Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tanker Spill Caused by Failure to Yield

Hazmat was called to the scene of an early morning crash on Tuesday near Temple, Texas, when two semis collided. A diesel fuel truck was headed southbound on Highway 317 when the driver attempted to turn left, directly into the path of an gravel truck. The 18-wheelers collided side-by-side, avoiding a more dangerous head-on collision. Diesel spilled from the tanker into a ditch, requiring the Hazmat cleanup. The driver of the gravel truck was taken to the hospital by ambulance with non-life-threatening injuries. For more details, click here.

Truck wrecks and major motor vehicle collisions are a very real and present danger to the traveling public. Postings on this blog serve only to increase awareness and promote support for safer roadways and stronger enforcement of rules that govern motor carriers and drivers. By referencing these events on this blog, the Law Office of Richard G. Danner, Jr. does not claim or imply any representation or attorney-client relationship with any of the parties involved.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Leon County Driver Killed in Collision with 18-Wheeler

According to local news reports, a retired rancher was killed Sunday in Leon County, Texas, when an 18-wheeler attempted to pass his pickup truck which had stopped to make a left turn. Instead, the 18-wheeler collided with the pickup. Both the 18-wheeler and the pickup ended up in a ditch. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured. For the complete story, click here.

Truck wrecks and major motor vehicle collisions are a very real and present danger to the traveling public. Postings on this blog serve only to increase awareness and promote support for safer roadways and stronger enforcement of rules that govern motor carriers and drivers. By referencing these events on this blog, the Law Office of Richard G. Danner, Jr. does not claim or imply any representation or attorney-client relationship with any of the parties involved.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

CSA 2010: New Efforts to Make the Trucking Industry Safer for America's Highways

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ambitious and absolutely necessary initiative to “ultimately reduce commercial motor vehicle (CMV)-related crashes, injuries and fatalities” is halfway through its premier year. Nine states are already trying out the new program, called CSA 2010, with additional states joining in this month.

Elimination of SafeStat System
By the end of the year, the old SafeStat carrier safety record system will be replaced by the new Safety Measurement System (CSMS), which will be available to the public this fall/winter.

Uniform Safety System
CSA 2010 aims to bring efficiency to a regulatory system that has struggled to incorporate different methods from 50 states. With the plan, each state will implement the same measurements for trucking company and driver history. This uniformity will make it easier for the FMCSA to identify dangerous operators and drivers.

Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs)
Under the new Safety Management System (SMS), drivers and carriers will be scored in seven areas:
  1. unsafe driving FMCSR Parts 392 and 397
  2. fatigued driving FMCSR Parts 392 and 395
  3. driver fitness FMCSR Parts 383 and 391
  4. controlled substances/alcohol FMCSR Parts 382 and 392
  5. vehicle maintenance FMCSR Parts 393 and 396
  6. cargo-related FMCSR Parts 392, 393, 397 and HM Violations
  7. crash indicator

According to the CSA 2010 website, a carrier’s measurement for each BASIC depends on:

  • The number of adverse safety events (violations related to that BASIC or crashes).
  • The severity of violations or crashes.
  • When the adverse safety events occurred (more recent events are weighted more heavily).

After a measurement is determined, the carrier is then placed in a peer group (e.g., other carriers with similar numbers of inspections). Percentiles from 0 to 100 are then determined by comparing the BASIC measurements of the carrier to the measurements of other carriers in the peer group. 100 indicates the worst
performance.

Trucking Industry Reaction
The American Trucking Association has concerns
over the new system, which is being carefully tweaked as it is rolled out. The ATA’s primary concerns are with collision causation documentation, replacing reliance on number of power units with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for carrier exposure measurements, and use of actual citations for moving violations instead of “warnings.” At first glance, the ATA appears to be protecting industry earnings more than the public. It will be interesting to see if and how the FMCSA incorporates its suggestions.

Need for Focus on Safety
As a consumer advocate, I hope all the parties involved remain focused on a goal of safety and not profits. If we keep looking at dollars made and not at damages left in the wake of bad trucking companies, then we can forget safe highways.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DMN Shines Light on Insurance Companies

The Dallas Morning News has a good investigative piece on Loya Insurance and Old American County Mutual. DMN took a look at the Texas Department of Insurance complaint lists, where many legitimate claims are often ignored. Here's a glimpse at what they found:
"An analysis of the Insurance Department figures by The Dallas Morning News showed that 10 of the 25 largest auto insurers in the state — those with more than 100,000 policies — had worse-than-average customer service records."

For the complete article, click here.

Sad but true, the complaints of the individuals mentioned in the article are all too familiar for many Texans.

As you enter the summer vacation season, protect your own interests by reviewing your own insurance policy for changes and to ensure adequate coverage, make sure you've made any necessary adjustments before you hit the road. Also, keep a camera in your car (unless you carry a camera phone) so that you can take your own photos if you happen to end up in a fender bender. For more tips on safe travel, visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Association website.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Over the Top Overdraft Fees

As if banks weren’t in enough trouble already, now more than one is being sued for over-penalizing account holders with excessive overdraft fees.

According to Law.com, a suit filed by Georgia resident Ken Vollmer claims Wachovia “posted charges to consumer accounts in such a way as to maximize overdraft fees, even at times when the actual funds in the account are sufficient to cover the transaction.”
There are similar bad-faith bank fee suits pending in federal courts across the country, not only against Wachovia but also against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which took over Wachovia last October. Those suits accuse the banks of deceptive practices intended to maximize bank profits at the expense of their customers and challenge bank policies governing the assessment of overdraft fees.
No one is denying banks their right to charge overdraft fees. It’s the method in which they post drafts and deposits that is being questioned. If banks rearrange postings, as court documents claim they are doing, to post larger amounts first this may be considered to be deceptive and in violation of states’ fair business practices laws.

What can you do? Keep tabs on your account and watch for questionable charges. You can learn more about how overdraft charges work and what you can do to minimize them at the Federal Reserve website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chinese Drywall: Something Smells Rotten

Plagued by complaints from homeowners about unusual sulfur odors coming from new drywall, the Florida Department of Health commissioned Unified Engineering to perform a study of drywall, comparing three Chinese-made samples to American brand National Gypsum Co.’s GridMarx brand. Results were released this week.

"There is a distinct difference in drywall that was manufactured in the United States and those that were manufactured in China,” said Lori Streit, a principal scientist with Unified, in a letter. “The Chinese samples contained traces of strontium sulfide inclusions and more organic material than the GridMarx sample ( United States ). However, it is not yet known if either contributed to the odor.”

State releases findings of drywall investigation Jacksonville Business Journal 3/23/09

The Chinese drywall is extremely toxic and corrosive as evidenced by the fact it corroded copper and electrical wiring within a relatively short time after installation. (See CNN video here.) Required removal and repair is extensive and expensive. Some consumers have also experienced headaches, sore throats and other health problems. As a result of complaints, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating the complaints.

According to an article in Time, imports of Chinese drywall increased dramatically in 2006. Why? Because as they have done with other products previously investigated for inferior quality and outright danger to users, the Chinese obtain a competitive price advantage over the products of National Gypsum and other U. S. manufacturers, by cutting quality and safety. The U. S. homeowner and manufacturer each lose, because of a poor quality foreign product that is not subject to U. S. regulation.

More than 550 million tons of the defective drywall were shipped and used to build more than 60,000 homes in more than a dozen states. Texas is one of them.

Currently, class action suits have been filed in Florida as well as Alabama and Louisiana. If your relatively new home is under siege from toxic fumes, consider the source. And, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights as a homeowner.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dallas Morning News Endorsements, Pt. 1

Just a few years ago, if you went to the Dallas Morning News (DMN) to read the political endorsements you’d see nothing but Republicans. Today, the DMN is reflecting the changes in Dallas County voting. Here’s a brief review of the first round of endorsements:

Criminal District Court No. 2 – Don Adams “has won praise from both sides of the courtroom and has significantly lowered his court's cost-per-disposition ratio by handling more pleas and jury trials.”

Criminal District Court No.3 - Gracie Lewis “A broader, more thoughtful perspective helps make Judge Lewis the better choice.”

Criminal District Court No. 4 – Judge John Creuzot “He is a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat-again…Regardless of what letter is next to his name, Judge Creuzot's performance merits his re-election.”

Civil District Court No. 14 – Eric Moy√© “He has experience that the younger Republican can't match.”

Civil District Court. No. 95 – Ken Molberg “We questioned him closely, and his answers satisfied us that Mr. Molberg can become the latest example of a North Texas judge to make the transition from political warfare to effective and impartial judicial leadership.”

Civil District Court No. 162 – Judge Lorraine Raggio “Judge Raggio is fair and thorough, and she should be returned to the bench.’’

It’s not surprising to see that the DMN endorses these strong candidates who all happen to be Democrats. It is, however, more surprising to see that the paper stepped out of a comfort zone to recommend a John Ames for Tax-Assessor Collector over longtime seat-holder David Childs. Problems and lack of progress in the Childs administration led the DMN to say, “We expect that Mr. Ames will build on what good work Dr. Childs has done and make the county office even better.”

In the coming weeks it will be interesting to see how the news rates other candidates. While I’m pleased to see so many Democrats earning the paper’s praise, as an attorney I want to make sure that we are assured of the most qualified, most impartial judges – regardless of party.

For more information on the candidates and to read their responses to the DMN questionnaire, go here.