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What Duties do Trucking Companies and Drivers Have to Maintain Their Trucks?

What Duties do Trucking Companies and Drivers Have to Maintain Their Trucks?

Part 5 in an 8-Part Summary of Trucking Regulations…  

FMCSA Reg. Part 396 re inspection, repair and maintenance requirements

What duties do trucking companies and drivers have to maintain their trucks?

Perhaps the core element in the safe operation of commercial trucks is the proper care and maintenance of the vehicles themselves. With commercial motor vehicles often subjected to intense and demanding operations schedules, a professional commitment to equipment maintenance is essential for creating a safe operating environment for both the drivers and the public sharing the highway with them.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation 396 lays out the basic inspection and maintenance duties that both a commercial vehicle carrier company and driver must fulfill. This begins with the duty of the truck carrier to maintain the vehicle’s vital parts in proper working order. The list of vital parts is long and extensive and can be found here.

Additionally the truck carrier is under a duty to have the vehicle inspected by a qualified inspector, as defined by the regulation, at least once within the last 12 months to ensure
the operation of the vehicles vital parts and to display documentation of that inspection on the body of vehicle. Under the regulation if any defect is found the motor carrier is prohibited to require or allow a driver to operate the vehicle until the defect is repaired or corrected.

As well as the commercial truck company, the individual driver must fulfill a variety of duties to maintain the operational standard of the vehicles he or she drives. Every day of operation the driver of a commercial motor vehicle is required under Regulation 396 to perform a basic inspection of vital components and record the results of his inspection in an official daily inspection log. The items that must be inspected daily include:

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rear vision mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

Issues regarding truck maintenance and equipment failure often arise in truck accident litigation. Under the time and economic pressure of shipping schedules drivers have been known to cut corners in maintaining the required vigilance to maintenance inspections. While daily maintenance and inspections logs can be falsified, their existence creates a baseline for investigating the factual circumstances surrounding a case.

Read Part 6 of Trucking Regulations… 

What Issues are Involved When I’m Involved in a Truck Accident Where the Truck was Hauling Hazardous Materials?

– Back to Part 4

Starr Austen and Miller, specialized truck accident lawyers in Indiana, focus on representing individuals and their family members in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, such as those often involved in Indiana truck accidents. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident you can contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.