenance leads to roadway accidents. For example, truck carriers and drivers may fail to replace worn tires, may fail to load cargo correctly, or may fail to act on warning signs of maintenance issues. In these situations, the truck carrier or driver may be held partly liable if their recklessness leads to a roadway collision.

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2) Driver error. A study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that driver error contributes to about 88% of trucking collisions, with fatigued driving being a leading cause of error.

3) Cargo problems. Incorrectly loaded or secured cargo may fall from the truck, leading to chain reaction collisions in Miami or other communities. Incorrectly balanced or inadequately secured loads can shift during transport, putting big rigs and tractor trailers at risk for rollovers.

4) Bad weather. Adverse weather conditions can make it harder for truck drivers to stop in time to avoid a collision and poor weather can also affect visibility, which can contribute to a collision. Even in these cases, however, it is important to ask questions. For example, did poor road design contribute to the collision? Did the truck’s wipers and other systems function correctly to compensate for the weather? In some cases, an investigation shows that even trucking collisions seemingly caused by weather conditions were in fact preventable.

5) Other motorists. Some statistics show that negligent drivers in passenger cars contribute to trucking collisions. In fact, some safety experts note that drivers of passenger cars are more likely to cause roadway crashes than truck drivers, who do have more extensive training and often more driving experience.

If you have been in a trucking collision, it is important to get answers about what caused your collision and about who the liable parties may be. You may wish to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options and to get answers. A personal injury attorney can review the facts of your case and may also launch an investigation into the collision to find out what led to the crash.

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July 15, 2014

Will Florida’s New Law Reduce the Risk of Waste Truck Collisions?

Waste truck collisions in Miami, Homestead, and other Florida cities are a cause for concern. Although often low-speed crashes, these accidents pose a high risk for injury, since waste trucks are so heavy and large. These collisions especially tend to affect pedestrians who may be trying to get around the truck. In many cases, motorists and pedestrians may not notice the frequent stops waste trucks make.

Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7005 into law. The transportation bill includes rules that will hopefully help prevent recycling and waste truck collisions. One part of the bill includes waste and recycling trucks in the state’s “Move Over Act.” The “Move Over Act” has been in Florida for some time and requires drivers to move over one lane or slow down to 20 mph under the posted speed limit when approaching a tow truck or emergency vehicle. The law was aimed at reducing pedestrian accidents in Miami and other cities caused by drivers passing too close to emergency workers and tow truck drivers who were assisting people on the side of the road. Thanks to the passage of House Bill 7005 into law, recycling and waste trucks will now be included, potentially preventing Florida and Miami roadway collisions involving recycling and sanitation workers.

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The National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) has praised the new law and has also continued its own efforts to pass “Slow Down to Get Around” laws in other states. The organization also has a “Slow Down to Get Around” campaign to alert drivers of the importance of slowing down and driving with more caution when driving near or around sanitation trucks. The campaign is meant to help reduce traffic accidents as well as sanitation worker workplace accidents in Miami and other cities.

Safety experts and the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) have a few tips for drivers to help them avoid car collisions in Miami and other cities:

1) Keep in mind that waste and recycling collection trucks make frequent stops and have larger blind spots. Driving near these vehicles is not like driving near other cars – or even near commercial trucks. Drivers need to be more alert and prepared to stop.

2) Be aware of pedestrian traffic around sanitation trucks. Workers need to move from the truck to the sidewalk to pick up recyclables and other items. This makes them vulnerable to collisions. When you see a sanitation truck stopped or parked, keep alert for any workers in the area.

3) On your own waste and recycling collection day, use extra caution when leaving your driveway for work. When backing up, make sure that there are no city workers in your blind spots. On collection day, place your recycling and any other items for pick-up at the appropriate place on the curb.

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July 10, 2014

Changes in Attitudes Needed to Reduce Trucking Collisions in Hollywood and Florida

There is no doubt that fatigued driving in Hollywood and across the country leads to trucking collisions. Each year, thousands of people are injured or killed in trucking collisions in Hollywood and across the nation because big rig drivers and tractor trailer drivers get behind the wheel when they are too tired to drive safely.

Even though the risks of fatigued driving are well-known, there is much disagreement as to how to address the issue. Earlier this year, new hours of service regulations were passed which would require different rests breaks and would lower maximum hours driven per week from 82 to 70. Safety advocates claimed that the hours of service rules did not go far enough and still allowed long-haul truckers to stay on the roads for much longer than may be safe.

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The trucking industry did not agree with the changes either, stating that the new rules require two rest periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each week, which would put truck drivers back on the roads during morning rush hour, potentially creating the risk for more collisions. Some legislators are seeking an amendment through Senate that would freeze the new hours of service rules until more research could be done to determine the rules’ effect on roadway safety.

Trucking industry officials have also stated that giving long-haul drivers more flexibility about rest periods would be more conducive to sleep and rest between driving times. They have further argued that simply cutting back hours would lower productivity and put more trucks on the roads, which could increase the risk of motor vehicle collisions in Hollywood and other cities.

Even doing research about fatigued driving is difficult, in part because fatigue is challenging to measure and problematic to prove after the fact. A 1990 study by the Transportation Safety Board concluded that fatigued driving played a role in 182 commercial truck crashes studies. In a 2006 study, however, the Department of Transportation concluded that fatigued driving plays a role in 13% of trucking accidents.

While many experts focus on passing laws that would reduce fatigued driving and crashes, part of the problem with fatigued driving is that it can be so hard to legislate. A driver can technically obey the hours of service rules and still be a danger on the road. Drivers may be unable to sleep during their rest periods, for example, or may suffer from sleep disorders or health conditions that leave them fatigued even when they get the mandated number of rest breaks.

Clearly, passing new laws is not enough. What needs to change are attitudes. Rather than trying to simply state how many hours a driver must rest, more needs to be done to give drivers the tools needed to stay safe on the roads. This may mean providing more health services so that truck drivers can address any symptoms or problems before they become a hazard. It can also mean paying truck drivers well, even if they need to make a safer decision to take an unscheduled rest break due to fatigue. The way trucking is set up is that truck drivers are paid by cargo delivered and miles driven. There is a financial incentive to push past fatigue and keep driving.

What do you think? What needs to be done to help prevent fatigued driving from claiming more lives?

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July 8, 2014

How Can We Reduce the Number of Trucking Collisions in Homestead and Other Florida Communities?

Trucking and traffic collisions in Homestead and other communities are a major concern, especially since big rigs and tractor trailers have the potential to cause massive devastation in crashes. A commercial truck carrying flammable materials, for example, can cause an explosion or a fire that can damage businesses and can injure bystanders over a large area. A truck rollover in Homestead or anywhere in Florida can be a multiple vehicle crash, resulting in lives lost and multiple injuries.

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So what can we do to prevent trucking and multiple vehicle accidents in Homestead and other cities? According to industry experts, some of the solutions are already here and they include:

1) Electronic logging. Federal regulations require commercial truck drivers to keep track of miles driven and rests taken, but personal injury attorneys in Homestead and other cities know that these logs are far from reliable and can even be falsified (or forgotten). Electronic logs rely on an onboard computer linked to the engine to keep tabs on driving time and rest breaks. So far, about 25 percent of trucks use these devices but safety experts say that making e-logging devices universal could potentially cut down on fatigued driving in Homestead and other communities.

2) Better pay. Some industry advocates say that paying truckers more and especially paying them for time spent waiting while a truck is loaded would result in a safer and more professional workforce. Other safety experts say that currently drivers have a financial incentive to drive more and to meet deadlines at any cost, while a safer pay structure would financially reward drivers for driving without traffic violations or accidents.

3) Changing hours of service rules. While many agree that hours of service rules should change, there is much debate about how they should be changed. A current change in rules has meant that drivers can work no more than 14 hours a day, with up to 11 hours of that on the road. The new rules also require drivers to get 10 consecutive hours of rest between shifts and get at least one half an hour break during the first eight hours of a new shift. Long-distance truck drivers can have work weeks of up to 70 hours every eight days and must re-set their week by being off duty for at least 34 hours, with at least two blocks of time occurring consecutively between one in the morning and five in the morning. Safety experts say that these hours of work still put drivers at risk of fatigued driving, especially given how stressful and deadline-focused long-haul trucking is. The trucking industry, however, says that cutting hours of service rules does not make for safer drivers. Even with longer rest times, there is often no way to ensure that drivers manage their break times well to get maximum amounts of sleep. A driver can potentially obey all the rules and still be sleep deprived.

4) Giving drivers better access to health care. Driver health can have a big impact on collision rates. Drivers with heart conditions, sleep disorders, and other health conditions can be a danger on the roads, and trucking itself can put drivers at risk for a number of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, and some cancers. Giving drivers access to free screenings and offering more preventative medical advice could help address some of these concerns, although what is really needed is a change in attitudes about how the industry as a whole and how individual drivers address health risks.

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July 3, 2014

Highway and Truck Accidents are Deadly and Costly

Trucking collisions in Hollywood and other cities are expensive, not just for injured parties but also for entire communities. In fact, according to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), highway collisions across the country cost about $871 billion annually in community harm and financial costs.

The NHTSA study looked at truck and car accidents in 2010. That year, there were 24 million damaged trucks and cars, 32,999 deaths, and 3.9 million injuries attributed to roadway collisions. From this, the researchers concluded that the accidents caused $594 billion in societal costs and $277 billion in economic losses. The costs included the costs of decreased quality of life, decreased productivity, loss of life, and other losses.

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The same study found that three specific driving behaviors contributed a total of 62% of the societal costs and 56% of the economic costs. These three behaviors were drunk driving, speeding, and distracted driving. Speeding accounted for about 24% or $210 billion of societal harm and 21% or $59 billion in economic costs. Drunk driving was linked to 23% or $199 billion of societal harm and 18% or $49 billion in economic costs. Distracted driving was said to cost 17% or $46 billion of total economic costs as well as $129 billion in societal harm.

This last may actually be good news. Since speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving in Hollywood and other communities is so preventable, it is possible that focusing on just these three causes of tragic crashes could have a huge impact on the total number of accidents and the losses caused by these accidents.

The study did not examine individual costs of trucking and automobile collisions in Hollywood and other cities, but the fact is that individual costs can be an even larger problem. While total collision costs of $871 billion annually are very large, an entire country can absorb these costs. When individuals are injured and incur tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, however, it can be almost impossible to deal with this financial challenge.

In fact, unexpected medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy in Hollywood and across the country. When people are injured in car or truck accidents, they often face severe financial losses, including:

•Income loss
•Long-term wage loss
•Car repair bills
•Property damage
•Vehicle replacement costs
•Medical bills
•Long-term medical expenses

These expenses can add up very quickly. Even diagnostic screening can add up to thousands of dollars. While insurance is meant to help protect motorists from these costs, it does not always provide the coverage that patients need. In some cases, insurance adjusters undervalue a claim or allege that a patient is not covered for certain benefits or procedures. A patient who has very good medical and car insurance coverage can still be left with bills that end up causing severe financial distress. In some cases, patients face bankruptcy due to these costs.

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July 1, 2014

How ITS and Technology Could Help prevent Truck Accidents

In the past, roads were basically surfaces for vehicles. Today, however, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) mean that communications technology can be combined with road and vehicle technology so that infrastructure and vehicles can communicate. According to some safety experts, ITS and related technology can be an important step towards reducing truck accidents in Homestead and other communities.

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Already, there are ITS and other technology solutions in place that can help prevent accidents. This technology includes:

1) Mobile weigh stations.
Overweight trucks in Homestead and other communities are a leading cause of trucking accidents and are also very detrimental to roads. Despite weigh stations and federal weight limits, however, enforcing overloaded trucks has always been difficult. Some companies have developed mobile weigh stations, which allow weigh stations to be moved, making it harder for commercial trucks to avoid weigh stations.

2) Interactive roads. Most roads are static, but some companies have developed roads that can actually change line markings with the press of a button, can automatically melt ice and snow, and can even warn cars and trucks about upcoming road hazards (such as debris or wildlife in a lane).

3) Weigh station pre-screening. Some companies produce scales that allow trucks to be weighed before they even get to weigh stations. The way these scales work is that they are embedded into the road surface. As a truck rolls over the pavement, the truck’s registration information and weight are recorded – all without the truck having to stop. If the truck is found to be overweight, it can be directed to the nearest weigh station for more evaluation. Not only does this technology promise to find more overloaded trucks, but it can also improve traffic flow by ensuring that only trucks that may exceed weight limits need to stop at weigh stations.

4) Rollover prevention strategies. The same technology that is used in weigh station pre-screening scales can also be used to prevent rollover accidents. Some steep inclines and high-collision ramps across the country already use this technology. Basically, the same under-pavement scales used in weigh scale prescreening can be installed before a steep incline or other high-risk area. The system can automatically note the type and weight of the vehicle approaching the area and flash a message on a road sign about the safest speed limit for the truck. This can help prevent rollovers in Homestead and other communities by ensuring that drivers slow down to a safer speed.

5) Fleet and driver management. Technology is also being used to monitor drivers and fleets more effectively. This can give motor carriers the tools needed to note whether specific drivers or trucks have a higher instance of collisions or whether a driver is speeding or taking other risks on the road.

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June 27, 2014

Fuel Truck Accidents Can Cause Fires and Devastating Damage in Miami and Other Cities

Big rigs and tractor trailers are used to transport a variety of products across the state and across the country each day, but some trucks carry hazardous materials. One type of cargo that can be especially deadly is fuel. Fuel tankers are involved in devastating trucking accidents in Miami and other cities each year. These types of accidents have a high rate of fatalities and cause environmental devastation as well.

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There are many things that can make fuel tank traffic accidents in Miami and other cities so deadly:

1) Fuel tanks carry hazardous material in a less stable format. Fuel and natural gas are already flammable and hazardous but any hazardous material in liquid form can be even more deadly as it can slosh around inside a tanker and can be harder to stabilize, creating a larger risk of rollovers and accidents.

2) Fuel tank collisions are likely to lead to fires and explosions. Since the cargo is so unstable in a motor vehicle crash in Miami or another city, a fuel tank can catch fire or even explode. In this situation, the fuel inside the tank can feed the flames, causing an inferno that is strong enough to melt the road and cause severe damage to the traffic around the trucks and traffic.

3) Fuel tank crashes can be a challenge for emergency response teams. Due to the fire and explosions these collisions can cause, fire fighters and other emergency responders can have a hard time getting close to the source of the blaze. This can mean that it takes some time to put the fire out, leading to more serious fire damage. Since emergency responders may not be able to get too close, they may also have a hard time offering life-saving treatment to those who were at the center of the accident and blaze.

4) Fuel tank accidents can result in environmental and secondary damage. When emergency responders are sent to a fuel tanker accident, they often send HAZMAT teams. The bystanders, homeowners, and motorists who are near the crash, though, do not have the layers of protection that HAZMAT suits and equipment offer. These bystanders may be exposed to smoke, hazardous materials, and toxins. Although authorities may try to clean up spilled fuel and may try to absorb some of the fuel spilled on the road, some of the toxins may seep into water sources or may continue to be present in the area for some time, possibly leading to health concerns for local residents as well as risks of secondary road accidents.

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June 24, 2014

Simple Ways to Prevent Forklift Truck Injury in Homestead and Other Cities

Industrial warehouses, construction sites, and other workplaces are often the site of forklift truck accidents in Homestead and other Florida communities. In many cases, these workplace accidents in Homestead and other cities are caused by uncontrolled traffic, overloading of forklifts, speed, or difficulty with the machinery itself. According to safety experts, however, there are several things that employees and employers can do to prevent these types of injuries and accidents:

1) Ensure good planning.

Written safety policies can go a long way towards preventing workplace injuries. Employers should check their workplaces for hazards and come up with concrete, written plans for preventing injury. While not every accident can be prevented, many can be foreseen and in many cases steps can be taken to minimize the risk.

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2) Institute good training programs.

Undertrained and underqualified employees are more likely to be injured and more likely to file workers’ compensation claims in Homestead and other communities because they are more likely to be injured on the job. It is important for employers to screen employees carefully and to train them for job-specific tasks to make sure that workers know how to stay safe on the job.

3) Take steps to prevent tip-overs.

Tip-overs are one of the leading causes of serious injury with forklift trucks. Unfortunately, when a forklift starts to tip over, many workers on instinct try to jump clear of the truck. In too many cases, this leads to crushing injuries, fatalities, and spinal cord injuries in Homestead and other cities. According to safety experts, there are several things that employees can do to prevent tip-overs:

•Keep the load on the trucks stable by not overloading the truck and by lowering loaded forks and tilting them backwards
•When using a forklift, take turns at a slower and steady pace
•Be cautious when using forklifts to move tall, oddly shaped, wide, or otherwise unstable loads, finding alternative ways to move them where possible.

4) Allow only responsible drivers on forklift trucks.

Proper supervision can help prevent any sort of irresponsible or reckless driving. Even if done in jest, any sort of irresponsible driving can be extremely dangerous, simply because forklift trucks are often unstable and every heavy.

5) Take extra steps to protect pedestrians around forklifts.

One of the big problems with forklifts is that they are often used in workplaces where there are also employees and workers walking in the same area that the forklift is being used. It is important to use the signals and horns on the forklift to alert workers in the area that the truck is in motion. The person operating the forklift should keep their eyes in the direction the forklift is moving and should be vigilant about checking blind spots and checking for pedestrians in the area. Use warning signs and floor markings, where possible, to remind workers where forklifts may be in use.

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June 19, 2014

HD Tires and Truck Safety: What You Need to Know

Heavy-duty (HD) truck tires are three quarter ton and one ton commercial truck tires. HD tires are different from most tires because they have smaller spaces between blocks of tread, deeper treads, three-ply polyester casing, and other features which make them more rugged. These tires are specifically designed for the considerable demands of long-haul trucking, but it seems as though tire blowouts in Miami and other cities as well as other tire issues are always in the news. There are product liability lawsuits launched in Miami and across the country when these tires fail and sometimes tire recalls are launched when manufacturing defects develop.

Why are there so many challenges with HD tires? According to safety experts and manufacturers, the climate across the country varies widely, from freezing temperatures during part of the year in the north to very hot and sometimes wet conditions in the South. Manufacturers need to create tires that work in all of these conditions. In addition, tires are meant to be used in certain ways. Even the best designed tires, created with extensive on-road testing, consideration of customer comments, and even computer software, won’t work well if they are stored in a warehouse for extended periods of time before use, allowing the rubber to deteriorate. When truck drivers speed, fail to take proper care of their HD tires, or overload trucks past their maximum capacity, tires can still fail. In addition, flaws in the design and manufacturing process can still create design defects that can lead to tire blowouts and truck rollovers in Miami and other cities.

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There are many things that truck carriers and drivers can do to prevent tire issues and trucking collisions caused by HD tire issues:

1) Choose the right HD tire for the job. When buying tires for a big rig or tractor trailer, it is important to consider the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the truck as well as the gross axle weight ratings and to choose HD tires appropriate for those numbers.

2) Make sure things add up. Sometimes, one tire will wear out before the others. When it does and only one tire needs to be replaced, it is important that the replacement tire is the exact same type of tire and has the same tread depth and wear as the other tires. Mismatched tires increase the risk of collisions and tire issues.

3) Perform maintenance routinely. Although HD tires are designed to withstand various conditions, they still need more inspection than the average passenger tire because there is simply more pressure and more demands placed on big rig and tractor trailer tires. As part of regular maintenance, tires should be checked for wear and issues. They should also be kept properly inflated. Over-inflated tires can blowout while under-inflated tires can cause heat to build up inside the tire, which can also lead to tire blowouts. Tires should also be rotated regularly, since HD tires on a big rig or commercial truck all do different tasks and therefore wear down at different rates, leading to mismatched tires.

4) If you need to replace one or two tires, put your new tires in the front. On a truck, especially, having better treads in the front is safer and is more likely to help you avoid a collision.

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June 17, 2014

How Does Florida Rank When it Comes to Highway Safety?

In freeway accidents in Miami and highway accidents across the state, good road design plays an important role. Good road maintenance and design can help prevent accidents and injuries. Part of the safety measures that can be used on roadways include good traffic signals, lights, and signs to help provide drivers with the information they need to stay safe. Guardrails are also an important part of preventing accidents and injuries, especially on highways. According to at least one organization, however, Florida may not rank very high when it comes to guardrail safety.

According to a group known as Safety Research and Strategies, Florida is not doing enough to keep drivers safe. The organization is suing the Florida Department of Transportation, alleging that the agency is withholding public documents about highway safety even though it is illegal to do so.

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Safety Research and Strategies also claims that faulty guardrails across the state may be putting millions of motorists at risk. Part of the guardrail issue, according to the group, is that the company that makes the guardrails reduced the height of its guardrails from 5 to four feet in 2005. This reduction in height, Safety Research and Strategies claims, puts drivers at risk. The group cites a 2012 survey conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to prove its point. That survey concluded that the shorter guardrails could be linked to fatal and serious car accidents. The Department of Transportation in Nevada withdrew its approval of the shorter guardrails in January 2014 and Safety Research and Strategies believes that Florida should follow suit.

In February 2014, Safety Research and Strategies requested thousands of Florida Department of Transportation documents regarding the guardrails. As of June, the group had not received the information, prompting the lawsuit. The organization would like a judge to ensure that the documents are handed over so that the group can inform Florida residents whether the government agency knew about the risks of the new guardrails. Both the Florida Department of Transportation and the company that produces the guardrails have declined to comment on the lawsuit.

It is difficult to know what the public documents or the lawsuit will reveal, but there is little doubt that guardrails are an important part of highway safety. In rollover accidents in Miami and other cities, guardrails can prevent cars from going over embankments and off the road. Guardrails can stop an out-of-control truck or car. Poor road design issues in Miami and other cities can include missing, broken, or inadequate guardrails. While it is difficult to tell whether the shorter guardrails do in fact carry a higher risk of accident and injury, it will be interesting to see whether the lawsuit and documents will reveal new information about how Florida fares in terms of highway safety.

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June 12, 2014

Agency Considers Electronic Logs for Truckers as a Way to Slash Trucking Crash Rates

Federal rules require truck drivers to keep logs of rest periods, stops, and other data. Driver logs are intended to encourage drivers to abide by hours of service rules and other regulations. In the event of a trucking collision in Miami or another city, they can also become an important record of what may have contributed to an accident.

Unfortunately, as many personal injury attorneys in Miami and other cities know, there are a number of problems with traditional driver logs. In some cases, drivers may forget to write down important information. In other cases, the information is incomplete, inaccurate, or even falsified.

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Since driver logs are only useful when accurate, some experts have wondered whether electronic logs (ELDs) could help resolve the problem. A new study referenced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggested that trucks with electronic hours-of-service recorders (EHSRs) may have lower rates of violations and lower accident rates than trucks without the electronic logs.

Specifically, trucks with the devices had a preventable collision rate that was 5.1 percent lower and a total accident rate that was 11.7 percent lower when compared with trucks that did not have the devices. In addition, trucks with EHSRs had a driving-related hours-of-service violation rate that was 53% lower than trucks without the devices. The sample rate for the study was small, so it is possible that further studies may be requested.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about ELDs and EHSRs, however. Some drivers say that the devices place them under very high levels of surveillance. There is also some concern that the devices and their information could be used to further reduce total allowable hours for truck drivers.

Some experts also say that the devices themselves are not necessarily a solution for a few reasons:

•The devices may not necessarily help prevent hours of service violations. Since the devices stay with the truck, truck drivers could potentially simply jump into another truck after a certain amount of time to keep driving. The devices are not foolproof.

•As with traditional logs, the electronic logs are only useful if the information from them is gathered and used. If no one is monitoring the information and acting on the data, it is unlikely that they devices would dramatically slash accident rates.

•The devices may not address some of the real reasons behind fatigued driving. While fatigued driving in Miami and other cities is a leading cause of crashes, long hours of driving may not be the only culprit. Sleep disorders, certain medications, allergies, and other issues can all cause crashes -- and EHSRs and ELDs cannot address these issues. In other words, a driver may take the mandated amount of rest according to electronic logs but still be a danger on the road.

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June 10, 2014

ECMs May Become Mandatory – Will They Prevent Truck Accidents in Homestead and Other Cities?

According to some safety experts, Electronic Control Modules (ECMs), which are also known as speed limiters, can reduce the rates of fatal trucking collisions in Homestead and other cities. Speed limiters work by using electronic sensors that calibrate a truck’s speed and send the information to a computer in the engine. The limiters, also known as governors, can be set to a specific maximum speed. Once a truck reaches that limit, the engine’s computer limits the flow of fuel and air to the engine and prevents the truck from exceeding the pre-set speed.

Now, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is going to require the use of ECMs for some of the trucks on the country’s roads. In a new report, DOT revealed that some trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds and driving on roads with speeds of 55mph or more may be required to use the devices as early as October 2014.

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According to safety experts and supporters of the DOT mandate, ECMs could mean as many as 1,115 fewer fatal collisions each year. According to previous research, speed plays a major role in truck and car accidents in Homestead and other cities, with about 73 percent of heavy truck crash fatalities occurring on roads with speed limits of 55 mph. Research has shown that speeding trucks have much longer stopping distances and are more subject to rollover crashes as well as accidents. Many in the industry feel that reducing overall speeds is a good way to prevent fatalities.

Many groups are supportive of the DOT changes. Road Safe America (RSA) has suggested that all trucks made after 1990 be equipped with ECMs and the American Trucking Association (ATA) has stated that the speed limiters should be placed on all trucks. According to truck industry insiders, many heavy trucks are already equipped with the devices.

Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the NHTSA and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has found that truck accidents in Homestead and across the country are actually less common than crashes involving passenger vehicles. However, heavy truck accidents are more likely to cause fatalities. Each year, about half a million heavy truck collisions occur across the country. According to the IIHS, in 2010 alone, 3,413 individuals suffered fatal injuries as a result of heavy truck crashes, an eight percent increase when compared with the year before. That year, although large trucks represented only 4% of the registered vehicles on American roads, these vehicles accounted for 9% of traffic accident fatalities.

Not everyone agrees with the DOT rules. Truck drivers and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) have both spoken out against measures which would make speed limiters mandatory. The group claims that most truck accidents are caused by motorists driving passenger cars, so limiting speed for truck drivers will not lower accident rates. In addition, truck drivers and the OOIDA noted that limiting speed may actually be dangerous as it may not allow trucks to pass each other. They have pointed to studies showing that vehicles driving at differing speeds is what causes accidents, and since ECMs will not allow truck drivers to drive with the flow of traffic, they may potentially contribute to crashes.

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