Trucking companies in America face some of the strictest federal regulation policies due to the high likelihood of truck accidents resulting in serious injury. One driver’s mistake can cost the lives of a whole family, and for this reason, regulations will not be easing anytime soon. While truck regulations have always been strict, truck companies have historically broken these regulations time and again. Although the defiance of these regulations is known to be widespread, no one really had a full picture of the problem. However, a USA TODAY investigation uncovered the seriousness of the situation by obtaining a bigger picture.
470 Broken Violations Everyday Leads to 189 Crashes the Following Day
Every day in Los Angeles and Long Beach, trucks are known to disobey the federally regulated break times. In fact, the investigation proved that 470 trucks violate the federal law every single day. Of the 470 trucks that defied the law, 189 of them were a part of a crash within the next day. While this data alone is insufficient to hold these drivers accountable, experts say that the analysis provides clear evidence of a hard-to-identify problem.
The executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said the evidence is, “enough (…) to warrant further investigation.”
Pressure to Work Harder by California Truck Companies
Some truck companies require that truck drivers “lease-to own” the trucks they use. In effect, truck drivers end up making pennies an hour for the work they completed due to paying off the truck. These programs led many drivers to debt, and thus forced workers to labor extreme hours to make ends meet.
One driver told his story of leaving a bucket of ice water near his seat to keep him awake if he felt that he was nodding off. The sleep deprivation was so extreme that he began to hallucinate while behind the wheel. Another driver was shown to post 19 hours of driving a day while resting for 5 hours, which is half of the federally mandated rest period.
This story and others has allowed USA TODAY to conclude that between 2013 and 2016, there were 580,000 instances of trucks staying on the road for at least 14 hours without a 10-hour break—the federally mandated rest period. The only way this time allotment could be within legal limits is if truck drivers shared trucks, which is highly unlikely due to the fact that most companies disallow multiple truckers from sharing a truck.
Truck Corporations by the Numbers
The investigation showed that 900 port trucking companies allowed at least one truck to drive past the 14 hour limit over the past 4 years. The busiest trucking companies had thousands of potential violations based on the research. In the article, it was claimed that Lincoln Transportation had over 5,200 trucks work over the 14-hour limit in the 4 year research span. This ended up being 6% of all the company’s activity for the past 4 years. In that same time span, Lincoln trucks were involved in 29 crashes, 6 of which ended in personal injuries.
Pacific 9 is another company that was accused of forcing drivers to stay on the roads past regulatory amounts. The company has not been cited for hour’s violations in the past 5 years, but the company had 20 drivers testify against them, saying that they worked 19 hours a day and would not get paid until they falsified inspection reports. The investigation into Pacific 9 showed that the company had trucks operate past the legal limit of 14 hours more than 8,000 times in the 4 year period. The company has a policy stating that drivers cannot share trucks, which means that the 8,000 violations should all be real cases of men and women who are driving past 14 hours without 10 hours of rest.
Where Does This Leave Accident Victims?
Violations of this type have undoubtedly resulted in thousands of truck crashes every year. Due to the number of truck accidents, the federal government is now requesting that trucks carry electronic logging devices to make it harder to falsify reports. However, when companies like Pacific 9 have historically broken trucking laws with no ramifications, it is hard to believe that ELDs will change anything. Truck accident victims are left to fight on their own with little help from officials.
However, Arnold & Itkin can change that.
Our truck accident attorneys have been holding trucking companies accountable for years. Our firm has helped thousands of clients recover billions of dollars throughout the years. Our goal is to help truck accident survivors prove that their plight was caused by company negligence. For every truck accident case we take on, we recreate the accident scene, we investigate the truck logs, and we inspect the integrity of the truck. We can secure your post-accident future.
Have you been a part of an accident and need immediate answers? Call (888) 490-0442 to speak to one of our attorneys absolutely free of charge.