The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its annual injury report which showed that workplace fatalities hit a six-year high. Almost 5,000 workers were killed on the job.
Guess which industry topped the charts? A whopping 745 tractor-trailer drivers died in accidents last year, making transportation the deadliest profession in 2015. No wonder it’s so hard to find qualified truck drivers.
A huge number of workers (2,054) lost their lives while on the clock in transportation accidents, which equals almost half of all worker deaths. 1,264 of the deaths, or more than ¼ of all workplace fatalities, resulted from roadway crashes. 629 of the deaths involved a tractor-trailer or tanker truck.
I am filing a lawsuit for the driver injured in the tractor-trailer pictured here. His rig overturned when another vehicle crashed into it head-on. That driver unfortunately died. My client was seriously injured and could not drive for over six months.
I recently posted about lawmakers’ decision to scrap the sleep requirements for truckers so they can drive all day and all night (see post below). That’s right, at a time when more people are being killed in tractor-trailer crashes, including the truck drivers themselves, our politicians want to loosen restrictions instead of tighten them.
The suspension of the sensible hours of service mandates was slipped into a spending bill. As I discussed, trucking lobbyists are now planning to push for laws that allow longer, heavier 18-wheelers. What! Allowing more sleep-deprived truck drivers to operate longer, heavier semis is a really bad idea.
The statistics are clear. The dangers are frightening. The trucking industry needs more regulation, not less.
The horrific crash in which the exhausted Wal-Mart driver severely injured Tracy Morgan and killed his friend is an example of why stricter truck industry regulations are needed.
I guess the truck driver should have refused to make the trip. But that presumably would have cost him his job or deprived him of more income. The real culprit there was Wal-Mart, whose negligent policies all but guaranteed exhausted drivers would be behind the wheel of their tractor-trailers.
Asking tired drivers to make the safety call is like asking a drunk person whether he is okay to drive. Sleep-deprived drivers may not even realize how affected they really are. And, even if they feel tired, they are likely to push themselves if their jobs and pay depend on it.
Many trucking companies value profit over people. If the law permits a trucker with X number of hours to drive, the company is likely to schedule him, regardless of whether doing so is unsafe. Corporations are more likely to do the right thing if they are mandated by law. This holds true for other issues as well, including speeding, texting while driving, size and weight of the vehicles, truck maintenance and driver training requirements.
Of course, there are far too many unqualified or negligent truck drivers on our highways.
Berenson Injury Law has represented motorists injured in tractor-trailer crashes for the past 36 years.