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San Francisco Personal Injury Law Blog

Are fatal truck accidents the new normal? p3

We have been talking about the increase in tractor-trailer accidents and some of the reasons for the uptick offered by industry experts and analysts. From the outside -- from the perspective of the accident victims and their families -- it looks as if regulators and trucking companies are wary of addressing the issue at all.

In their defense, the solution is not clear. And consensus is a few exits down this highway; no one seems to agree on anything. For example, if regulators succeed in holding on to the current hours-of-service rules -- the rules that include the 34-hour restart -- industry leaders say that there will be more trucks on the road, which will necessarily increase the risk of a crash. Any talk of mechanical problems with the trucks meets with resistance from the industry as well.

Are fatal truck accidents the new normal? p2

Continued from our last post.

The number of fatal tractor-trailer accidents in the U.S. has been increasing since 2009. CNBC suggests that the loss of life is the cost of doing business -- more goods and materials are moving as the country recovers from the recession, and both the industry and government regulators are trying to avoid any action that could impede that growth. In some cases, unfortunately, that inaction translates into neither following nor enforcing safety guidelines.

For example, CNBC spotlights one terrible accident that occurred when a semi slammed into a minivan that had slowed for traffic. Five people died, one of them the truck driver. Investigators discovered that the driver had a string of accidents and safety warnings on his record. Yet all of those red flags, including the driver's record of several rear-end crashes, did not result in the trucking company or regulators suspending him or taking him off the roads completely.

Are fatal truck accidents the new normal?

CNBC recently ran a story about truck accidents that we thought was intriguing. The premise is that, in spite of the number of lives lost or changed forever, no one is alarmed by the uptick in tractor-trailer accidents. Rhetoric meets rhetoric; rationale matches rationale. The debate will continue, but meaningful change is unlikely.

The report relies on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data to support its thesis. There are about 11 fatal truck accidents every day in the U.S. The death toll from these crashes is close to 4,000 people every year; the number of people injured in truck accidents is at least 100,000 annually. All of this adds up to the equivalent of one commuter jet crashing every week for an entire year, according to the story.

This study says texting bans work if they're primary offenses

On the heels of the California cellphone ban study comes a study showing that texting bans do reduce the number of fatal car accidents. In this study, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked at the impact of different kinds of texting bans, including whether the law makes texting while driving a primary or secondary offense.

With a primary ban, police are allowed to pull a driver over just for texting while driving. California's ban is a primary law. A secondary ban means police must pull a driver over for another violation -- say, drunk driving or speeding -- before ticketing for texting. Parsing the data this way allowed for an apples-to-apples comparison of texting-related accidents from state to state.

Elder Abuse: US DOJ Releases the Elder Justice Roadmap

Elder abuse is just the tip of the iceberg: watching your relatives age is already a difficult experience. This difficult experience can turn into a nightmare when a caregiver you thought trustworthy takes advantage of someone you love.

Study has new take on cellphones and driving, but keep reading

More than a few safety advocates were surprised by a recent study of California's ban on using handheld cellphones while driving. According to the researchers, the laws had no measurable impact on the number of car accidents.

The state law went into effect on July 1, 2008. The researchers analyzed accident data from the eight months immediately preceding that date and the eight months immediately following that date. They expected to find a 5 percent or 10 percent reduction in the number of accidents. They found none.

Victim of Hwy. 17 crash says driver, trucking co. were negligent p2

We are discussing the details of a traffic accident earlier this month. Traveling on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County, a tractor-trailer crashed into 10 other vehicles. One man was killed and several others were injured. One of the injured, a 37-year-old woman, has filed a negligence lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer.

In our last post, we left off with a description of the accident. The trucker, fairly new to the business, told reporters he was traveling too fast down a hill when he saw slow and stopped traffic ahead. His brakes failed, though. Unable to slow down, he turned his rig toward the guardrail, hoping to avoid as many cars as possible.

Victim of Hwy. 17 crash says driver, trucking co. were negligent

California Highway Patrol officers said the scene of a recent accident on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz County looked like "a war zone." The road was closed to traffic for 10 hours; crews were able to clear the wreckage by the time the evening rush hour started.

According to the CHP, a semi hauling two trailers of dirt jackknifed and slammed into 10 passenger vehicles. The driver claims the brakes failed, but the exact cause of the accident remains under investigation. One person was killed when he was thrown from his car, others were trapped in their cars while firefighters worked to free them. Seven people were injured; one woman was listed in critical condition at the time of the crash.

Debate continues over suspension of hours-of-service restart rule

We are finishing up our discussion of hours-of-service regulations for truckers. The Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill early in June that would suspend the "restart" requirement that imposes a 34-hour, two-night mandatory rest period on truckers.

We talked about some of the complaints about the rule in our June 24 post. The restrictions put more trucks on the road during peak travel hours for commuters and travelers, opponents argue. They claim, too, that there has been no measurable decrease in fatal truck accidents since the rule went into effect in July 2013.

Employment Law: Silicon Valley's Startling Statistics Raise Red Flags

If you haven't heard the latest employment law news yet, Google recently released its workforce diversity data. We'll save you the click: it wasn't that great. As one of the leading technology companies in the entire world, only 30% of its employees are women. Furthermore, 61% of its employees identify as white, 30% identify as Asian, and only 2% identify as black. Following Google's lead, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook, have all reported their workplace diversity numbers as well and the figures are equally bad.

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