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Two recent trucking accidents in Virginia raised important safety concerns about the driving history of some of the drivers of large commercial motor vehicles. A recent investigation uncovered that two recent Virginia crashes involving tractor-trailers loaded with animals occurred in cases where the drivers had lengthy records of earlier driving infractions, raising questions about why the men were ever left in charge of driving such large and dangerous vehicles in the first place.

Just last month, a truck fully loaded with pigs crashed on U.S. 258 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Several of the pigs were thrown from the truck during the accident and a total of 55 ended up dying at the scene of the accident. A subsequent investigation into the matter by officials with PETA revealed that the driver of the truck had previously been charged in more than 15 traffic offenses in North Carolina. The offenses were serious and they included one incident of reckless driving, five separate violations for speeding and another for attempting to evade federal safety regulations.

In yet another recent tractor-trailer accident in Virginia, this time in Henry County, a tractor-trailer carrying 1,000 turkeys crashed last month and led to the deaths of hundreds of birds. PETA discovered that in the Henry County case, the truck driver also had a scary motor vehicle history, with previous convictions for DWI and driving with a revoked license. Even more alarming was that the man had previously been charged with a felony for manufacturing a controlled substance. The Henry County crash added yet another charge to his driving record, this time police say they charged the man with failing to maintain control of his vehicle.

Though neither accident injured any innocent motorists, hundreds of animals died due to the carelessness of the truck drivers. Besides the dangers these drivers pose to animals, when meat companies and other commercial industries knowingly put dangerous drivers behind the wheel they also place humans who happen to be on the road at great risk.

Nationwide, there was a 1.9 percent increase in the number of people killed in crashes involving large trucks from 2010 to 2011, the most recent year of data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The issue of commercial driving safety is a serious one and so is the need for state authorities to regularly and judiciously enforce commercial vehicle safety regulations. It’s troubling to see the disregard some employers have for the safety records of the drivers they have out on the road.

About the Editors: The attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton & Favaloro, a personal injury law firm with offices in Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC) and Massachusetts (MA), are responsible for editing the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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