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.
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.
The two most common FMCSA violations that contribute to accidents with large trucks include:
- Off-duty requirement violations: If a driver is fatigued or tired, they aren’t capable of driving safely. To meet regulations from the FMCSA, drivers are required to limit their working hours and the consecutive hours they are on duty. When the limits are exceeded, they may cause more accidents because of poor decision making, impaired judgment, or even falling asleep while behind the wheel.
- 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.
In addition to the two violations listed above, there are others that are more serious today, than they have been in the past.
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 for a call or texting while driving.
It is permitted for drivers to use the hands-free function on their phone to make calls. The rules outlined by the FMCSA prohibit holding, dialing, texting or reading their phone while behind the wheel.
It doesn’t matter what the laws regarding cell phone use is in the state, 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.
If you are involved in an accident with a big rig, and it is proven the truck driver or company has not met the standards and requirements set by the FMCSA, you may have the right to file a lawsuit for compensation. It is best to speak with an attorney to find out exactly what rights you have.