Wednesday, January 27, 2016

FedEx Safety Manager Admits 40 to 50 Percent of FedEx Crashes Causing Injury or Death Are Preventable

By Mark Caruso, Attorney

FedEx Ground Manager of Safety Programs and Response Michael Sear recently admitted under oath that about 40% to 50% of all FedEx Ground semi truck accidents causing injury or death are preventable.  Sear made the statement in a sworn deposition in Albuquerque on September 24, 2015.

Sear was asked the following question:

"Can you tell me, based on your knowledge of the preventability work that you do, approximately how many or what percentage of FedEx Ground accidents involving injuries or fatalities are classified as preventable?"

Sear responded as follows:

"I would guess that the last that was looked at, and this is a guess, between 40 to 50 percent."

FedEx Ground has 8,000 semi-trucks traveling our nation's roads.

Crash records kept by FedEx Ground show that there were 878 semi-truck crashes causing injury or death over a three year period from 2008 to 2011.

That means that about 440 semi truck crashes were preventable but could have been easily avoided had the FedEx Ground driver taken steps to reduce risk. In these specific crashes the FedEx driver failed to meet the higher standard of performance required of tractor trailer drivers.

What is a preventable semi-truck  crash?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), Appendix A to Part 385 defines truck crash preventability as follows:  "If a driver who exercises normal judgment and foresight, could have foreseen the possibility of the accident that in fact occurred and avoided it by taking steps within his/her control which would not have risked causing another kind of mishap, the accident was preventable"

The American Trucking Association's Guidelines for Determining Preventability of Accidents defines preventability as follows:  "The concept of preventability is based on the premise that a professional driver is expected to meet a higher standard of performance than the average motorist.  It is self-evident that the professional driver should be able to observe and assess the behavior of pedestrians and other drivers and recognize those actions which may create hazardous conditions and take every reasonable measure to avoid involvement in an accident."

What must FedEx do to reduce preventable semi-truck crashes?

According to nationally known truck industry safety expert Lew Grille, FedEx does no training of their drivers after they are hired, and this contributes to increased preventable semi truck crashes.

 FedEx managers have themselves stated that they do not provide any training to their semi truck drivers. The do not train their drivers in the industry approved Smith System of commercial driving. They do not offer fatigue training, night time driving training or any continuing truck driver training. They only certify that their drivers have a Commercial Driver's License.

FedEx failure to provide fatigue training or night time training to their semi truck drivers resulted in the death of at least 3 people in New Mexico in 2011 alone.

Two members of the Morga family were killed and one severely injured in a 2011 crash on Interstate 10.  The FedEx Ground semi truck driven by Elizabeth Quintana crashed into the rear end of the Morga vehicle. A Santa Fe, New Mexico jury awarded $165.5 million to the Morga family.

Martin Leon was killed in a 2011 crash on Interstate 40.  He was a FedEx co-driver who was asleep in the sleeper of the tractor when his co-driver Fderico Martinez-Leandro crashed into the rear end of another vehicle.   Martinez-Leandro was cited by authorities for his improper driving. A lawsuit filed by the family of Martin Leon has been filed against FedEx and Martinez-Leandro and is pending in US District Court for New Mexico.

Attorney Mark Caruso has been directly involved in the litigation of both cases. For further information about Mark Caruso see or or 505-883-5000


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Truckers Often Drive At Speeds Their Tires Can't Handle

By Mark J. Caruso, Attorney

When was the last time that you were driving 70 mph on a New Mexico highway and were passed by a tractor trailer  going 75-85 mph?   The windblast of the tractor trailer may have  blown your car a little off course as it passed by.   It's probably happened more frequently than you want.

Beyond the obvious dangers of the semi truck moving at that high speed, there are hidden dangers as well from the  truck's tires on its tractor and trailer.   Most of the  commercial truck tires installed on semi trucks are designed for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph.


Pushing a commercial truck tire above its rated speed is a recipe for disaster.  The constant heat generated from the friction of the tire on the asphalt or cement can cause the tire to break down and fail.  With long hours of travel on the road, it doesn't take long for the commercial truck tire to  heat up and create a dangerous situation .

You have probably seen the remnants of truck tires littering our state's roads.

Excessive speed has been linked to many truck tire blow outs and crashes causing severe injury and death.

According to trucking data maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2009 and 2013 there were over 14,000 crashes in the United States involving heavy commercial trucks.  These crashes resulted in  16,000 deaths.  Tractor trailer tire failure was a reported factor in almost 200 of those crashes.

The trucking industry has argued that tire blowouts are caused by tire manufacturing problems, citing a high volume of instances with certain tire brand models.  However, investigations performed by NHTSA rejected such allegations.  It concluded that the most likely cause in each instance was "driver error"--that is, semi truck truck drivers pushing the truck and trailer tires beyond their speed ratings.

The trucking industry has also argued that the problem is not "driver error" because states have high speed limits. It is true that 14 states (including New Mexico) currently have highway speed limits of 75 mph or higher.  However,  just because state law permits travel at a specific speed does not mean that it is safe for semi truck drivers to travel at this speed. 

A responsible tractor trailer driver is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations(FMCSR) to know the limits of his/her equipment and is always required to take safety into consideration in operating the tractor trailer.  Further, the FMCSR requires the tractor trailer driver to regularly maintain his/her tractor and trailer, and this includes close inspection of all tires on a regular basis. The driver must check all 18 tires of the 18 wheeler.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an crash with a tractor trailer, semi truck or other commercial vehicle, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney specifically knowledgeable about the handling of complicated truck accidents. Please contact NM Truck Accident Attorneys at 505-883-5000 for a free consultation. Also, see or