Truck accidents and driver safety focus of new laws

Palm Springs and the surrounding desert areas in Riverside County features vast roadways that are frequented by large trucks transporting any type of product into and out of the state. While a good portion of the time, traffic flows smoothly, accidents can and do happen and many involve these large trucks.

In 2010, the California Highway Patrol noted 2,520 deadly accidents and 161,094 injury accidents statewide. Of those accidents, 8.5 percent of the fatal crashes and slightly more than 3.1 percent of the personal injury accidents involved large trucks.

Key state data regarding large truck accidents

The 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Association data indicates that trucks were involved in a total of 10 percent of the vehicular fatalities in Riverside County. Further state CHP 2010 information provides details about accidents in which truck drivers were deemed to have caused the accidents:

  • 41 fatal crashes resulted in 52 deaths
  • Of the 41 crashes, unsafe speeds were involved in 20, or nearly half
  • 2,156 injury crashes resulted in 2,985 people injured
  • Of the total personal injury wrecks, unsafe speed was noted in 913, or over 42 percent

Other highly common causes of injury or fatal truck accidents included the practice of unsafe changing of lanes and improper turning on the part of the truck drivers.

The federal government is stepping in

Truck driver safety has received much national attention as of late, especially with the implementation of new laws that were enacted in July 2013. The regulations put new limitations on how long drivers can work in a given work week or day and outline fines for drivers, truck owners and trucking companies who disregard the laws.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published its estimate that 560 personal injuries and 19 fatalities will be avoided thanks to the new laws.

The primary elements of the new truck driver work hour laws include the requirement for drivers to take a 30-minute break at least once every eight hours. Another rest requirement is for a 34-hour stretch covering two time periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. must be taken per week. Each truck driver can drive up to 11 hours a day. The total number of work, not simply driving, hours allowed is 14 for a day and 70 for a week.

When accidents occur

As with any vehicle accident, the priority is always to seek proper medical care for anyone that needs it and this is certainly the case if a truck accident has taken place. In addition to exchanging all necessary information, taking photos of the scene if possible and safe and reporting the accident to authorities, perhaps the next most important thing that you can do when involved in a truck accident is to consult with an experienced attorney. Working with large truck owners or companies can be daunting and the advantage of having a professional on your side can make the difference between getting your fair compensation or not.