Despite Strides in 2010 to Reduce Tired Driving, More Needs to be Done in 2011, South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney Says

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South Carolina truck accident lawyer Bert Louthian says he would like to see electronic on-board recorders become mandatory for commercial motor vehicles in the coming year.

Bert Louthian

We need to make sure that when a driver gets behind the wheel of one of these mammoth rigs, that driver is rested and alert and won’t put other motorists at risk. We need tougher rules, and we need to make sure those rules are followed.

Although tremendous strides were made to curb fatigued truck driving in 2010, more needs to be done in 2011 to make sure tired big-rig drivers stay off the road, South Carolina truck accident attorney Bert Louthian said this week.

“We need to make sure that when a driver gets behind the wheel of one of these mammoth rigs, that driver is rested and alert and won’t put other motorists at risk,” said Louthian, a partner of The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., which represents truck accident victims throughout South Carolina. “We need tougher rules, and we need to make sure those rules are followed.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that approximately 100,000 motor vehicle crashes reported each year are caused by drowsy driving, resulting in more than 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries.

Fatigue can lead to driving at erratic speeds, following too closely, failing to apply brakes, drifting across lanes and other human errors that cause truck accidents, Louthian said.

“Truck drivers aren’t the only ones driving drowsy, but because they are often forced to drive long distances and during nighttime hours, they are at a much higher risk of being involved in crashes,” Louthian said. “And because these tractor-trailers can weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, the bodily harm and damage that can result from a truck wreck is truly devastating.”

To curb drowsy truck driving, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to adhere to its hours-of-service rules.

Louthian said he was pleased to see the FMCSA come out with a new rule in 2010 that will require electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to be installed in the fleets of carriers that repeatedly violate these hours-of-service rules.

Because an EOBR is integrated with a truck’s electronic control module (ECM), it cannot be tampered with by truckers or their companies in the same way that a logbook can, which helps to ensure compliance with the hours-of-service regulations, Louthian said.

In 2011, Louthian said he hopes to see the FMCSA place stricter limits on how many hours large truck drivers can be on the road and issue a rule requiring EOBRs for all commercial carriers.

In December, the FMCSA issued proposed revisions to the hours-of-service rules that would, among other items, limit truckers to 10 or 11 hours of maximum driving time and require a 60-minute rest break within each 14-hour on-duty window. The FMCSA is accepting comments on the proposed rule changes through February.

Additionally, the Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act is pending in the U.S. Senate. The bill would require commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce to be equipped with EOBRS within three years after the bill’s passage.

“Tougher rules and stricter enforcement,” Louthian said, “is where we need to be going.”

About The Louthian Law Firm

The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, S.C., is a South Carolina personal injury law firm that has been obtaining fair compensation for truck accident victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has more than 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm represents truck accident victims and their families throughout South Carolina in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, including those in the communities of Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Greenville, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form.


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