Big rigs are a necessary evil; they are a cost-effective way of distributing goods around our country. Unfortunately, we don’t do a particularly good job at regulating how they run. Laws, rules, and regulations vary state by state, and companies are excellent at manipulating these rules as well as federal safety laws to increase their profit margin.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established in 2000 with a mission statement to “reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.” The administration is designed to develop and enforce regulations for the industry, thus keeping operators and other drivers safe.
However, the administration is not without its own problems. Big rig drivers are required to hold a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. These licenses require additional testing through a Motor Vehicle Department, and ensure that the operator of 80,000lb truck has more experience than the average driver. FMCSA does not have a clear policy for overseeing and tracking state CDL programs, and can’t know which states are complying with the office’s policies.
This particular oversight led to a situation in California where commercial driving schools were offering CDL’s for sale with no training or experience. So far, according to The Trucker, “The California Department of Motor Vehicles has revoked or canceled 602 CDLs so far that were connected to the alleged scam.” Who knows how many accidents untrained drivers caused in the meantime?
Lack of proper safety regulations leads to dangerous scenarios. The infamous Tracy Morgan accident in New Jersey last year was caused by a driver who had commuted from Georgia to New York for work before taking to the road without a break. In his exhausted state, he ran his truck into Mr. Morgan’s stopped limo bus at 50mph, killing one and critically injuring four more.
More recent examples include an overturned tractor-trailer spilling thousands of piglets across a highway, necessitating a high-manpower clean up that took hours. A big rig driver in Maynardville right by the Knox County line is implicated in a crash that left one person dead. The list goes on and on.
According to NorthJersey.com, a 2013 report from Tennessee conducted by the International Journal of Inquiry Control and Safety Promotion found that “even a 1 percent increase in truck volume results in a disproportionately higher increase in severe crash probability.”
All of this boils down to a lack of effective controls. Without intervention in the industry, big rigs are a hazard to other drivers on the highway. They are a danger to your and your family, and can cause hefty emotional and financial damage. If you or someone you know has been involved in a big truck accident, please contact the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm for a free consultation. We have multiple offices in Nashville, Gallatin and Knoxville to better serve you.