Less Than Truckload (LTL) Trucking Investigations - Expert Article

A large segment of the truck driving population is composed of drivers who work locally and are home most nights. In this article, commercial trucking expert Jeff Boesger explores the unique challenges that LTL delivery drivers regularly face.

LTL truck companies often employ drivers with diverse experiences and abilities, including over-the-road drivers, regional drivers, shuttle drivers, and local drivers. LTL, (Less than Truckload) drivers make multiple small deliveries and freight pickups within a local area. Because of the multi-stop nature of their deliveries, these drivers (especially if untrained or inexperienced) are at risk for vehicle accidents: injuries from unloading/loading and moving product from truck to truck; slips, trips, or falls in the ordinary course of work; and being struck by equipment while working in various shipping and receiving locations.

Less Than Truckload (LTL) Trucking Investigations - Expert Article

One of the first challenges an LTL driver faces is the pick-up/delivery location. These vary widely and can be challenging for the driver to get into and out of safely. From manufacturing and warehousing facilities to residential locations and everything in between, the driver has to figure out how and where to go. A careless dispatcher may route a 13 foot tall truck on a road with an 11 foot bridge, or send an 80k lb truck on a road with a 30k lb bridge limit. Looking for streets, addresses, GPS, and other information is distracting and takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. This can lead to missing important information such as stop signs, traffic lights, and stopped traffic, leading to accidents.

Once the driver has reached their destination, they have to determine the best place to park. Sometimes delivery parking is provided, but parking on the street to make the delivery may be the only option if the location can’t accommodate a tractor-trailer. In such cases, it is important for a driver to take measures to make passing motorists aware of the stopped truck and of the work happening in the area. Failure to do so can result in pedestrian and motorist injuries.

After the driver is parked safely, they can begin loading or unloading, a process governed by OSHA. Some facilities do a great job informing the driver about safety procedures on their property and may restrict the driver’s involvement in the delivery process. Other facilities rely on the driver to load/unload with minimal input, a practice that can put the driver in danger of being injured. The places where truckers pick up and deliver freight have a duty to provide a safe workplace for “business invitees.” The trucker’s employer has no control over these locations. Being struck by equipment, strains, and slips, trips and falls are leading causes of injuries during delivery.

In most cases, load securement is the responsibility of the driver and his Motor Carrier employer. However, if a Shipper loads a trailer and seals the trailer, the Shipper becomes responsible for load securement. Typically, the driver is present while the truck is being loaded and has the ability to dictate how and where product will be placed in the trailer. It is imperative that drivers are well trained and versed in load securement and weight distribution, given the wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types of product on the trailer at any given time and the variety of securement devices that may be required. This includes load bars, straps, chains, blocking, and dunnage material, as well as placement of product on the trailer to ensure it is secured per FMCSR regulations.

LTL Trucking Incident Investigations

LTL drivers complete this delivery process many times a day, every day, sometimes up to twenty stops a day. They often face different hazards each step of the way. While there are regulations and standards of care that exist to prevent injuries and mishaps in the course of a driver’s work cycle, the driver does not have control over every environment they encounter, accidents still occur. The commercial trucking experts at Robson Forensic have decades of diverse experience in the trucking industry and are well qualified to assess the details of delivery truck related incidents.

For more information or to discuss the details of your case, please contact the Trucking Operations practice group or submit an inquiry.