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Reducing Large Truck Liability Exposures

Reducing Large Truck Liability Exposures

Young group of people/architects discussing business plans.

Business operations that rely on large trucks need a continuous action plan to reduce liability exposures. The 10,000 pound and over gross vehicle rating weight (GVWR) that defines these big trucks is also a key factor in instability and safety issues. The problems increase during severe weather and can cause serious accidents. When a heavy truck collides with a smaller vehicle, injuries, fatalities, and severe property damage are a certainty.

National Highway Transportation Administration’s “Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks” shares important facts from 2013, its most recent year for complete large truck statistics.

  • 3,964 large truck accident fatalities, 95,000 injuries
  • 71 percent of fatalities and 71 percent of injuries involved occupants of the other vehicle
  • Large trucks are 4 percent of U.S. vehicles registered and involved in 9 percent of vehicle fatalities
  • In Illinois, 142 people died in heavy truck crashes

A Risk Management approach

Tractor trailer accidents are a daily reminder of a large truck’s ability to cause injuries and damage. To reduce the liability potential, businesses must take a risk management approach that identifies and assesses exposures, then considers a range of solutions. Lake county lawyers can help by identifying crucial issues.

Contractor and lessee contracts

Businesses that lease large trucks to other businesses or independent contractors should consult with Lake County lawyers to draft contracts with provisions that protect legal and financial interests. Businesses should also require additional insured status on subcontractor or lessee insurance policies.

Maintenance inspections

Pre-trip inspections and walkarounds can identify possible problems. Maintenance should be documented and dated to help Lake County lawyers defend allegations of negligent maintenance.

Driver readiness

The Illinois Commercial Driver’s License requirements are a good foundation for safety training. Ongoing training should address new safety issues, regulations, and requirements.

Fitness for duty

Operator fatigue and driver health are on National Transportation Safety Board’s “2016 Most Wanted List” of critical changes for reducing transportation accidents. Employers and lessors should also consider a zero tolerance alcohol/drug use policy.

The “sterile cockpit”

The NTSB recommends that operators in all modes of transportation eliminate all but essential conversations and tasks. NTSB also suggests banning all personal electronic devices, including hands-free and handheld cell phones.

Safety technologies

When installed in large trucks, collision avoidance, autonomous braking, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, roll stability control, electronic stability control, and other safety technologies overcome driver error, prevent accidents and save lives.

Periodic safety review

A Lake County lawyer can work with businesses to establish risk management solutions that reduce liability exposures.

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