Truck drivers are highly trained and experienced drivers who make their living by safely delivering their cargoes to their destinations. They don't make a fortune on any single delivery. They never want to risk an accident, because their living depends on being able to make another delivery tomorrow or next week or the month after, and an accident or traffic violation can mean a suspended license, which means the end of work forever.
Trucking and shipping companies, however, factor accidents and violations into their actuarial tables. They are prepared to take a certain amount of losses into account in setting up their schedules, and since their math runs into the billions of dollars, they can write off any particular driver with a nimble flicker of their erasers, and the damage caused to your life is just collateral damage.
Unrealistic schedules cause accidents by:
- Keeping Fatigued Drivers on the road
- Forcing drivers to drive at unsafe speeds
- Overloading Trucks to get more cargo to destination faster
- Encouraging mechanics to perform only cursory maintenance
- Rewarding companies that forge records to conceal practices
There are billions of dollars at stake in the balance between what trucking companies pay to keep their trucks on the road and how quickly they can get cargo delivered.
Drivers Forced to Accept Unrealistic Schedules
The trucking industry is, like all industries, very competitive. Companies insist on unrealistic delivery times because they know drivers need work, so that even if one driver refuses, someone else will take the load.
Maybe one driver will be in a position to turn down a delivery with an unrealistic schedule, but others, especially drivers kept in a stable or pool by a large company, know they have to take the work to keep their job, or maybe they just have to take this job, today, to make a rent payment or get school clothes for their children.
Whatever the reason, the trucking company makes the rules of the road and drivers must comply. While government entities such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), seek to regulate the industry, industry lobbyists have again and again shown their power to shape the government's guidelines, including limitations on how long drivers can be on the road, called Hours of Service (HOS) rules.
As a result of unrealistic schedule expectations placed on them, drivers find themselves on the road as much as 77 hours a week, legally, not to mention whatever they may drive above and beyond that by forging their log books.
Driver Fatigue is to blame in at least 40% of trucking accidents. Read more on our Driver Fatigue Accidents page.
Driving at Unsafe Speeds
If you are on the highway, driving the speed limit, chances are you will be passed by every single truck on the road. To meet unrealistic deadlines while complying with HOS rules, some drivers try to log more hours with less driving time by speeding. Since the energy of impact increases by the square of the speed, a truck driving at 70 mph has twice the destructive power of a truck driving at 50 mph. This changes any accident into a deadly, destructive tragedy.
Improperly Loaded Cargo
Drivers are supposed to check their cargo before heading onto the road, but under the pressure of an unrealistic schedule, they might perform a cursory check or no check at all. Improperly loaded cargo can come loose on the highway, leading to scores of accidents as other drivers swerve to avoid hitting bricks or crates. An improperly loaded truck is also unpredictable during braking or steering, and can lead to jackknifing.
Overloaded trucks degrade the roadbed, bridges, and are highly deadly vehicles on the road.
Under the crush of a schedule, mechanics can sometimes be forced to make maintenance compromises. Two of the main areas where these compromises are made are brakes and tires. Low-tread tires might be allowed to go one more trip, and brake pads might be allowed to ride even though they should properly be replaced.
Companies that stand to make billions of dollars are not above fudging their figures to seem in compliance with all rules and regulations, but they almost never cover all their tracks. A complete subpoena of all their documents may be necessary to find the subtle ways they hide their cost-cutting measures.
Only an experienced truck accident attorney knows where to look for these shortcuts taken by companies, and knows how to get them to expose these dangerous practices. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed as a result of the unrealistic schedules set by trucking companies, contact a case-winning truck accident attorney at Long & Long, serving truck accident claims in Mobile and Baldwin County, Alabama.