Trucking companies responsible for making sure employees follow safety rules

As a trucking safety attorney in Georgia, I sometimes find trucking companies trying to disown their driver’s safety violations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which are designed to protect safety of members of the public, clearly require trucking companies to require their employees to obey the driver regulations.

49 C.F.R. § 390.11 requires: “Whenever . . . a duty is prescribed for a driver or a prohibition is imposed upon the driver, it shall be the duty of the motor carrier to require observance of such duty or prohibition. If the motor carrier is a driver, the driver shall likewise be bound.”

 

 

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Ken Shigley is a civil justice attorney in Atlanta, Georgia whose practice focuses on representing people who are catastrophically injured, and families of those killed, when companies violate rules designed for protection of public safety. He has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale).  He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Mr. Shigley has extensive experience representing parties in trucking and bus accidents, products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury and burn injury cases.  Currently he is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group and Treasurer of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.

  • David W.

    In July of this year, a bill was introduced in Congress that would require states to ban texting while driving or lose federal highway funds.
    But according to an article in the NY Times, truckers want an exemption (see this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/technology/28truckers.html).
    Most long-haul truckers now have computers in their cabs that let them communicate with their dispatchers. The industry claims these devices are safer to use while driving than cell phones, iPhones and other gadgets. The trucks “have a screen that has maybe two or four or six lines of text, and they’re not reading the screen every second.”
    Clayton Boyce, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, said that banning the use of such devices won’t improve safety.
    That kind of reasoning defies common sense, but it’s not about safety – it’s about money.
    Truckers have rules that require them to pull over to use the devices, but the article quotes one trucker who says “no one ever does” because they feel pressured to meet tight delivery schedules.
    As another industry article points out, fleets can exercise much more control over their onboard computing platforms which can be set to restrict a drivers’ ability to write or read messages while the vehicle is in motion (see this link: http://www.etrucker.com/apps/news/article.asp?id=83484).
    When you’re driving alongside an 18-wheeler, hurtling along at 70 mph on an interstate highway, you would hope the driver’s got his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road.
    A lot can happen in 4 seconds at 70 mph.
    As for the bill itself, both the Senate (s.1536) and House versions (H.R. 3535, H.R. 3829) are in committee (see this link: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:s.01536:).