If you are injured, or if your loved one is killed, in a trucking accident, you need to make sure the attorney you hire to bring a personal injury or wrongful death case is familiar with federal trucking law safety regulations and laws. Proving that one or more safety rules were violated and contributed to causing the accident is crucial. In this blog post, I am providing my readers with some (but not all!) of the important safety regulations we trucking accident lawyers regularly rely on in setting up a trucking accident personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Before I get into the rules, though, just a short overview of why trucking safety rules are so important. Obviously, transportation plays a vital role in facilitating trade and commerce across the country. Heavy commercial trucks are a critical component of this industry, responsible for the efficient movement of goods. But given their size and weight, heavy trucks can cause massive damage, and thus ensuring the safety of these vehicles and their drivers is of paramount importance. The United States federal government has thus implemented a comprehensive set of safety requirements to regulate heavy commercial trucks. These requirements aim to mitigate risks, reduce accidents, and safeguard the well-being of all road users.
Without further ado, here are some of the major rules:
- Vehicle Design and Manufacturing Standards: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) regulate the design, construction, and performance of heavy commercial trucks. These standards encompass various aspects such as braking systems, lighting and visibility, tires, steering, and crashworthiness. For instance, FMVSS No. 121 mandates performance requirements for air brake systems, ensuring their effectiveness and reliability. Similarly, FMVSS No. 108 establishes standards for lighting devices and retroreflective materials, enhancing visibility during nighttime operations. Compliance with these standards is mandatory for manufacturers, guaranteeing that trucks meet minimum safety requirements before they are introduced into the market.
- Driver Qualification and Training: To ensure the competence and professionalism of truck drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established comprehensive requirements for driver qualification and training. These regulations encompass criteria for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), including written knowledge tests, practical skills assessments, and medical examinations. Furthermore, trucking companies must maintain driver qualification files that document drivers’ training, employment history, and compliance with hours-of-service regulations. By setting these standards, the FMCSA aims to enhance driver competency, reduce human errors, and prevent accidents caused by unqualified or inexperienced drivers.
- Hours-of-Service Regulations: Hours-of-service regulations are designed to combat driver fatigue and ensure adequate rest periods for truck drivers. The FMCSA mandates strict limits on driving hours and mandatory rest breaks to prevent fatigue-related accidents. According to these regulations, drivers must adhere to a maximum driving time of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, a 30-minute break is required within the first 8 hours of driving. These regulations also specify weekly driving limits, allowing a maximum of 60 or 70 hours on duty over 7 or 8 consecutive days, respectively. By enforcing these regulations, the federal government aims to prevent accidents caused by fatigue and promote driver well-being.
Federal safety requirements for heavy commercial trucks play a crucial role in safeguarding the transportation industry and ensuring road safety. Through comprehensive regulations, such as vehicle design and manufacturing standards, driver qualification and training requirements, and hours-of-service regulations, the federal government strives to minimize risks, reduce accidents, and protect the well-being of all road users. Adherence to these safety requirements not only promotes the safety and efficiency of heavy commercial truck operations but also contributes to the overall reliability and sustainability of the transportation industry.
Most important, for you, the injured victim of a trucking accident, is that any of these safety rules, if violated, can serve as a springboard for launching an effective and eventually successful lawsuit against truck manufacturers, owners, and drivers. Make sure you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the rules!