Deadly Florida Rear-end Semi Truck Accident Claims
In a rear-end accident, the extent of the damage caused will be determined by the momentum created by the force of the collision. Momentum is determined by multiplying the mass of an object by its velocity. Thus, a vehicle which is either heavy or traveling quickly will cause more damage in an accident than a lighter or slower vehicle. Worst of all are those accidents in which a heavy vehicle is traveling quickly. If you or a loved one has been injured in a rear-end accident, call the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Matt Dolman and our experienced truck accident attorneys have been protecting the rights of injury victims across southern Florida for over forty-six years.
The Particular Problem of Semi Truck Rear-end Accidents
Semi trucks have many logistical challenges which can make it difficult for a driver to avoid an accident. Their weight can cause them to start more slowly and be more difficult to maneuver. They also require greater time and distance to stop or change lanes. A truck’s long blind spots also make it more difficult for a truck driver to be aware of the traffic conditions around his or her vehicle. Attempting to look around these difficult blind spots may also distract a driver from what is ahead in the roadway, and cause the truck driver to rear-end a vehicle in front of it.
When accidents do occur, the damage caused by a semi truck is often many times greater than that caused by smaller, lighter vehicles. Even when they are not loaded, they are often heavier and larger than most other vehicles on the road. Cargo, of course, only adds to their weight and increases the severity of the damage which a semi truck can cause when colliding with a smaller vehicle. This is why trucks and commercial vehicles are subject to higher minimum insurance requirements for their liability coverage.
How Federal Truck Regulations Affect the Safety of All Road Users
Trucks and commercial vehicles are also subject to federal safety regulations that are not applicable to passenger vehicles. These regulations are designed to protect drivers, passengers, motorcycle riders, bicycle riders, pedestrians, and all other roadway users. Yet – for better or worse – the Trump Administration is committed to removing and limiting as many federal restrictions as possible.
Many of the regulations which have been targeted have an adverse effect on truck driver safety. The Atlantic reports that, in August 2017, the Administration announced that it would withdraw a proposed requirement for sleep apnea testing of truck drivers and train engineers. Sleep apnea is a condition which obstructs a person’s breathing during sleep cycles and thus interferes with restful sleep. Many truck and train accidents have been linked to operators who were not rested as a result of sleep apnea.
Electronic Logging Changes for Truckers
Another controversial regulation is the introduction of an electronic logging requirement. For years, federal regulators have enforced hours of service requirements by reviewing paper mileage logs maintained by a truck driver him- or herself. These paper logs are easily manipulated, and drivers often face pressure to squeeze in more miles or hours that are allowed under federal daily driving limits. To combat this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a rule in 2015 which required the introduction of tamper-proof electronic logging devices no later than December 2017. These devices transmit data about hours and mileage directly to regulators. Yet the trucking industry – and small transportation companies in particular – have vehemently opposed this change.
Opponents claim that the cost of compliance will make them unable to continue profitable operations. According to The Hill, President Trump has attempted to ease the transition by relaxing penalties for violations during the first three months in which the rule is effective. Between January and March 2018, drivers who are stopped without an electronic logging device will be cited and allowed to continue, so long as they are in compliance with hours of service requirements (which restrict the number of hours a commercial operator may drive in a given day). Any violations during this time will not count toward a company’s safety record.
This concession comes after years of failed attempts by the trucking industry to stop the regulation through the federal court system. Most recently, the United States Supreme Court declined to accept the trucking company’s appeal from a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to enforce the rule. This left the industry with no further legal recourse through the court system. The Trump Administration’s relief, while temporary, does limit the efficacy of this rule.
How Florida Drivers Can Stay Safe When Semi Truck Regulations are Discontinued
While state and federal regulations can reduce the likelihood of accidents, drivers themselves can take important steps to protect themselves, as well. Always leave plenty of following distance between yourself and a truck. Large, heavy trucks require greater stopping distance to avoid obstacles in the road. Drivers of smaller vehicles should also ensure they are seen by truck drivers. Large trucks have long blind spots, and their drivers are left with poorer visibility than drivers of passenger cars. Be sure to use your signals and headlights to help truck drivers see your vehicle.
Pay attention to the cargo of trucks around you. Hazardous materials must be labeled with appropriate placards. Be sure to allow adequate distance between yourself and any large vehicle transporting hazardous or flammable materials. Tire blowouts are another common truck hazard, and they can be more frequent in Florida’s hot summer weather. They are particularly dangerous for heavy vehicles – such as large trucks – because the resulting loss of control of the vehicle causes even more damage on the way to a stop. Again, leave plenty of stopping distance between yourself and other large vehicles on the road. Signal any drivers with loose tires or other dangerous equipment.
Aggressive Pursuit of Your Florida Truck Accident Personal Injury Claim
The Dolman Law Group protects residents and visitors of St. Petersburg to ensure that truck accident victims are fairly compensated for their injuries and losses. Our experienced truck accident attorneys have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating personal injury claims arising from truck accidents in the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 or submit an online contact form to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our friendly, professional staff offers the personalized service and legal expertise which will ensure the best possible outcome of your legal case.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712