Posted On: November 30, 2011

Feds Shut Down Maryland Trucking Company Due to Work and Driving Safety Hazards

How many large commercial trucks passed you on your way to or from work today? When a tractor trailer rumbles past you on the Baltimore Beltway or other Maryland highway, you probably don't think much about the driver's condition or the vehicle's maintenance record. You just assume the driver has had enough sleep and the truck itself is in good working order.

However the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does think about and regulate such highway driving safety issues.

The ability of big rig drivers to safely pilot large cargo-hauling trucks for long hours -- and the sound mechanical repair and maintenance of the trucks themselves -- directly impact the safety of both commercial truck drivers and the motorists who share the roads with them. This month, a Maryland trucking firm was ordered to cease operations immediately due to potential safety hazards.

The FMCSA issued a press release on Nov. 16, 2011, citing "Maryland-based Gunthers Transport, LLC an imminent hazard to public safety." The agency ordered the trucking company to immediately cease all transportation services, issuing an "imminent hazard out-of-service order against Gunthers following an exhaustive review of the company’s operations, which found multiple hours-of-service and vehicle maintenance violations."

As an experienced Baltimore County truck accident lawyer knows from work with clients in Maryland -- a commercial truck accident can be disastrous. The sheer size of these highway giants puts other motorists at a serious disadvantage when a commercial truck traffic accident with passenger cars occurs.

The FMCSA order to the Maryland trucking company prohibits them from operating within or outside the state of Md. The agency investigation cited the company for violations in several safety categories, including Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness, and Vehicle Maintenance.

Maryland work injury attorneys are familiar with Md. Workers Comp cases where drivers of commercial vehicles are injured during the course of their jobs. The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates how many hours commercial truck drivers may work before they are required to log out and take a break. This is not only for their own safety but for those of the driving public who share the highways, city streets and back roads with them.

The Baltimore Sun reported that federal transportation authorities only occasionally issue orders for a company to cease operation due to safety infractions. In addition, the Sun reported that the Maryland trucking company in question had been under investigation by the Federal authorities for two years. The Sun cites a case in 1995 where the truck company president had been fined $170K and ordered to 30 mos. in prison due to falsifying records.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Truckers Reality Show Reveals Hazards of Big Rig Hauling -- On Any Road

Sources:

Maryland Trucking Company Declared "Imminent Hazard to the Public," Ordered to Immediately Cease Operations
FMCSA Press Release Nov. 16, 2011

Md. trucking firm called 'imminent hazard,' ordered off roads
The Baltimore Sun Nov. 16, 2011

Maryland trucking firm called ‘imminent hazard,’ shut down
Fleet Owner Nov. 22, 2011

Posted On: November 22, 2011

As Maryland Thanksgiving Traffic Increases, So Do Risks of Drunk Driving Accidents

When it comes to tragic stories about injury and death on Maryland roads and highways, an experienced Hunt Valley, Md. personal injury lawyer has heard plenty. Our job is to help grieving clients through the legal process when a loved one has been injured or killed in a traffic crash, and another party is held liable. The stories we hear are heartbreaking, especially when traffic accidents could have been prevented. Drunk driving crashes fall in this category. A moment of poor judgment can lead to a life of heartache and regret -- on all sides.

While the holidays are a joyous time, each one brings the risk of celebrants drinking too much and getting behind the wheel. With Thanksgiving being the most heavily travelled time of year, the risk of being in a serious Maryland car accident -- whether caused by someone driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted driving, speeding, or other risk factors -- increases. In fact, the volume of cars and trucks on MD roadways is expected to increase this Thanksgiving week.

AAA predicts a 3.5 percent increase in overall 2011 Thanksgiving travel (including auto travel, air travel, and travel by rail), The Baltimore Sun reports.

For Maryland, AAA projects that 871,000 residents will travel 50 miles or more between Wednesday and Sunday to get where they need to go for Thanksgiving. Of that number, a whopping 799,000 are expected to travel by automobile. That's a whole lot of Marylanders traversing the state via highways, city streets, secondary roads, and rural Maryland back roads -- many tired and in a rush. Throw alcohol in the mix and you can understand why the Thanksgiving holiday comes with additional road travel risks.

Car accident injury attorneys are naturally concerned about Maryland drunk driving (DUI) crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday week. Many people enjoy celebrating the holiday feast with some beer, wine, or cocktails. It's football season, and for many Baltimore Ravens and Md. college football fans, beer and games go together like chips and dip. The problem arises when people consume alcohol and then think they're fine to get in their cars and drive home or someplace else.

Maryland Drunk Driving Statistics
Roughly one in three traffic accident deaths in Maryland involves alcohol-impaired driving. While overall car crash fatalities in Maryland have statistically been on the decline -- 547 deaths in 2009 compared to 591 deaths in 2008 -- the percentage of deadly crashes involving drunken driving has risen -- from 25 percent (145 deaths) in 2008 to 30 percent (162 deaths) in 2009. (Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2005 - 2009)

So be safe out there this Thanksgiving season. Maryland State Police will be out in force looking to stop motorists driving under the influence of alcohol, before they ruin their own -- or some other innocent family's -- holiday.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland This Labor Day Weekend (Aug. 22, 2011)

Lessons Learned Abroad: Why Auto Accident Death Rates Are Lower in Europe Than in the U.S. (Sept. 15, 2011)

Source:

AAA projects 3.5 percent holiday travel rise
The Baltimore Sun Nov. 18, 2011

Related Web Resources:

The Baltimore Sun: Commuting and Traffic Resources

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Posted On: November 7, 2011

Working Overtime : Drowsy Driving a Serious Risk for Truckers and Other Maryland Motorists

Have you ever driven home from a long day at work or an evening engagement, yawning as the miles clicked by? Maybe you grabbed a cup of coffee to stay alert, or opened the car window to breathe some cold fresh air. Most Maryland drivers, if they're being honest, would admit to occasionally driving tired…when they'd prefer to be at home in bed, rather than navigating Baltimore County, Md. roadways.

This week is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. The AAA Foundation released a report that sheds new light on the problem of drowsy driving and risk of car accidents.

While nearly all Americans consider drowsy driving to be a serious safety hazard for themselves and other motorists (96% in the AAA study) -- one in three admits to driving drowsy recently. Those who admitted to driving fatigued weren't just talking about feeling a little bit tired: They said they had trouble keeping their eyes open on the road. In fact, the organization's research found that two out of every five drivers (41%) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel, with one in ten revealing this had happened in the past year.

It's tough enough navigating Maryland's back roads, Baltimore city streets, and area bridges and highways without wondering if the driver in the next lane is awake.

The AAA and other driving safety advocates compare the symptoms of drowsy driving to those of drunk driving in terms of risk for serious and fatal auto accidents. For example, drowsy drivers experience problems with vision, judgment, and reaction time. They may miss their exits or become lost and confused.

The problem of driving drowsy is a concern for all U.S. drivers -- particularly those who drive for work in jobs that require long hours on the road. This includes sales people, commuters who travel long distances to their office jobs, and some contractors. Commercial truckers are at particular risk, given their long hours spent hauling heavy cargo across the state of Maryland and the country.

Catastrophic truck accidents can and do happen when a tractor-trailer driver takes his or her attention off the road, even for a second. This is why the U.S. Dept. of Transportation regulates how many hours truckers may drive before they are required by law to take a break. The Hours-of-Service regulations put limits in place for when and how long commercial motor vehicle drivers may drive.

AAA hopes to raise public awareness about the hazards of drowsy driving for all motorists. Their study found that one of every six fatal automotive crashes and one in eight crashes causing serious injury involved a drowsy driver. As Hunt Valley, Md. accident injury attorneys, we're well aware of the risks of driving in our state. Staying alert is the first rule of defensive driving.

AAA and the National Sleep Foundation recommend being aware of the warning signs that you're just too tired to safely drive…and planning ahead so that you're not getting behind the wheel when you should be getting under the covers. See links below for further discussion and suggestions.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

More States Follow Maryland Ban on Texting While Driving

Sources:

AAA Study: 1 in 3 Drivers Admit to Recent Drowsy Driving
TheTrucker.com Nov. 7, 2011

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving (PDF brochure)
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
Hours of Service Regulations

National Sleep Foundation