Samsung Looks To Make The Roadways Safer With Its “Invisible Truck”

Every year there are hundreds of accidents involving big rigs. In 2013, there were more than 327,000 large truck crashes on U.S. roads. Of that number more than 3,500 of them involved one or more fatalities and more than 69,000 resulted in injuries.

A company, however, known for manufacturing cell phones and other cool gadgets wants to change that. Samsung Electronics officials say it is currently working on technology that would let people see through giant trucks on the road. Sounds like something straight out of Star Trek, doesn’t it?

You’re probably wondering, “How does this fancy technology actually make the highways safer for drivers?” According to CNN Money, if you’re stuck behind a large truck, you’ll have a clear, real-time view of oncoming traffic. You can also see any obstacles or traffic that might otherwise catch you off guard.

By making this technology available to the public, Samsung believes that it will reduce collisions on the roadways, in turn, making them safer, they say, for everyone.

These “transparent trucks” are made possible thanks to a front-mounted camera that captures a view of the road ahead of the truck. This new technology from Samsung then transmits a continuous view of the road in front of the truck to exterior monitors mounted on the rear of the truck.

As a result, drivers get a better view of the roadways in real time, allowing them to foresee obstacles or traffic nightmares that would otherwise catch them off guard.

While we would certainly welcome this new technology, don’t expect to see any “high-tech semis” on the road anytime soon. The project, unfortunately, is still in the early stages. Samsung has been doing some testing in Argentina. (A YouTube video on it can be found here.)

Almost everyone hour, at least one person dies in a car crash in that county. According to a Samsung post, that country was chosen because it has the fifth highest number of car accidents in the world.

While we along the rest of the world will have to wait for this new technology to officially hit the market, we eagerly await its arrival. Anything aimed at reducing traffic accidents and saving lives gets an ‘A+’ in our books.

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FMCSA Shuts Down Trucking Companies in Illinois, Georgia; Considers Them Imminent Hazards to Public Safety

FMCSA logoThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Payson, Illinois-based Rhino Displays and Hampton, Georgia-based Prudential Carriers, Inc., to immediately shut down following two separate federal investigations that revealed numerous widespread violations of critical safety regulations.

According to officials, in July 2010, Rhino, a fireworks display company, informed FMCSA in writing that it had closed the commercial fireworks transportation portion of its business.

However, on May 30, 2015, FMCSA safety investigators discovered that Rhino had transported fireworks to a baseball stadium in Hannibal, Missouri.  After further investigation of the cargo, the driver and the truck, multiple safety violations were uncovered.

Authorities say they discovered opened and improperly secured packages of fireworks; absence of a federally required fire extinguisher in the vehicle; presence of alcohol in the vehicle; the driver not possessing a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a hazardous materials endorsement, or a valid medical certificate; no records of duty status; no Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP); no hazmat placarding on the vehicle; and absence of required shipping papers.

The federal out-of-service order dated June 4, 2015, states “These widespread violations substantially increased the likelihood of serious injury or death to Rhino Display’s drivers and the public.”

In late May 2015, FMCSA safety investigators initiated an investigation of Prudential following the carrier’s recent involvement in several crashes, including a May 12, 2015, incident in which the company instructed the driver to continue operating a truck that was transporting a damaged, leaking load of canola oil onto Interstate 75 in Georgia.

Four separate vehicle crashes resulted from the extremely slick and hazardous road conditions caused by the leaking oil before the driver was stopped and arrested by law enforcement officers.

The federal out-of-service order dated June 5, 2015, states that the investigation “… uncovered widespread regulatory violations demonstrating Prudential’s repeated and egregious non-compliance with (federal safety regulations) and a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety.”

These violations included: failing to ensure its leased and company-owned vehicles were systematically inspected, repaired and maintained; failing to ensure its drivers complied with federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigued driving; failing to comply with driver qualification requirements and allowing unqualified drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle; and failing to comply with FMCSA-mandated random alcohol and controlled substances testing of its drivers.

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Five Nursing Students Killed, Three Others Injured After 18-Wheeler Fails To Reportedly Slow Down

Courtesy: WJCL-TV

Courtesy: WJCL-TV

According to the Georgia State Patrol, five people were killed and three others injured last week after a semi caused a chain-reaction crash along I-16 near Savannah. Authorities stated that the deadly accident occurred after an 18-wheeler failed to slow down and smashed into stop-and-go traffic.

The five people killed were nursing students at Georgia Southern University—which is located about 30 miles from the crash site. Troopers said that the semi plowed into an SUV, then rolled over a small passenger car that burst into flames. The big truck came to a halt after slamming into the back of a tanker.

The crash happened reportedly around 6 a.m. when traffic was already heavy due to an unrelated accident about a mile ahead that forced drivers to already slow down, Sgt 1st Class Chris Nease stated.

In a report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the young women had big dreams of becoming nurses, and they were getting real-life experience at a Savannah hospital. During the morning of the accident, the group was on the road, heading for their final clinical of the school year at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital. Unfortunately, they never made it to their destination.

John Wayne Johnson has been identified as the truck driver involved in the 7-vehicle collision. Johnson is reportedly from Shreveport, Louisiana. WTOC and the Atlanta Journal Constitution have reported that federal investigators had flagged Total Transportation of Mississippi as a “carrier at risk,” and that the driver safety record for the company was worse than 90 percent.  KSLA-TV spoke briefly with the company’s CEO on the phone, John Stomps, who said “We are cooperating with the ongoing investigation. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the Georgia Southern community.”

On Friday, an attorney for the mother of one of the nursing students killed in the crash stated that he was evaluating and preserving crucial evidence as he and his legal team decide whether to file a wrongful death suit.

According to Attorney Joseph A. Fried, Total Transportation of Mississippi, has a “history of unsafe driving.” He has actually sued the trucking company in the past.

Here at EJ Leizerman & Associates we believe that if it proves true that the company has failed to make safety a priority time and time again, they should be held responsible for their negligent behavior. Failing to abide by FMCSA guidelines demonstrates that it was only a matter of time before a tragedy as the one discussed above occurred.

If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call the truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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Ryder Logisitics Sued After 18-Wheeler Crash Claims 5 Lives, Injures 12 Others

Courtesy: KDFW-TV

Courtesy: KDFW-TV

The fiancé of a man killed in a fiery crash involving an 18-wheeler is suing the commercial trucking company and driver of the truck.

The lawsuit, filed several days ago, names Ryder Integrated Logistics and driver Dustin Pool as the plaintiffs. Elyssa “Ely” Alba recently filed the lawsuit inside a Texas courthouse.

According to The Star-Telegram, earlier this month, Alba and her fiancé were headed home from an engagement party when an 18-wheeler hit her and others standing in the road trying to help the victim of an earlier crash.

Alba was one of the survivors of that deadly crash in Fort Worth, Texas. NBC-5 has reported that she is expected to remain hospitalized for at least another month.

However, she has a long road to recovery. One of her legs has had to be amputated, and she has reportedly suffered fractures from her jaw to her hip. The lawsuit claims she will require long-term care and rehabilitation.

Her son, who was with her at the time of the crash, has since been discharged but remains under the care of a physician.

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FMCSA Orders Shutdown of South Carolina Trucking Company

DOTFMCSA authorities have ordered the shutdown of yet another trucking company for putting the public’s safety at risk, they claim. The agency made the announcement Thursday.

According to transportation officials, Mortise Trucking Company in Darlington, South Carolina is an authorized for-hire motor carrier hauling steel, wood and recycle plastic. The trucking company has been in operation reportedly since 2005. From serious maintenance deficiencies to failure to conduct alcohol testing of drivers, details of the report are rather damning.

“Any vehicle, especially a large commercial combination vehicle such as a truck and trailer, that is not maintained or repaired and allowed to become a serious public hazard, is absolutely unacceptable,” said FMCSA Chief Counsel Scott Darling.  “FMCSA’s safety regulations exist to protect everyone.  Compliance is not optional.  If a motor carrier does not adhere to the safety regulations, we will see that it does not operate.”

In late-March of this year, FMCSA safety investigators launched an investigation of Mortise Trucking, owned by Carnell Pompey, and found that the company was in serious violations of federal regulations. Some of the things that were discovered included:

  • FAILING TO SYSTEMATICALLY INSPECT, REPAIR AND MAINTAIN ITS COMMERCIAL VEHICLES  On six separate occasions in the past 12 months, a tractor-trailer operated by Mortise Trucking was placed out-of-service following roadside safety inspections for mechanical defects including inadequate brakes, brake system pressure loss, oil-contaminated brake and steering components, and worn tires.

“You (Carnell Pompey) have been unable or unwilling to produce the records indicating that all out-of-service maintenance violations and deficiencies were corrected before the CMV was operated again,” the order reads.

As a result, the FMCSA imminent hazard order directs Mortise Trucking to stop all commercial motor vehicle operations immediately, including all interstate and intrastate transportation, from all dispatching locations or terminals.

FMCSA also simultaneously revoked the carrier’s federal operating authority and suspended its USDOT number.  Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order and operating without operating authority and a USDOT number may result in civil penalties up to $60,000 as well as a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.

If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call the truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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FMCSA Publicly Calls Out Big Rig Driver For Drugged Driving

Courtesy WJCL News

Corporal William Solomon, who is still in a coma           Courtesy WJCL News

There is a growing body of scientific evidence which demonstrates drugged driving to be a leading cause of traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities. It’s no secret that the effects of prescription or illegal drugs on the body can impact motor skills, balance and coordination, perception, attention, reaction time, and judgment. Even small amounts of some drugs can have a measurable effect on driving ability.

One NHTSA study found that in 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drug. In a national survey, drugs were present more than 7 times as frequently as alcohol among weekend nighttime drivers in the U.S., with 16% testing positive for drugs, compared to 2% testing at or above the legal limit for alcohol.

Commercial truck drivers are certainly not immune to the statistics. In fact, Georgia-licensed truck driver Robert Lee Turner has come under fire by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently (FMCSA) for drugged driving.

The agency has ordered Turner not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.  He was served the federal order on March 25, 2015.

“Commercial drivers should have no doubt that we will vigorously enforce all federal safety regulations to the fullest extent possible by law,” said FMCSA Chief Counsel Scott Darling.  “FMCSA is committed to raising the bar for commercial vehicle safety, and we will remain vigilant in removing unsafe truck and bus drivers from our roadways.”

According to WTOC-TV, Corporal William Solomon, a Georgia Ports Authority police officer, was severely injured while coordinating routine traffic operations on a Garden City Terminal.

The Georgia Highway Patrol stated Solomon was hit by a tractor trailer and the driver of the truck, 63-year-old Turner, was arrested and charged with DUI. He was also charged with operating a vehicle without a tag. Turner was eventually arrested and transported to the Chatham County Jail and held on a $4,600 bond.

FMCSA stated that in a post-accident controlled substances test, Turner tested positive for cocaine.

Bottom line, nothing good ever comes from abusing legal or illegal drugs—especially behind the wheel. Turner and other drivers like him have proven that time and time again. Drugged driving can quickly change the user’s life and victim’s life forever—and never in a good way.

The truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates applaud the FMCSA’s move to shut Turner down and prevent him from further endangering other lives due to his poor choices in life. The officer he reportedly injured will never be the same—and it’s unfortunate because this all could have been prevented by Turner simply driving “clean.”

If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call us today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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FMCSA Begins Annual Motor Carriers’ Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey

urine specimen jarAlcohol and drugs make for a deadly combination—especially when behind the wheel. Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes.

In 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug. This included illegal, prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs. That same year close to 4,000 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is doing its part to keep those numbers low—particularly when it involves commercial vehicles. In an effort to do this, the FMCSA recently began notifying selected truck and bus companies, requesting that they submit their annual DOT drug and alcohol testing program results to the agency.

This annual survey measures the percentage of drivers with commercial driver’s licenses who test positive for controlled substances or drugs and/or alcohol, as a result of random and nonrandom testing.

Motor carriers that employ CDL drivers are required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs, pursuant to Part 382 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Currently, the FMCSA requires these carriers to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year.

Since the early 1990s, the FMCSA and its predecessor agency has defined drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Results for FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey of approximately 2,000 carriers revealed the following information:

  • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012.
  • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period.
  • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012.  FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests.
  • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations.
  • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle.  These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials.

The selected motor carriers for this latest survey must submit their calendar year 2014 results by May 15, 2015.

The truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates applaud the FMCSA’s efforts to continue keeping America’s roadways safe. These surveys help the agency do just that. If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call us today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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Trucker Found Guilty Of Fatigued Driving, Faces Up To Three Years In Prison

Courtesy: NBC Chicago

Courtesy: NBC Chicago

When truckers do not get enough sleep, the results can be deadly. In fact, fatigued driving is considered one of the top ten causes of truck accidents in the United States with 65 percent of them occurring on long-haul trips.

Believe it or not, sleep loss impacts performance similar to alcohol. Your ability to perform becomes impaired if your sleep is limited to five hours for more than two nights. After 24 hours awake, the effect is the equivalent to a BAC 0.10 percent.

For one longtime trucker, he’s learning the hard way just how devastating a lack of sleep can be. Recently, an Illinois judge found 47-year-old Renato Velasquez guilty of fatigued driving and for violating safety laws in the January 2014 crash that claimed the life of a toll worker and left a state trooper badly injured.

Prosecutors alleged that Velasquez had been working for 36 hours on only 3-1/2 hours of sleep prior to the crash, a run that took him to Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa before heading back to Chicago. The 2014 collision ruptured the officer car’s gas tank, sparking flames and explosions which badly injured Trooper Douglas Balder. A 14,000-pound roll of steel, one of three on Velasquez’s flatbed trailer, also came free and struck a tollway aid vehicle. The driver, Illinois Tollway Authority employee Vince Petrella, was killed.

In the end, the judge found Velasquez guilty of operating a commercial motor vehicle in a fatigued state, failure to comply with hours of service requirements, driving too fast for condition and failure to yield to emergency vehicles.

Current laws limit commercial operators to 11 hours behind the wheel over a 14-hour shift and requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift. It also limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours.

According to authorities, Valasquez clearly violated those federally mandated guidelines, drastically changing his life and the lives of those impacted by that fatal crash forever. His decision to get behind the wheel is a reminder of what can horribly go wrong when you are not well-rested. Had Velasquez gotten the proper amount of sleep before driving, Petrella, the toll worker, would be alive today and the trooper would not be subjected to a life of pain and suffering.

The truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman & Associates have experience holding fatigued truck drivers and their companies responsible when they injure or kill an innocent victim. If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call us today to learn how we possibly can help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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Semi Driver Distracted By Chihuahua, Flips 18-Wheeler Over

Courtesy: WVUE

Courtesy: WVUE

In 2012, there were 104,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks—an increase of 18 percent from 88,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

You can bet that some of those accidents were due to distracted driving. According to Louisiana State Police, that seemed to be the case on Tuesday when a big rig driver overturned his 18-wheeler while driving along the interstate.

Investigators say the accident happened after the driver got distracted by his Chihuahua. When firefighters responded to the scene, they reportedly found the 18-wheeler on its side on an I-12 exit ramp. The driver was able to get out on his own, but the dog died in the accident.

Troopers say they did not cite the driver, Gary Edmond Bessant of Rutledge, Tennessee. The truck was said to be hauling coffee for Folgers when it overturned while exiting a foggy I-12 west at Louisiana 434.

Luckily, there were no other vehicles involved in this accident; otherwise, the outcome likely would have been far worse. When an 18-wheeler or other heavy truck collides with passenger vehicles on the road, the consequences can be not only horrific but often fatal.

According to the FMCSA, more than 30 percent of fatal crashes involve some sort of driver error or negligence due largely to either speeding, distracted driving or failure to yield right of way.

We often associate texting or talking on the phone with distracted driving; however, it involves so much more than that. A pet, as in this case, can also be a distraction. Even taking your eyes off the road for only a second can have dire consequences.

While this driver lost his dog, it could have been much worse. Had the driver of this 18-wheeler injured another person on the highway, he and his trucking company would have very likely been the subject of a civil lawsuit. Depending on the extent of the other person’s injuries, the semi driver could have also faced criminal charges.

Law enforcement and safety advocates can’t stress it enough: distractions can kill. They have no place on the roadways when you’re behind the wheel driving. It’s so vital that a person’s full attention and eyes are devoted to the road at all times.

If you or someone you know have been injured by a commercial truck, call the truck accident attorneys at EJ Leizerman and Associates LLC today to learn how we may be able to help with your case. Consultations are free. You can reach us at 1-800-628-4500.

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FMCSA Shares Details Of Its Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Restart Study

Courtesy: marksontok via Flickr

Courtesy: marksontok via Flickr

Fatigue and long driving hours have been implicated in many commercial truck crashes over the years. Some studies have reported that roughly 30 percent of them were due to driver fatigue.

Under federal regulations, commercial drivers are permitted to drive no more than 10 hours before having an 8-hour break and cannot work more than 70 hours over an 8-day period.

Several studies have suggested that violations of these rules are common. In fact, in a Journal of Public Health Policy article, titled “Long Hours and Fatigue: A Survey of Tractor-Trailer Drivers,” investigators talked to 1,249 semi drivers.

What they found was rather alarming. Thirty-one percent of the drivers admitted to having driven more than the weekly hours-of-service limit of 60 hours over seven days or 70 hours over eight days.

Recently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released details of a congressionally mandated study that started earlier this month. The study measures and compares the fatigue and safety performance levels of truck drivers who take at least two nighttime rest periods during their 34-hour restart break and those drivers who use one nighttime rest period during their restart break.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Driver Restart Study is comparing five-month work schedules and assessing crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, operator fatigue/alertness, and short-term health outcomes of the two groups of CMV drivers.

According to FMCSA officials, the sample of drivers will be large enough to produce statistically significant results. The study will be comprised of drivers from small, medium, and large fleets across a variety of operations (long-haul, short-haul, and regional). The study plans to include different sectors of the industry such as flat-bed, refrigerated, tank, and dry-van.

Data for this study started being collected this month and will end in July. Participants of this study can earn up to $2,166. They will also be equipped with a camera facing inward and a camera facing the road to monitor driving patterns. They will also be required to complete a five minute health background survey, sleep diary, caffeine log and perform smartphone based assessments. The data collected will remain confidential.

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