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A Universe of Crash & Liability Risk Factors Face Work Fleets

TASA ID: 9075

If you are the owner or operator of a motor transport or other work vehicle fleet, you have probably gotten that phone call from one of your drivers.  The driver calls in to report their involvement in an on-job traffic crash.  The ensuring Q&A sequence is predictable.  You’ll first ask about location and severity.  Are you okay?  What about the other vehicle and its occupants?  Is the crash scene now secure?  Should the company send someone to the scene?

For severe crashes, that may be the gist of the initial conversation.  First things first.  But the topic of causation will always follow.  How did the crash happen?  Who was at-fault?  Any laws broken?  Are we potentially liable?  As a manager, you will ask yourself whether the crash was preventable (i.e., your driver could be blamed), what were their critical errors, and whether you should impose consequences.  For many work vehicle crashes, this sequence constitutes most of the depth and breadth of managers’ investigations of their fleet crashes.

Worker Fatigue and Vehicle Crashes in the Oil/Gas Industry

TASA ID: 9075

An oilfield services company in South Texas employed just one mechanic to maintain its entire vehicle fleet, which included tractor-semitrailers, pickup trucks, and other work vehicles.  We will call him Mr. Alvarez, not his real name.  Mr. Alvarez worked 78-hour weeks, on average.  A typical workweek might include six 11-hour days plus being called in about twice a week for nighttime repairs, often at remote locations.  One evening he got home to his family at 8:00 pm following a two-day period in which he worked 19 hours straight followed by six overnight hours off, and then followed by another 12+-hour day.  That is 30+ hours of work in just over 36 hours.  Mr. Alvarez was a family man who liked to barbecue for his wife, autistic son, and other close family in his back yard.  He was finishing a barbecue dinner when he received a call from his supervisor to report to work.  Upon arriving there, he loaded a truck tire onto his company pickup and began a nearly two-hour drive to a remote site for a tire change.  He left the company’s gate at 12:10 am and drove at 75 mph on a state highway for about 30 minutes before striking the rear of another oil company’s tractor-semitrailer at full speed.  There was no evidence of braking or significant corrective steering prior to impact.  Mr. Alvarez was dead at the scene.

Uptrend of Nuclear Verdicts in the Trucking Industry

Written by Evidence Solutions Inc. (ESI)

TASA ID:

According to a report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), "Nuclear Verdicts" (defined as awards exceeding 10 million dollars) have been on a sharp rise over the last ten plus years. Not only have the number of these verdicts increased, the average award per case has also been skyrocketing. 

There are several hypotheses surrounding the reason behind this dramatic increase. Some have posited that the rise in medical costs necessitates these higher dollar awards, while others claim these increases have happened independent of other financial factors. The ATRI ranked this subject as one of its top research priorities back in 2019. They dove into the issue by looking at hundreds of cases from 2006 to 2019 within the newly created trucking litigation database. They looked at the growth of awards on average, and then did a statistical analysis in which they controlled for the other factors known to influence settlement size.

Which Five Factors Affects Driver Fatigue & Alertness The Least?

TASA ID: 9075

Here’s a quiz with just one question:  Which of the five factors affects driver fatigue (i.e., drowsiness) and alertness the least?  

A. Individual differences in susceptibility to drowsiness
B. Amount of prior sleep
C. Time-of-day
D. Prior continuous time awake
E. Prior continuous time driving

The Thunder Rolls and Flights Delay

Why Thunderstorms Affect Air Travel

TASA ID: 9740

Approaching the Topic

It is eleven o’clock in the evening as a regional jet makes its approach to the runway at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The 65-seat jet is just one of many planes in sequence to land. Suddenly, a call is heard over the radio as a Boeing 747 cargo plane aborts its approach to land and climbs to safety. A shift in wind has prevented the large jet from landing and has forced its crew to circle back for another try.

Meanwhile, the regional jet is beginning to rock aggressively, as it enters that same area of turbulence and windshear (rapidly changing wind speed and/or direction), which extends all the way to the runway. The small craft is thrown about as the pilots are forced to turn off the autopilot and fly the plane by hand.
After several minutes, the plane lands, just as another small jet (further back in line) gives up and climbs away. Within minutes, the airport is overtaken by an approaching thunderstorm, with alarms sounding and staff quickly moving passengers into tornado shelters. Eventually, the all clear is given and activities resume.

While the night eventually ended without incident or injury, it stands as a reminder of the power of thunderstorms and the threat they pose to humans on the ground and in the air.


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