There are far too many dangerous trucks on the highways. and federal truck safety regulators need to act more forcefully to remove them from the highways before they cause serious injuries and deaths.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency, said in November that poorly performing trucking companies and bus companies need to be dealt with aggressively to prevent serious accidents. The board cited four major crashes that resulted in 25 deaths and 83 injuries, criticizing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) because all the companies involved in the deadly crashes had previous records of serious safety violations.

The NTSB claims the FMCSA should have shut down the companies before the accidents occurred.

The FMCSA does claim that it is making strides in its efforts to shut down dangerous bus and trucking companies, stating that the agency has closed more than 100 companies for failing to comply with federal safety standards since 2010, compared to closing just ten companies in the previous ten years.

Like most government agencies, the FMSCA is operating on a limited budget and employs about 350 inspectors responsible for the oversight of a half-million trucking companies and about 10,000 bus companies.

Still, the NTSB urges the agency to be proactive in preventing accidents from occurring rather than merely reacting once a major crash happens.

Among the accidents cited in the report was a June 13th crash in Murfreesboro, Tennessee where a truck operated by H&O Transport hit eight vehicles that were slowing down due to an accident ahead. The trucker rear-ended a 1999 Oldsmobile, which immediately burst into flames, killing two people in the car and injuring six people in other vehicles. The driver of the truck had been on the road more than ten hours beyond the 70 hours allowable during an eight consecutive day stretch.

The safety board claims that the FMCSA was aware that the particular driver, as well as H&O Transport, had a history of violations related to hours-of-service. The truck was also speeding at the time of the accident.

The report also cited a February 3rd accident in the San Bernardino National Forest in California in which a Mexican-owned bus coming down a steep hill rear-ended a car and then crossed into the opposite lane, overturned and crashed into a pickup truck. Seven passengers on the bus and the driver of the pickup died. The driver of the bus and 11 passengers sustained serious injuries. According to the report, the bus had a number of mechanical problems, including six defective brakes.

Federal inspectors had become aware of the bus line’s maintenance problems a month earlier at a roadside spot check. It was only after the crash, however, that the Transportation Department ordered the bus line off U.S. roads.

While fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses have declined in recent years, there are still far too many preventable accidents caused by truck drivers’ disregard for safety. Anyone who has been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer or semi-truck in Florida is well advised to talk to an attorney experienced at handling truck accidents. It’s important to understand your legal rights.

Sources:

  • New York Times (nytimes.com)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (fmcsa.dot.gov)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (fmcsa.gov)
  • National Transportation Safety Board (ntsb.gov)

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