Because commercial trucks are larger and heavier than other vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established guidelines for the trucking industry to protect everyone on the road. When a truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer violates these safety regulations, it can lead to serious accidents and injuries.
Repair and Maintenance
Trucks must be maintained on a regular basis, and trucks that are in disrepair could be dangerous and in violation of FMCSA regulations. These trucks may fail on the highway and harm other drivers.
All trucks have maximum weight limits, but trucking companies sometimes exceed them to increase profits. Trucks that are too heavy can be difficult to slow down or turn, which can lead to serious accidents.
Licensing and Driver Testing
Driving a big truck can be difficult without proper training and experience. Trucking companies may hire inexperienced and unlicensed drivers to save time and money, but these drivers may be more likely to injure other people on the road.
Safe Driving Behavior
Truck drivers must follow the same rules of the road as other drivers, such as obeying speed limits, keeping their eyes on the road at all times, and stopping at stop signs. When truck drivers break these laws, the consequences can be deadly. It’s the truck driver’s and trucking company’s responsibility to always place safety first. If any industry regulations were violated in your accident, they may be held accountable for your damages.
FMCSA Violations and Truck Accidents
Truck drivers and the companies that employ them are required to follow strict regulations put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These rules ensure that trucking companies maintain suitable safety standards to protect all drivers and passengers on the road. Any trucking accident can result in serious injuries and death to those involved, and accidents that occur because of FMCSA violations are usually avoidable. If you have been injured in a trucking accident, the physical, financial, and property damage that you face is often serious. Reach out to Ascent Law LLC to learn how we can fight for you.
Commercial Drivers License Required By FMCSA
Commercial truck drivers must obtain special licensure in order to legally be allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle. In order to obtain this license, drivers must complete an assessment of knowledge and skills. Further testing may be required for applicants who plan to operate a truck with multiple trailers, a tank, hazardous materials, or a passenger vehicle. Any violation of safety standards and regulations could result in a driver’s loss of their commercial license and penalties for the trucking company.
In addition to obtaining the proper training and licenses, drivers must meet certain physical standards in order to be eligible to drive.
• Fatigue: To be in compliance with FMCSA regulations, drivers are prohibited to drive for over 11 consecutive hours. Additionally, drivers must rest for 10 hours between shifts. These rules are meant to protect drivers from becoming tired on the road and endangering themselves and others.
• Sobriety: Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a violation of safety standards and could result in the loss of a drivers commercial license.
To ensure the safety of others, commercial vehicle drivers must avoid these behaviors while behind the wheel:
• Excessive Speed: Commercial motor vehicles are unable to stop as quickly as smaller vehicles. The mass and momentum of a speeding truck can cause serious damage in an accident.
• Distracted Driving: Truck drivers should remain focused on the road at all times to avoid encroaching on other lanes and potentially causing serious collisions.
• Aggressive or Reckless Driving: Commercial vehicles pose an inherent risk to other vehicles on the road when driven safely, so when a driver displays aggressive or reckless behaviour they are far likelier to cause injury or death to others on the road.
Proper loading and regular maintenance are both important factors in properly securing a commercial vehicle.
• Weight: Each truck has a maximum weight limit that it can safely handle. Attempting to carry cargo that exceeds this limit can put undue pressure on the vehicle, causing an accident.
• Maintenance: Damaged or under maintained commercial vehicles should not be operated. Depending on a driver’s employment arrangement, their company may be responsible for servicing their vehicle.
FMCSA Regulations Attorney
Commercial trucking is a giant and extremely important industry in the United States. With millions of registered commercial vehicles on the roads, it is critical that this industry has strict safety standards, especially since these large vehicles have the potential to causes devastating crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established as the federal agency with the power to enact and enforce a number of laws regulating the trucking industry, known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
FMCSRs That Often Apply to Truck Accidents
While there are hundreds of different FMCSRs, there are some whose violations are commonly involved in causing truck crashes. The following are some examples of regulations that, when violated, can cause accidents and injuries.
• CDL requirements: The FMCSA sets out very strict requirements for someone to obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL). Individuals must have active knowledge of a variety of topics including:
The regulations that must be followed when driving a commercial vehicle;
How to operate the truck when backing up, shifting, at night, and in emergency situations;
Required inspections of the truck;
How cargo can affect their control of the truck
Driving in hazardous conditions.
Individuals must pass a written test, as well as a driving test and must be medically cleared as healthy enough to drive a truck before they can receive a CDL.
• Hours Of Service: Fatigued driving became a huge problem in the trucking industry because drivers would spend long hours on the road often foregoing sleep in favour of earning more money. Because of the serious risks of fatigued driving, the FMCSRs regulate the number of hours and days a driver can operate a commercial vehicle.
• Adjusting driving in hazardous conditions: While a speed limit may be 60 miles per hour, driving a commercial truck at the speed limit can become exceedingly dangerous in adverse weather conditions. If a driver is experiencing snow, ice, fog, or even rain, the FMCSRs demand that they slow down and use extreme caution when driving in hazardous conditions.
• Drug and alcohol testing: The FMCSRs set the legal limit for alcohol for commercial drivers at 0.04 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), which is half the legal limit for other drivers. Because of the extreme dangers of driving a commercial truck under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the regulations also require that trucking companies conduct random drug and alcohol testing on drivers and discipline any drivers who fail these tests.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Safety Rules for Big Trucks
Big commercial trucks travelling in interstate commerce that weigh over 10,000 pounds or carry hazardous materials are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and also by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Many states have same or similar rules for commercial trucks that are local carriers involved in intrastate commerce. Interstate trucks have to follow strict federal rules regarding:
• Securing loads;
• Maximum load weight;
• Testing for Alcohol & Other Drugs;
• Medical certification;
• Vehicle Type-Specific Training; and
• Keeping accurate driver logs.
The rules allow the FMCSA to monitor whether drivers and trucking companies are abiding by safety standards. FMCSA conducts roadside and other inspections to ensure driver and trucking company compliance, or to try and catch instances of non-compliance before unsafe driving and other violations lead to more tragedies. Despite the inspections, truckers and truck companies continue to violate commercial truck regulations as the recently published (April 2016) FMCSA Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts brochure shows. According to recently released statistics, there were 3,903 people killed in large truck/bus crashes in 2014 alone. Of this number, 672 fatalities were occupants of a large bus/truck. 3,331 of the victims were in other vehicles such as light trucks, cars, motorcycles, etc. or were non-motorists such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
FMCSA statistics show frequency of Commercial Driver License (CDL) Driver error as a causative factor(s) in a fatal crash. According to these statistics, drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were:
• Failure to yield right of way
• Failure to keep in proper lane
• Careless driving
• Operating without proper equipment
• Following improperly
• Failure to obey traffic signs, rules, officers
• Failure to obey traffic control devices
• Failure to obey safety zone laws
• Making improper turn
• Erratic, careless, reckless, negligent driving (FMCSA terms used to describe)
• Noncompliance with physical or other restrictions
• Overloading/improper loading of vehicle
• Tire blowout or flat
• Improper passing
Additionally, 111,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks. Of that number, 10,000 were children.
Proving Negligence against Commercial Vehicles Drivers and Companies
No matter how negligent a CDL driver was in causing your accident their insurance company will be aggressive in denying liability. As soon as their insurance company hears about the accident involving one of the commercial vehicles they insure, they will send a team of skilled truck accident scene investigators out. This is true in all cases even when the truck driver is not at fault, and it is especially true if the collision was serious or involved serious injuries and fatalities. The insurance company’s investigation team is very aggressive in the steps they take to avoid any claims against their insured truckers. The insurance company’s accident scene investigation team will be there rapidly, and their job is to look for evidence which points the blame and liability away from the trucker or trucking company and to other vehicles and/or people involved. They may ask you questions, provided you are alive and conscious. Do not speak to anybody but police and emergency medical personnel. The insurance company will be relentless in defending their trucking company and its driver because these cases can and do cost them millions of dollars in claims per accident. If you are able, you should contact an experienced trucking accident law firm as soon as possible. You can bet the other side and their investigators will already be working aggressively to deny or reduce your claim.
Federal Trucking Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and regulates the trucking industry in the United States. This administration provides rules that truckers are required to follow when working. Sometimes the details of a truck accident can be confusing since truck drivers are regulated by both the FMCSA and the state government. If you have been in an accident with a truck, FMCSA regulations will likely play a large part in your case. FMCSA provides many regulations for the trucking industry. Your truck accident lawyer must not only be familiar with DOT regulations for truck drivers, but must also know how the court, and the opposing lawyers, may interpret the regulations as they apply them to your case. Some of the things FMCSA regulations govern include:
• Minimum Insurance Coverage: Trucking companies must maintain a high amount of insurance coverage in order match their higher level of financial responsibility. This higher coverage is required since accidents with large trucks tend to be more destructive and deadly. The actual insurance minimums for a given truck may vary greatly depending on certain factors. For example, a truck may need a very large amount of insurance coverage if it is determined to be hauling hazardous materials.
• Driver Qualifications: Among other things, the FMCSA requires that drivers be 21 years of age, have a valid commercial driver’s license, and be proficient in English.
• Safety and “Fitness” Procedures: FMCSA reviews the safety, or fitness, of trucks themselves. After a review a rating is given to the truck, and if deemed safe it is then allowed onto public roads. The FMCSA gives direction to drivers and truck companies to improve any unsatisfactory safety issues.
• Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance: Frequent inspections and repairs and required to be routinely performed on any truck that goes on the road.
• Hours of Driving and Record Keeping: Drivers are not allowed to drive more than federal regulations deem is safe given the driver’s long-term schedule and the load being carried. Drivers are also required to keep strict and consistent records of their driving hours.
Your lawyer will have to navigate the many technical facts and processes of a lawsuit that involves state and federal regulations.
Proving Violations of Federal Trucking Regulations
After an accident with a large truck, your case may involve one or several large insurance companies seeking to reduce the liability of their insured. As your truck accident lawyers, we will work with you to show that the other driver was negligent, and that you were injured because of that negligence. It is common for truckers to violate FMCSA regulations. Violations may lead to truck crashes involving any of the following causes:
• Truck Driver Fatigue
• Truck Driver Error
• Trucking Wide Turn Accidents
• Trucking Blind Spot Accidents
• Truck Load Accidents
• Truck Equipment Malfunction
• Negligent Truck Maintenance
• Truckers Driving Under the Influence
FMCSA Lawyer Free Consultation
When you need legal help with transportation law, call an FMCSA Lawyer at Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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