Tracy Morgan's Severe Injury After Being Hit By A Wal-Mart Semi Brings Trucking Regulations Back Into The National Spotlight.
NTSB statistics show more than 104,000 injuries and nearly 4000 deaths in 2012 from accidents involving large commercial trucks, but it takes the severe injury of a well known comedian to get the subject of commercial trucking safety back in lawmaker discussions.
Attorneys who represent those injured or killed from crashes with tractor trailers have been pushing for safer policies for years, seeking to correct unreasonably low insurance coverage requirements to pushing local governments to enforce laws and regulations already on the books.
In the case of the crash Tracy Morgan was in, the driver of the tractor-trailer that smashed into the van he was riding in had allegedly not slept for 24 hours. Because accidents of this type rarely make national or even local headlines, the public is not aware of how often federal trucking regulations are shrugged off by both truck drivers and trucking companies.
To make matters more urgent, there have been several pushes by law makers to increase the allowable weight limit of commercial trucks from 80,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds. Even if every trucking company was in full compliance with the law, such a weight increase would be a spectacularly bad decision. The potential for destruction that 50 tonnes of mass moving at 75 miles per hour can do is hard to imagine, never mind that many roads and bridges around the country are in need of over due maintenance.
While new regulations have mandated so called black-boxes for heavy trucks, companies have not been made to install the devices and further, many companies resist turning the devices over after a crash or attempt to destroy the data recorded by the device.
Senator Charles Schumer citing the fatal accident that injured Tracy Morgan and killed fellow comedian James McNair, has renewed the push to enact tougher regulations that enforce the operation of black boxes in interstate trucking. Matt Cartwright a Pennsylvania congressmen recently consulted with experienced trucking accident attorney Bernard F. Wash on restoring realistic insurance coverage requirements – coverage limits originally set 30 years ago, have become inadequate for today for a variety of reasons including inflation.
All of this activity by attorneys and lawmakers to make the roads and highways a safer place is welcome news.
However, until new, effective regulations are put in place to overcome the shortcomings of current rules, we should expect to see many more tragic trucking accidents - the vast majority of which will never make the headlines.
Attorney Bernard F. Walsh, Bradenton Florida