A.W. Trucking and Jet Maintenance may be rethinking how it hires and manages its drivers after the company agreed to pay $9.5 million to settle a case with two families that were injured in an accident caused by one of its drivers.
The accident occurred when the truck driver, who was travelling close to 70 miles per hour, rear-ended another vehicle at U.S. 59 and Upper Mission Valley Road in Victoria, Texas. Another vehicle was also hit. Court documents show that the driver, who had multiple prior DWI convictions, had worked almost 100 hours in the 8 days leading up to the accident. And a blood test performed three hours after the accident showed that he still had alcohol in his system.
The driver of the vehicle that was rear-ended suffered back and head injuries and has undergone numerous surgeries. The third vehicle involved in the accident carried a family, including children. The passengers of both vehicles will be compensated with the settlement money.
This case alone points out several disturbing issues that may be plaguing the trucking industry including incomplete background checks, loopholes around keeping driving logs, and lack of state oversight of commercial driver licenses. The trucking company apparently ran a background check on the driver before hiring him, but his DWI convictions did not appear on the report. This was all the more troublesome, considering that he maintained his commercial driver’s license, even after five DWI convictions.
According to the US Department of Transportation, about 500,000 trucking accidents occur every year in the United States. Approximately 5,000 of those accidents involve a fatality.