The American Association for Justice, or AAJ, recently released a report on trucking safety violations entitled “Warning! Safety Violation Ahead: Motor Carrier Companies Keep Unsafe Trucks on U.S. Roads.” AAJ analyzed a million lines of data on the safety performance of U.S. trucking companies which they obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The incredible results of this study found that over 28,000 trucking companies with safety violations, representing over 200,000 trucks, are currently operating in the U.S.
In an original analysis of data not previously available to the public, the American Associationfor Justice found commuters are sharing roads with trucks that have incurred thousands of safety violations, such as defective brakes, bald tires, loads that dangerously exceeded weight limits, and drivers with little or no training or drug and alcohol dependence.
These findings clearly demonstrate a need for more aggressive enforcement of safety regulations that govern the trucking industry. Trucks make up only 4% of the vehicles on the road, but account for 12% of the fatalities. Specifically, nearly 5,000 people die every year and another 80,000 are seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents involving semi tractor-trailers. According to the report, 147 people died in Indiana in 2007 as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle accident with a truck.
The report found certain violations that seemed to be common among the industry. The driving force behind the violations was to take short cuts on regulations designed to promote safety, but which ate into profit margins. Often, drivers would overload their trucks and not do proper routine maintenance in order to make more money and reduce their operating costs.
These violations include such practices as overloading trucks, allowing unqualified or untrained drivers on the road, failing to maintain tires and brakes, and compensations systems that encourage truck drivers to exceed speed limits and maximum driving hours.
The unfortunate result is that all of us are forced to use the same roads as these trucks. Hopefully, this report will spark more enforcement these regulations and punish those companies that refuse to act responsible manner.