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How Safe is That Big Rig Sharing the Road With You?

September 11, 2009

CONCORD, NH - A new analysis of federal data shows more than 28,000 motor carrier companies operating over 200,000 trucks have violated federal safety rules. Average drivers in New Hampshire are likely to find themselves sharing the road with some of these rigs, since the state's trucking companies ranked 19th in terms of violations in the nation, with 15 per 100,000 in population. In an effort to determine how many non-compliant trucks are on the road, the American Association for Justice reviewed data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Spokesman Ray De Lorenzi says the investigation found thousands of safety violations.

"Commuters are sharing roads with trucks that have defective brakes, bald tires, loads that dangerously exceed weight limits and drivers who may have little or no training."

Officer James O'Leary, with the New Hampshire Department of Safety, says one of the most important things for average drivers to remember is to always be aware of a truck driver's blind spots. If you can't see the driver's side mirrors, then he or she probably can't see you. Leaving enough space between you and the truck is crucial, says O'Leary.

"If the truck does need to respond to an emergency, and the vehicle is following too closely, then they're going to be joining into a collision with that vehicle. They really need to give the trucker a lot of space."

De Lorenzi says most Americans don't realize that while trucks make up a small percentage of the vehicles on the road, they do make up a larger percentage of the actual accidents and deaths that occur. The trucking industry says the data do not accurately reflect current vehicle safety because much of it is more than 20 years old, and many companies faulted are no longer in business. Trucking groups also complain many accidents are the fault of average drivers, not professional truckers.

A full listing of all companies in violation of federal safety requirements by state is available at www.justice.org/trucksafetyviolations.



Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH