Why Tractor Trailer Collisions Are Different Than Regular Automobile Collisions

At 65 miles per hour any vehicle, commercial or passenger, is traveling 95 feet per second.

However, the distance required to stop a vehicle changes dramatically as the size and weight of the vehicle increases.  Simply stated, larger and heavier vehicles require more distance to stop than smaller and lighter vehicles.

A passenger car traveling 65 miles per hour can brake to a controlled stop in approximately 316 feet given a normal perception and reaction time by the driver, or about the length of football field.  A tractor trailer traveling 65 miles per hour with the same perception and reaction time by the driver would require 525 feet to brake to a stop, or almost the length of TWO football fields.

Stopping distance is just one example of how tractor trailers present different hazards than passenger cars.  The unique safety challenges presented by tractor trailers are the reason the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces specialized rules called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) against large commercial vehicles. The FMCSR apply to employers, employees and commercial motor vehicles engaged in interstate commerce.

The FMCSR require drivers to submit to specialized tests in order to drive commercial trucks.  Drivers are required to engage in pre-trip safety inspections and maintain log books that document their driving time, rest time and off-duty time.   The FMCSR limit the number of hours a driver may operate a commercial vehicle.

The FMCSR require the trucking companies to maintain records related to their driver’s qualifications and maintenance of their trucks.  All commercial vehicles are required to meet certain braking standards as well as many other safety features to prevent collisions.  Because of their weight, collisions involving commercial vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries or death.

Our firm has handled numerous cases where tractors trailers were travelling either above the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions and unable to stop in order to avoid a collision.  We have represented the family of persons killed by drivers who were fatigued and operating their vehicles beyond the limits allowed.  Tractor trailer collisions are very different than automobile collision and need the experience of an attorney familiar with these differences.

For more information of commercial vehicle safety, click on these links:

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/topicoverview

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle, contact our office for a free consultation.

The Importance of Tire Safety

Tires may be the most important part of having a safe vehicle.  Your tires are the only part of the vehicle that touches the roadway.  When accelerating from a stop or braking to stop, your tires form the essential contact with the road that allows movement and travel.  Despite their enormous importance, many drivers do not appreciate tire safety and how to detect unsafe tires.

Never operate a vehicle with a improper tread depth.  Tread depth serves two important functions.  First, tread depth allows tires to “move” water from beneath the tire and allow the tire to grip the roadway during wet weather.  Insufficient tread depth makes your vehicle much more likely to hydroplane.  Second, tread depth serves a measure of use and overall wear on the tire.  As tread depth decreases, the tire has been used more and is more likely to suffer some type of failure.  Tires that are run with insufficient tread depth are much more likely to suffer tread separations and other failures while being operated at highway speeds.  These type of failures often lead to loss of vehicle control and tragic consequences.

Most states, including Georgia, require tires to have a minimum of 2/32 of an inch of tread in order to legally remain in operation on a passenger vehicle and 4/32 of an inch on commercial vehicles.  For a passenger vehicle, an easy way to check tire tread is to put a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time to change your tire.

Never operate a vehicle on tires with improper or low air pressure.   Improperly inflated tires cause the tires to generate excess heat.  Over time, excess heat will cause a tire to fail resulting in a blowout or tread separation.  You should check tire pressure and tread monthly.  Checking your air pressure and tread will not only help with safety, but will also help with fuel consumption. Have your tires rotated, balanced, and aligned whenever you take your vehicle in for an oil change.

Tires, like any other rubber product, have a limited service life regardless of tread depth and use.  This fact has been long-acknowledged by automakers and some tire manufacturers. Yet, the public, and even tire retailers and service technicians, know little about the dangers of aged tires. Aged tires are often unsuspectingly put into service after having served as a spare, stored in garages or warehouses, re-sold on the used tire market or are simply used on a vehicle that is infrequently driven.  In many instances these tires show no visible sign of deterioration, and absent any visible indicators, tires with adequate tread depth are likely to be put into service regardless of age.  Simply stated, over time tire rubber reacts with oxygen and its elasticity and resistance to failure decreases.  The sidewall of your tire contains a DOT number.  This number allows you to determine the manufacture date of your tire.  As a user, you should be very concerned and replace any tire that is over five or six years old.  Never operate a vehicle with tires that have cords, steel or cloth that is exposed from beneath the tread or rubber sidewalls.

Over the past few years, our firm has handled numerous cases involving tire failures.  The tire failures that led to these cases involved bad design, poor manufacture and assembly, and problems with the formula for making the different rubber components used in tires.   We have handled multiple cases against Michelin/Uniroyal, Bridgestone/Firestone, Continental and Cooper.

For more information about tire safety, check out these websites:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Tires

http://www.safetyresearch.net/tire-safety

 

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective tire or product, contact our office for a free consultation.

Georgia Waters Among Those Subject To Increased Federal Regulation

WHAT HAPPENED? 

The Clean Water Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to limit pollution in “navigable” waterways.  On June 29th, the EPA published its Clean Water Rule, which expands the definition of navigable waterways to include the tributaries that feed into those waterways.  Twenty-seven States, including Georgia, immediately filed suit to enjoin enforcement of the new Rule claiming that it infringes on States’ rights.  United States District Courts in Georgia and West Virginia agreed with the EPA that legal challenges to the Rule could only be brought in the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and therefore denied the requests for preliminary injunction.  On August 27, the District Court for North Dakota found that it had jurisdiction and granted the request of a number of States and issued a decision preliminarily enjoining the Clean Water Rule.  The new Rule went into effect in all other States, including Georgia, on August 28th.

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? 

If you live in Georgia or one of 36 other States, the EPA and ACOE may assert jurisdiction over certain bodies of water that were previously excluded from their jurisdiction.  According to the suit filed on behalf of the State of Georgia, these could include areas as small as roadside ditches.  However, if you live in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wyoming, the government will continue to enforce the preexisting Rule with its more exclusive definitions.  Obviously, this creates disharmony under the federal Rule and assures that we will see more litigation regarding the limits of the government’s jurisdiction.  In the interim, it will be important to exercise caution and consult an attorney before undertaking any projects in your wetlands, streams and other areas that might now be subject to EPA and ACOE jurisdiction.

 

If you have questions about how this affects you, please contact our firm.

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