Publication of trucking safety data cleared by DC Circuit Court of Appeals
In truck crash litigation in Georgia, we see how smaller trucking companies often have the least focus on safety rules enforcement. For example, I am now preparing for trial in a case where a small trucking company was repeatedly fined for scores of violations of the same safety rules over a three year period before their driver crashed into a lady driving to work on an Atlanta expressway. They had violated some of the same rules with regard to that driver.
Last yearr, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began a new safety system called Compliance, Safety, Accountability 2010 (CSA 2010). To reduce truck crash fatalities, the program is intended to identify dangerous truck drivers, companies with records of negligence and tractor-trailers and other trucks that have unsafe records.
The National Association of Small Trucking Companies sued to block public release of truck safety data online in CSA 2010, claiming that the data is not an accurate reflection of their safety performance and would put them at a competitive disadvantage. The small trucking companies also claimed that federal regulators had failed to follow proper procedures and never put a proper notice in the Federal Register, denying the companies a chance to comment. They also alleged that the agency failed to issue a proper final rule.
Last week, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected those objections, so that all the detailed trucking safety data may be released online to the public.
In 2006, there were more than 385,000 tractor trailer accidents throughout the United States. They accounted for about 4% of all vehicles involved in a traffic injury and were linked to 8% of all fatal accidents, resulting in at least 4,732 deaths. Federal safety regulators say those numbers, while declining are out of proportion with the number of trucks on the road.
Ken Shigley, author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice, is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney of the National Board of Trial Advocacy. 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. He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, spinal cord injury, wrongful death, products liability, brain injury and burn injury cases. He is also president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia. Ken and This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.