Truck Driver Fired for Following Safety Guidelines Gets Help from OSHA

A truck driver who was worried he could not complete a delivery from Massachusetts to New Jersey and back without violating federal safety regulations and putting himself and other drivers at risk came up with his own solution to make the delivery on-time while complying with regulations. His employer, NFI Interactive Logistics Inc., fired him.

truck accident lawyers wilmington deBy firing the truck driver for following safety regulations, the trucking company violating anti-retaliation provisions of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA ordered the New Jersey-based company in June to reinstate the driver and pay him over $276,000 in back wages and damages.

The driver was assigned to deliver cargo of bottled water from Northborough, MA to Jersey City, NJ on August 12, 2012. Severe storms, floods, and heavy traffic delayed his trip. Believing he did not have time to complete his delivery and return home without violating hours of service restrictions, he delivered the load to a closer facility in New Jersey.

NFI objected to this alternate delivery and arrangements were made to have a different driver deliver the load to Jersey City. The load was delivered and the truck driver returned home without violating hours of service regulations or posing a risk to other motorists, but he was fired for insubordination the next day.

The driver took the next step of filing a whistle blower complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found the trucker “found a way to do his job and ensure motor carrier safety.”

In a statement, Kim Stille, the New England regional administrator of OSHA, said, “Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a pink slip. The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employer — including refusing to violate safety regulations — without fear of termination or retaliation.”

NFI was ordered to immediately reinstate the driver, pay $126,870 in back pay and interest from August 17, 2012 to June 7, 2016 when he was reinstated, pay $50,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and humiliation, and pay $100,000 in punitive damages and cover attorney fees.

Truck drivers face a great deal of pressure to ignore safety regulations to deliver cargo on time, even though these safety regulations are designed to not only protect drivers but also the public. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident or you are a trucker injured in an accident, contact Edelstein, Martin & Nelson for a free consultation with an experienced Delaware truck accident attorney to discuss your case.

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Drowsy Driving: Fact vs Fiction

truck accident lawyer in wilmingtonOur law firm has spent decades representing people and family members of victims of commercial truck accidents and we know that drowsy driving is one of the greatest threats on the road.

A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found nearly 5,000 people die in drowsy driving traffic accidents every year and anywhere from 10% to 20% of truck accidents involve a driver who is tired. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy drivers are responsible for 17% of all fatal car accidents.

Driving while tired can affect vision, judgment, alertness, and reaction time. Here are some of the biggest myths of drowsy driving.

Myth: Drowsy driving is not as bad as drunk driving.

Fact: Numerous studies have found that driving while tired IS as bad as driving while intoxicated. According to one recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, there is no difference between driving drunk and sleepy as both doubled the risk of causing an accident. An earlier study from the Netherlands found that night driving for just two hours is similar to driving while buzzed while driving for three hours at night is akin to driving drunk.

Myth: A nap will only make me more tired.

Research has found that even a short, ten-minute nap can improve alertness and performance on cognitive tests. Longer naps can make you feel groggy when you wake up, but it’s important to take a break and get some rest when you feel tired on the road. Even if you can’t sleep, pulling over and reclining for 10-15 minutes can help.

Myth: Caffeine can overcome drowsiness when I’m driving.

While caffeine can make you feel more alert, sleep is the only way to overcome drowsiness. People who take stimulants like caffeine while they are severely sleep deprived are more likely to experience micro-sleep, or falling asleep for four or five seconds at a time. A truck or car traveling at 55 mph can cover over 100 yards in that amount of time, easily enough time for an accident.

Myth: I know when I’m falling asleep.

In a recent test, about four-fifths of people said they would be able to predict when they were about to fall asleep. They were incorrect. Sleep is not a voluntary action; when you’re tired behind the wheel, you can fall asleep and not realize it. You also can’t tell how long you’ve been asleep. Even micro-sleep, or falling asleep for a few seconds behind the wheel, can be fatal.

While many people feel that driving while tired is no big deal, the truth is it’s a leading cause of fatal traffic accidents. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a truck accident, fatigue may have been to blame. Contact Edelstein, Martin & Nelson today for a free consultation with a Delaware truck accident attorney to protect your rights.

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Chicken Truck Accident Shuts Down Southbound Lanes of Route 1

Police reopened Route 1 in Smyrna following a crash involving two tractor trailers. One of the trucks was hauling live chickens.

The accident happened just before 4 am on Wednesday, October 12 in the southbound lanes close to exit 119.

According to Cpl. Jeffrey Hall, a spokesman for the Delaware State Police, one truck overturned in the collision but neither driver was hurt. The chicken trailer spilled onto the highway, spilling a load of live chickens over a quarter-mile stretch of road.

Motorists were advised to use U.S. 13 as an alternate route. One lane was reopened by 8:30 am and all southbound lanes were reopened after nearly six hours as workers cleared away the debris and chickens.

It’s still unknown exactly how the accident occurred but police are investigating.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first accident involving a chicken tractor-trailer in recent years in Smyrna. In December 2014, a truck transporting live chickens caught fire on Route 1 South near exit 119 after the rear wheels caught fire.

If you have been injured in a commercial trucking accident in Delaware, then you should contact the best commercial trucking accident lawyers in Delaware, contact Edelstein Martin & Nelson for a free consultation.

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Self Driving Trucks Will Hit the Roads in 2017

While many thought self-driving technology would remain in the realm of consumer cars for some time — after all, self-driving cars are still being tested in limited markets — the technology could become a big part of the future of trucking.

A Silicon Valley start-up called Otto, which was started by former Google employees who were involved in the company’s self-driving car project, has started testing their self-driving technology on three Volvo commercial trucks equipped with radar, cameras, and spinning laser sensors. By May 2016, the trucks had already logged more than 10,000 miles.

Beginning in 2017, Otto’s self-driving cars will hit the road. In the beginning, the trucks will only drive on freeways and highways with human drivers who can take over the wheel in urban areas. It’s believed the technology will help drivers nap or work on other tasks while the vehicles drive.

Otto has also affiliated with Uber to outfit the trucks. Uber, meanwhile, is developing its own self-driving taxis and it’s launched a pilot program to test the taxis in urban areas. At some point, Otto’s technology will be paired with Uber’s work in urban environments to create commercial vehicles that are fully self-driving.

Uber has already been approached by trucking company executives interested in the technology and it has permits from the federal government to operate self-driving trucks on the highway.

Eventually, the technology will hopefully improve efficiency and safety by eliminating the human element from truck driving. Improving safety for truck drivers and other consumers by reducing the number of truck accidents is one of the greatest benefits that self-driving technology can offer. The technology may include automated features that, for example, have a pre-set “end of day” that pulls the truck off the road when the truck driver hits the legal number of hours logged.

If you have been injured or you know someone who  has been injured in a truck accident, then please call us today. We are Edelstein, Martin & Nelson a Delaware Trucking Accident Attorney.

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NHTSA Issues Rule Requiring Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in Large Trucks

Rollover accidents are among the most devastating in passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle accidents. When a tractor trailer rolls over on the highway, it can easily lead to serious injury or death to the driver and other drivers.

truck accident lawyer wilmington

truck accident lawyer wilmington

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has worked to reduce the incident of rollovers, which are documented to be a more common occurrence with large trucks. More than ten years ago, the Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that tractor-trailers are especially prone to rollover due to the trailer’s high center of gravity and uneven loads. That major study found that most rollovers were the result of driver error, such as driving too fast around curves, misjudging the sharpness of a turn, counter-steering too abruptly, or not adjusting to the high center of gravity. A variety of problems with the truck itself can also increase the risk of rollover, such as poorly maintained brakes, under-inflated tires, and a poorly distributed load.

While improving driver training has been a major part of reducing rollover truck accidents, improving technology is also part of the solution.

This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a new rule that requires electronic stability control (ESC) systems on truck tractors and some buses with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 26,000 pounds.

Electronic Stability Technology: Saving Lives and Preventing Rollovers

ESC systems make use of the electronic controls and sensors on a truck that are already used by the anti-lock braketruck accident lawyer wilmington

system. When the system detects an impending rollover or slide, it cuts the engine’s throttle while applying the brakes to control and slow the truck. An ESC system can detect to an impending rollover in milliseconds and correct the truck within seconds, far faster than any human and usually before the driver can even realize anything has happened.

According to the NHTSA, the rule will prevent 1,424 to 1,759 truck accidents, 505 to 649 injuries, and 40 to 49 fatalities per year with a net cost of $0.1 to $0.6 million per life saved. Along with saving lives, the technology reduces insurance costs for fleets while offering maintenance benefits, including reducing drive train damage to trucks.

If all light vehicles on the road — including passenger cars — are equipped with ESC, NHTSA predicts the technology would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent up to 238,000 injuries in accidents every year.

NHTSA has said the rule is not intended to preempt state tort law that would impose a higher standard on vehicle manufacturers than established by the rule.

If you are in need of a trucking accident attorney in Delaware contact Edelstein Martin & Nelson – Wilmington for more information.

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Truck Driver: One of America’s Most Dangerous Jobs

According to a recent federal report, truck drivers face one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. While logging workers topped the list with almost 111 fatal injuries on the job per 100,000 workers, truck drivers and other drivers ranked #8 with almost 25 on-the-job fatalities per 100,000 with a total number of 880 fatalities in

truck accident lawyer in wilmington

truck accident lawyer in wilmington

2015. Drivers accounted for a disproportionate share of the year’s 4,821 fatal workplace injuries.

What makes truck driving such a dangerous job? Several factors are at work.

Low Pay and Long Hours

Truck drivers drive for up to 14 hours a day then receive up to 10 hours off before starting their next shift. While legislation has attempted to reduce the number of hours a driver can spend on the road without a break, drivers face strict deadlines and long hours on the road. This can easily lead to fatigued driving that puts truck drivers as well as other drivers at risk.

Most drivers do not receive more than 1 day off per week in exchange for an average annual salary of less than $38,000. This equates to working more than 4,400 hours per year for an hourly wage of just $8.40. Because drivers are generally paid per mile driven and not hour worked, many feel pressured to stay on the road, even when they are tired and it’s no longer safe to do so.

Sleep Problems

Long shifts on the road can lead to fatigued driving, but truck drivers also have trouble finding a safe place to sleep at night. Many states are shutting down designated truck rest stops along interstates, forcing drivers to park alongside highways and in parking lots at night. In many cases, the nearest place to sleep is 20+ miles off-route, which makes it harder for the driver to resume driving in the morning and catch up.

Health Concerns

Long hours on the road and unpredictable schedules make it difficult for drivers to seek medical care and keep

truck accident attorney wilmington

truck accident attorney wilmington

appointments, yet they are at a higher risk than the typical American of developing health problems like diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure. Truck drivers have a disproportionately high obesity rate as they rarely eat hot meals and the time away from home often leads to loneliness and depression.

Have You Been Hurt in a Truck Accident?

Unfortunately, the trucking industry isn’t just dangerous for truck drivers; these factors can also put other drivers at risk. Trucking accidents account for a disproportionate share of traffic fatalities and injuries in the United States due to the size of the vehicle, blind spots, uneven cargo loads, and other factors. If you have been hurt in a truck accident in Delaware, the trucking company may be responsible due to improper hiring standards or insufficient driver training. The truck driver may also be responsible if he or she was driving fatigued, under the influence, or failing to drive safely. Contact Edelstein, Martin & Nelson today for a free consultation with a Delaware truck accident injury attorney to discuss your case.

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The Myth of Driver Shortage in the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry has long perpetrated the myth that it faces a shortage of drivers and the industry has fought back against hours of service (HOS) rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that are designed to limit the number of hours each week a driver can spend on the road. While the industry claims these rules reduce the already low numbers of drivers, how true is this claim?

Delaware Trucking LawyerThe truth is there are thousands of drivers with CDL licenses throughout the country who do not work as truck drivers, not because they can’t get enough hours but because they are forced to work 70+ hours a week and leave their families for extended periods of time for relatively low wages.

The trucking industry has one of the highest turnover rates in the country, but most trucking companies fake their numbers to justify this claim of a shortage instead of looking at the real problem. The lack of oversight in the trucking industry poses a real danger to not only truck drivers who work long hours and struggle with fatigue on the road but also other drivers.

Trucking Turnover Rates

Turnover is defined as the number of people who quit within one year whereas churn refers to the number of people who must be hired to fill vacancies for any other reason, including people who retire, get promoted, or leave on disability. A company’s total turnover rate is the turnover plus churn. A normal turnover rate for the vast majority of companies is 15%.

The trucking industry defines these terms very differently. For most trucking companies, turnover refers to the people who quit as well, but the numbers are usually ignored in favor of “churn,” or what they define as the number of people who quit to work with another trucking company. This means the number of people who retire, get fired, or leave the industry completely are not factored in.

In 2016, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported that the annual turnover rate for large truckload carriers rose 13% to 100%, hitting the highest level in 3 years.

Low Pay and Few Protections for Drivers

Truckers face an outdated pay structure that is usually based on the number of miles driven, giving drivers a strongDelaware Trucking Lawyer financial incentive to stay on the road and keep driving, even if they are too tired to do so safely. There are many truck drivers on the road who earn less than $40,000 for a full 50 weeks of working 100 hours. Drivers typically earn just cents for every mile they travel, and they do not earn if they aren’t moving. Drivers aren’t compensated for anything that pushes their time clock pass 100 hours a week because their meter only records in miles. They also do not receive overtime protection and they can be subjected to days-long delays for loading and unloading without compensation.

This atmosphere isn’t just difficult for drivers, it gives a strong incentive to illegal or unsafe driving, including falsifying driving records to show a driver took breaks he did not take or staying on the road despite fatigue that dramatically reduces response time. These problems are directly related to the high turnover rate in the industry while posing a safety hazard to truck drivers and other drivers on the roads of Delaware.

Contact a Trucking Accident Attorney in Delaware

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident in Delaware, it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances in your case, the truck driver and/or the trucking company may be liable for your injuries. Contact the Law Offices of Edelstein Martin & Nelson – Wilmington today for a free consultation with a Delaware trucking accident attorney to seek maximum compensation for your injuries.

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