Friedman, Hirschen & Miller, LLP

Throughout the state of New York, 114 people died due to injuries sustained in truck accidents in 2011 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That figure represents nearly 10 percent of all motor vehicle deaths for the year. Truck accidents have a high rate of not only fatalities but also serious and life-lasting injuries.

While none of the recorded 114 deaths from truck accidents in 2011 occurred in Albany County, other New York counties were the site of up to 12 such fatalities that year. Continued vigilance and a focus on safety is the way to improve these numbers and save more lives.

New laws focus on ways to improve safety for all

Both the state and federal governments enacted new laws in 2012 geared toward reducing the number of crashes involving large trucks. Each set of laws focuses on a unique yet common cause of truck accidents to achieve the goal.

In the state of New York, truckers are now banned from any and all handheld use of a phone or other mobile device while in their vehicles with the engine running. This is the same law that interstate truck drivers have been following already. Before the autumn of 2012, however, New York truck drivers were allowed handheld use while at a stop light or in another similar situation and only prevented from handheld use of their devices while their trucks were actually in motion.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, our nation's governing body for truck driver laws, changed the guidelines affecting truck drivers working hours and break times. The new legislation took effect in the summer of 2012 and reduced the overall number of hours that a trucker could work each week. It also changed the parameters for daily work tasks, hours and breaks.

Reasons for truck accidents

These new laws tackle distracted driving and truck driver fatigue head on. Together, these two issues frequently top the list of causes of serious accidents. The New York State DMV reports that in 2011, more than 10,000 truck accidents occurred. Statistics for some of the causes include:

  • 1,867 were caused by distracted driving
  • 116 resulted from a trucker falling asleep when driving
  • 43 were affected by trucker fatigue.
  • 36 happened when drivers lost consciousness

Of all truck crashes, 83 of them caused the death of 92 people.

Seeking help is important

No matter what the circumstances, anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a large truck should always get advice from an attorney. Working with trucking companies or truck owners and their insurance companies can be very complex and the need for help to ensure your proper compensation is important.