It may surprise some to learn that Montana is the third worst state in the union in terms of truck crash fatalities. The top two are North Dakota and Wyoming. Nationally, over 4,000 people die every year in accidents involving heavy semi trucks. Recently a group of truck accident victims went to Washington, D.C. to push for stronger federal truck safety legislation.
The victims partnered with the Truck Safety Coalition in urging lawmakers to pass the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act. That proposed law would freeze current limits on truck weight and size, among other reforms. Safety advocates noted that despite the horrific death toll from semi truck accidents, trucking and shipping companies continue to lobby for laws permitting larger and heavier trucks.
One surviving accident victim spoke out about truck driver fatigue. She lost her husband when a semi truck rear-ended their car while they were stopped in heavy traffic. Investigation showed that the driver suffered from severe sleep apnea. The woman noted that although Congress passed a law last year mandating electronic trucking logs, the Department of Transportation has yet to issue the final rules regarding the devices.
Another victim, whose son is permanently disabled following a semi truck accident, spoke out in favor of increased insurance requirements for trucking companies. Despite the fact that trucks on the roads today are bigger and heavier than ever, the minimum insurance requirements have not increased in 30 years.
Those who suffer serious injuries in a truck accident do have legal recourse. Trucking companies are liable for the negligence of their employees, and when that negligence causes serious injuries or death to innocent victims, the company and its insurer are legally obligated to pay damages. The trucking companies and their special interest groups have a lot of power in Washington and a lot of money to hire attorneys to defend them. In the wake of an 18-wheeler accident, an experienced truck accident attorney can help level the playing field.
Source: Fleet Owner, “Truck crash victims support legislation to freeze truck size and weight limits,” Deborah Whistler, May 9, 2013