The trucking industry is a major part of the United States economy. Countless products are shipped across the country every single day, and tractor trailers are responsible for a majority of that distribution. While there are numerous benefits that stem from this system, there are also instances of catastrophe. When a semi is involved in a vehicle accident, the victims can suffer from devastating injuries or worse.
In order to reduce and prevent serious truck accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes the rules and regulations trucking companies and their drivers must abide by. When these laws are broken, lives are put at risk. If you’ve been in a truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation to aid with your recovery. In order to file a claim, you’ll need to understand why your accident happened and what regulation the negligent party violated.
Understanding Federal Trucking Regulations
The FMCSA is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). This government entity provides guidelines for how trucking companies are supposed to run their businesses and gives truck drivers rules to follow while working. These regulations are in place for the benefit of all travelers on the road.
There are specific regulations established for the following areas: trucking companies, truck drivers, drug and alcohol testing, hazardous materials, hours of service, the shipping of household goods, USDOT numbers, vehicle maintenance, and vehicle markings.
Let’s take a look at the regulations that see the most violations:
Drug and Alcohol Testing
Truck drivers are not allowed to operate their vehicles within four hours of consuming alcohol, or while having a blood alcohol content level of 0.04 percent or higher. They are not allowed to refuse an alcohol test within eight hours of an accident. Drug and alcohol screenings are required for all truckers and are the responsibility of the employer. These screenings can include random testing, post-accident testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and returning-to-duty testing.
Trucking companies are not allowed to employ drivers who have poor driving records, a history of alcohol use behind the wheel, or other problems that may make them unsafe while operating a tractor-trailer. All employees should receive proper training to operate large vehicles, they must have the right insurance and driver’s license, and they must be deemed medically fit.
Hours of Services
Fatigued driving is a serious problem and risk among semi-truck drivers. People need to cease driving for sleep, food, bathroom breaks, and to avoid distracted driving issues. The FMSCA regulates drivers’ hours spent on the road. A driver must stop for 30 minutes every eight hours, and they must take a ten-hour break after driving for 14 hours. They cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period. Violating these regulations comes with the risk of falling asleep while driving.
Large trucks are not allowed to weigh more than 80,000 pounds for interstate travel. This includes the weight of whatever goods they’re carrying. FMSCA also regulates how cargo can be loaded and secured. If a truck is not loaded properly or weighs too much, the driver may have a difficult time controlling or stopping the vehicle.
Frequent inspections and repairs are required for any commercial vehicle that travels on the road. Lights, brakes, tires, and other internal systems should be checked and monitored regularly. Drivers also need to be able to recognize the signs of truck failure and know what to do to avoid a serious accident.
Determining Liability After a Truck Accident in Pennsylvania
After a large truck wreck, your case may involve large insurance companies who are looking to reduce the liability percentage of the trucking company or driver. Our attorneys won’t let that happen. We will work with you to show how you were injured and who is at fault.
Unfortunately, it’s common for truckers to violate FMCSA violations. Many of the following violations lead to serious collisions:
- Truck loading accidents
- Semi equipment malfunction or failure
- Truck driver fatigue
- Negligent truck maintenance
- Truck operator driving under the influence
- Truck driver distraction or error
- Wide turn accidents
- Blindspot accidents
- Inadequate driver training
There may be multiple parties who can be held accountable for the wreck. Those parties include:
- The trucking company – who may be responsible if they hired a driver without following proper protocol or neglected to provide the proper training.
- The truck driver – if the driver acted negligently while driving, was driving while intoxicated or fatigued, failed to keep accurate log books, or did not maintain their vehicle regularly.
- The truck’s manufacturer – in the event a tractor-trailer part is found to be defective.
Seeking Justice with Shrager & Sachs
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a truck accident in Eastern or Central Pennsylvania, our legal team can help you fight for the justice you deserve. We’ll help you investigate the cause of your accident and the responsible party, so they can be held accountable for their actions and your injuries. We have been providing our clients with decades of successful representation, and we hope to offer you the same. To start your legal journey or for more information, contact our office today.