Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or FMCSRs, require truck drivers and the companies that they work for to abide by a very specific set of requirements, all of which have been designed for the purpose of ensuring the safety of large trucks and the rest of the motoring public. Everything from the number of hours that a trucker can safely operate his or her vehicle, to the size and weight limitations imposed upon commercial vehicles, is defined in these regulations. Accordingly, when a truck accident occurs, one of the first things to be investigated will be whether or not the FMCSRs were followed.
In the aftermath of a truck accident, there are often found to be multiple causes of the collision that occurred. Very often, however, one or more of these contributing factors can be tied back to a violation of the safety regulations that were set forth for trucking companies and drivers. As such, it is important that you have a professional on your side who can identify these factors and help establish them as viable grounds for a personal injury claim. At Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP, a New York City personal injury lawyer can do exactly that.
What Regulations Govern Truckers And Trucking Companies?
Pivotal to the success of any accident claim or lawsuit that is brought against a trucking company or one of its drivers will be the identification of violations that were made to federal motor carrier safety regulations. These regulations govern not only commercial truck drivers, but also the maintenance and repair of trucks and the companies that own them.
Designed and intended to keep our state roads and national highways safe and free from catastrophic collisions, FMCSRs address several aspects of the trucking industry, all of which are expected to be followed to a tee. When an accident occurs, the following will need to be assessed for violation or compliance in order to determine if they should be addressed as a cause of the accident.
Alcohol And Drug Use
As are all other drivers on the road, truckers are restricted from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The difference, however, lies in the BAC limits that are applied to each class of drivers. While other drivers are limited by a .08 percent BAC, truckers are not permitted to drive with a BAC over .04 percent. Truck drivers will also be subjected to random testing for alcohol and drugs throughout any given year of their employment. The regulations are so strict, in fact, that they also stipulate that a trucker cannot operate a commercial vehicle within four hours of consuming an alcoholic beverage. Even certain prescription drugs and amphetamines are regulated by federal law.
Hours Of Service
One of the most important regulations set forth by the FMCSRs is that of hours of operation, which are set in place to ensure that truckers do not operate commercial vehicles when they are overly tired or fatigued. These time limits are referred to as hours of service, and they state that no commercial truck driver can operate his or her vehicle for more than 11 hours, nor can they work more than 14 hours a day when nondriving duties are included. In addition, hours of service stipulate that all truckers must take off 10 continuous hours before driving again. In order to ensure that these time limits are abided by, log books and/or black boxes are used to record the number of hours that a trucker remains on the road on any given day.
Maintenance And Repair
The maintenance of commercial vehicles is an important preventative measure for accidents, as are safety inspections. When routine maintenance and safety inspections are conducted, issues such as worn-out tires and failing brake systems won't go unnoticed. The federal regulations that have been established in this area currently provide minimum inspection standards for trucking companies and the drivers who are employed by them. Unfortunately, all too often, these standards are neglected or otherwise abused by trucking employers and employees alike, thus making an accident involving one of these vehicles much more likely.
The federal regulations that apply to the weight limits that are imposed on commercial vehicles in the U.S. generally apply to large trucks that are driven on interstate highways. Typically, commercial vehicles that travel along the interstate highways can net a gross vehicle weight of no more than 80,000 pounds. Exceptions to this rule include trucks that are pulling two or more trailers across some western states, of which the weight limits may be permitted to exceed the 80,000-pound limit. Unfortunately, because trucking companies can more effectively earn money when large amounts of cargo are delivered at once, the FMCSR weight limits are often violated.
Were FMCSRs Violated? Contact Us For Help!
If, after reviewing the above federal regulations, it is determined that one or more of the regulations was violated, thus contributing to the accident in which you were involved, legal action should be taken immediately. A considerable number of violations can occur in relation to the regulations described above, including:
- Alcohol and drug use or abuse
- Excessive hours of operation
- Excessive weight limits
- Failure to maintain vehicle parts
- Failure to conduct safety checks
- Failure to conduct background checks on employees before hire
These are only some of the many different types of violations that can occur. If you were injured in a trucking accident that was not your fault, do not wait to contact a New York City truck accident attorney for a free and confidential consultation at our office.