Hit by a Truck Driver? They May Have Broken Rules and Regulations
More than 3.5 million people are certified professional truck drivers in the United States. A vital part of our economy, these drivers’ main responsibility is transporting freight in tractor trailers from coast to coast. Unfortunately, all of this activity has unintended consequences. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 415,000 accidents in 2015 involved large trucks, with 83,000 of them causing injuries and nearly 3,600 resulting in fatalities.
Today, many rules and regulations exist to help keep people safe from truck accidents, but trucking crashes have still been rising in recent years.
When someone is injured or passes away as a result of a tractor-trailer accident, victims can pursue compensation for physical, financial, and emotional hardships they suffered. Below, we will take a look at some of the rules and regulations for truck drivers and trucking companies — and discuss what you should do if you’ve been injured in a trucking crash.
Commercial Driver’s License and Classifications
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to drive certain types of commercial motor vehicles. Depending on the type of vehicle, three different classifications exist for CDLs: Class A, B, or C. These licenses are issued after testing is passed both in a classroom setting and on the road.
While Class B and C CDLs apply to drivers of busses and passenger vans, Class A CDLs relate to drivers who use tractor trailers, and they limit what truck drivers can do.
Class A CDL Specifications
A Class A CDL is issued to truck drivers who operate any combination of vehicles to haul freight. The towing allowances permitted for drivers with a Class A CDL include a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, as well as a towed vehicle that exceeds 10,000 pounds.
In addition, a few of the vehicles truck drivers with a Class A CDL may be able to operate include:
- Tractor trailers
- Tanker trucks
- Livestock carriers
Some drivers are not licensed to operate a certain type of vehicle (or their license has lapsed), and this can create major safety problems for other vehicles on the road with them.
Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers
Tractor trailer drivers must also abide by specific hours of service rules to avoid drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel. These regulations were substantively changed in 2013 after the FMCSA implemented new rules to improve safety and reduce truck driver fatigue.
While these regulations are subject to change, current hours of service rules for truck drivers include:
- A maximum average work week of 70 hours, which was reduced from 82 hours
- An 11-hour daily driving limit and a 14-hour work day
- A 30-minute rest within the first 8 hours of driving
- Two nights a week of rest at peak hours (1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.)
These rules were put in place to ensure driver and public safety. Additionally, fines are attached to rules violations.
Weight and Maintenance Laws
Tractor trailer drivers must adhere to weight and maintenance laws, which vary from state to state. However, given that many truck drivers cross state boundaries, similarities exist, including:
- Limiting the vehicle’s total gross weight to 80,000 pounds
- Applying limits to the number of axles on any given vehicle
- Upholding maintenance checklists, which review everything from fenders and mudguards to trailer height and length, that have to be observed to ensure the safety of all drivers
Contact the Seattle Truck Law Team If You’ve Been Injured in a Trucking Accident
Despite these — and more — regulations placed on truck drivers and trucking companies, people are injured in trucking crashes every day in the United States.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a large vehicle such as a semi, the Seattle Truck Law team at Seattle Truck Law is here to stand up for your rights and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams can help you navigate the complex legal issues surrounding trucking accidents.
Please contact Seattle Truck Law at (866) 580-HURT | (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form if you need advice and help after a large truck crash. We offer free consultations to help you gain a better understanding of your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay for fees or case expenses unless we achieve a financial recovery for you.
CDL classifications. (2017). DMV.org. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.org/commercial-drivers/cdl-class-types.php
Commercial vehicle enforcement. (n.d.). TN Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Retrieved from https://www.tn.gov/safety/topic/cvemain
Large truck and bus crash facts 2015. (2017, March 3). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2015
New hours-of-service safety regulations to reduce truck driver fatigue begin today. (2013, July 1). U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/new-hours-service-safety-regulations-reduce-truck-driver-fatigue-begin-today
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.