Articles Tagged with Commercial Vehicle Accidents

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Throughout the New York City and northeastern United States, millions of people regularly travel via train. In fact, according to Amtrak’s website, ridership stats indicate that, annually, more than 10.1 million people board trains in New York City and travel along the company’s Northeast Corridor Service line. While the vast majority of the passengers who travel aboard these trains arrive safely and without incident at their destinations, last Sunday, passengers aboard Amtrak train 89 were involved in a serious accident that claimed the lives of two Amtrak workers.

According to The New York Times, the train was traveling from New York City to Savannah, Ga with 341 people aboard when it crashed into workers, along with heavy construction equipment, who were maintaining the tracks. Two Amtrak employees who were on the tracks when the accident occurred were killed and 37 passengers suffered injuries in the crash.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are attempting to determine why the workers were on the active track. Amtrak maintains that it has a rigorous “12-step procedure for construction work on rail lines,” and that workers are only allowed to conduct maintenance work on active lines when strict safety procedures are in place and never with heavy equipment.

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At some point or another, everyone has felt worn out and tired. The negative side effects of not getting enough sleep are well documented and include being easily distracted, feeling restless, clumsiness, making poor decisions and loss of coordination. Additionally, people who don’t get enough sleep are also at an increased risk of having high blood pressure, suffering a heart attack, being overweight and developing diabetes.

When it comes to maintaining good physical and mental health, there’s no doubt that sleep is a crucial component, however, it isn’t always lack of sleep that’s the problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated eight million people in the U.S. suffer from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea which, without treatment, makes it difficult to impossible to get a good night’s rest.

Experts contend that as many as 28 percent of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea and a recent study revealed the true public safety threat that these drivers pose. For the study, researchers at the University of Minnesota Morris reviewed the driving records of 1,600 truck drivers who had been diagnosed as suffering from the sleep disorder. These records were then compared against a group of commercial truckers who don’t have sleep apnea or were being treated for the disorder.

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Cars and commercial vehicles have the same rights on New York roads and highways, even though they are considerably different in size. Drivers of both types of vehicles must understand this comply with traffic laws accordingly.

However, there are additional laws and stricter rules with which truckers and bus drivers must comply, which car drivers do not. Failure to do so can and does lead to catastrophic trucking accidents. In this post, we will explore a few rules that apply differently to commercial vehicle drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

  • Hours of Service regulations: Every driver should know not to get behind the wheel if they are tired and that they should pull over if they are feeling sleepy. However, commercial vehicle drivers must observe strict rules for how long they can be driving and how long and frequently they must rest. When these HOS regulations are not observed, truckers can drive much longer than federal regulators consider to be safe.
  • Distracted driving laws: While there are bans on using a handheld phone and texting while driving for every driver in New York, Commercial vehicle operators are prohibited from these behaviors in every state.
  • Drunk driving limits: Non-commercial vehicle drivers are considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 percent. Commercial vehicle drivers are considered to be driving under the influence if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent.

In the event of an accident with a commercial vehicle, it is possible that the driver may have violated one of these rules. However, if you do not know about these and other trucking regulations, you may not know that you could have grounds to pursue a legal claim and compensation from the trucker and/or the trucking company. This is why it can be crucial to speak with an attorney if you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle.

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For many students who are attending college and living on or near campus, the Thanksgiving holiday signals their first trip home as an official college student. After spending a long weekend with family and friends back home, college students around the country headed home this past Sunday. For 50 students who were heading back to their campuses aboard a Virginia charter bus, what was supposed to be an uneventful trip back to their collegiate lives quickly turned into a terrifying experience that they likely won’t soon forget.

According to the police report, upon attempting to navigate the curve of a highway ramp, the 58-year-old bus driver lost control of the large commercial vehicle which left the roadway and tipped onto its side. A total of 34 people were injured, one critically, and taken to nearby hospitals. Police report that speed was a factor in the crash and have charged thee 58-year-old driver with reckless driving.

 

While thankfully it appears as though all of the passengers aboard the charter bus escaped death, many will likely continue to struggle to recover from their injuries for weeks, months or even longer. Charter bus accidents like this one are often especially dangerous for passengers as these buses tend to travel along highways and freeways and are therefore traveling at higher speeds when a crash or collision occurs.

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According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, on a weekly basis, an estimated 2.5 million passengers travel upon New York City’s more than 5,700 buses. With some 15,000 bus stops throughout the city’s five boroughs, there’s no doubt that buses are an integral part of the city’s transportation system.

Despite their utility in moving millions of people throughout the city, buses also pose serious safety threats to pedestrians and bicyclists. As the city continues to progress in its plans to eliminate traffic deaths via the Vision Zero Action Plan, concerns about bus safety have come to light.

Combined; commercial vehicles, taxi cabs and buses account for approximately 20 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents in the city. From the vantage of a bus driver, pedestrians and bicyclists are often difficult to see. This is often especially true in cases where a bus driver is turning right and fails to see a pedestrian in a crosswalk or a bicyclist in the far right traffic or bike lane.

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For the men and woman who make a living driving large commercial trucks, our nation’s highways are their workplaces. From traffic congestion, road construction and inclement weather; on a daily basis truck drivers face numerous obstacles that challenge their ability to perform their jobs safely and on time.

While the trucking industry is highly regulated, there are always ways to skirt around regulations pertaining to drug screens, log books maintenance and vehicle repairs and unfortunately, there are times when trucking employers and individual truck drivers prioritize profits over safety.

On June 7, 2014, a truck driver who had just driven some 800 miles from Georgia to Delaware was allowed to get behind the wheel of a commercial Walmart truck. Despite legally “only having about an hour remaining in the period he could be on duty” he was allowed to drive the truck without seemingly any oversight.

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On any given day throughout New York City, thousands of commercial trucks crowd city streets. From delivery trucks teaming with fresh produce and seafood to dump trucks hauling loads of rock and debris to and from construction work sites, the drivers of these commercials trucks are often preoccupied with accomplishing job-related duties and, consequently, distracted and in a hurry.

Weighing several thousand tons, commercial vehicles not only differ from small personal vehicles in their size and girth, but these vehicles also render their drivers with large and numerous blind spots and are difficult to maneuver down the city’s often narrow streets.

If involved in an accident with a car, pedestrian or bicyclist, a commercial vehicle and its driver almost always walk away unscathed. The same, however, cannot be said for the other parties involved and many suffer painful and debilitating injuries.

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For good reason, truck drivers and bus drivers are subject to federal regulation of their hours of service. Driving any motor vehicle requires one’s full attention, and studies have shown that driver fatigue greatly reduces drivers’ reaction times, even to the point of fatigued driving being as dangerous as drunk driving.

That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the FMCSA, requires truck and bus drivers to limit their hours of service and take rest breaks in order to avoid fatigue. The FMCSA also requires these drivers to keep accurate logs of their hours of service. However, the hours-of-service regulations for property-carrying drivers and passenger-carrying drivers differ somewhat.

For example, property-carrying drivers have to comply with an 11-hour driving limit, while passenger-carrying drivers have a 10-hour driving limit. Truck drivers are allowed to reach that maximum of 11 hours only after being off duty for 10 consecutive hours, and bus drivers are allowed to reach the 10-hour maximum only after being off duty for eight consecutive hours.

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There are many different ways people get around here in New York City. One form of transportation in the city that many people use are taxis. When a person is a passenger of a taxi, they generally hope that the ride will go smoothly and uneventfully. 

Unfortunately, incidents sometimes occur in which this hope of a taxi passenger is thoroughly smashed. One such type of incident are taxi accidents. When a taxi a person is a passenger of ends up in a collision, the person can end up having to deal with extensive injuries. 

Now, what the compensation and liability situation is for a New York City taxi accident in which a passenger was injured can vary based on many things, including:

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Statistics show that many crashes with large commercial trucks are caused by drivers in smaller vehicles. For example, accidents happen when drivers of passenger vehicles drive in large trucks’ blind spots — sometimes called “No-Zones” — or abruptly change lanes in front of a truck, or improperly merge into a lane occupied by a truck, or pull out in front of a truck that, because of its weight and speed, is unable to stop in time.

However, not all drivers of large commercial vehicles are skilled and patient while behind the wheel, and far too many serious accidents are caused by truck drivers. Speeding, distracted driving, fatigue, impaired driving — these are all behaviors that truck drivers should avoid but too often do not. 

In addition to the truck driver’s individual negligence, sometimes a trucking company’s system of compensating drivers factors into why a crash happened. If a compensation system encourages drivers to break the speed limit and operate their vehicles for long periods of time without taking a break, then the risk of a crash may be increased significantly.

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