Archive for the ‘Truck Accidents’ Category

San Antonio Semi Accidents Often Blamed on Fatigue

Truck drivers are limited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the number of hours that they can drive per day and the number of hours that they can drive per week. Truckers must not work more than 14 hours a day, and can drive for a maximum of 11 hours. After they have driven 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days, they also must take a rest break called a “restart period” that lasts for 34 consecutive hours and includes two overnight periods.

Recent changes to FMCSA regulations require truckers to include two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. in their restart period. This has drawn sharp opposition from some professional trucking groups and the Senate Appropriates Committee recently acted to undermine the regulation and suspend the restart regulation. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine pushed the measure. It must now be adopted by the full Senate as well as reconciled with House appropriations legislation, according to the Huffington Post.

Unfortunately, an accident just days after the Appropriations Committee acted only served to tragically illustrate the risks. Drowsy driving is dangerous, and it is essential that rules prevent truckers from driving fatigued. Accident lawyers in San Antonio at The Herrera Law Firm should be consulted after a truck accident or any collision involving a fatigued driver, as the crash victim may have a legal right to monetary compensation for losses.

Tough Rules Needed to Prevent Driver Fatigue

The accident that drew attention to the dangers of drowsy truck drivers resulted in one death and four injuries. It made national headlines because one of the individuals who sustained critical injuries was comedian Tracy Morgan, who is a former “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” cast member.

The collision was blamed on a Wal-Mart truck driver who had reportedly been awake for 24 hours before the crash happened. A driver who has been awake for 24 hours is seriously impaired by fatigue. He may experienced delayed reaction times as well as impaired judgment. Studies have shown that being awake for this long is the equivalent of having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .10, which is well above the legal limit.

The trucker now faces criminal charges for the fatality and injuries. Wal-Mart has indicated that it will take responsibility if the accident turns out to have been the fault of the fatigued driver.

Even with laws in place, this devastating accident may have happened because a trucker did not make a smart choice to get off the road when he was too tired. Weakening the laws would be a step in the wrong direction and could encourage more truck drivers to push the limit and drive even when it is not safe to do so.

An FCMSA administrator admonished Congress for its attempt to roll back the legislation, indicating that “Suspending the current Hours-of-Service safety rules will expose families and drivers to greater risk every time they’re on the road.”

The injured can contact a San Antonio accident lawyer at The Herrera Law Firm. Call 800-455-1054 or visit for a free case consultation.

Truck Safety Program Questioned by Government Accountability Office

Truck accident injuries and deaths have increased in recent years. In 2012, statistics showed four percent more fatalities and 18 percent more injuries occurred in truck crashes than in 2011.  This increase occurred despite the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in the midst of a multi-year effort to remove unsafe truckers from the road.

CSA-2010 was launched by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to replace an earlier program called SafeStat.  CSA didn’t include any new laws, but instead was a reporting initiative. It was designed to reduce crashes by measuring motor carrier safety performance. The FMCSA is able to use the data to decide where to focus its limited investigatory resources. Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a 111-page report pointing out many flaws in the CSA-2010 system.

As the GAO and the FMCSA work through disagreements about safety measures, real people are losing their lives in truck accidents every day. Victims of collisions can hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible with the help of a truck accident lawyer in San Antonio.  The Herrera Law Firm is here to help.

Is the FMCSA’s Data Collection System Effective?

The  goal with CAS-2010 was to gather performance data about different trucking companies from accident investigations and from roadside inspections.  The data would be used to grade each of the motor carriers based on the company’s rate of violation.  The different companies would be compared in seven different categories.   The FMCSA would then be able to concentrate its enforcement resources on high-risk carriers.

The GAO, however, identified a few serious problems. For example:

  • The violations that the FMCSA is looking at are not necessarily the ones likely to lead to accidents. Trucking companies can violate all sorts of safety rules, but only certain ones increase the chances of truck accidents. The GAO believes that the focus should be on identifying the violations that have a direct correlation to collisions.
  • There is not sufficient data to actually compare different carriers reliably.  Around 95 percent of trucking companies in the U.S. operate less than 20 vehicles. The FMCSA cannot possibly inspect enough vehicles from each trucking company to create a reliable comparison.

These are major problems, because if the system is flawed, the FMCSA may be focusing its efforts and investigations on the wrong trucking companies. If the FMCSA doesn’t work effectively to stop dangerous trucking companies from operations, these companies can continue to keep their fleets on the road and put others at risk.

The GAO has urged the FMCSA to revise the methods it uses in order to better reflect limits it has in gathering data. It is unclear whether this advice will be taken, as some reports indicate that the FMCSA has pushed back and defended its program.

The increase in crashes, however, suggests that current regulations just aren’t working as well as they should. Government regulators and trucking companies both need to consider how to improve safety efforts to try to bring the accident rate back down.

A truck accident lawyer in San Antonio can help collision victims. Call the Herrera Law Firm at 1-800-455-1054 or visit to schedule a free consultation.

Safe Drivers are the Key to Preventing Trucking Accidents in San Antonio

A recent tractor-trailer accident sent one driver to the hospital with injuries described as life-threatening. As My San Antonio reports, the truck collision occurred when a man in a black Jaguar was trying to pass a tractor trailer. The tractor trailer hit the rear quarter panel of the Jaguar, sending the vehicle crashing into the guardrail. The Jaguar then bounced off of the guard rail, became caught on the rear tires of the tractor trailer and was dragged for a few hundred feet.

Cause of this crash remains unclear. However, truck accident lawyers in San Antonio know that it is one of thousands of truck accidents that occur each year in the state of Texas.  The Texas Crash Data indicates that a total of 27,403 accidents in 2012 involved commercial motor vehicles, and many of these accidents resulted in serious or even deadly injuries for motorists. Preventing truck accidents should be a top priority for every trucking company, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has an important tool that can help these companies to ensure that the drivers they employ are safe.

FMCSA Study Shows Pre-Employment Screening Reduces Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created a pre-employment screening program in 2010 in order to try to help trucking companies ensure they were hiring only the safest drivers. The idea was to allow employers to check the background of prospective truckers before hiring them to ensure that the truckers had clean driving records and were being honest about their past driving experience.

The screening program includes five years of accident data on truckers involved in collisions as well as three years of information on inspections. Truckers can thus check whether the driver they are considering has been in trouble for not following safety rules or has been involved in an accident.

Many employers have used this program already, although screening employees before hiring is voluntary. Just three years after the screening program was developed, there were 35,000 registered users by 2013. The trucking companies registered to use the program were making as many as 70,000 information requests each month. This is a massive number of pre-employment background checks that helps to ensure that drivers are safer on the roads.

The widespread use of the pre-employment screening program has proven to be very successful. As Trucking Info reports, motor carriers using the pre-employment screening system experienced a 17.2 percent reduction in OOS violations among their drivers as compared with other carriers who did not screen employees before hiring. Furthermore, there was also a 12.4 percent decline in the rate of accidents for trucking companies that used pre-employment screening.

Since employers can be held legally liable for the negligence of their drivers on duty, and can also be held legally liable for negligent hiring practices, employers who want to protect themselves from potential litigation should strongly consider making use of the pre-employment screening program. Truck accident victims should also consult with an attorney for assistance in determining whether the trucking company who employed the driver in their crash followed reasonable hiring protocols to ensure safety.

Contact the Herrera Law Firm in San Antonio. Call 800-455-1054 today for a free case evaluation.

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Increasing Truck Size and Weight Limits

As part of a traffic and highway law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,  Congress mandated that the Federal Highway Administration conduct a study to determine the impact of increasing truck size and weight limits. The mandate comes at a time when lawmakers are also proposing increasing the national weight limit from the current 80,000 pounds on five axles to a new maximum of 97,000 pounds on six axles.

Those pushing to increase size and weight limits of trucks believe that doing so would help to reduce transportation costs. Unfortunately, our San Antonio truck accident lawyers know that making trucks larger, longer and heavier could also increase the risk of serious truck accidents occurring. Many professional drivers are also concerned about the impact of larger trucks on the road and the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) is speaking out against any increases.

Professional Drivers Speak Out Against Increasing Truck Size & Weight Limits

OOIDA has an estimated 150,000 members, all of whom are professional truck drivers and motor carriers.  Recently, three OOIDA members who had a combined 70 years of trucking experience submitted comments to the Federal Highway Administration in response to the FHWA’s request for comments.

Over the years, OOIDA has fought against increasing size and weight limits, despite the fact that increases are supported by a small number of mega-carriers and a large number of shippers. Landline Mag indicated that OOIDA members are actively involved in the trucking industry and, unlike many organizations submitting comments to the FHWA, actually feel the real-world impact of changes to trucking regulations. OOIDA members are reportedly concerned not just with added costs of larger trucks but are also concerned about the risks that heavier vehicles would present.

Today, much of the current infrastructure in the U.S. was built before 53 foot trailers became common, so there are already risks on roads where current trucks are too large to pass safely. Bigger and heavier trucks are only likely to exacerbate the dangers faced by truck drivers and others on the road. In fact, as the OOIDA members and professional truck drivers indicated in their submitted statement, “any seasoned driver will tell you that extra weight means extra responsibility and a reduced margin for errors.”

Larger trucks could not only increase the chances of an accident happening but could also make it much more likely for the accident to be very serious. The larger the truck, the more momentum and force the vehicle will have and the greater the impact if a truck accident occurs.

Hopefully, the new FHWA study will reveal the true risks associated with increasing truck size so that an informed decision can be made that takes highway safety into account. The FHWA is expected to report the findings of its study to Congress in the fall of 2014 and it is likely that many more professional drivers will weigh in with their own opinions on increasing truck size before the final recommendation is submitted.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a free case evaluation.

San Antonio Thanksgiving Travel: Be Wary of Large Trucks

The southbound lanes of I-35 in Lorena were recently reconstructed after a fatal truck accident around 4 a.m. on Nov. 10 resulted in the collapse of a highway  support column.

Based on reports from KCEN-TV, it appears the driver slammed into the support column while crossing the bridge near FM 2837. The driver was one day shy of his 53rd birthday.

Our San Antonio truck accident lawyers don’t yet know the exact cause of this crash, but we want motorists to understand that the influx of drivers gearing up for Thanksgiving holiday travel in Texas presents a very real possibility that we’ll be witnessing more tragedy involving  semi-trucks on our roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports there were nearly 315 fatal semi-trailer accidents throughout the state in 2009. Although it’s true that these aren’t nearly as numerous as the car accidents that occur each day, it does break down to about five a week and they are generally much more severe when they do occur. Mainly, this is due to the fact that these machines are massive, with the gross maximum weight allowable on federal interstates at 80,000 pounds. That’s 40 tons.

When you consider that the average passenger vehicle is between 2 and 3 tons, you begin to see why these accidents are so devastating.

It’s estimated that approximately 40 million motorists will hit the roadways this Thanksgiving. Inevitably, there are going to be some semi-truck crashes. In many cases, the causes of semi-truck crashes have to do with the fact that these huge vehicles are either overloaded, or the driver is suffering exhaustion from working long hours or speeding to get where he or she needs to be.

There are some instances in which you may not be able to prevent a semi-truck crash. But here are some things you an do:

Prepare your vehicle for long-distance travel. These means not only getting your oil changed and tires rotated, but also checking things like your wipers and fluids. Have your cooling system and radiator serviced.

Prepare yourself. That means not only having the directions ahead of time so you aren’t consulting GPS in the middle of the highway, but also making sure you have had enough sleep. Take frequent breaks if you need to in order to keep yourself alert and ready.

Don’t cut in front of large trucks. Because these vehicles are so large, they do take longer to stop or slow down. That means you’ll want to avoid quickly cutting in front of them.

Make yourself aware of any changes in weather, particularly if you are traveling northbound for any distance. Colder temperatures may give way to snow or ice, so you must use extreme caution.

Be wary of truck blind spots. Generally, if you can’t see the front mirrors of the truck, the driver is unable to see you. Keep that in mind as you navigate the highways.

Slow down. Just because Texas has some of the highest speed limits in the country doesn’t mean you have to travel that fast.

Wear your seat belt. This may reduce the risk of fatal injury on the highway by as much as 45 percent.

We wish you a wonderful holiday with much for which to be thankful.

If you are injured in a San Antonio semi-truck accident, contact the Herrera Law Firm at 800-455-1054 for a confidential consultation.