Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

Having helped seriously injured victims of tractor trailer accidents across Florida for nearly thirty years, personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky is well aware of the reckless behavior that many truck drivers demonstrate daily upon our roads, including the Florida Turnpike and I-95.  However, we would be remiss if we did not remind our fellow drivers that they too must exercise caution when driving near a truck so as to help prevent deadly crashes.

Most car drivers don’t understand the limits tractor trailers have in being able to respond to the actions of another motorist. Professional drivers frequently encounter other drivers who are texting, talking on their phone rather than using a hands-free device, not allowing adequate distance when passing a tractor trailer or following too closely behind a truck. Tailgating is particularly dangerous, as truck drivers are not able to see a vehicle behind them unless it is far enough back to be visible in its sideview mirrors. Car drivers need to remember that tractor trailers have many blind spots.

Drivers need to remember that tractor trailers are not able to stop quickly, so when a car pulls out in front of a tractor trailer, which weighs nearly 80,000 pounds, they need to make sure there is enough room for the truck driver to stop if needed. When motorist fail to recognize the limitations truck drivers and their vehicles have, unfortunately deadly accident happen. In fact, recent studies demonstrated that nearly seventy percent of crashes in which a driver or passenger dies involve a collision between a car and a large truck.

Although it does not receive as much publicity as distracted driving or drunk driving, Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Joseph Lipsky want to make sure you are aware that driving while over tired, or drowsy driving, is a dangerous problem which results in too many preventable car accidents annually. In hopes of reducing those crashes caused by sleep deprived drivers, the National Sleep Foundation declared this as National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

A review of Florida traffic accident reports shows that over the past year, there were more than 280 thousand car accidents or truck accidents in Florida, that means that about 770 times every day, someone has a car accident on one of our roads, including I-95 and the Florida Turnpike. In fact, there were over 50 thousand car accidents in Miami alone last year. Of those thousands of accidents, the likely that drowsy driving played a role as a driver had slower than needed reaction.

The NHTSA believes that more than 1500 people suffer wrongful deaths and more than 70,000 people are seriously injured in crashes in which drowsy driving played a role. Those most likely involved in driving while sleep deprived include men, under the age of 26 and those working in the medical filed who into the evening. In fact, drivers who work a “night” or “midnight” shift have a 6 times greater risk of causing an accident.

As Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys we are too familiar with the personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving . However, there is an equally dangerous behind the wheel activity which does not get as much publicity as distracted driving, and its something too many drivers do, drive while drowsy. In fact, according to governmental studies, more than 1000 people die each year in car accidents and truck accidents caused by a drowsy driver.

One of the reasons drowsy driving is difficult to reduce is that police are unable to determine when an accident is caused by a drowsy or sleeping driver. Unlike drunk driving accidents, in which police can measure whether someone is under the influence, or a distracted driving accident, in which cell phone records may reveal what a driver was doing at the time of a crash, there is no way to measure how sleepy a driver was when an accident happened.

And while the commercial trucking industry is subject to various limits on the number of hours a driver may operate a vehicle before being required to sleep, those limits are often exceeded because those drivers keep their own logs.

The cause of the ever increasing number of deadly car accidents throughout Florida, particularly in larger cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale is well document in a recent study by the Centers For Disease Control about distracted driving. The study found that almost seventy percent of drivers admitted to using a cell phone to talk or text while behind the wheel during the past month. This rise in the dangerous use of so-called smartphones while driving presents a danger to everyone on the roadway; and despite increased efforts to educate drivers, this conduct continues to result in deadly car accidents every day.

The study confirms the government’s suspicions, that texting behind the wheel is increasing, as prior studies demonstrated that one quarter of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and now, that number has risen over thirty percent. As personal injury attorneys representing seriously injured victims of car accidents, saying we are alarmed at this twenty-two percent increase in two short years is an understatement.

This driving while using a smart-phone use is the reason why wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving are increasing, while the overall amount of traffic deaths is dropping. In fact, according to the report, in 2011 such wrongful deaths caused by distracted driving increased almost two percent, while other types of traffic deaths dropped by the same amount.

Most truck drivers are safe and responsible. They’re trying to do a difficult job as quickly and efficiently as possible. Commercial truck drivers run on tight schedules, and they deal with a constant pressure to deliver their cargo on-time, no matter how far away their final destination is and how little time they have to reach it.

However, pressure from bosses often causes drivers to take dangerous risks in the name of speed, including running red lights. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Safety Administration, there are more than two million intersection collisions each year across the United States which sadly result in almost 8,000 wrongful deaths and over 700,000 personal injuries annually.

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The Florida Supreme Court recently overturned fifty years of legal precedent by ruling that a driver who causes a car accident by running into another vehicle from behind can argue, and a jury may consider, that the driver who was struck was also at fault, or comparatively negligent. Essentially this ruling means that careless and distracted drivers, such as those texting while driving, can argue that the vehicle they struck came to an unexpected stop without warning.

The Court felt that the legal doctrine of comparative negligence should apply to rear end car accident personal injury cases when there is evidence, no matter how unsubstantiated, for a jury to consider if the driver of the stopped vehicle was at fault. Thankfully the Court’s decision made clear that it does not overturn the presumption of negligence when a injured person is properly stopped at a red light or stop sign.

In setting aside 60 years of law, in which the person who caused a rear end crash was presumed to be at fault, the Supreme Court opened the flood gates of unnecessary and extensive litigation. This ruling will certainly cause an increase in litigation as insurance companies will argue that their drivers could not stop in time because an injured victim stopped without warning.

As personal injury attorneys representing injured victims of car accidents through the State of Florida, we are continually amazed that drivers continue to disregard the basic fact that distracted driving is dangerous. The National Highway Safety Administration recently updated their ongoing data as to the number of wrongful deaths and personal injuries caused annually by distracted drivers.

Incredibly, in the past year more than 3000 people died, and over 400,000 were injured, in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in which a driver was “distracted.” The NHSA defines distracted driving as something which causes a driver to do something other than just drive, such as using a phone to call or text or eating. Of course, texting or sending an email is the most dangerous of such activities as the driver’s eyes are taken off the road for an extended amount of time. Yet last month alone, over 200 billion such texts were made in the United States; and that number is increasing exponentially every year.

In particular, are motorists younger than twenty are the most frequent of such distracted drivers, as more than ten percent of all deadly accidents involving such driver involved a distracted driver. Yet despite this verifiable data, our legislatures continue to refuse to pass laws banning or even restricting such deadly behavior. We certainly hope that the Florida Legislature finally confronts this danger and finally does something to protect our citizens and visitors.

On behalf of our clients who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to trucking accidents, we commend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for their 5 year plan to lessen the number of truck accident deaths by implementing additional driver qualifications and by increasing their regulations over other industries involved in truck based shipping. The “Safety 1st Culture” program will affect all areas that, in the words of the FMCSA may have a “detrimental effect on safety through their actions.”

The FMCSA’s plan includes stopping carriers with bad safety records from reincorporating under another name, insuring that drivers are properly qualified to drive commercial vehicles, assisting law enforcement and lessening high-risk behavior by both owners and operators.

Unfortunately in order for the FMCSA to be able to regulate shippers, they will need Congress to provide them with that authority. Regardless of the difficulties that they face, as Florida based personal injury attorneys we applaud all agency driven efforts to make our roads safer.

As personal injury lawyers representing seriously injured victims of truck accidents throughout the State of Florida, we are certainly glad that the Federal Motorist Carrier Safety Administration imposed a ban on cell phone use by commercial drivers. The ban began on January 1 of this year, and applies to all drivers of commercial vehicles who have commercial driver’s licenses. The ban applies to all CDL licensed drivers in every state.

The intention of this new regulation is to improve safety on highways by reducing distracted driving, which will hopefully reduce the number of distracted driving caused car and truck accidents. According the the Department of Transportation, there is a three-fold increase in truck accidents when a driver is using a cell phone, whether for talking or texting. The regulation also applies to cellphones with two-way radios.

The penalties for violating this new regulation include a sixty day driver’s license suspension after a second violation. As attorneys helping victims of commercial car and truck accidents, we applaud the Federal Government’s actions in trying to make our roadways safer.

As personal injury attorneys helping victims of car accidents in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, we are not surprised by the findings of a recent report which indicated that instances of aggressive driving have increased almost ten-fold over the past decade. According to Florida Law Enforcement data, citations issued for aggressive driving increased from about 4,000 in 2003, to more than 23,000 last year.

Aggressive driving involves instances of swerving between lanes of travel, tailgating and excessive speeding. The increase in such tickets is the most pronounced over the past two years, with an increase of almost 90%. The increase may be an indication of our generally impatient population.

Florida drivers who commit 2 or more aggressive driving violations are labeled “aggressive.” Those “aggressive” drivers are likely to be assessed greater points against their licenses, resulting in increased insurance costs and the likelihood of having their license suspended.

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