In December of 2015, a new law was put into place that will change the way truckers log drive time and rest breaks. The rule, which requires truckers to use an electronic logging system, is expected to save an estimated 26 lives and prevent approximately 562 serious injuries caused by large trucks each year. Although truckers have been required to maintain paper logs that keep track of drivers’ rest breaks and hours on the road since the 1930s, these types of logs are easily tampered with and a significant number of serious and fatal large truck accidents still occur due to driver fatigue.
Since the required technology, referred to as an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is expected to affect about 3 million large truck and bus drivers on America’s roadways, it is imperative that the trucking industry is well informed about the facts surrounding ELDs.
What Truckers Should Know About ELDs
An electronic logging device uses tamper-proof technology to strengthen truck drivers’ compliance with regulations regarding hours of service and required rest breaks in order to help prevent truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. Commercial drivers who are currently required to maintain a Record of Duty Status have until December of 2017 to begin using electronic logging devices to record their hours behind the wheel. There are a variety of technical and performance specifications that the ELDs must feature, but those who have already begun using ELDs that do not meet the new requirements will be “grandfathered in”, and will have until December 2019 to comply with the new regulations.
While there is some debate throughout the trucking industry regarding the pros and cons surrounding electronic logging devices, large truck accident lawyers in Tennessee know that the true benefits brought forth by the technology are undeniable.
- ELDs will make it easier for roadside safety inspectors to identify Hours of Service (HOS) violations that put lives at risk.
- According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the use of ELDs will save each trucker an estimated $705 per year in paperwork costs alone.
- Recent research indicates that drivers who used ELDs saw a significant reduction in total crash rate (11.7%) when compared with truckers who used paper logs.
According to Scott Darling, FMCSA Acting Administrator, “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”
Drivers frequently find themselves slamming on the breaks to avoid hitting a car or truck that is driving slowly in the left lane. One slow-moving vehicle can back up traffic, frustrating other drivers and increasing their accident risks. A proposed Tennessee law aims to end this dilemma.
The media has dubbed this legislation the “Slowpoke Law.” It’s designed to promote highway safety, reduce highway congestion and ease overall driver frustration. The law would require vehicles to stay in the two right lanes on a three lane highway, only using the left lane to pass. This would encourage drivers to stay to the right, even if they are driving at the speed limit.
The Limits of the Passing Lane Law
The bill does not address speeding or speed limits, but rather tackles flow-of-traffic issues. The theory behind the bill is that, while speeding is dangerous, blocking the flow of traffic on the highway is also hazardous. Highway accidents are particularly threatening, especially when large vehicles, such as trucks, are involved.
Law enforcement would have the ability to impose a $50 fine on anyone who violates this law. In certain conditions, such as inclement weather, the law would not apply. This would also be true when a vehicle is merging, or when traffic control devices make driving in the lane a necessity. The law would also not apply to two lane divided highways, though future legislation might address this issue.
Tennessee is the 29th state to propose such legislation. Lawmakers and attorneys realize that the discretion to enforce these laws will be, in part, up to law enforcement officers, however, other states that have adopted such measures are citing success. The bill has received bi-partisan support and is expected to pass.
Fatalities caused by large truck collisions are on the rise in Tennessee. Truck collisions in the state were responsible for 107 deaths in 2012, up from 86 in 2009. Drivers are urged to keep a safe distance while driving around trucks and to pass with care. Laws like these are crafted to reduce the risk for drivers sharing the road with large vehicles. A Tennesseetruck accident attorney can provide more information on traffic laws and the process for seeking compensation after an accident.
Semi truck accident attorneys see lots of accidents where truckers are fatigued or have logged too many hours. E-logs are supposed to remedy this situation. Many trucks must have an e-log device in the next two years, but over 10,000 independent truckers are challenging that ruling in court. They claim that the e-logs are are a violation of privacy and constitute unlawful tracking.
E-log books electronically log a trucker’s hours and location. They don’t monitor changes in duty, however. Truckers must record the changes from rest periods to driving manually, which raises the question of whether or not e-logs are truly more accurate than paper ones.
The other point of contention comes from the fact that these devices will be monitoringtruckers‘ movements and location while they are on the job. While this may seem safer, and make it easier to know where truckers are, some independent truckers claim that it is illegal tracking.
One survey shows the impact this law could have on the trucking industry. 15% of truckers are already using electronic logs or will purchase them in the near future. Another 32% said they will wait until they are sure the law will stick before purchasing an electronic log. The law only affects trucks made after the year 2000. 10% of truckers say that they won’t change anything because they drive a truck made before 2000. Another 6% say that they run short haul so the law won’t apply to them. 23% say that they will quit the trucking industry before the regulations take effect, and another 10% claim they will quit if they can’t find a truck made before 2000.
One interesting argument from truckers is that this will force drivers to drive when they have the “legal hours” to do so. While a trucker with a paper log book may decide to make up time after resting, they claim the electronic log book will put a stop to that. While this sounds more safe, if the driver was up most of his rest period for a personal reason or very sick, they will be tempted to drive whether they feel well or not.
The fourth amendment means that a person can’t be stopped or even monitored without probable suspicion of illegal activity. Independent truckers say that these electronic log books are a way of monitoring drivers for law enforcement purposes, and the only way to do that legally is with a warrant.Categories
Federal trucking regulations aim to reduce traffic accidents, but they fail to address many of the root causes of the problem. Poor visibility and the corresponding inability to react to changing road conditions, play a major role in the frequency and severity of traffic accidents.
A Nashville truck accident lawyer can point to seven factors that limit visibility, primarily through driver negligence.
Time Of Day
Nighttime driving has always been more dangerous than driving during the day. Not only does darkness induce fatigue, it has a strong impact on visibility.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study in 2007 reported to Congress that nighttime visibility is severely limited because of night glare and range issues. Night glare from oncoming traffic destroyed the night vision of drivers, especially those over 50, leading to temporary blindness and potential loss of vehicle control. The NHTSA found night glare the most problematic in areas with few streetlights or other roadside sources of light.
Driving during particular periods of daylight is no less dangerous than driving at night, depending on the direction the truck is traveling. Truckers driving into the sunlight at sunrise or sunset face protracted periods of intense sunlight and glare from the roofs and glass of other vehicles.
Many trucking companies require drivers to use sunglasses or other protective eyewear in the hour before sunrise or sunset as a way to reduce the impact of the sun on driver visibility.
The NHTSA blames a large portion of trucking accidents on driver fatigue, and for good reason. Drivers face longer work weeks than ever before, and trucking companies have put increased pressure on drivers to stay on the road at all costs.
Fatigue hinders visibility in two ways. First, drivers fight to stay awake, and closed eyes provide no visibility and a complete inability to prevent an accident. Second, even when a driver is awake, fatigue causes blurriness and sluggish reaction times. As a result, drivers are unable to judge distances in time to stop before a collision.
The difference between a deadly accident or a fender bender is often a matter of inches. Speeding trucks have lower reaction times than other vehicles, and any errors the driver makes are magnified in a crash.
If the truck was speeding, a Nashville truck accident lawyer may be able to prove the driver was liable for an accident, because the truck driver left himself without enough time to stop. Scientific evidence and the truck’s own computer can provide the hard evidence a Nashville truck accident lawyer needs to argue the case.
Truckers, especially long haul drivers, spend days or weeks on the road at one time. While they are on the road, it’s easy to let health and medical issues slide, if those issues do not directly hinder the driver’s ability to keep the truck on the road.
A driver with a weak prescription has an increasingly short field of vision, and the problem can only be solved with a trip to an optometrist and a new set of glasses. Not every driver is willing or able to take the time to stop for new glasses, wrongly assuming that the problem can wait until they get home. The slow degeneration of the field of vision can lead to drivers with an effective eyesight of 20/50 or worse.
Not every problem with visibility is the trucker’s fault. Sometimes the actions of other drivers play a role in the accident. Even with proper mirror positioning, a trucker still has large blind spots around the vehicle. The most dangerous spots are near the driver’s door, from the trailer hitch to the nose of the truck on the passenger side, and the nose of the truck.
Drivers who slam on their brakes or drive for long distances in a truck’s blind spot greatly increase the probability of an accident. Through an examination of the positions of other vehicles involved in an accident, a Nashville truck accident lawyer may be able to prove that the accident was not the fault of the trucker, but another driver.
Hard rain and snow diminish a driver’s field of vision in a matter of seconds. When this occurs, truckers must adjust their driving patterns to slow down and avoid accidents.
A Nashville truck accident lawyer can expand a liability suit after an accident to include the trucking company if there were maintenance issues involved in the accident. A trucking company that fails to replace worn out wiper blades or provide other safety equipment puts everyone on the road at risk.
Truck accidents are serious, and are more likely to be deadly than other vehicle collisions. With the assistance of a truck accident lawyer, victims can apply liability where it belongs and seek compensation.
Keeping your child safe in the car is easy – here are five simple ways.
Learn some simple things you can do to keep your child safe while riding in a car.
Many people visit a car accident lawyer in Nashville after their child suffers an injury. Car accidents cannot always be prevented; however, that doesn’t mean that children must always become victims. Here are five simple things you can do to protect your little one from danger.
#1. Buckle your child up using the appropriate car seat or booster seat
According to the Centers for Disease Control, buckling children in and/or placing them in age-appropriate car seats can greatly reduce the risk of death or serious injury. Placing infants under one year of age in a car seat reduces their risk of death by 71%. Among children ages one to four years of age, car seats reduce the risk of death by 54%.
Placing children ages four to eight years of age in a booster seat reduces the risk of death by 45% when compared to placing them only in seat belts. Children over the age of eight who are placed in seat belts will see their risk of death or serious injury be cut in half.
#2. Use safety seats correctly
A recent study was performed on nearly 3,500 users of car and booster seats. The results from that study showed that 72% of all participants did not use their car and/or booster seats correctly. Furthermore, their misuse of these seats occurred in such a way that it increased the risk of a child suffering from an injury during a crash.
The Community Preventative Services Task Force has recommended that governments enact new car seat laws, and that education programs be implemented to raise awareness. Such education programs are thought to be effective at encouraging people to use car seats appropriately. If you have questions about the proper use of a car seat, you may consult your owner’s manual, or contact a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
#3. Always place your children in the back seat when using a car or booster seat
Children under the age of 12 should always be placed in the back seat of your vehicle. That way, even if you are involved in an accident, you will not have to worry about them becoming injured by a deploying airbag. How children are placed in the back seat will largely depend upon their age, and here are some guidelines to consider:
- From birth to around age two, you should place your child in a rear-facing car seat in the middle of the back seat. Your son or daughter should remain in this car seat until he or she has reached the upper height and weight limits as stated in your manual.
- From approximately age two through five, your children should be placed in a forward-facing car seat that is placed in the back seat of your vehicle. The exact age at which your child outgrows this seat will vary, and will be based upon the limits imposed by the manufacturer.
- Ages five and older should be placed in a forward-facing booster seat that is properly secured in the back seat. Your children should continue to use a booster seat until they are big enough for seat belts to fit properly. This is generally considered to be whenever they are at least 57 inches tall.
Once children are old enough to wear seatbelts, you may allow them to ride in either the front or the back seat, provided they are buckled in during each trip.
#4. Do not drink and drive
After drinking and driving, you pose a threat not only to those around you, but also to the passengers in your own vehicle. Between the years 2001 and 2010, approximately one in every five children age 15 and under who died in an accident did so as a result of drunk driving. In 65% of those cases, it was the child’s own driver who was intoxicated. Intoxication is defined as having a Blood Alcohol Content of greater than .08 percent, which is the legal limit in most states.
#5. Set the example for your children to follow
Of all the children ages 12 and under who were killed in an automobile accident during 2013, approximately 38 percent of them were not properly restrained. When it comes to getting older children to wear a seat belt, your actions will speak louder than your words. The Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as 40% of all children riding with adults who do not wear their seat belts are also unbuckled. Black and Hispanic children were more likely to be unbuckled during a fatal crash than white children were.
These five things take very little time, but can go a long way toward keeping your children safe. Make sure to follow these five tips each time you get into your vehicle, and the odds of your children surviving an accident will be much greater.
The beginning of the 2015-2016 school year brings the influx of the student population, increasing the traffic population on Tennessee’s roadways. The excitement and high spirits that often accompany the start of a new semester are oftentimes hampered, however, because with more drivers comes an unfortunate repercussion: an elevated number of vehicle accidents.
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia, approximately 32,719 people lost their lives in vehicle crashes in the United States in 2013, and an estimated 1,591,000 were injured. Of those, 995 fatalities were in Tennessee. So far this year, an estimated 90,200 vehicle crashes have occurred in the state, with 393 being fatality accidents and approximately 22,470 being injury accidents.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Teens
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15-19 in the United States. In fact, approximately 20 percent of teenage deaths are related to car crashes. In 2013 alone, there were an estimated 2,600 teenage drivers who were involved in fatality accidents and approximately 130,000 received accident related injuries. That same year, the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration reported that Tennessee was number one in the nation (tied with Indiana) for the most vehicle accident fatalities involving teens.
The rate of fatality accidents per 100 miles traveled on Tennessee roadways is highest in the months surrounding a new school year. While many passenger vehicle accidents are clearly a result of inexperienced drivers, students and parents who are not familiar with the community are partly to blame as well. With National Teen Driver Safety Week quickly approaching, it is vital that drivers of all ages become educated about the causes of teen driver related accidents and take measures to prevent such alarming statistics. But what can be done?
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Teens: Reducing the Risk
Although the majority of teens in Tennessee wear their seat belts and try to practice safe driving, inexperience, distractions and overconfidence cause many teen drivers to make critical errors that sometimes result in tragic consequences. Some of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents involving teens include:
- Cell Phone Use and Use of Other Electronics: An estimated 56 percent of all teenage drivers in the United States use their cell phones while driving. Not only do they call and text, but they often play video games and look at social media sites as well.
- Distractions from Other Passengers: The number of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers increases with additional passengers. Becoming distracted by loud or overly energetic teens, talking to friends, and becoming influenced by peers to drive riskily are some of the reasons that driving with more passengers results in a higher risk.
- Inexperience: During the first 500 miles of a teenage driver’s drive time he or she is 10 times more likely to become involved in a car accident than an experienced adult. Lack of experience impairs a teen driver’s ability to react in unexpected situations or handle new types of driving experiences like observing the right of way, merging into oncoming traffic, or avoiding accidents caused by other drivers.
- Speeding: Almost 1/3 of accidents involving teenage drivers are due to driving too fast. Teen Driver Source reports that more than half of teens interviewed admitted to driving more than 10 mph over the posted speed limit on some occasions.
- Alcohol Use: Approximately 1/4 of motor vehicle accidents involving teenagers are related to alcohol use, and nearly 60 percent of fatality accidents involving teenagers are related to drunk driving. Consumption of alcohol impedes a driver’s reaction time and impairs judgement.
When a Teen Driving Accident Involves Injuries
No matter how prepared a teen driver may be, accidents sometimes occur, and unfortunately, many times those accidents involve serious injuries and sometimes fatality. In some cases, individuals in Tennessee who are involved in motor vehicle accidents are able to obtain adequate compensation for injuries, lost wages, medical bills and vehicle damage/ loss without the use of a personal injury lawyer in Nashville. Unfortunately, however, this is typically not the case.
Thankfully, experienced personal injury lawyers in Nashville are familiar with the laws regarding motor vehicle accidents in Tennesseeand how they could affect the outcome of a personal injury case. Some factors that can impact a claim include:
- Statute of Limitations: In Tennessee, an individual has the right to file a lawsuit for personal injuries suffered in a vehicle accident up to one year after the accident occurred, and when suing for property damages the individual has up to three years.
- Modified Comparative Fault: When an individual is deemed to be partly at fault for an accident, the modified comparative fault rule can have a significant impact on the amount of compensation that is able to be obtained. With this rule, the driver’s at fault percentage is deducted from the amount of compensation that would have been awarded.