Distraction is what allegedly caused a Tennessee truck driver to swerve his tractor trailer into oncoming traffic, hitting a bus filled with high school softball players. According to KFOR News, the tragic accident claimed the lives of four young girls and severely injured several other passengers on the bus. One of the injured girls is suing the company that was responsible for hiring the truck driver, claiming that the company failed to properly train and supervise their employee, which led to the devastating truck accident.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Large truck accidents claim the lives of thousands of Americans each year and injure countless more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,802 fatalities from accidents involving large trucks nationwide in 2012. Approximately 107 of those deaths occurred in Tennessee. Although there are many variables that can cause a large truck accident, such as truck driver fatigue and distraction, the employer can also be held responsible for the actions of drivers who they directly employ.
The role of the trucking company
Not only are trucking companies required to inspect, repair and maintain vital parts and equipment on their fleet of commercial trucks, they are also in charge of hiring competent and skilled drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In 2012, the FMCSA was prompted to remove over 171,000 commercial vehicle drivers from service due to excessive driving violations. Over 2.1 million vehicles inspected by the FMCSA were taken off U.S. roadways in 2012 due to violation concerns as well.
A growing demand
According to NBC News, a growing demand to transport and distribute products across the country has led some trucking companies to overlook certain federal regulations regarding driver training, equipment maintenance and driver work hours. There are up to 35,000 unfilled truck driver positions in the U.S., as reported by the American Trucking Association, and that number is predicted to grow substantially in the coming years.
A recent truck accident involving famous actor and comedian Tracy Morgan illustrates how trucking company negligence can result in disaster. The commercial truck that rear-ended Morgan’s limousine was equipped with the latest safety technology; however, the automatic braking system and speed sensors were not working properly, according to a Businessweek report. The driver manning the massive 40 ton vehicle had been awake for nearly 24 hours when the accident occurred. Morgan and several others have filed a third-party lawsuit against the trucking company, who among other things scheduled the truck driver to report to work over 700 miles away from his home.
Despite the growing economy, truck companies must ensure that their vehicles and drivers do not pose a significant threat to other motorists on American roadways.