Heavy Truck Loads Put Marylanders at Risk

Large trucks are an essential component of the U.S economy. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics estimates that large trucks (weighing more than 10,000 pounds) carry three-fourths of the value of all goods shipped in the U.S and two-thirds of the weight.

This vast amount of cargo comes with a cost; The interstate weight limit for large trucks is 80,000 pounds, and Maryland’s State Highway Administration estimates that it weighs about 1,800,000 trucks and inspects 95,000 vehicles each year to ensure trucks stay below legal limits. However, many state legislatures allow heavier loads. In Maryland, a truck driver can also obtain an overweight permit to carry up to 90,000 pounds of cargo if the truck has the required axle spacing.

Against such titanic amounts of weight and steel, other vehicles on the road have no chance if they are involved in an accident with a truck.

Perhaps this accounts for the high number of truck-accident fatalities that occur to other drivers and passengers in truck accidents. Unfortunately, the roads seem to be becoming less safe. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, large-truck accident fatalities increased from 2009 to 2010, the latest year for which data is available.

Truck Accidents in Maryland

Maryland restricts large truck weight to improve public safety and reduce the toll on bridges and state roads. Other restrictions on large trucks and truck driver actions also exist. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association recently lowered the maximum number of hours a truck driver can operate his or her vehicle to 72 hours per week. Drivers also must rest 30 minutes after driving for eight consecutive hours.

Maryland bans handheld cellphone use for all drivers to prevent distracted driving. Also, like all drivers, truckers cannot operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs — including prescription drugs, if they impair the driver.

When a truck driver is negligent in causing an accident, those injured may be able to recover compensation to get help with their medical bills and lost wages. If the ultimate tragedy occurs and a truck accident results in a wrongful death, the loved ones of the victim may be able to recover for the deceased’s loss of income, funeral expenses and other damages to help them in the aftermath of such a calamity.

Because the trucking industry is subject to so many rules and regulations, those who have been affected by a truck accident should consult with a personal injury attorney who is experienced with truck-accident cases to fully explore their legal options.