Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Status of NHTSA and FMCSA Rule

Late last year, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came forward with a proposed rule that would require semi-trucks and big rigs to be equipped with a device that would regulate the maximum speed that the truck could travel while on the highway. At the time the rule was proposed, it was hoped that the Obama administration would approve the rule after the time for public comments had passed. Now that the Trump administration is in place, fears are rising that the common-sense rule will meet its demise before implementation.

The Need for Speed (Rules) for Trucks

It is no secret that commercial trucks like big rigs and semi-trucks can cause serious harm to the occupants of passenger vehicles in the event of a crash. The magnitude of harm caused by these large commercial trucks only increases the faster that the truck is traveling. That is to say, a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 65 miles per hour will inflict greater harm than a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 55 miles per hour. Thus, the proposed rule – and the devices described in the proposed rule – could potentially decrease the incidence rate of serious and fatal truck crashes.

Determining the Speed of a Commercial Truck in a Crash

When a truck is involved in a crash with another vehicle – especially where there is evidence suggesting the truck driver was at fault and caused the crash – the speed of the truck at the moment of impact becomes extremely relevant to the investigation into the crash. A truck that is traveling above the posted speed limit (or even at a speed that is too great for the prevailing road, weather, and/or traffic conditions) can be found to be negligent or reckless, thereby supporting an injury victim’s claim for damages.

While the speed of a truck can be estimated from skid marks and other physical evidence found at the scene, one of the more reliable methods whereby the speed of the truck can be determined is to obtain the “control module” or “black box.” This is a recording device that is found either under the hood of the truck or (sometimes) within the cab itself. This module contains important information about the truck in the moments immediately before the crash: it can tell someone, for example, the speed of the truck for the critical few seconds before the crash and whether the brakes were activated at any time immediately before the collision (which could indicate whether the truck driver tried to avoid the collision.

The Assistance of an Attorney Can Prove Invaluable

 Because there does not appear to be any speed-regulation device that will prohibit trucks from exceeding a particular speed, the actual speed of a truck involved in a collision will remain an elusive and relevant inquiry. An experienced truck crash lawyer will have the knowledge and resources needed to obtain the control module from the truck and/or employ other means to determine the speed of the truck and whether the truck driver is liable for any injuries caused to others.

Michael R. Lawless is a dedicated and skilled Kansas truck crash attorney. He is available to assist you and/or your loved ones recover compensation in the aftermath of a truck crash. Attorney Michael R. Lawless will fight hard on your behalf so that you can focus on your health and your family. Contact Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless today by calling (800) 734-3771 and discussing the details of your injury accident with him.

Kansas Car Crash Attorney Explains Head-On Collisions and Passing Laws

Several weeks ago news outlets across the State of Kansas reported on a deadly head-on collision that occurred in western Kansas.  According to early reports from law enforcement agencies, a semi-truck struck a passenger van head-on while the truck was attempting to pass a slower-moving semi traveling in the same direction. The crash killed four of the five occupants of the van right away; a fifth occupant died the next day at the hospital.

Passing Laws: Just Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should

 Two-laned highways are especially prevalent in the western part of the State, where the volume of traffic is not so great as to warrant the construction of multi-laned highways and/or highways with medians dividing the lanes of travel. Instead, these two-laned roads have opposing lanes of travel pass by one another at highway speeds (usually 55 mph or greater) with nothing more than painted lines separating the two lanes of travel. Furthermore, Kansas law permits vehicles to overtake and pass slower-moving vehicles traveling in the same direction by entering the opposing lane of travel. The basic rules governing this maneuver require the passing driver to:

  • Continue traveling at the posted speed limit, even while overtaking the slower-moving vehicle (law enforcement will likely tell you that if you need to exceed the speed limit to pass the other vehicle, you should not attempt the maneuver);
  • Ensure the opposing lane of travel is clear of any traffic so that the passing maneuver can be safely completed;
  • Return to the original lane of travel only after safely passing the slower-moving vehicle and/or if traffic in the opposing lane of travel appears and there is insufficient space to safely pass the slower-moving vehicle.

These rules are designed to make an otherwise dangerous situation safe for the passing vehicle, the vehicle being passed, and any traffic in the opposing lane of travel. When the passing vehicle violates any of these rules, it jeopardizes the safety of others nearby.

Tips for Avoiding Collisions on Two-Laned Roads Involving Passing Vehicles

Even if you are not attempting a passing maneuver yourself, you should remain alert and attentive to other vehicles that are. Prepare to take one or more of the following actions if necessary:

  • Slow down if a passing vehicle needs additional space in order to maneuver back into the correct lane of travel;
  • Get to the shoulder if it appears the passing vehicle cannot safely complete the passing maneuver. If the passing vehicle is approaching you head-on, moving to the shoulder can avoid a head-on collision. If the vehicle is traveling in the same direction as you, moving to the shoulder can give the passing vehicle enough room to safely return to its proper lane of travel.
  • Travel prudently; in other words, travel at a speed that is safe and reasonable given prevailing road and weather conditions and leave plenty of space between you and other cars ahead of you.

Turn to Michael R. Lawless for Help

 Kansas attorney Michael R. Lawless is available to assist you and/or your loved ones if you have been injured in a head-on collision or other traffic crash on a two-laned highway. Micheal R. Lawless will thoroughly examine your case, determining the type of compensation you may be entitled to recover and from whom such compensation may be obtained. Our firm has the resources to quickly preserve important evidence and testimony that can be useful in helping you succeed in your case. Act quickly in the aftermath of a highway traffic collision and contact Kansas Car Crash Attorney Michael R. Lawless at (800) 734-3771 to discuss the details of your car crash.