Truck Driver Speeding and Reckless Driving
The typical automobile weight 3000-5000 lbs. 18 wheelers subject to regulation as commercial motor vehicles weight a minimum of 26,001 lbs. It is not hard to see why these vehicles are so stringently regulated. When an 18 wheeler gets in an accident with one or more passenger vehicles, the vehicles provide very little resistance to the crush forces the truck exerts upon the vehicle. An 18 wheeler can crush a car and the occupants like a can of sardines.
Furthermore, when an 18 wheeler jack-knifes in the roadway, the overturned truck can block traffic for hours and result in further accidents as unsuspecting drivers are forced to take evasive actions. As a result, truck drivers and their employers have an obligation to the public not to engage in risky driving behavior such as speeding, alcohol and/or drug use or driving while fatigued.
Needless to say, when a truck driver has engaged in this sort of behavior, he has motivation not to disclose it. Fortunately, modern rules and technology are available to aid victims and their attorneys to discover when these types of factors are involved.
Speeding: Truck drivers must obey the speed requirements at all times. A simple driving history check can often reveal any past history a driver may have of using excessive speed to get his loads delivered quickly. A regular routine practice or habit of speeding can be grounds for a punitive damages award for grossly negligent conduct.
Alcohol and/or Drug Use: There are strict Federal Regulations on drug use by truck drivers. Random drug testing of drivers is a requirement of all commercial motor carriers. In addition, every truck driver involved in an accident must promptly submit to a drug test to determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor. Use of alcohol or drugs while driving an 18 wheeler is grounds for losing one’s CDL as well as grounds for punitive damages for grossly negligent conduct in a civil action for damages.
Fatigued Driving: To help prevent fatigued driving, the Federal Regulations pertaining to fatigued driving require trucking companies to make sure their drivers adhere to strict rules on the amount of time they spend driving (on duty) vs at rest (off duty). Furthermore, strict documentation of these times is required in the driver’s log book. It is important that you hire an attorney who knows how to review these log books to look for doctored entries and/or falsified numbers. Do the times written down add up? Do they match what the black boxes show about the time the truck was on/off the road? Obtaining and evaluating these types of records early may be critical since they can be destroyed under short “documentation retention policies.”
Simmons and Fletcher have been helping injury victims since the 1970’s who have been injured by the grossly negligent conduct of commercial motor vehicle operators. If you or a loved one have been injured in collision with an 18 wheeler, please call us for a free consultation 1-800-298-0111.