Overturned truck in crash. Night Photo

Georgia Among Top Five States for Fatal Truck Accidents:
How Recent Federal Law Changes Have Made Our Roads More Dangerous

In December 2014, as part of a budgetary deal designed to ensure funding for the U.S. government in 2015, Congress suspended enforcement of certain aspects of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service requirements. Under the modification, Congress suspended the requirement that limits drivers to a 70 hour workweek with a two-day break in-between. According to Bloomberg Business, the change to the law means that drivers, in some cases, may put in as much as an 82 hour workweek without a weekend break. Critics of the change claim that Congress is changing the law due to the trucking industry’s demands to loosen restrictions.

However, changing these restrictions comes with a high price.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that several multi-fatality tractor trailer crashes have taken place in the last several months in Atlanta. The most recent accident occurred when a tanker truck rear-ended a Toyota. All three people in the car were killed.

When truck accidents occur, in many cases, car passengers suffer serious injuries or death. Families are devastated and lives are changed forever. Federal regulations are in place to protect individuals from fatigued drivers, but some drivers don’t even respect even the most lax Federal rules. Truck accident and personal injury lawyers such as Cohen & Sinowski, P.C. sometimes find that drivers have falsified logs or are taking prescription and non-prescription medication that can interfere with their ability to drive. Many families seek truck accident attorneys to help them fight for their rights. Sadly, the law doesn’t seem to hold truck drivers to the high standards of rest they require in order to stay safe behind the wheel.

Georgia is listed as one of the top five states for truck accident crashes. 16,000 accidents occurred in Georgia just last year alone. 157 people died as a result of these accidents.

The governor had promised to crack down on truck drivers by hiring 60 commercial vehicle enforcement officers to patrol state roads. The officers will patrol areas where more crashes occur, particularly I-16 and I-95, and also Atlanta’s highways.

Yet, the question remains: will these law enforcement officers be able to crack down on dangerous commercial drivers without proper Federal laws in place? Law enforcement officers might find that drivers are fatigued, but if they are in compliance with lax Federal regulation, it is unlikely that officers will be able to do much about it.

A tow truck arrives on the scene of an accident

Law enforcement officers can definitely check a driver’s hours of service and ensure that the drivers are not using non-prescription or prescription drugs that could pose a hazard to other drivers. These officers can also inspect equipment and ensure that it meets safety standards.

Yet, sadly, officers aren’t alerted to problems with commercial truck drivers or their vehicles until accidents have already taken place. According to the Centers for Disease Control, accident deaths cost the state of Georgia about 1.55 billion every year. Families often shoulder an immense part of this burden. Fortunately, the law protects victims and families. If a truck company, driver, or operator is found negligent, these entities may be responsible to pay victims for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. A truck accident law firm such as www.thegeorgiainjuryfirm.com with knowledge of truck accident litigation can help families fight for justice inside or outside of court.

The hope is that the Federal government will restore hours of service requirements that will limit truck drivers to reasonable hours, thus helping keep Georgia’s roads—and the nation’s roads—safe.