Question: Do the same rules of the road apply for trucks that apply to buses?
Shannon: For the most part, they do as they apply to the drivers of passenger vehicles. However, you know, more than anything that is important for the drivers of all commercial vehicles to really understand and appreciate the significance of the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regulations.
Question: What information can be obtained from a truck’s black box?
Shannon: When you say the black box, it’s a term of art that’s used, but they do have devices within trucks which show the last several seconds. They are not enough, but they do provide certain information. Usually, you can get speed, brakes — the main things — the speed of the truck and if the brakes were applied. We had a case at Clifford Law Offices where a driver had said he had slowed down before the occurrence, and it really wasn’t true because we got the last 10-15 seconds before the crash took place. Usually they are not activated unless they’re in an accident. There have been advances lately where some truck companies are monitoring via satellite each of their trucks and they can get that information. There is more and more information you can get these days on truck accidents that wasn’t present 10 years ago. Question: If I’m injured in an accident involving a truck, who would be sued Shannon?
Shannon: There would be a variety of entities or individuals that would be potentially sued. The driver, but most often it’s the owner and operator of the tractor, the owner and operator of the trailer, not necessarily the same person or entity. It could be an entity that retained the driver to transport goods or services on his or her behalf. So there is a variety of individuals and entities and again, the sooner you retain counsel, the sooner you can become educated on who may be responsible for any negligence that caused the crash.
Question: Are commercial vehicles ever inspected for safety hazards while they are on the road in Illinois?
Shannon: Yes. The drivers themselves are required to perform inspections initially every 50 miles, then every 150 miles, and as well in Illinois and many other states, the state police have the obligation to inspect the vehicles at weigh stations, and in other instances where police officers are required to pull the vehicle over.
Shannon McNulty of the Clifford Law Offices speaks about the many areas of transportation liability law involving trucks, railroads, tractor trailers, motorcycles and helicopters. She comes to Clifford Law Offices with a wealth of professional experience, including having worked for 10 years with the administration of the Chicago Police Department. Shannon is a part of the legal team that handles cases involving the roll-overs of a number of sport utility vehicles, known as SUVs that have resulted in the death or serious injuries of their occupants, and she also has been involved in the trial and small plane crash cases in the Chicagoland area.