Federal Regulations for the Trucking Industry
Have you been injured in a trucking accident? The trucking industry is highly regulated and collisions between trucks and vehicles are more challenging and legally complex than car accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a branch of the United States Department of Transportation that governs all rules and regulations related to truck drivers. Truck drivers that operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) are obligated to follow these rules to keep themselves, other motorists, and our roadways safe.
However, trucking companies make a profit each time a shipment is delivered, so it stands to reason that these companies want to increase the shipments, thus increasing their bottom line. Delays can be costly, and truck drivers have been known to avoid following all regulations and guidelines in order to get shipments to their destination as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, in these cases, large trucking accidents can occur, and leave other motorists injured or dead. While the laws regarding the trucking industry are complex, knowing the rules that truck drivers are required to follow can help you build your case if you have been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver.
FMCSA Rules and Regulations
Contacting an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you better understand your rights if you have been injured in an accident involving a large truck. However, to better understand the law, the following are some standard operating rules and regulations required by federal law under FMCSA.
- Truck Driver Operating License
According to Title 49, part 383 of the FMCSA regulations, a truck driver that operates a CMV must pass the testing in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Additionally, a CMV truck driver must be 21 years of age, have already passed all CDL testing, maintain a valid regular driver’s license, have a relatively clean driving record, and maintain good physical condition.
- Service Hours
Long hours are a requirement of truck drivers that operate these large vehicles, and these long hours can lead to poor decision making on the roadways and fatigue. FMCSA enacted the Hours of Service Regulations to require a certain amount of rest and sleep for truck drivers, keeping themselves and other motorists safe. Breaks and longer periods of rest are required and strictly enforced.
- Hours Log
To ensure that truck drivers are operating only a certain number of hours, and also resting, they are required to attach an Electronic Logging Device to their truck. This device attaches to the engine of the truck and gives an accurate reading of driving times of that particular vehicle. Not only does this help a truck driver accurately manage the mileage and hours, but it also is mandatory to prevent any type of fraud.
- Physical Health
Experts now say that sitting is as dangerous as smoking to your health. Truck drivers are required to sit for long hours. They are also required to drive hazardous material oftentimes in dangerous weather conditions. The FMCSA realized that there would be a physical component to driving a CMV, and therefore truck drivers are required to undergo not only special training but also pass a special physical exam every two years for their health.
- Safety and Securement of Cargo
Cargo shifting in the back of a truck can be dangerous or deadly not only to the truck driver but to other motorists on the roadway. Therefore, the FMCSA established guidelines that specifically address how cargo within trucks is to be secured and tied down for the safety of the driver, and everyone on the road.
- Testing for Alcohol and Drugs
The last requirement is one that unfortunately does affect our roadways. Federal laws for all motorists expressly prohibit drivers from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any kind of mind-altering substance, including alcohol or drugs. In light of the additional dangers that truck drivers pose to the roadways, the FMCSA established even stricter laws regarding the testing for alcohol and drugs. Additionally, the FMCSA adopted the following guidelines that are strictly enforced:
- No CMV driver can have a blood alcohol content above 0.02 when operating a truck
- No CMV driver can partake of any alcohol or drugs during the prior eight hours of their driving shift starting
- No CMV driver can possess or carry alcohol with them when driving (unless it is part of the cargo)
Reach Out to Us Today for Professional Assistance
At O’Donnell Law Offices, our experienced truck accident attorneys will work with insurance adjusters, experts, medical professionals, and witnesses to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you have been injured in a trucking accident, contact the O’Donnell Law Offices, serving clients in Kingston, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and Pittston, at 570-821-5717 or online to understand your rights, and schedule a free consultation. There is no fee or costs until we win your case.