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Columbia, Missouri Personal Injury Law Blog

FMSCA training rule took effect on June 5

Starting in February 2020, truck drivers in Missouri and around the country who apply for their CDL will have to receive training from a provider on a FMCSA-approved list. The new rule took effect on June 5, and it has a compliance window of nearly three years. Drivers will need behind-the-wheel training in addition to classroom and road time.

There is no minimum number of hours that a driver will need to spend behind the wheel to get his or her CDL. Lobbyists for the trucking industry want a one implemented, and one was included in earlier versions of the rule but omitted from the final version. To get on the national registry, a trainer will need to be certified by and meet criteria set forth by the FMCSA. Carriers that provide their own training will also need to be in compliance with the new rule by February 2020.

Trucking companies may increase testing for sleep apnea

Carriers in Missouri and other states across the nation may soon require more truck drivers to be tested for sleep apnea after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case related to the issue in April 2017. It was brought by a driver who claimed that one carrier's required testing for the medical condition violated his rights. With less fear of having to defend the decision in court following the rejection of the appeal, more companies may require sleep tests for drivers.

Although work on guidelines for testing, tracking and treating truckers for the medical condition is underway, no federal regulations are in place. Because obesity may be an indicator of sleep apnea, two Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration advisory committees have recommended required testing for drivers who have a BMI of 35 or higher.

Study shows that side underride guards could save lives

Each year, Missouri residents are seriously injured or killed in collisions with large trucks. Some of these crashes occur when people's cars go underneath the sides of the trucks, crushing the cars underneath. A study has demonstrated that the installation of side underride guards would help to prevent these often deadly accidents.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, side underride guards would provide as much protection to cars as rear underride guards do. Rear underride guards are installed on the back of the trucks to prevent cars from traveling underneath them when the cars are behind the trucks, and regulations are being considered by federal lawmakers to make them mandatory. Side underride guards are not yet being looked at, but they would potentially save many lives.

Getting a DWI in Missouri is a serious issue

You may think nothing of getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. You know you are safe to drive, but then you're stopped by law enforcement. Maybe you swerved while driving, or perhaps there is a roadblock enforcement effort underway to reduce impaired driving in the area. Suddenly, you're spending a night in jail instead of your own bed and facing a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge.

Even a first offense can cause serious legal issues for you that can spill over into your personal and professional life. You could lose your job or a college scholarship if you're convicted or plead guilty.

Home Depot facing civil suit after employee death

In late April, Home Depot's request to have an appellate court decision reconsidered was denied. The company is facing a lawsuit claiming that its negligence led to a pregnant employee's death. The woman was murdered by a supervisor at an offsite location. According to the lawsuit, the company knew that it was allowing a person with a history of harassing females to work as a supervisor.

The man who murdered the employee was sentenced in 2014 to two life terms for first-degree intentional homicide and third-degree sexual assault. The ruling by the 7th Circuit reversed a lower court decision that dismissed the case. That ruling held that Home Depot couldn't have known that the manager's verbal harassment of the victim would lead to her murder. Home Depot claimed that since the murder occurred offsite and did not involve company property, it wasn't liable under Illinois law.

Large truck accidents in Missouri

Data from 2015's Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report indicates that the number of large trucks involved in crashes has increased significantly. Nearly 3,600 large trucks, those weighing over 10,000 pounds, were involved in fatal accidents in 2015. The study, which was conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also indicates that the number of accidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled rose as well as truck occupant fatalities.

Of the 415,000 reported crashes involving large trucks, 1 percent involved a death, and about a fifth resulted in an injury of some kind. The report also shows that both the number of trucks in deadly accidents and the number of accidents per 100 million vehicle miles rose by 8 percent.

Reflecting on the dangers of distracted driving

Distracted driving is becoming more and more of a problem in Missouri and around the country. Drivers seemingly care more about their smartphones and other electronic devices than about the personal safety of their passengers or occupants of other vehicles. In fact, of all fatalities during 2015 related to human choice, distracted driving deaths increased at a rate faster than fatalities caused by drowsy or drunk driving, a lack of wearing a seat belt and speeding, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Additional research has revealed that a large majority of people agree that distracted driving poses a greater safety threat than drunk driving. An educational program held at businesses and schools is helping to teach people how to protect themselves and their loved ones by driving defensively. This involves repeatedly performing cognitive processes or tasks that require concentration, such as looking for possible threats, identifying them and figuring out a way to respond.

Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be NFL players

Studies over the past number of years have revealed a massive amount of brain injuries suffered by football players, especially those in the National Football League (NFL). By studying numerous NFL players, both living and dead, experts discovered the following terrifying statistics:

  • Nearly 80 percent of all football players (and 96 percent of NFL players) have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease found only after death.
  • Professional football players are four times more likely to have ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
  • Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, dementia and other brain disorders are common among football players.
  • Thousands of living players have traumatic brain injuries.

Head injuries have a cumulative effect, especially on children

Five ways drug crimes can ruin your college life

If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time when illegal drugs are involved, you may lose all you've worked hard to achieve in college. Whether you are caught up in a drug bust, your dorm is raided or your roommate is caught with drugs, you may be subject to arrest. A drug crime conviction will not only expose you to the possibility of expensive fines or jail, your education may also be in jeopardy.

A minor drug charge can lead to a lifetime of regrets. Don't assume that you will be deemed innocent by a judge even when it is clear to you that the charge shouldn't stick. You have far too much at stake, including the following potential consequences.

One: You may lose your federally funded financial aid and become ineligible for student loans

Cargo safety the focus of 2017 International Roadcheck

Tractor-trailer inspectors will be busy in Missouri and across the country for 72 hours beginning on June 6 during the International Roadcheck safety initiative organized by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. More than 60,000 semi-tractor trailers were inspected during the event in 2016, and CVSA says that truck drivers can expect the same sort of scrutiny this year.

The organization reports that 21.5 percent of the trucks inspected in 2016 were ordered off the road after safety issues were discovered during rigorous inspections that look at both vehicles and their drivers. Most of the trucks pulled over during the upcoming safety effort will be subjected to North American Standard Level I inspections, and CVSA announced on March 13 that inspectors this year will be paying particular attention to how well cargo has been secured. During 2016's International Roadcheck, inspectors addressed tire safety.

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