Trucking accident injuries caused by unsafe truck drivers. In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found over seven million violations during roadside inspections. In approximately 980,000 of those cases, the violation resulted in the driver or truck being placed out of service (FMCSA Announces Results of 2012 Drug and Alcohol Inspection Strike Force, FMCSA, June 25).
Why do I say that the numbers of unsafe drivers are likely just the tip of the iceberg? Remember the numbers of inspections are very low, but the results are astounding. For instance, in a special inspection “sweep” in 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) identified 287 drivers in violation of drug and alcohol regulations, and 128 truck and bus companies that had hired drivers who had tested positive for illegal drugs or had failed to institute drug and alcohol testing.
In addition, during a 2012 brake safety sweep, federal, state and local safety inspectors placed one in seven inspected trucks out of service for brake issues. But these sweeps scattered across the country lasted two weeks or less, and target just a fraction of total truck traffic on our roads and highways.
These sweeps are also often announced a head of time, so truck companies have time to take the worst trucks and their worst drivers off the roads during these pre-announced testing and inspection dates.
We will never know until there are comprehensive, random inspections just how bad the safety epidemic of unsafe trucks on our roads and highways actually is.
And these inspection results should not be interpreted to mean that unsafe trucking companies are being weeded out and taken off the road. Especially in states like Michigan, where much of the trucking industry is characterized by small motor carriers with shifting ownerships and management structures.
When they are placed “out of service,” truck companies are often are “reincarnated” under different names and continue to operate and avoid penalties. Lawyers and safety advocates call these trucking companies “chameleon carriers,” because they change names like a chameleon changes colors, but with the exact same trucks, drivers and owners operating under a new name once the old company piles up too many safety violations.
About the Author
Attorney Steven Peck has been practicing law since 1981. A former successful business owner, Mr. Peck initially focused his legal career on business law. Within the first three years, after some colleagues and friend’s parents endured nursing home neglect and elder abuse, he continued his education to begin practicing elder law and nursing home abuse law.