FMCSA Mulls New Safety Law

February 21, 2023

In 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began soliciting comments on its proposed speed limiter mandate

Earlier last year, the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act was introduced, which would require speed limiters in most large trucks. At about the same time, the American Trucking Association endorsed a plan to require speed limiters on commercial vehicles heavier than 26,000 pounds. In a statement, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed its opposition to speed limiters.

These gadgets, which are connected to a large truck’s speedometer, prevent the driver from traveling over a pre-set speed.

First Party Liability in Truck Wreck Claims

The speed limiter mandate may be more controversial than the Electronic Logging Device mandate, which went all the way to the Supreme Court. ELDs measure HOS (hours of service) compliance. The statistics are quite clear about the connection between fatigue and unsafe driving. 

Vehicle speed is a lot more subjective. For example, if Trucker Steve has to slow down for traffic, shouldn’t he be able to speed up and make up time when traffic thins out? On a similar note, there’s a big difference between slight excessive speed at 3 a.m. and slight excessive speed at 3 p.m.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying the fact that large truck speed is a serious safety issue. The stopping distance for a large truck traveling at 60mph is over 300 feet. That’s longer than a football field.  

Speed also increased the force in a collision. Some serious speed-related injuries in large truck crashes include:

  • Serious Burns: Large trucks often carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. SInce diesel burns at a different temperature from gasoline, the resulting fire usually causes third-degree burns. These injuries almost always require expensive and painful skin grafts.
  • Broken Bones: The incredible amount of force in a large truck wreck usually shatters bones, especially arm and leg bones. Since doctors typically use metal parts to reconstruct these bones, the victims must undergo extensive physical therapy to regain lost functions.
  • Head Injuries: Airbags effectively reduce head injuries in relatively low impact crashes, like a Toyota vs. a Toyota. But no airbag, or any other restraint system, can absorb the force in a Mack truck vs. passenger car collision. Doctors can treat head injury symptoms, but the injury itself is permanent.

A Los Angeles personal injury attorney obtains compensation for injuries like these in court. Compensation for noneconomic losses, such as emotional distress, is available as well.305

Third Party Liability

Negligent truck drivers are legally responsible for these wrecks. The shipping, transportation, or other company that employed the driver is financially responsible for the wreck, at least in most cases.

The respondeat superior rule applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working in the scope of employment at the time of the wreck. 

Respondeat superior is good and bad. The aforementioned injuries are so severe that many individual drivers don’t have enough insurance coverage to pay fair compensation. Fortunately, most truck companies have deep pockets. However, most shipping companies are out-of-state conglomerates with gaggles of lawyers. So, these claims are quite complex. Injury victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced truck injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We don’t charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

Image credit: Photo by Esteban Zapata on Unsplash

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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