Forensic Engineering Analysis of Trucking Accidents and Regulations

Richard M. Ziernicki, Ph.D., P.E. (NAFE 308F)

This paper discusses heavy trucking accidents, their causations, applicable state and federal regulations and the newest available technology to reconstruct those accidents.

The author will explain the fundamental differences between trucking and vehicle accidents. Differences between design and performance such as braking, acceleration, and lane changing maneuvers are outlined, and their consequences are explained.

Typical trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue, defective brakes, falling cargo, lost wheels and trailers, weather and speed, U-turns, under-ride, and conspicuity are discussed.
Furthermore, specific Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) regarding allowed driving hours, drivers log-books, vehicle mechanical conditions and required inspections (brake requirements, cargo securement), and driving in severe weather, are discussed in correlation to accident causations.

Also, the newest technology in reconstructing accidents, such as high-definition 3D scanning and Google Earth 3D imagery is presented.
Finally, some practical recommendations for an investigating engineer will be outlined.

Published By

Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, December, 2012