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Deadly Georgia Crash Shines Light on Poor Trucking Safety Records

Recently, in the early hours of a Wednesday morning, five nursing students from Georgia Southern University driving on I-16 to their clinical at St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital were killed in a seven-vehicle crash. Two other students were injured and were hospitalized. The crash occurred about 20 miles outside of Savannah in Bryan County, and involved two tractor-trailers and five passenger vehicles. Four of the students died at the scene, and the fifth passed away after being taken to the hospital. Authorities believe that one of the tractor-trailers crashed into an SUV, and then it rolled over a smaller passenger vehicle that burst into flames. The tractor-trailer then stopped after crashing into the back of a tanker vehicle.

Georgia State Patrol Captain Mark Perry said “the tractor-trailer, it was obvious that he initiated the crash by hitting this vehicle in the rear and setting off a chain reaction of multiple vehicles.” The driver of the truck, John Wayne Johnson, is employed by Total Transportation of Mississippi. Investigators say that probable cause to suspect he was under the influence did not exist. Investigators will look into Johnson’s background to determine what kind of driver he is. Total Transportation is a large cargo carrier with approximately 740 trucks and employs 900 drivers. This deadly crash has shined light on Total Transportation’s terrible federal safety record. The company has a poor reputation for safety on the highway.

Total Transportation’s Safety Record

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s records report that Total Transportation drivers as a whole have 266 unsafe driving violations in the last two years. In that time, the company’s drivers were cited 5 times for failure to keep a safe following distance, 9 times for using a cell phone while driving, 45 times for ignoring traffic signals and signs, and 107 times for speeding. That is not the extent of the company’s traffic safety violations. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveals that Total Transportation has been involved in 85 other collisions, and its collection of trucks has received over 500 maintenance violation citations. These numbers only represent the instances that the company and its drivers were caught violating traffic safety laws; there could be countless other instances involving speeding, distracted driving, poor maintenance, etc.

One way that the Department of Transportation is able to track the safety record of trucking companies is via inspections done at weigh stations on interstate highways. Trucks are weighed by motion sensor, and are randomly selected for safety inspection, even if they weigh in under the 80,000 pound limit. State troopers check for mechanical violations and check drivers’ logs, qualifications, and vehicle inspection record. A driver’s log book records the number of hours the truck driver has driven, and most companies do not allow drivers to be on the road for more than 11 hours in one day. Investigators can refer to a driver’s log when investigating collisions. Georgia State Patrol focuses their random inspections on those counties with the highest record of accidents involving trucks. For the metro Atlanta area, those counties include Fulton, DeKalb, and Douglas.

Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyers Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.

If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident, the attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. are here to help. Our experienced attorneys are committed to help you understand your rights and obligations. We are dedicated to providing our clients with personalized attention, and will ensure you are fully involved and informed at each stage of your case.