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Introducing: The Robot 18-wheeler

/ Truck Accident /

Introducing: The Robot 18-wheelerMELVILLE, N.Y. – Big rigs today are loaded with up to 80,000 pounds of cargo barreling down the highway at speeds over 55mph. Now image that same truck without a driver.

A group of engineers wants to make the self-driving truck a reality.

The group, made of 40 former employees of self-driving giants like Google, Apple, Tesla, and others formed a new company called Otto with the goal of transforming the commercial trucking industry.

Before the fear (or gratitude) sets in, a Long Island truck accident lawyer at Cellino & Barnes says initially, all self-driving vehicles should still have a driver at the wheel.

“Self-driving technology is so new, we don’t really know what would happen if we set a truck in motion with just the computer at the wheel,” Long Island truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Autonomous 18-wheelers could make the roads safer but tech companies won’t know until they try it with a veteran driver behind the wheel.”

Otto plans to attach sensors, cameras and lasers to big rigs that will eventually navigate more than 220,000 miles of US highways with little assistance from a driver. Currently, the plan will only put the machines in control on the highways. A driver would still need to be present when entering city streets.

Long Island truck accident lawyers say the most dangerous truck accidents occur in heavily populated areas or on small country roads.

“Trucks have very large blind spots, making them extremely dangerous,” Cellino said. “Truck drivers must be trained to spot smaller vehicles or people and avoid accidents with them, which can take months of driving lessons.”

Attorneys say trucks equipped with sensors and blind spot cameras are already on the roads – but the technologies attached to these big rigs are tools to help the driver avoid a crash. Leaving the truck in the hands of the machine could have catastrophic consequences.

“Without a trained driver at the wheel, there’s no knowing what would happen if any component fails or malfunctions on an 18-wheeler,” Cellino said. “Although the intention is to make roads safer, millions of drivers may feel better knowing there’s a trained human at the helm.”

Otto is currently eyeing the market for 1,000 truckers to volunteer their vehicles which would have self-driving kits installed in the cabs. Otto said the volunteers would still be expected to take the wheel in emergencies and monitor the truck to make sure it is following local driving laws.

If the company gets to see its ultimate goal, more than 5 million trucks could be equipped with driverless technology in the coming decades.

On one end, it would solve a truck driver shortage the nation is currently facing but on the other hand, are drivers willing to trust the machine?

Long Island truck accident attorneys say there are currently 3,500 deadly big rig crashes every year and many of the crashes are linked to driver fatigue. If you’ve been injured in a big truck accident, the Long Island truck accident lawyers can help you obtain the best result possible.

Contact a lawyer today or visit the Cellino & Barnes LinkedIn page to learn more about how Cellino & Barnes has helped thousands of clients get the compensation they needed.

New Bill Could Relax Safety Restrictions on Truck Drivers

/ Truck Accident /

New Bill Could Relax Safety Restrictions on Truck DriversNEW YORK – Some U.S. Senators have slipped new language into a transportation spending bill that could allow truck drivers to work longer weeks. The Senate Appropriations Committee released the updated text of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill that passed with a 30-0 vote on Thursday.

The bill fixes a drafting error made in last year’s spending bill but it could also allow truck drivers to spend up to 73 hours behind the wheel each week.

A Brooklyn truck accident attorney at Cellino & Barnes says many truck drivers are already battling fatigue and upping the limits could put lives at risk.

“Truck driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of big rig crashes in Brooklyn,” truck accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Trucks are very dangerous vehicles and they must have an alert driver behind the wheel.”

Currently, truckers are restricted to 70 hours of drive-time each week. If the bill passes as it is drafted, truckers would be allowed on the roads for an additional 156 hours every year. In a press release, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) blasted the bill’s passage through the senate committee.

“Before today is over, 11 people will die in large truck crashes and 275 more will be injured,” AHAS Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Cathy Chase said. “[Thursday’s] ‘markup’ of the THUD bill lacked any actual ‘marking up’ of the bill, any discussion of the anti-safety provision in the bill, and any debate on how the bill will impact the American public.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Forbes both consider truck driving one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America today.

Brooklyn truck accident lawyers say truck drivers already have some of the most relaxed laws regarding fatigue in the transportation business.

“Airplane pilots are limited to about nine hours of fly-time in a single stretch and they must have at least 30 consecutive hours off each week,” Barnes said. “Truckers can currently work up to 11-hours per day and many of them drive seven days per week.”

Chase and other highway safety advocates believe the trucking industry lobbied for the new provision despite several high-profile truck crashes in the last 12 months.

“This closed door backroom politicking is a prime example of why the American public distrusts the process,” Chase said. “Unfortunately, the change made to the HOS Rule does nothing to address the serious problem of cumulative fatigue.”

Chase, frustrated with the rewritten bill, is now urging Congress to add language to the bill that would make sure truck drivers get more rest time and reduce fatigue.

For the latest information on truck safety and news reports, follow Cellino & Barnes on Twitter.

New Laws Will Change How Truckers Log Time

/ Truck Accident /

New Laws Will Change How Truckers Log TimeBUFFALO, N.Y. – If you’ve ever been sleepy behind the wheel, you know how dangerous fatigued driving can be. For those who work on the highway, fatigue can be a common enemy but a new law is aimed at enforcing regulations that were created to prevent drivers from driving under the stress of sleep.

Unfortunately, thousands of Americans ignore common sense and keep driving despite their body telling them to turn-in for the night. The problem is particularly dangerous in the trucking industry – where drivers often log over 11 hours each day while at the helm of a truck weighing up to 40 tons.

Beginning this year, commercial truck drivers and bus drivers will be using electronic devices to log their hours behind the wheel.

Buffalo truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes hope the new law will make the roads safer.

“Many big rig crashes occur because the driver was fatigued,” Buffalo truck accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Now that some commercial drivers will be required to log their hours electronically, it could the number of serious and deadly collisions.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the logs are more difficult to tamper with and the electronic devices could provide a net savings of $1 billion each year. The administration estimated that electronic logs could prevent hundreds of truck crashes, saving dozens of lives and prevent hundreds of injuries.

Many high-profile truck crashes have been linked back to a fatigued driver. In August, federal regulators said a truck driver had been driving for 28 hours straight before a crash that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger.

“Truck drivers have been using pen and paper to log their hours since the 1930’s,” Barnes said. “With electronic logging devices, drive time will automatically be logged by monitoring the number of miles driven and the amount of time the driver is behind the wheel – it’s just more accurate and it could save lives.”

Although the rules may seem new, the battle for electronic recording devices dates back to 1995 when Congress ordered the Department of Transportation to develop electronic logs. However, the FMCSA didn’t make changes until a lawsuit forced the administration to place heavy limits on trucker hours in 2004.

Many drivers have opposed efforts to require electronic logging devices. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association sued the FMCSA in an effort to block the new regulation citing on its website, “The need for truckers to spend money on an unproven technology that is no more effective than paper logs when it comes to safety and hours-of-service compliance.”

Companies will have two years to begin using electronic logs although many trucking organizations have already implemented the technology.

Extra Long Trailers Spark Safety Concerns

/ Truck Accident /

Extra Long Trailers Spark Safety ConcernsROCHESTER, N.Y. – A new federal mandate would force states to allow big rigs with extra-long double trailers on interstate highways. It would increase trailer length limits from 28 feet to 33 feet. Bigger trucks sound more efficient – but some senators say it could be risky too.

The Senate went on record this week by a vote of 56-31 against the mandate; saying it must be shown that the extra-long trailers don’t undermine highway safety. Officials want the Department of Transportation to complete a safety study before allowing bigger trucks on the road.

Rochester truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say bigger trucks could be concerning for drivers – as the number truck accidents have risen over the last few years.

“Since 2009, we’ve seen a slow but steady uptick in the number of truck crashes in Rochester,” truck accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “There are more trucks on the highways and safety is certainly a concern for those of us driving smaller, more vulnerable vehicles.”

According the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most injuries and deaths in large truck crashes happen to occupants of smaller passenger vehicles. In fact, they made up 67 percent of all deadly truck crashes last year – over 2,400 people.

Attorneys say most truckers are safe drivers – but they’re operating vehicles that can be very dangerous and deadly in many circumstances.

“Trucks already outweigh passenger cars by 20 to 30 times and any collision with a big rig comes with a higher risk of injury,” Barnes said. “It takes a truck longer to stop under sunny and dry conditions and when it’s wet or snowy, trucks may not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision – that’s why it’s so important for drivers to give them space.”

Truck driver fatigue is also a concern. Some drivers are on the road for up to 11 hours each day – and nearly 80 hours every week. Surveys have shown that many drivers ignore these regulations and drive longer than federal laws permit.

Currently, 12 states allow longer trailers. With a cab, the total length of a truck comes to 91 feet. String just three of these extended trucks together and it will come close to covering the length of a football field.

The final transportation bill is expected to be sent to the White House before Nov. 20.

Stats: One in Five Trucks Shouldn’t Be On the Road

/ Truck Accident /

One in Five Trucks Shouldn’t Be On the RoadNEW YORK – Millions of trucks crisscross the country every day, hauling billions of tons in goods and vital fuels coming from factories, mines, warehouses, and farms. These trucks often weigh up to 80,000 pounds, more than 20 times the typical weight of a passenger vehicle. Inherently, trucks are very dangerous and federal regulations restrict a trucker’s driving time, load size, and on-board equipment.

A west-coast publication took a deeper look into some of these regulations and found only a portion of the trucks on the roads are inspected. Of more than 433,000 vehicles, only 3,800 were inspected at weigh station on a major U.S. interstate.

Brooklyn truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say some of the trucks driving today shouldn’t even be on the road.

“Most drivers are careful about safety and the maintenance of their vehicles but others cut corners and that can put lives at risk in Brooklyn,” truck accident attorney Steve Barnes said. “If a truck isn’t up to code, that driver or the truck company could be held liable for an accident and our attorneys will do everything they can to get our clients the best results possible.”

According to Department of Transportation statistics, 24 percent of big trucks and 7 percent of their drivers should not have been on the road last year. Attorneys say that adds up to one in five vehicles failing inspections.

Trucking industry advocates say the numbers may be inflated because inspectors target problem-prone vehicles and trucking companies. However, lawyers say any truck not passing inspection is a red flag.

“Truck drivers and their companies have a huge responsibility to safety,” Barnes said. “They are in charge of operating a 40 ton vehicle along a crowded freeway packed with cars and SUVs that could be crushed due to a malfunctioning truck or a driver who hasn’t had enough rest.”

The American Trucking Associations said violations don’t typically cause crashes and some trucking advocates are pushing for more traffic law enforcement over inspections.

Attorneys, on the other hand, say inspections play a vital role in keeping America’s roads and highways safe. Lawyers say brakes are among the most common violations truckers are cited for; and with a truck weighing 20-30 times more than a passenger car, it’s arguably the most important piece of equipment on a tractor-trailer.

When Big Trucks Cause Big Wrecks

/ Truck Accident /

When Big Trucks Cause Big WrecksBUFFALO, N.Y. – Tractor trailers are vital for today’s commercial trade. Unfortunately, these big rigs are also deadly machines carrying up to 80,000 pounds of goods. That’s more than 20 times the weight of a standard passenger car.

Big truck collisions are also on the rise in America. Since 2011, the number of crashes involving a tractor trailer has increased by over 7 percent.

Truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say these crashes almost always affect people in passenger cars due to the extreme weight difference.

“Trucks can take much longer to brake and because of the area’s extreme weather, these crashes can be very serious in Buffalo,” truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Truckers must be aware of the road conditions and slow down when there’s rain or ice.”

About 1 in every 10 highway deaths happens in a crash involving a large truck, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That’s thousands of families impacted by truck crashes each year.

Recently in Chicago, a mother was walking with her 2-year-old daughter inside a stroller when they were struck by a semi-truck while at a crosswalk. Both were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Police said the truck driver didn’t yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk and failed to reduce speed.

In Portland, Oregon, a garbage truck collided with a car early in the morning, killing the driver.

In Virginia, a 64-year-old woman was killed after a truck hauling wood and debris crossed a double-yellow line on a curvy road, crashing into the woman’s vehicle just after noon.

“These trucks are dangerous at all times of the day or night,” Cellino said. “It’s important for any driver to give these big trucks space but unfortunately, that doesn’t always prevent a crash.”

Buffalo truck accident lawyers say most truck crashes are preventable with the proper training and handling of a tractor-trailer. Victims of these crashes may be entitled to compensation for any injuries suffered as a result of one of these collisions.


The Lowdown on Big Rig Regulations

/ Truck Accident /

Lowdown on Big Rig RegulationsROCHESTER, N.Y. – A war is being waged across the nation over big rig regulations and standards. Members of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are pushing for new safety regulations and guidelines for big truck drivers to follow. At the same time, truck drivers and their advocates are arguing against the safety measures.

In one battle, federal lawmakers are mulling a proposal that would require electronic ‘speed limiters’ in large trucks. The technology would force all large truck drivers to travel no faster than 65 miles per hour. A group claiming to represent the interests of professional truck drivers, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), drafted their own petition in the hopes of preventing speed limiters from becoming reality.

Rochester truck accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes said truck safety is a hot topic because of increase in the number of crashes.

“Car accidents have been steadily dropping across American cities like Rochester,” truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Truck accidents, on the other hand, have been slowly increasing since 2010.”

Experts believe the increase in truck crashes is a direct correlation with increased truck traffic. During the economic recession, companies cut-back on trucking and shipping routes but in the last five years, trucking has made a comeback.

In 2012, more than 77,000 trucks were involved in injury crashes, the most since 2006.

“Trucks can be very dangerous vehicles,” Cellino said. “Some of these trucks can weigh over 70,000 pounds – more than 20 times the weight of your typical car.”

Truck drivers are already required to abide by a variety of rules and regulations set forth by the federal government. One of the most notable regulates the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle in a certain stretch of time. Some of these regulations were temporarily suspended in 2014.

Last year, a truck accident injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another comedian on the New Jersey Turnpike, raising questions about truck safety. This month, the National Transportation Safety Board revealed they had discovered the truck driver who caused the crash had been awake for 28 hours before the crash.

“Rest is vital for any driver,” Cellino said. “Whether you’re riding on a 400-pound motorcycle or operating a 40-ton big rig, rest is important for your safety and the safety of others.”

The American Trucking Association has concluded that hours of service regulations should be in place but the amount of time drivers are on-the-clock and off-the-clock is a hotly-contested subject.

Members of Congress expect to debate truck safety while drafting its 2015 Highway Bill after its August recess.

Transportation Spending Bill Would Block Traffic Safety

/ Driver Safety, Truck Accident /

Transportation Spending Bill Would Block Traffic SafetyNEW YORK – The trucking industry is on the rebound and the number of trucks on the road has steadily been increasing since 2010. Although the trend is still far from the industry’s peak in the 1990’s, there’s reason for optimism in the nation’s capital.

A multi-million dollar lobbying push may open U.S. roadways to bigger tractor trailers and, according to some industry watchdogs, more dangerous traveling conditions.

Currently, federal commercial vehicle standards mandate trucks to weigh-in at less than 80,000 pounds and less than 29 feet in length. However, a $55.3 billion transportation spending bill would increase the length restrictions to 33 feet.

“Generally, the larger the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop,” truck accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “Adding more weight to a tractor trailer could make highway travel more dangerous without the proper driver training.”

In 2012, large trucks were involved in thousands of crashes, killing 3,921 people and the number of deaths has steadily increased each year since hitting an all-time low in 2009.

In addition to larger trucks, the bill would extend the suspension of the 2013 restart changes to the hours of service rule until the DOT can demonstrate the changes lead to “significant improvement in all outcomes related to safety, operator fatigue, driver health and longevity, and work schedules.”

Currently, drivers can stay behind the wheel of a large truck for up to 82 hours in eight days.

“Driving logs can be some of the first things our lawyers look at when evaluating a truck accident,” Cellino said. “If a truck driver exceeds the maximum amount of time on the road for the week, it’s not only illegal: it can also drastically increase the chances of a serious accident.”

The House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of setting the 2016 DOT budget recommended the plan to a full committee; which can make changes and/or recommend the bill for a later vote on the House floor.


Are Tires to Blame for Big Rig Crashes?

/ Truck Accident /

Are Tires to Blame for Big Rig Crashes?NEW YORK – The number of large truck crashes have steadily been rising since 2010. In the last five years, heavy trucks and buses played a role in over 14,000 fatal accidents. Many researchers believe an improving economy is allowing more companies to put more 18-wheelers on the road and the increased number of trucks can statistically account for the increased number of accidents.

However, new research found the truck’s tires may be directly responsible for crashes. In March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studied multiple tire blowouts and found that high speed and a lack of maintenance is to blame.

“Truck tires were not made for speeds over 75 miles per hour. Unfortunately, some truck drivers push the speed limit and in some areas, they’re moving at speeds greater than 75 or 80 miles per hour on highways around New York,” truck accident lawyer Ross Cellino said.

A total of 16 states have truck speed limits equal to or greater than 75 miles per hour. For years, The American Trucking Association has been warning all drivers of the dangers involved in areas with increased speed limits, suggesting the maximum speed should be capped at 65 mph.

New York truck accident lawyers say speed is clearly a factor in many truck crashes and adding special speed limits for trucks and better enforcement of truck lanes could improve highway safety.

“The distance it takes a vehicle to stop greatly increases at higher speeds,” Cellino said. “If large trucks that weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle are going 65, 75, or even 80 miles per hour, that’s a recipe for disaster and it doesn’t matter what kind of tires are on that vehicle.”

The NHTSA is currently conducting research and analysis on truck tires and the causes of failures to help pinpoint the crash safety problems associated with heavy trucks.

When Trucks & Cars Collide, Cars Lose

/ Car Accident, Personal Injury, Truck Accident /

When Trucks & Cars CollideNEW YORK – It’s an unfortunate fact about driving: car accidents happen. Studies show motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death around the world and these dangerous accidents occur roughly once every minute.

Crashes become even more dangerous when it involves a tractor-trailer or other large truck. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 4,000 people are killed every year in crashes involving big rigs. Hundreds of thousands more are injured.

“These trucks are often referred to as the life blood of the economy. Statistically, they’re also some of the deadliest moving objects in the world,” truck accident lawyer Ross Cellino said.

In the United States alone, more than 300,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes last year. Roughly 3,500 people died as a result of those crashes.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 97 percent of those killed in truck-car collisions were occupants in the smaller car.

When Trucks & Cars CollideStatistics also show truck accidents coincide with economic booms and busts.

“In periods of economic growth, there are more trucks on the road and we see a huge spike in crashes,” Cellino said. “Industries are still feeling the effects of the recession so there aren’t as many trucks on the road right now but that trend is beginning to change.”

Fatal crashes involving large trucks are on the uptick; increasing between 2 and 4 percent each year since 2011.

Tractor trailers often need twice the space for stopping room and blind spots are increased considerably around the truck’s side and rear. Accident attorneys tell drivers to have a heightened awareness while operating around large trucks.

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