Trucking regulations are in place to protect truck drivers, passenger car drivers, and pedestrians alike. Truck drivers are obligated to follow the law set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). If a commercial truck driver fails to follow regulations and this results in an accident, the consequences could be devastating to smaller cars and pedestrians. Truck accidents can often lead to catastrophic injury or wrongful death.If you’ve been injured by a commercial truck driver, make sure you’re represented by an excellent truck accident attorney.
We serve clients throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.FMSCA Laws
Below are some of the FMSCA regulations that all commercial trucks drivers and motor carriers must follow. Any violations of these rules can result in legal action if they lead to accidents.Controlled Substances and Alcohol use and Testing
Truck drivers are required to be alcohol and drug tested by their employers, including the U.S. government, a U.S. state, the District of Columbia, or a political subdivision of a state who owns or leases a commercial truck or assigns people to operate the vehicles. Programs established under this law are designed to prevent injuries and accidents that happen because of impairment. If a driver takes a prescription drug, he or she must have permission from their doctor to operate a commercial vehicle.Commercial License Standards
Obtaining and keeping a commercial license isn’t easy. Driving a car is very little like driving an 18-wheeler. People are required to take commercial driving classes and pass a test before they can acquire a commercial driver license (CDL). Most drivers must have a CDL if they drive a vehicle heavier than 26,000 pounds, transport themselves and 15 or more passengers, or carry hazardous materials. If a driver has a CDL, presumably it’s because they’re knowledgeable about the various procedures for safe operation of commercial vehicles and understand the adverse effects of driving such a large truck when fatigued, when having poor vision, or when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.Qualifications
All truck drivers must be at least 21 years old, speak English, be physically able to operate a truck, have a valid CDL, and must not have been disqualified for operating a vehicle under the influence. In addition, the driver must not have committed a felony, left the scene of an accident, or refused to take an alcohol test.Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
One significant cause of many truck accidents is insufficient or defective parts. Federal law requires all vehicles to comply with specific regulations dealing with lighting devices, reflectors, brakes, tires, brake performance, protection against shifting or falling cargo, emergency equipment, securement systems block and bracing, frames, front-end structure, hood, doors, bumpers, seats, and wheels and steering wheel systems.Driving Commercial Vehicles
The drivers of commercial trucks and all people responsible for the management, operation, driving, or maintenance of any commercial vehicles must comply with federal regulations. In addition, those responsible for hiring, training, dispatching, and supervising commercial truck drivers should also comply with federal regulations. Drivers should not be driving when sick or tired and should not be under the influence of illegal substances. They must also obey traffic laws, safely load cargo, perform periodic inspections, and drive cautiously in hazardous conditions. Additionally, commercial truck drivers must be able to stop the vehicle before reaching railroad tracks and must come to a halt before crossing tracks when carrying hazardous substances or a trailer.Hours of Service
These rules were set in place after a number of accidents occurred when a driver was too fatigued to keep driving. Commercial truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 10 hours following 8 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Likewise, a motor carrier can’t require a driver to drive for any period of time after the driver has been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days. Additionally, a driver can’t drive if he or she has been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the motor carrier operates commercial trucks 7 days a week. There are additional regulations regarding time spent in dangerous weather conditions. From the time a driver starts working until the driver is relieved of all responsibility for work is considered “on duty,” which includes the time that isn’t spent driving (for example, loading and unloading and inspection).Transportation of Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials, merely by their nature, are dangerous. Trucking regulations, therefore, have been implemented to minimize the potential of exposure to these materials. Both drivers and motor carriers involved with transporting these substances are subject to strict federal regulation. In most cases, commercial vehicle drivers who are carrying explosives can’t leave the truck unattended. There are also specific places where such trucks must be parked. Additionally, smoking is not allowed within 25 feet of a truck carrying explosives or other flammable material.Inspection, Repair, Maintenance
Commercial vehicles that carry more than 15 people, weigh more than 10,000 pounds, or transport hazardous materials are subject to specific maintenance standards. The motor carrier is responsible for making sure all parts are in proper working condition and must maintain and repair inspection records. Drivers aren’t allowed to operate a vehicle that might break down or cause accidents. Drivers are also required to inspect their trucks at the beginning of each day and report any defects they may find.Trust Our Counsel in an Accident
If you’ve been injured as a result of a truck regulation violation, you might be eligible for compensation. Truck accidents can cause a significant amount of damage. If you find yourself with a totaled car or expensive medical bills, make sure you don’t have to struggle financially for someone else’s mistake. We have the resources and skills to help injured victims and their families recover fair compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, future medical bills, decreased quality of life, loss of consortium, lost wages, and wrongful death.
To set up a free consultation, contact us today at (603) 883-4100 or fill out our online form. We look forward to helping you.