Without trucks transporting goods across our nation each day, we would be without essential items. Along with all those miles come frequent safety issues that must be managed and regulated. Several thousand people are injured regularly after being involved in a truck accident, so there are ever-developing rules surrounding the industry to keep the drivers and all of us on the roads safe.
This article will discuss some common areas that lead to trucking accidents, how the trucking industry is regulated, and more. Continue reading for further information.
Federally Mandated Trucking Industry
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the FMSCA, is the creator and enforcer of regulations across the country. Regulations apply to nearly all commercial trucking companies and their drivers in all states, regardless of where they originate from.
With several regulations that truckers must adhere to keep us all safe, operators must understand all laws and comply. Even the slightest deviation from the rules can lead to catastrophic circumstances, which is why most regulations were developed, to avoid injuries and deaths due to the trucking industry.
Common Trucking Regulations From The FMSCA
Hours of service are probably the primary regulation typically referenced or checked after accidents and are strictly regulated. Hours of service apply to the number of hours that each driver can work before being required to rest to avoid lethargic driving or distracted driving that can lead to accidents.
Each driver is mandated to have a maximum of eleven hours of driving after a period of ten hours of rest. Additionally, drivers must take a thirty-minute break after being in operation for eight hours.
Drivers not working daily are limited to a weekly limit of 60 hours during any given 7-day period, and drivers working every day are limited to 70 hours within eight days. After the driver has been off duty for at least 34 hours, they can begin the next period.
Weight restrictions are another common area of regulation for truckers. Without a set maximum for truckers to adhere to, overloading can occur, causing unsafe driving conditions for truckers that can quickly lead to accidents.
Trucker’s Log Books
A Trucker’s Log Book is used to record hours of service, inspections, maintenance, and more. As truckers are regulated to adhere to hours, they must record them to provide sufficient evidence that they are operating within the legal limits and, therefore, actively reducing the opportunities for accidents.
Daily inspection reports are also typically found in the trucker’s log book. These daily inspections allow the drivers to ensure that their truck is operational and safe and that any issues are addressed. If there is an issue, it is recorded, and what was done to fix the problem before the truck was in operation again.
Start times and end times are included as part of the hours of service, but also the point of origination and the destination are recorded to ensure the drivers are traveling at a safe rate of speed and not rushing to the next stop and endangering those around them on the roads.
Some additional regulations to note are random drug testing for operators. Drivers may be submitted to random drug tests to ensure they are not under the influence of substances.
Drivers must be at least the age of 18, possess a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), and complete an annual physical without complications. In South Carolina, a driver operating vehicles with air brakes or double (or triple) trailers must carry additional endorsements. If hazardous materials are transported in South Carolina, drivers must also possess hazmat training and complete a TSA background check to remain compliant.
It is essential to stay on top of the changing regulations, even if your employer isn’t making you aware of them, so you can protect yourself against liability issues that may arise even without notification.
Common Violations of Trucking Regulations
In general, one of the most common violations in the trucking industry pertains to the hours of service. Operators may be pressured to get to the following location in a timely fashion, maybe running behind due to loading issues or traffic conditions, and, therefore, can overextend their hours of service. This overextension quickly leads to fatigued driving, which can lead to accidents.
Distracted driving is also another issue that operators are at risk of. Much like standard vehicles, drivers are expected to have their full attention on the road at all times, truck operators carry loads of up to 20,000 pounds, and the slightest distraction can lead to catastrophic accidents.
Why Are Trucking Regulations Important To Personal Injury Cases?
When a personal injury attorney is trying to gather evidence to defend their client, they will typically turn to log books and other resources to determine whether or not the truck operator was following regulations or whether or not they were negligent if they were involved in an accident.
Similarly, suppose a truck driver is found to be negligent. In that case, they may wish to work with an attorney to prove that they were adhering to state and federal guidelines and therefore aren’t liable for the accidents or issues that occurred.
We have thorough experience in helping our clients both in and out of the courtroom, and we look forward to assisting you too. Our clients benefit from our over 24 years of experience and our evident advocacy for our clients. Call our office today at (803) 219-8870 to learn more about how we can protect you from unnecessary issues in your life, so you can get back to living it.