Critical Ways Arizona Trucking Companies Fail to Prevent Accidents

Arizona trucking companies make up a good part of our state’s traffic. Unfortunately, in fatal accidents involving large trucks, you can expect that about 82% of the time, the person who died was not inside the truck.

According to data collected by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2019, 67% of those killed in an accident involving a large truck in the United States were in passenger vehicles and 15% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.

Arizona truck accidents are not uncommon. In 2019 alone, over 12,000 “trucks and buses” were involved in accidents in the state.

With the clear danger to drivers and pedestrians, we should expect that Arizona-based trucking companies put strong safety measures in place to prevent injuries and deaths. That’s not always the case.

Here are a few critical ways that trucking companies in Arizona fail to prevent these dangerous accidents.

Insufficient Maintenance Inspections

Trucking companies in Arizona must comply with federal and state regulations that require regular maintenance, repair, and inspection of commercial motor vehicles. Arizona trucking companies are also required to keep records of their inspections, which the Arizona Department of Safety’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) can audit.

Still, many Arizona-based trucking companies violate these rules. In 2016, the CVE reported that they put 4,886 commercial motor vehicles out of service for violations of the state and federal regulations. This means that about 1 in 10 trucks that you pass each day are violating state and federal safety regulations.

Maintenance inspections are extremely important safety measures that all trucking companies in Arizona should be keeping a record of them. According to the FMCSA, all trucking companies, including Arizona and Phoenix-based trucking companies should inspect the following components every year:

  • Brake System
  • Coupling devices
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Safety Lights
  • Loading systems
  • Steering systems
  • Suspension
  • Frame
  • Tires
  • Wheels and rims
  • Windshield components

The inspection is extensive, and Arizona trucking companies should be keeping a record of every inspection for every truck every year. The inspectors also have to meet certain qualifications. Although this is required, statistics show it doesn’t always happen.

Hiring Unqualified and Unlicensed Drivers

› Current Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL)

All Arizona cars and trucks must be driven by licensed drivers. Most drivers have a typical Class D license, (or Class M for motorcyclists). To drive a commercial truck, all commercial drivers must have a current Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). CDL requirements are more strict than Class D license requirements.

  1. In addition to passing a written test, all drivers have to obtain a medical examiner certificate to obtain the permit.
  2. Drivers then have to go to driving school to obtain their full CDL license.
  3. They must also be at least 21 years old to drive interstate (or 18 years old to drive in Arizona).
  4. Drivers also have to keep their licenses up to date.

Not all trucking companies make sure that their drivers’ CDL licenses are current and active, especially when their drivers come from out of state. Simply taking a photo of a driver’s license is far from enough to confirm that their license hasn’t been revoked or has lapsed. But that’s often the only step truck companies take to confirm a new driver’s CDL.

“Simply taking a photo of a driver’s license is far from enough to confirm that their license hasn’t been revoked or has lapsed. But that’s often the only step truck companies take to confirm a new driver’s CDL.”

› Drug Testing

Once drivers are licensed, to comply with federal and state regulations, they need to receive a negative drug test result before driving a commercial motor vehicle. They’re also required to be drug tested again if they’re involved in certain accidents.

Some Arizona trucking companies either don’t check these records or don’t ask truck drivers to get drug tested after an accident before letting them back on the road.

› Driver Inspections and Safety Training

Truck drivers are supposed to conduct daily safety inspections at the end of their trips and keep a record of it. Under federal trucking regulations, they should also continue safety training, particularly if they’re involved in transporting hazardous materials. The Arizona Trucking Association helps provide safety training opportunities and gives awards to Arizona-based trucking companies for safety excellence to help encourage compliance.

Still, not all companies continue safety training, nor do they check their drivers’ inspection records. Some companies might be checking the inspection logs, but don’t keep a record of it.

Forcing Drivers to Drive Extreme Hours

Driving while tired can be almost as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Arizona trucking companies know this, but some still pressure their drivers to drive unsafe hours to compete for business.

Under federal law, truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 11 consecutive hours, or 14 hours total in a day before resting for at least 10 hours. They also cannot drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. Once they’ve completed a 7- or 8-day driving period, they must rest for at least 34 hours before starting a new work week.

As many of us know, this doesn’t always happen. Both trucking companies and drivers sometimes violate these rules because they’re both interested in making as much money as possible. And, the more trips they can complete each week or month, the more money they can make.

Many Arizona truck accidents are caused by tired drivers who should have been resting instead of driving.

Overloading Trucks

Arizona trucking companies need to comply with state regulations that limit the size and weight of their trucks. In Arizona, trucks must be at a maximum of 65 feet long, 8 feet, 6 inches wide,14 feet high, and 80,000 pounds heavy. Trucking companies can get special permits to drive an oversized truck, but they need to be applied for and comply with additional transportation regulations.

“Many Arizona truck accidents are caused by tired drivers who should have been resting instead of driving.”

Trucks who violate these rules run the risk of either hitting a bridge with the top of their truck, damaging the road they’re driving on, or not being able to properly stop the truck when necessary, especially in the hillier parts of Arizona.

Whether they’re Tuscon, Tempe, or Phoenix-based trucking companies, all Arizona trucking companies should be complying with state and federal regulations created to protect both the drivers and everyone else with who they share the road. Not all trucking companies comply, however, and it often results in serious truck accidents.

Have You Been in an Arizona Truck Accident?

If you have been in a truck accident in Arizona involving an Arizona trucking company, you may have a claim against the trucking company for your injuries. We’re 100% dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcome for your accident injury case.

Protect your rights. Contact our truck accident lawyers at Goodnow McKay for a free consultation.