Accidents involving massive commercial trucks are among the most fatal on the road. Average automobiles may be unable to withstand the power, weight, and momentum of a semi-truck. To decrease the likelihood of these collisions, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues strict rules which oversee almost every aspect of the trucking industry. However, most truck accidents that occur in the United States are contributing to one or more violations of these regulations.
Some of the key provisions include the following:
Commercial truck drivers are limited in the daily and a weekly number of hours they are required to work. These limits – known as hours-of-service regulations – are established to prevent fatigued drivers from using the roads and highways. Truck drivers could not drive more than 11 hours if they were off for at least 10. Work includes more than just driving, including loading and unloading shipment, taking care of paperwork, preparing the vehicle for a journey, and other common shipping tasks.
Federal weight limits apply to large commercial trucks driven on interstate highways. In general, trucks can have a maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds; however, truck pulling two or more trailers in some states may exceed that limit.
Alcohol & Drug Testing
Truck drivers are held to more stringent standards compared to other drivers. For example, if their BAC is 0.04% or higher, they are in violation of DUI laws. They are also restricted from driving a commercial vehicle within four hours of consuming alcohol and are subject to laws regarding prescription drug usage. To protect intoxicated drivers on the road, truckers are subject to random testing by their employer, as well as after accidents.
Maintenance & Repair
Truck drivers and trucking companies must abide my federal inspection standards for commercial trucks. Unfortunately, many companies avoid routine safety inspection programs and fail to provide proper training to recognize signs of a possible break down before they result in an accident.
Transportation of Hazardous Materials
Drivers responsible for transporting hazardous materials are subject to special provisions. Generally, a truck driver carrying explosives cannot leave the vehicle unattended unless an emergency occurs. In addition, there are rules about where a driver transporting explosives can park, and smoking is not allowed within 25 feet of a truck containing explosives or flammable materials.
If you suffered a serious injury after being involved in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, contact our Columbus personal injury attorney at Rourke & Blumenthal to schedule a free consultation today.