Connecticut looks to new laws to save lives

All around Connecticut, people get in their cars, trucks, SUVs or other vehicles every day and rarely stop to think about the risks involved. Motor vehicle accidents can happen at any time, in any place. A best-case scenario when a collision takes place is the well-known fender bender. However, this is not always what results, and many times people receive serious injuries, or may even die.

When a tractor trailer, semi-truck or other large commercial vehicle is involved, the nature of the consequences can become more severe. Truck accidents are serious and the federal government last year enacted new rules that are aimed at reducing such incidents.

How common are truck accidents in Connecticut?

Connecticut may be a relatively small state, but that does not make it immune from the realities of auto collisions. Records provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for the year 2011 show the following:

  • Auto accidents claimed the lives of 220 people statewide.
  • Of those deaths, 14 were from truck accidents-a total of 6.3 percent of all fatalities.
  • New Haven County was the site of more than 18 percent of all vehicular deaths that year with 40 fatalities.
  • New Haven County recorded more than 28 percent of all deaths from truck accidents that year.

Because every person's life matters, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration worked to create new guidelines that govern truckers and their working hours. It is their stated expectation that these laws will prevent 1,400 collisions, 560 injuries and 19 deaths.

What changes did the FMCSA make?

Truck driver fatigue is known to be one of the primary causes of accidents in the trucking industry. Therefore, the FMCSA's new ruling statutes address this issue directly.

Before last summer, a truck driver could work up to 82 hours in one week. Beginning in July 2013, that number has been reduced to 70 hours. Daily work hours are limited to a maximum of 14 for any type of task or tasks, and within a given day, no more than 11 hours are able to be spent behind the wheel.

Break times were also part of the new laws, with a stipulated 30-minute or more rest mandated for each eight hour shift. Additionally, an extended time away from work is required each week, and should last 34 hours or more.

When help is needed

No matter what the outcome appears to be, when a truck accident does happen, it is important that legal help is sought. There can be many complexities in the aftermath of a collision with a commercial vehicle. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to receive the protection and compensation that may be needed.