We have already started to see the blooming of daffodils. The next things to bloom will be potholes, followed quickly by construction zones. This is the time of year when normal routes may be disrupted by detours and lane changes to accommodate lane expansions, resurfacing, and other infrastructure improvements. Motor carriers and their drivers need to be especially vigilant in order to stay safe and avoid the ripple effect that follows from tickets and citations, not to mention the lost time and expenses caused by accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Highway Administration reports there were 24,745 fatalities due to crashes in construction zones from 1982 through 2014, which is an average of 750 per year. Speed is a major factor in many construction zone accidents, making it especially important to pay attention to reduced speed limits. Lack of seatbelt use is a factor in approximately 25% of these fatalities. Interestingly, fatal crashes occur more frequently on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday than other days of the week, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
It is an unfortunate reality that any time there is an accident and a commercial vehicle is involved, or even in the vicinity, there is a good chance that the carrier will be dragged into any resulting claims or litigation, regardless of whether the commercial driver was at fault. On occasion, attempts are even made to bring in the broker and/or shipper. Plaintiffs’ lawyers frequently argue that commercial drivers are held to a higher standard, and that is the common perception of a large portion of the motoring public. In light of these realities, it becomes increasingly important for fleets to keep a sharp focus on safety. An excellent way to increase your fleet’s knowledge about safety, beyond encouraging drivers to pay attention on the road, is to participate in seminars and educational presentations. These can provide valuable knowledge regarding such things as FMCSA regulations and updates in technology that can improve the safety of any fleet. One great example is the Spring Transportation Summit of the Indiana Motor Truck Association coming up this April 24-25 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Details may be found at www.intrucking.org.
Steve Groth is a Litigation Partner at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP in Indianapolis. Steve’s practice concentrates in transportation, business, and personal injury litigation. He defends clients in the trucking industry against wrongful death and serious injury claims. Steve represents businesses in the construction and insurance industries. Much of his work is handling litigation for businesses. He also advises business owners on contracts and risk management strategies to avoid litigation.