When you get behind the wheel, you are accepting the risk that goes along with this. While you may try to protect yourself by driving larger SUVs or pickup trucks, these are still no match for fully loaded, 80,000-pound tractor trailers. When smaller vehicles are involved in an accident with big rigs, the results can be devastating for both the driver and passengers inside. Even the driver of the large truck may suffer serious injuries.
Trucking companies and their drivers are required to follow regulations set by federal, state, and local governing bodies to keep all drivers safe. Although this is the case, there are often cases where truck drivers are overworked, resulting in severe injuries and accidents on the road.
The truck accident attorneys of Monsees & Mayer P.C. have years of experience with this type of case and the many regulations and factors that may impact your case. What are some of the regulations that may factor into a truck accident?
Regulations on Trucking
To address the inherent risks, present because of these large vehicles, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, has created a list of guidelines for the industry that apply to truck owners, drivers, and trucking companies.
Even though the regulations were created to make the trucks on the road safer for the drivers, as well as other motorists on the road, not everyone in the industry adheres to them. In fact, many are violated to help maximize profits, putting everyone on the road at risk.
One of the most well-known regulations imposed on truck drivers is a cap on how many hours a driver can consecutively be on the road before taking a mandated break. This law is in place to prevent drivers from working to the point of exhaustion, which may cause more accidents because of poor decision making, impaired judgment, or even falling asleep behind the wheel. Time is money, and trucking companies and their drivers are under pressure to drive as many hours and miles as possible, sometimes pressing the envelope resulting in fatigue and corresponding inattention.
Truckers carrying goods or materials – This type of trucking mandates a maximum of 11 hours driving, followed by 10 hours away from the wheel.
Commercial drivers with passengers (e.g., coach bus drivers) – This type of commercial travel mandates a maximum of 10 hours driving, followed by 8 hours away from the wheel. Oftentimes, long distance bus services will switch drivers at designated stopping points for this exact reason.
Operators must keep detailed logs that track both their driving and down time. Securing copies of these logs in the event of a collision is an important first step in investigating a case. Trucks also routinely have “black boxes” not dissimilar to those on airplanes, which can reveal data about speed and braking.
Cargo Loading Violations
Most trucks have a trailer limit weight of 80,000 pounds. If the cargo results in them exceeding this limit, the trucks are going to be more difficult to control, which increases the risk of accidents. Also, FMCSA has created strict rules related to securing cargo to prevent objects from getting loose and falling on the road.
Mobile Phone Violations
While several states have restrictions and bans in place regarding cell phone use behind the wheel, the FMCSA has taken this a step further and made it illegal for truck drivers to use their phone while driving.
It is permitted for drivers to use the hands-free function on their phone to make calls. However, the rules outlined by the FMCSA prohibit holding, dialing, texting or reading their phone while behind the wheel.
If a truck driver is caught doing any of the above prohibited actions while driving, they can face fines of as much as $2,750 for the driver and up to $11,000 for the employers. If the driver receives multiple violations, they may lose their driver qualification.
Maintenance of Company Vehicles
All vehicles operating in commercial enterprise are subject to inspections and regular maintenance. This ensures that mechanical failures are less likely to happen, ideally resulting in less mechanical-failure related accidents. Companies that do not regularly keep up with vehicle inspections run the risk of being found liable for accidents that occur from this negligence.
Mandated Drug Tests
Drivers are required to remain free from the influence of drugs or alcohol when operating commercial vehicles, and as such, are subject to periodic drug testing. These tests are often administered:
- When applicants apply for a position at a trucking company
- After drivers are involved in an accident
Contact An Experienced Attorney
With these safeguards in place, it is unthinkable that truckers or their companies could be found negligent in the case of accidents. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for these guidelines to be loosely followed or even ignored altogether. That is where an experienced attorney makes the difference between recovery for the victims of trucking accidents or receiving nothing at all. With how expensive medical bills can be in the case of an accident, it is crucial to know if your attorney has the acumen to recover for you and your loved ones.
If you are involved in an accident with a big rig, contact the trucking accident attorneys of Monsees & Mayer, P.C.