The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the commercial trucking industry. Created by the Department of Transportation in 2000, the FMCSA’s regulations were established to protect truck drivers as well as motorists who shares the highways with these large vehicles. The primary goal is to help prevent deaths and injuries from commercial vehicle-related accidents.
Some of the key areas that are regulated by the FMCSA include:
- Qualifications: There are strict rules for who can operate a commercial truck. Individuals must complete both a written and hands-on road test, have a documented good driving record and will be denied if they have had a license suspended, revoked or cancelled or any convictions for a serious traffic violation.
- Hours of Service: The hours of service legislation was enacted in an attempt to decrease the occurrence of truck drivers operating their vehicles while fatigued. The hours of service rules detail how long and when you are allowed to operate a commercial vehicle. Specific limitations are indicated such as the 14-hour duty limit, the 11-hour driving limit and the 60/70-hour duty limit. Drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours they drive and have a 34-hour restart period once a week.
- Driver’s Log: Each commercial truck driver is required to keep track of their time either in written form in a logbook or through the use of an electronic on-board device. The log includes on and off duty hours, driving times and rest periods. These logs can be obtained and used as evidence in a trucking accident lawsuit.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Trucking companies are required to implement and conduct a drug and alcohol-testing program. Commercial truck drivers are not allowed to drive their vehicles if under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are required to take drug tests prior to employment, after an accident and if they display suspicious behaviors. They are also subject to random drug tests.
- Distracted Driving: Commercial truck drivers are prohibited from using hand held mobile devices while operating their vehicles. There is no texting while driving, which includes sending or reading messages and emails. Violations could result in civil penalties and disqualifications.
- Loading: Truck drivers are required to inspect their cargo prior to heading out on the roadways. This includes making sure the load does not exceed the maximum weight limit and that it is safely secured. Falling cargo or shifting cargo are both significant risk factors for a trucking accident.
- Maintenance: Trucking companies are required to routinely inspect, repair and maintain their vehicles. All parts and accessories need to be in a safe working condition at all times. Companies are mandated to maintain a record of inspections and repairs for each vehicle.
Failing to Follow the FMCSA Regulations
When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow the FMCSA regulations, accidents and injuries result. Sometimes, companies hire inexperienced drivers, fail to properly maintain their vehicles or place excessive demands on their drivers to complete deliveries. Drivers may choose to operate their vehicles after using drugs or alcohol, falsify their driving logs or use a cellphone when driving. All of these violations can put the drivers themselves, other motorists and even pedestrians at risk.
Serious Accidents When Not Followed
Violating just one regulation can contribute to a serious trucking accident in which victims suffer catastrophic injuries or even lose their lives. For these unfortunate innocent people, it is critical to obtain the legal services of a truck accident lawyer who is familiar with the FMCSA regulations and is able to perform a thorough truck investigation to determine if regulations were in fact violated.
The Law Offices of Edelstein Martin & Nelson, LLP Advocate for Delaware Truck Accident Victims and Their Families
If you or someone you love has been injured in a commercial truck accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a fatal trucking accident in Delaware, contact the personal injury law firm of Edelstein Martin & Nelson, LLP. Our Delaware trucking lawyer will help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with our truck accident lawyer, call us today at (302)-295-5050 or toll free at (800) 300-0909. You may also contact us online.