Anyone who has driven on the roads in Connecticut knows how dangerous our highways can be. Big rigs always present danger. The size, weight and traveling speeds of 18-wheelers make truck accidents uniquely catastrophic, and occasionally deadly.
State and federal legislatures, agencies and even the trucking industry itself have all taken significant steps to make our roads safer from trucking accidents. However, it is questionable whether enough is being done. The fact is that accidents involving trucks are still far too prevalent.
Did You Know? In the CB lingo often used by truckers, 10-42 is the term used for a traffic accident.
A recent tragic trucking accident
According to Overdrive online, a leading news source for the trucking industry, last week saw a terribly catastrophic trucking accident in Michigan. According to the report, the driver went through a red light, hit another vehicle and drove away. Then, the authorities caught the driver and discovered that he was significantly drunk (a .17 blood-alcohol content, more than four times the legal limit for drivers), and he had open beer and liquor containers in the truck’s cab.
Ultimately, the driver was charged with DUI, hit and run, and possession of open alcohol containers in a motor vehicle.
What is the significance of this case?
Although the case itself it unlikely to establish any new important legal precedent, it illustrates some important aspects of truck safety in our country.
There are clearly strict laws and regulations that provide tough penalties for unsafe drivers in the trucking industry. In addition, the accident victim will probably bring a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company, which creates further financial penalties.
However, most of the regulations and penalties involve the aftermath of accidents. This case illustrates this fact all too well. None of the laws against drunk driving, against running red lights and against hit and run did not prevent this accident.
Rather than creating more severe punishments for those who violate these laws and cause accidents, perhaps a better approach would be to focus more on prevention. Perhaps more strict regulations on hiring and keeping good drivers would be more effective. Or providing better psychological examinations and resources for drivers to help prevent instances of drunk driving. Another possibility would be to create ignition interlock for big rigs, where it is impossible to start a truck without blowing under the legal blood-alcohol content limit. There is never a time when driving a rig under the influence is a positive choice.
Perhaps focusing on prevention and providing resources to avoid accidents would do more than strict laws to keep our streets safe.