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.

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


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

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


AAA Study: 1 in 3 Drivers Admit to Recent Drowsy Driving 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

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.

As experienced Baltimore County, Maryland truck accident injury lawyers, we pay attention to automotive product safety recalls and investigations such as those surrounding the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

No Maryland motorist wants to think about driving their car or truck on the Baltimore Beltway or across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and having their gas tank fall off and drag behind them in a trail of sparks. If you own or drive a Ford F-150 in Maryland, consult your Ford dealer regarding your vehicle and safety recalls or service bulletins. (See link below to page where you can search for safety notices related to your vehicle by VIN.)

Officials investigate fuel tank problem on F-150s May 9, 2011
Ford F-150 air bag recall expanded to 1.2 million trucks
Consumer Reports April 15, 2011
Questions and Intrigue After Recall of Ford F-150
The New York Times Feb. 24, 2011
Related Web Resource:

Ford, Lincoln & Mercury Recall Notices (vehicle owners may search by VIN)

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Toyota Driver Safety Alerts: Gas Pedal Recall Extended to Additional Vehicles

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.

As a point of interest, 2010 Maryland Code considers any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer “[t]hat is inoperable and left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours…” to be an abandoned vehicle. Other circumstances may lead the state to consider a vehicle to be abandoned (see link to Md. transportation code language below).

Baltimore truck accident injury lawyers are familiar with Maryland state traffic laws and safety regulations designed to keep our highways safe for all drivers. Sadly, as in this case, a commercial truck driver out hauling a load doesn’t make it to his destination.

Driver of tractor-trailer killed in accident involving unattended vehicle
The Baltimore Sun Jan. 4, 2011
2010 Maryland Code : Transportation Laws & Regulations
Related Web Resources:

Maryland Transportation Authority

Baltimore Beltway: Historic Overview

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 driver plead guilty to charges of negligent driving, failure to drive right of center and violating a license restriction and paid $470 in fines. Shortly after, the truck driver’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the woman driver in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, Maryland.

The pending $100K settlement from State Farm will close the wrongful death lawsuit, however property damage claims are still in progress. e.g., It cost the state of Maryland and two tow truck companies several hundred thousand dollars to remove the tractor trailer truck from Chesapeake Bay. Also the driver of a third car that was hit in the bridge traffic accident will reportedly sue the offending driver for property damages.

See related Maryland Injury Attorney blog article:
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Accident: Maryland Families File Lawsuit Over Traffic Deaths

Settlement Reached in Bay Bridge Crash Sept. 24, 2010
Bay Bridge wreck lawsuit close to settlement Sept. 23, 2010
Related Web Resource

Wikipedia: Chesapeake Bay Bridge

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)
  • Faulty or poorly maintained equipment
  • Difficulty breaking or swerving in time to avoid other motorists
  • Improperly secured cargo that may shift or become loose

Large Truck Accident Statistics
As Baltimore County, Maryland truck accident injury lawyers know, you don’t have to be driving on an icy mountain precipice to be involved in a deadly highway truck accident.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 2006, large trucks were involved in 368,000 traffic accidents. In those commercial truck accidents, 4,995 people were killed and 106,000 were injured. The DOT defines “large truck” as one that carries a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds.

The Maryland Department of Transportation reported that in 2003, there were 8,000,000 (that’s 8 million) registered large trucks in the United States — a figure expected to grow 70% to 80% in the next two decades.

U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Commercial Motor Vehicle Facts
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, November 2007
Maryland Dept. of Transportation, Truck Parking Study, Jan. 2005

Related Web Resources Ice Road Truckers

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Rules & Regulations

Maryland Department of Transportation: Commercial Vehicle Operations

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.

According to The Center for Construction Research and Training, highway incidents were ranked among the top causes of construction worker death in the U.S. in 2005, with transportation accidents amounting to 28.4% of all deaths from construction injuries. (Source: The Construction Chart Book, The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers, Fourth Edition, Dec. 2007.)

This Maryland construction truck accident is being investigated.

Man killed by dump trucks in Md.
The Washington Post July 15, 2010
Related Web Resources

The Center for Construction Research and Training

Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health

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).

o Fatal work-related highway accidents (including truck accidents) numbered at 1,215 — 14% lower than in 2007 and the lowest since the census began in ’92.

o Work deaths caused by falls amounted to 700 — 17% lower than in 2007 (though the U.S. Department of Labor is advocating for greater slip, trip and fall prevention in the workplace; look for a future blog article on this issue. Falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and other high elevations are a major cause of brain and spine injury in construction workers).

o One negative note: Workplace suicides were up to 263 cases — the most ever reported.

Maryland Worker Injury Fatality Rates on the Decline
As fatal occupational injuries have declined across the U.S., Maryland has also seen reductions in work fatalities — 60 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006. Causes of Maryland work-related deaths include transportation and trucking accidents, falls, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances, as well as assaults and other acts of violence.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland work accident lawyer, I have worked with individuals and families who have experienced these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Often people hurt at work are unsure what to do and whether to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim along with a possible lawsuit. Which is why it’s so important to contact an experienced work injury attorney if you’re hurt in course of performing your job in Maryland, or if a family member is killed due to a work accident.

For more on this issue, read my blog post on Maryland Workers’ Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: “Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”


Revisions to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Counts (PDF)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2010
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Current and Revised data)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Fatal Occupational Injuries in Maryland
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (homepage)

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.

Maryland Workers Compensation claims are often part of such construction injury or death cases.

Maryland Construction Accident Fatalities : Labor Statistics
In Maryland, 59 people died in work related accidents in 2008. According to the national Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number-one cause of construction work related deaths in Md. involves transportation — whether highway transportation and/or hauling freight, such as in this case, or nonhighway transportation, with vehicles moving on a construction site. Construction transportation accidents also include pedestrian accidents where a construction worker is struck and killed by a vehicle on the construction site.

(Source: National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2008, United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 20, 2009)

South Carolina man identified as victim in Hanover industrial accident
The Baltimore Sun April 13, 2010
Local Truck Driver Killed in Industrial Accident April 13, 2010
Related Web Resources

Maryland Dept. of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)