Maryland Injury Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

In August 2010, a Cockeysville, Md. woman was killed and her young son suffered a traumatic brain injury when a triple-trailer truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with their vehicle. Sadly, cases like this are not uncommon: Some 4,000 people are killed in the U.S. every year in commerical trucking accidents. A passenger vehicle stands little chance when involved in a traffic crash with a big rig.

Now, CBS Baltimore reports that in an effort to prevent truck accidents where driver fatigue is a factor, the federal government will require commercial truck drivers to log their their travel time using an electronic device. Since the 1930s, truck drivers have been keeping track of their time in paper log books, which accident investigators and safety advocates say are unreliable and can be easily tampered with.

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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.

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.

The Ford F-150 pickup truck and its companions in the Ford F series have been dubbed by auto critics as the “best selling vehicles in the USA” for more than three decades. With its imposing grill and beefy demeanor, the Ford F-150 is a favorite choice of farmers, construction workers, and other drivers who enjoy a powerful pickup that can haul a good-sized load. But popular does not mean perfect, as evidenced by recent Ford F-150 truck safety concerns in the news.

If you’re a Maryland driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck — be aware of two recent automotive safety investigations that may include your vehicle. Last month, an expanded recall went out for Ford F-150 pickup trucks (model years 2004 to 2006) because of reports the air bags could suddenly deploy without a traffic accident having taken place.

Now news reports state that NHTSA — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — is looking into more than 200 reports from consumers that their Ford F-150 gas tanks have fallen off. The problem, NHTSA asserts, may be that the steel straps holding the Ford F-150 gas tank in place could rust and break — causing the potential for gas leakage and fire. Model years 1997 – 2001 are being investigated. Thus far no one has been injured or killed in a truck accident resulting from the Ford F-150 gas tank straps issue.

A commercial truck driver was killed on a heavily traveled portion of the Baltimore Beltway earlier this week, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The newspaper stated that the fatal Baltimore County truck accident occurred around 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 4 on the Interstate 695 Inner Loop heading northbound, near Providence Road — near one of the more heavily populated areas of the Baltimore Beltway. The truck driver reportedly struck a motor vehicle left unattended on the beltway shoulder and then hit a concrete abutment, before his truck flipped over. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Baltimore County, Maryland authorities were working to identify the truck driver killed.

Maryland State Police continue to investigate this fatal Baltimore traffic accident. It is unclear what if any role the unattended vehicle played in the factors leading up to this deadly commercial truck crash on I-695.

The family of a truck driver killed in a 2008 Chesapeake Bay Bridge tractor trailer truck accident has been awarded a $100,000 settlement by the responsible driver’s insurance company.

According to news reports, a big rig truck driver, age 57, was hauling refrigerated chickens across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge eastbound in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2008. Then, a 19-year-old woman who’d been out clubbing with friends in Baltimore, Maryland after a wedding fell asleep behind the wheel, crossed the center line, and hit the tractor trailer truck. The car crash set off a series of events that caused the truck to go out of control, hit another vehicle and break through the opposite barrier — plunging into the Chesapeake Bay waters below. The truck driver was killed.

As Queen Anne’s County car accident injury lawyers know, many factors are taken into consideration in both criminal and civil courts. This fatal Maryland car and truck accident case was controversial: even though the defendant had been drinking in Baltimore prior to the fatal traffic accident, her blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. The Queen Anne’s County State Attorney at the time told the press: “The act of falling asleep while driving and drifting across the center line is not sufficient to constitute gross negligence.”

The History channel is running its fourth season of Ice Road Truckers — a reality show set in Alaska that follows a handful of steel-nerved truck drivers hauling heavy loads over mountains and frozen bodies of water. Their work is not for the faint of heart (to say the least), nor is watching them do it. They drive all night, for hundreds of miles, through blinding snowstorms, in sub-zero temperatures, up and down ice-covered mountain roads to deliver their cargo (which is often oversized and hazardous).

Driving conditions for the ice road truckers are extreme. However the show depicts some of the same commercial truck driving hazards that truck drivers and other motorists experience here in the Lower 48. Common causes of highway truck accidents in Maryland and elsewhere in the U.S. include:

  • Driver Fatigue (including driving without mandatory rest breaks)

The Washington Post reported that a construction accident near the Beltway claimed the life of a 27-year-old man from Bryantown, Maryland.

According to Maryland State Police, the traffic accident occurred early on July 15, 2010, on Pennsylvania Ave/Route 4 in Forestville, Maryland, near the Beltway. Reports state that a road construction worker was killed when he was crushed between two dump trucks. The victim was brought to a Prince George’s County, Maryland, trauma center, where he died shortly after.

Prince George’s County construction accident lawyers are well aware of the hazards to workers in and around highway and road construction zones. Road workers often perform their jobs at night, in narrow sections of the highway, with heavy construction vehicles moving closely alongside laborers on foot.

Last fall, we posted a blog article on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary results for its 2008 census of fatal occupational injury rates. The BLS recently released its final numbers, which were slightly higher than originally reported based on identification of new cases of work-related injuries and deaths. The final data offer the following insights regarding worker safety in the U.S.:

o A total of 5,214 work fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2008 — the lowest number of work-related deaths since the BLS began conducting its census in 1992. This represents a national fatal work injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

o Private industry construction accidents causing death have declined (975 deaths in 2008 — 19% lower than in 2007); and the fatal work injury rate for this sector is down by 10%. However, even with these notable statistical gains — which translate to lives saved — construction remains one of the most hazardous forms of work, with a 9.7 fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 FTE workers).

An industrial truck driver hauling cargo in Maryland was fatally injured when granite countertop slabs he was unloading from the back of a flatbed truck slipped and fell on him. According to news reports, the fatal industrial truck accident occurred Monday in Hanover, Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported that the driver, a 41-year-old man from South Carolina, was delivering slabs of granite to a countertop company. As the driver unloaded his cargo, the granite slabs slipped and fell on him, killing him.

Anne Arundel County, Maryland police responded to the truck accident scene and identified the victim. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Department is reportedly investigating this construction work-related accident.

A Maryland construction accident lawyer may be consulted by workers or their families when injury or death occurs due to a work accident.