Federal Trucking Regulations & Truck Accidents
Commercial trucking companies and their drivers must adhere to numerous federal and state regulations. The applicable federal rules are found in the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a trucking company or a commercial driver breaks one of these laws, resulting in an injury or death of another person, the victim is entitled to financial compensation through the civil courts.
Overview of FMCSA Rules
Since 1939, the federal government has attempted to manage and oversee the interstate trucking industry in an effort to ensure the safe operation of these large motor vehicles, preventing fatal accidents and injuries. Over the years, the FMCSA has established various regulations and requirements which all trucking companies must abide by.
The following are a few of the most common federal regulations used in the prosecution of negligent trucking companies:
- Hours of service – According to federal rules, a commercial truck driver may only operate a truck for 11 hours after a 10-hour break. He or she may not also drive beyond a 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after a 10-hour break. Furthermore, a driver may not work more than 60-70 hours in 7-8 consecutive days.
- Weight limits – A commercial truck may only carry up to a maximum of 20,000 pounds per axle, which is a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 80,000 pounds. Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo often results in difficulties maneuvering and stopping, which can result in a devastating accident.
- Alcohol and drug testing – Periodic testing of drivers for alcohol and controlled substance use is mandatory for those who operate a vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more, including a towed unit or trailer weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
- Qualifications of drivers – If a driver operates a commercial vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds or transports hazardous materials, he or she must comply with specific provisions set forth in the federal regulations. Drivers must at least be 21 years of age, be able to speak and read English, be physically fit to safely operate their vehicle, possess a valid CDL, and have a driving record free from license suspension or revocation for a DUI, a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, or refusing to take an alcohol test.
- Inspection, repair, and maintenance – It is mandatory for trucking companies to perform frequent, routine inspections and repairs on all truck parts and equipment before taking any long journey. These inspections serve to ensure the truck is in safe, working condition and are an important part of interstate trucking safety.
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