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Two-truck crash in Oregon highlights rule for truck tire maintenance

Written by Steve Gursten Posted July 2nd, 2013

truck tire maintenance

There are a number of lawyer blogs that regularly list terrible truck accidents.  They write a few lines, stuff in the city and state into it, and then these lawyers hope someone involved calls them. Our truck accident lawyer blog is different.

When we discuss these cases, we do so as we would in a legal seminar. We write about them as instruction for other attorneys and for industry professionals so we can learn from them, or observe trends in the industry.

This recent story from a truck wreck in Oregon is instructive, and fortunately neither truck driver was seriously injured. Here is the synopsis  from the Oregon State Police news release about two truck drivers, in two different trucks, who caused a truck accident because they were doing something they were not supposed to be doing: driving with flat, unmaintained tires and texting while driving.

This news story is disturbing.   But it is also not unusual.

One truck driver was operating an unsafe semi-truck on the highway.  He had not one – but two flat tires.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are very clear on the rules regarding tire maintenance for commercial trucks:

§ 393.75(a)(3) of the Regulations (governing tires on semi-trucks) says that “no motor vehicle shall be operated on any tire that…Is flat or has an audible leak.”

Inexplicably, the trucker continued to operate the vehicle riding on two flat tires.  The truck driver not only broke the rule, but he created a very dangerous situation on the highway because his truck was only traveling at approximately 5 MPH.

As if this truck driver were not bad enough, the second trucker was driving distracted because he was looking at his cell phone instead of on the road.

The distracted second trucker rear-ended the first slow-moving semi-truck with the flat tires.  He was also in violation of this Safety Regulation:

§ 392.82 of the Regulations reads that no driver shall use a cellular phone while operating a semi-truck.  The regulation also prohibits any motor carrier from allowing or requiring its truckers to use the devices.  This regulation does contain an exception for emergencies wherein a truck driver must contact law enforcement or other emergency officials.

Amazingly, despite these gross safety violations, the truckers were not seriously hurt.

Obviously, this  truck accident  should never have occurred.  It was completely  preventable. There is no plausible explanation why a truck driver who does a proper pre-trip inspection should ever be driving a big rig with two flat tires. There is also no plausible explanation why a truck driver should ever be distracted by a cell phone while operating an 80,000 pound semi-truck.

Both of these drivers were cited for their disregard of the rules. But this truck wreck illustrates a larger point that we constantly revisit on this truck safety blog; that there are bad truck drivers and bad trucking companies out there  who do not care.  They do not care about following the law or mandatory safety regulations, and they are consistently putting other people’s lives at risk.

The FMCSA must step up enforcement and crack down on truck drivers like this.  Removing these two from the road is a good start.

Related information:

Dangerous truckers break the rules, FMSCA pushes back

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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