Here is where you’ll learn about what laws apply to trucking accidents.
Truck drivers have control of very large and heavy pieces of machinery, their semi or tractor trailers, which because of these characteristics can be very dangerous to other passenger size vehicles and the inhabitants within them. Because of the inherent dangerousness of these vehicles, and because they often cross state lines during the normal course of hauling goods, federal laws have been established, along with individual state laws, for the regulation of both truck drivers and the trucks they drive, and the loads they carry.
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) through its division, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has laws in place dealing with many aspects of safety for these vehicles and their operators. For example, all truck drivers who operate vehicles meeting certain criteria must hold a commercial driver’s license (known as a CDL). To obtain this license, a driver must pass both a skills test to demonstrate their ability to handle and maneuver such a large vehicle properly and safely, and a knowledge test to demonstrate their knowledge of relevant rules, safety regulations, and inspection procedures.
An additional federal regulation relates to controlled substances and alcohol use and testing for truck drivers. For example, this law requires that truck drivers who need a CDL to drive certain vehicles must also undergo mandatory testing for illegal substances. In addition, it provides for a lower legal definition of drunkenness than some state laws.
Finally, these federal regulations effect the hours of service, including the amount of time that a truck driver may drive and/or be on-duty before mandatory rest breaks to reduce the risk of drivers losing focus or control of the vehicle because of fatigue. (See also “What are the most common causes of truck accidents?“). To enforce these rules drivers are required to keep a log book of each 24 hours, in 15 minute increments, specifying when certain actions such as stops, inspections, and driving take place. In substitution for a log book some trucks have electronic on-board recorders, sometimes referred to as a truck’s black box, to record the driver’s hours.
In addition, the USDOT enforces regulations relating to:
- The qualifications of drivers
- The parts and accessories necessary for safe operations
- Inspection, repair and maintenance of trucks and trailers
- Specific rules regarding the transportation of hazardous materials and migrant workers
Some states also have special speed limit restrictions, and restrictions for trucks from driving in certain lanes, for example.
If you have been in a truck collision you should consult with an attorney or law firm familiar with both federal and state truck safety regulations and laws to investigate whether all regulations were followed prior to your collision or not.
Starr Austen and Miller focuses on representing individuals and their family members in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, such as those often involved in trucking accidents. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident in Indiana, you can contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.
[Source: Truck Accident Lawyer.com]