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Are FMCSA efforts to cite unsafe truck companies falling short?

Tractor-trailers can be the most dangerous vehicles on the roads because of their weight and size in comparison to other vehicles. Because of these inherent dangers, the trucking industry is highly regulated by the Department of Transportation to prevent tragedies on the roads that may lead to cases of wrongful death. In many situations, had the trucking company or the driver complied with the law, a fatal truck accident could have been avoided.

As a result of a fatal accident that happened early in 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration temporarily shut down an Illinois-based trucking company. DND International had been charged with several violations as a result of the investigation of the accident. Many of the violations included the hours worked by the drivers and the falsification of the documents that reported the hours. The driver of the truck involved in the fatal accident has also been charged with several felonies as a result of the crash.

The accident happened on Interstate 88 when the driver, who had operated the vehicle for 36 hours straight, crashed into several vehicles. Two of the vehicles were an Illinois State Police car and an Illinois Tollway vehicle, both of which had warning lights activated. The toll worker was killed and the trooper was seriously injured.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin requested a full investigation of the fatal accident which found that, of a sample of seven hours-of-service records from the company’s drivers, all seven had falsified records. Legislators and government agencies are actively cracking down on companies that violate the safety rules. As of April 2014, at least 75 bus and trucking companies have had their operating privileges suspended or revoked due to safety violations.

The best scenario is that these efforts to enforce the laws may help prevent another fatal truck accident. In the meantime, those who have already suffered an injury or those who have suffered the loss of a loved one as the result of an accident involving a regulated commercial vehicle may choose to consult an attorney about a wrongful death claim.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Watchdog Update: Durbin calls for audit on trucking safety," Kim Geiger and Mitch Smith, April 9, 2014

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