On August 1, 2006, a minivan, which had four occupants, a woman, her mother, and her two sons – one was 15 months old, while the other was 3 years old – was caught in traffic congestion on Interstate 80. The minivan slowed down behind a flat-bed truck. Unknown to the woman driving the van was a fast approaching three-axle Intercontinental 9400 semi-trailer. The semi-trailer failed to stop on time, rear-ended the van, crushed and slammed it into the flat-bed truck, causing it to be engulfed in fire. No one survived the accident: not the semi-trailer driver and, definitely, not anyone among those that occupied the minivan.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatal truck accidents happen almost 11 times a day, resulting to more than 4,000 deaths and more than 100,000 injuries each year. Compared to car accidents, truck accidents may be fewer, however, its results are always more destructive and tragic due to their huge size.
Because of the major contribution trucks make in the country’s economy, drivers of smaller vehicles will just have to get used to sharing the road with these huge vehicles. To help lessen the fear of so many other motorists from driving alongside trucks, the government makes sure that only qualified, licensed and well trained drivers are allowed to operate these. Laws, like the allowed maximum number of driving hours and the required number of hours of rest, lower level of blood alcohol concentration (0.04%), strict prohibition of the use of cell phone, use of standard tires and brakes, regular maintenance of the vehicle, and a mandate on employers to keep bad drivers off the road, have also been passed with the aim of ensuring the safety operation of trucks .
Despite the enforcement of trucking laws, however, many employers manage to require their drivers to be on the road longer than the maximum number of hours of service. Many are even able to hire drivers who do not possess the required skill, fail to train drivers about safe operation of trucks, as well as fail to impose disciplinary actions on drivers who commit traffic violations, especially DUI.
Hiring a driver with a bad driving record or keeping a driver despite repeated traffic violations is an act of negligent hiring – a major offense committed by employers who only intend to earn, while compromising the safety of many others, even of their own driver. According to the law firm Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller & Overbeck, P.A., this is one example of careless employer act to which the liable employer can be held totally responsible and for which he or she can be required to answer in court to face any lawsuit filed by his or her victim/s.