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Recession hits trucking industry hard

As an Atlanta trial lawyer who does a lot of work in truck and bus accident cases, I am acutely aware of the symbiotic relationship between consumers, retailers, manufacturers, transportation, insurance, and the legal profession. We are all linked together.

Few sectors of the economy are as economically sensitive as freight transportation. And we certainly see it in the current deep recession, as economic downturn has brought a sharp decline in discretionary consumer spending, which is deeply cuts the amount of merchandise shipped to retailers, cutting in turn the demand for shipping.

The U.S. DOT estimates the amount of freight shipped in the U.S. dropped 4.3 percent in August and September.

An investment banking firm recently reported that 127,000 trucks, or 6.5 percent of the country’s fleet, have been idled.

Some 2,609 trucking firms with five or more rigs have failed this year.

YRC Worldwide, the corporation that owns Raodway and Yellow Freight, reports a 10% decline in revenue and has cut 6% of its workforce.

The good news is that less truck traffic should result in fewer injuries and deaths due to truck accidents. The bad news is that when trucking companies are hard pressed economically, they may be more inclined to cut corners on maintenance and safety management, and truck drivers may be more inclined to ignore hours of service and other safety rules.

Ken Shigley is a trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia who has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is a frequent national seminar speaker for the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he was a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program.