Truck accidents are most often very serious. They usually lead to catastrophic injuries and substantial property damage. For this reason, regulations have been established by the federal government in order to control most aspects of the trucking industry.
Where do trucking regulations come from?
The U.S. Department of Transportation, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, regulates both truck drivers and the operation and maintenance of the trucks themselves. The National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration has also established policies regarding the performance and safety of motor vehicles generally.
Determining fault can be different
There are many potential sources of liability when it comes to truck accident cases. Determining who is responsible in a truck accident case can be very complicated, as with any motor vehicle accident. It usually requires investigating the driver, the employer, the truck owner, any leasing company that may have been involved, and the manufacturers of the truck and other related equipment. Part of determining liability involves examining the relevant trucking regulations to see if there was any noncompliance.
According to certain regulations, truck drivers must be at least 21 years old, be physically capable of safely operating a truck, have a valid CDL and must not have been disqualified from driving for any of the following reasons: driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, committing a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, refusing to take an alcohol test.
Driving of Tractor Trailers
If you determine that the truck driver involved in your accident was driving while sick, tired, or under the influence, proving liability may be pretty clear. Truck drivers are required to obey all traffic laws. They must also ensure that their cargo is loaded safely and perform periodic inspections.
Truck Parts and Accessories
There are also regulations that relate to most aspects of the truck, including the lights and reflectors, brakes, tires, emergency equipment, frames, doors, steering wheel systems, and many other parts. If any of these aspects of the truck are determined not to be in compliance with regulations, there may be a source of liability.
Hours of Service laws
There are strict rules regarding how many hours a truck driver can drive and how many hours they must spend resting. The purpose of these regulations is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue, which are far too common. The Hours of Service rule for truck drivers includes an 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day limit. A new provisions that took effect in July 2013, limits the maximum average work week to 70 hours, allowing the driver to resume only if they rest for 34 consecutive hours. Truck drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.