Lax hiring and training practices by the U.S. trucking industry have contributed to a crisis on our roads and highways.
On roads and highways across the country, preventable crashes, injuries and deaths involving large trucks are at or near record levels. The 4,798 fatality crashes involving trucks reported in 2020 reflect a 50 percent increase since 2009, according to the most recent statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration. The shocking number of preventable truck-related deaths is put in stark relief considering the annual death toll is well more than the 2,977 people who died on 9/11. These increasing numbers are reason to pause and consider how much we have spent to prevent another 9/11 when compared to what the trucking industry actually spends on safety. Further, the grim statistics have increased despite decades of safer vehicles, better engineered lanes, drunken driving crackdowns and government-sponsored safe-driving campaigns. Meanwhile, routine safety inspections are finding an alarming number of large trucks in violation of basic safety and maintenance standards with approximately one in five failing inspection and deemed unfit for the road.
"When the trucking industry cuts corners on safety, roadway deaths increase. It’s that simple,” said trial lawyer Frank L. Branson, founder of Dallas-based Law Offices of Frank L. Branson. “Drivers are overworked and many lack experience and basic safety training. When trucking companies put inexperienced and unqualified drivers on the road, you get what you asked for. It’s a real recipe for disaster, and the transportation industry bears responsibility for allowing it to happen.”
Branson, who founded the Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, has been exposing dangerous practices by trucking companies since the 1980s when he first won record-setting jury verdicts and settlements that have raised awareness about truck safety. Too often, these tragedies are linked to fatigue, lack of training, and inadequate supervision. In addition, investigations routinely find drug and alcohol abuse by drivers that could have been caught by proper background checks and screening during the hiring process and required DOT drug and alcohol testing.
“Thanks to lax legislative oversight and a powerful lobby, many of these companies see no incentive in investing in safety. Preventable deaths and serious injuries have become a cost of doing business for them,” Branson said. “This is occurring because of the trucking industry is putting profit over safety, pure and simple.”
“There’s no excuse for cutting safety when 40-ton 18-wheelers are sharing the roads with motorists,” Branson said. “Transportation companies place safety last because they understand that government regulation and oversight is largely toothless.”
Branson closed by saying: “These same trucking companies, after large donations to the legislature, managed to get tort reform relief in the last legislative session. This reminds me of how fortunate we all are that rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders are not able to lobby the legislature.”