Although, statistically, commercial truck drivers are more careful than average drivers of passenger vehicles, a truck accident is generally more serious than one that does not involve these large, heavy vehicles. Indeed, the requirements for a commercial driver to get behind the wheel are more stringent than for a regular driver’s license. The commercial driver’s license (CDL) test itself is more complex, a driver must pass a physical exam with specific requirements, a driver must be at least 21 years old, and the person must speak and understand conversational English. Notwithstanding, the cargo being carried by a semi-truck involved in the wreck (which can include flammable or hazardous materials) enhances the danger.
When large tractor-trailers weighing 10,000 lbs. or greater crashes into a pedestrian or another vehicle, a trucking accident has occurred. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that approximately 500,000 trucking accidents occur annually. About one percent, or 5,000, of these semi-truck wrecks are fatal; one out of eight traffic deaths was the result of a truck accident.
Common Offenses Involving Regulations
Failure to comply with the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may be evidence of negligence after a crash involving a semi-truck. Truck drivers – as well as the company employing the driver – may be held liable if negligence contributed to the crash. Some examples of negligence include driver error as well as failure to correctly or regularly maintain the truck, its parts or systems. The top five violations of FMCSA regulations include:
- Driver log is not current or is nonexistent: Every driver who operates a commercial truck is mandated by federal law to record his or her duty status for each 24-hour period. Trucking companies are required to ensure their employees comply with this rule. An incomplete, inaccurate or falsified log may hide violations;
- Failure to comply with hours of service rules: The FMCSA’s regulations limit the number of consecutive hours a driver may work. Generally, the rules prohibit driving beyond the 14-hour duty period (which may include non-driving work) and no more than 11 hours within the duty period. The purpose behind this rule is to reduce the possibility of driver fatigue and, consequently, the potential for wrecks. Driver fatigue is often cited as the number one cause of a commercial truck driving accident;
- Non-English-speaking commercial driver: All commercial drivers must read and speak English well enough to converse with the public, understand general highway traffic signs, respond to inquiries from officers, and make entries on reports and records. It is not uncommon for trucking companies to violate this rule;
- Not following general safety requirements: FMCSA regulations specifically mandate that every commercial truck driver must operate the vehicle according to the laws, ordinances, and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is being operated. This includes wearing a safety belt and adhering to speed limits, among other rules; and
- Improperly maintaining the commercial vehicle: The FMCSA has specific requirements for brake adjustments, lamps and reflective devices, tire tread depth, oil and/or grease leaks, and other vehicle defects that must be addressed in order to safely operate the vehicle.
Texas Commercial Truck Wreck Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured – or someone has died – in a Texas commercial truck-related accident, contact a New Braunfels truck accident lawyer today to have an advocate on your side fighting for your legal rights to compensation. You deserve someone who will fight hard to obtain the justice you deserve. The Bettersworth Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients. Let us assist you in your case.