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Britton Law Blog

FMCSA proposes sleep apnea test for commercial truck drivers

Thousands of road users are seriously injured or killed each year in North Carolina and around the country in traffic accidents caused by fatigued motorists. This type of crash can be particularly dangerous when the tired driver is behind the wheel of a semi-tractor trailer. This is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a rule that would require commercial truck drivers to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea.

Earlier this year, the public was invited to submit comments about the proposed regulation. Many of the 593 responses received focused on the cost of taking an obstructive sleep apnea test. Some respondents said that sleep apnea tests are notoriously difficult to pass and requiring truck drivers to take them would do little to make the nation's roads safer. Others accepted that the tests could improve road safety but were concerned about truck drivers being forced to pay for testing out of their own pockets.

Motorcyclist killed after being rear-ended by pickup truck

North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers were called to the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash at around 12:20 p.m. on Sept. 11. The accident happened along Highway 68 in Oak Ridge near the Historic Old Mill. According to reports, the driver of a pickup truck rear-ended a motorcycle, killing the motorcycle driver and injuring the motorcycle passenger.

Shortly before the accident occurred, a 2002 GMC truck and a Harley Davidson motorcycle were both going south. When the 44-year-old motorcycle driver stopped to turn left onto Old Mill, the 21-year-old driver of the pickup truck failed to slow down and collided with the motorcycle. The driver died and the passenger was treated for serious injuries at Moses Cone Hospital. The pickup truck driver was uninjured.

Benefits and drawbacks of owning a franchise

Many people in North Carolina dream of opening their own business, and buying a franchise can be one way of making that dream a reality. Because a franchise comes with a recognizable brand and an established system for doing business, buying a franchise can streamline the process of opening a restaurant, retail store, car repair shop or other business. However, there are also some downsides that are important to keep in mind.

In exchange for the rights to use a company's name, trademarks, suppliers, operating manual and technical assistance, a franchise owner must be willing to relinquish a lot of control to the franchisor. For example, a franchisor may have to pre-approve the business location before a new store can be opened. The design of the store, the types of goods that can be sold and the operating hours may also be restricted by the franchisor.

Brake Safety Week turns focus to commercial vehicle safety

Motorists who may be concerned about the safety of the commercial vehicles with which they share roadways in North Carolina and around the country may be interested in knowing more about Brake Safety Week, which runs annually each September. The 2016 dates for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's Operation Airbrake program held in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are Sept. 11-17.

This national outreach and enforcement campaign is designed to improve commercial vehicle brake safety throughout North America. Because the brakes of commercial vehicles require routine inspection and consistent maintenance in order to help ensure proper performance and operation, most inspections that occur during this time are full Level 1 inspections. Commercial vehicles are checked for defective and out-of-adjustment brakes as well as for brake and anti-lock braking system violations, and some vehicles may be placed out of service.

Steps in selling a business

North Carolina business owners may come to a point when they want to sell their company. There are a number of factors to consider when selling a business, and it is important to do so when it and the economy are doing well rather than when either are struggling. The process quite a bit of time, so owners should plan ahead for it.

The first step is to get an accurate value for the business. Owners have a tendency to overvalue their companies because they are thinking about the amount of work they put into it. A better choice is to bring in a business appraiser who can be helpful in valuing intangibles such as goodwill. It will then be necessary to find a buyer. Local business owners, regional owners and national businesses might all be potential buyers. There are also professionals such as business brokers who can help find a buyer.

Feds deny request to rescind truck driver break rule

Truck drivers in North Carolina and across the U.S. are still required to take a 30-minute break during their shift, according to a decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The decision, which was announced in August, came in response to a petition by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance seeking to rescind the breaks.

Truck drivers have been required to take a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shifts since July 1, 2013. However, the CVSA filed a petition in 2015 seeking to have the regulation overturned. The group, which represents North American bus and truck inspectors, claimed the rule is difficult to enforce, easy to falsify in duty logs and does little to promote highway safety.

Pros and cons of selling with Amazon FBA

Many entrepreneurs in North Carolina are building e-commerce businesses using the Fulfillment by Amazon model. Amazon FBA allows small business owners to ship their products to Amazon warehouses and let Amazon handle the picking, packing and shipping of the products. If customers have a problem or need to return an item, Amazon takes care of the customer support.

There are some obvious benefits to using Amazon FBA such as the elimination of product storage. With the boundless storage capacity in Amazon's warehouses, business owners who use the FBA service can scale up their inventory numbers and easily grow their businesses. In addition to more space, business owners that use Amazon FBA also have more time. While Amazon handles the customer service and shipping, a business owner can have more time to work on higher-level tasks like marketing and product development.

Traffic fatalities increase in 2015

Drivers in North Carolina and throughout the country may have been on the road more in 2015 than in previous years, and experts say this might account for the increase in traffic-related fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, deaths related to motor vehicle accidents jumped more than 7 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year with a total of 35,092 fatalities. It has been 50 years since such a large rise happened in just one year.

While 10 years ago the actual number of people killed was higher, experts say that seat belt compliance and improved safety technology are among the factors that have reduced deaths. In 2015, the number of vehicle miles traveled was the highest for more than two decades due to more jobs and cheaper fuel, and this may be the reason for more fatalities.

Family of gun instructor killed by student sues gun range

North Carolina residents might have heard about the fatal accident that occurred at an Arizona shooting range a couple years ago. In August 2014, a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot a gun instructor who was teaching her how to use a mini Uzi 9mm. Now, the family of the 39-year-old deceased gun instructor is saying that the girl should have never been allowed to operate the gun in the first place.

The family of the deceased man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the gun range that employed the instructor. An attorney representing the family said that the gun range's policy of allowing children to operate machine guns was fundamentally unsafe. In addition to the wrongful death lawsuit, the family has been petitioning to stop gun ranges from giving assault weapons to anyone under the age of 15.

Why earn-outs don't work out for sellers

In an effort to get the highest price while selling their business, North Carolina owners may be tempted to accept an earn-out. An earn-out is a deal where a business is acquired for a cash amount plus more money if the newly-acquired company reaches financial goals in a certain period of time.

While an earn-out may sound good to people who are struggling to sell their business, this type of arrangement is usually much better for the buyer than it is for the seller. That is because the money that is promised for goals reached in an earn-out hardly ever materializes. A newly-acquired company that agrees to an earn-out usually does not reach its financial goals, and the earn-out money can be highly illusory.

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