A Wish List for Reducing Commercial Trucking Accidents in Georgia

MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, was signed in July by President Obama and authorizes $105 billion in transportation improvements for the 2013-14 fiscal year. It is the first long-term highway authorization since 2005.

We reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer Blog about some of the safety improvements likely to lead to a reduction in serious and fatal tractor-trailer accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. Safety initiatives in the bill include electronic logging of drive time, a review of minimum insurance levels, improved driver’s education requirements, and creation of databases for drug testing results and approved certified medical examiners. 230578_hospital_6.jpg
“In the trucking industry itself, the mandate for electronic logging of drive time for commercial trucks and the updating of minimal financial requirements for truck companies are huge steps toward safer highways,” said Steve Owings, co-founder of RoadSafe America. “These rules, along with the new drug and alcohol database, will go a long way towards reducing truck/car fatalities in America.”

The organization celebrated the victory with nearly 200 donors last month. The event was held at Atlanta’s Piedmont Driving Club.

Still, there is much work that remains. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than 3,600 motorists a year are killed in accidents with commercial trucks. Another 80,000 are injured. While this year’s transportation bill makes several steps in the right direction, it hardly fulfills the wish list of safety advocates.

Sleep disorder screening: We’ve reported here about the risks of sleep apnea and other impacts of sleep abnormalities on a driver’s safety behind the wheel. However, the federal government has yet to tackle the issue in any real, meaningful way.

Hair Follicle Testing: Could make it much harder for truckers to beat drug screenings, which right now are not difficult to falsify, according to a review by the Government Accountability Office.

Prescribed Narcotics Stop permitting commercial drivers to obtain exemptions for powerful narcotics.

Adaptive Cruise Control:
Should be required of all trucks and would automatically slow a tractor-trailer as it approaches slower traffic.

Shipper & Receiver Liability: The owners of the freight must ultimately share in the responsibility in order to better improve safety industry wide.

Safe Pay Paying truckers by the mile continues to cause a safety disconnect, thereby encouraging truckers to disobey the rules in an effort to make time. Paying by the hour would improve safety and reduce pressure on drivers.

Collision Avoidance: Not nearly enough emphasis is being put on incorporating the next-generation of safety technologies into these large commercial vehicles with which the rest of us are forced to share the road.

Each of these improvements represents a chance to save lives. The nation’s roads are only expected to get busier in the coming years. In the past decade, the number of registered commercial trucks on the nation’s roads has increased from about 7 million to nearly 11 million. Presently, there is a shortage of about 25,000 truckers, according to the American Trucker’s Association, and that number is expected to continue to grow as demand once again doubles the number of tractor-trailers on our nation’s roads.


About Richard Hendrix

Richard W. Hendrix is a former state and federal prosecutor who has more than 30 years of experience in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has also served as a mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR).

Since joining Finch McCranie in 1985, Mr. Hendrix has built an extensive litigation practice focusing on wrongful death and serious personal injury cases as well as federal white collar criminal defense cases. He has successfully represented injured parties in personal injury cases throughout the state of Georgia. Mr. Hendrix has also effectively defended business and individuals, including a former US Congressman, against indictments and grand jury investigations. In 2006 and 2008-2012, he was selected to Georgia Super Lawyers.

He is admitted to practice in Georgia and South Carolina. Mr. Hendrix is licensed to appear before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit.

From 1979-1985, Mr. Hendrix served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He was also Associate Independent Counsel for the investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1991-1992.

Mr. Hendrix graduated with cum laude honors from Davidson College and he received his law degree from Emory University. Since 1992, Mr. Hendrix has been an Adjunct Professor of Litigation at Georgia State University College of Law. He is also a Master of the Bench with the Lamar American Inn of Court where he works to enhance the professional, ethics and skills of the legal community.

Mr. Hendrix has also authored numerous articles including: “High Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent By-Standers,” The Verdict (Summer, 2015) “Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Tort Cases for Victims of a Crime,” The Verdict (Fall, 2007); “A Refresher On the Federal Tort Claims Act,” The Verdict (Winter, 1999); “Rule 16 and the Jencks Act: A Need for Legal Reform,” Calendar Call (Winter, 1996); “Corporate Criminal Liability: The Need for Effective Compliance Programs,” South Carolina Lawyer (March/April, 1993); “Crossing State Lines in Wrongful Death Actions: Traps for the Unwary,” The Verdict (Fall, 1990); and “White Collar Crime: New Tools for Prosecution,” The Atlanta Lawyer (Summer, 1986)