Federal and State Truck Driving Regulations
Every state in the country maintains specific regulations regarding truck drivers. Indeed, each state is responsible for overseeing compliance with the federal rules regulating this industry - issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) - including both trucking companies and truck drivers alike. The FMCSA oversees several aspects of commercial truck and truck driving safety, including driver qualifications, safety records, and hazardous material warnings for large vehicles requiring specialized licenses for operations, among others. These rules are complex, but their goal is to ensure the safe operation of trucks to avoid fatal and catastrophic accidents.
The FMCSA’s regulations for commercial trucks covers all types of these large vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and other commercial vehicles. The FMCSA’s regulations address topics such as:
- Truck driver qualifications - before a driver is allowed to operate a semi-truck (or any other type of commercial vehicle) certain standards and expectations must be met. For example, a potential driver must be at least 21 years of age, speak and understand conversational English and hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL);
- Inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles - all trucking companies are responsible for maintaining and repairing their commercial fleet, including ensuring that all vehicles pass safety inspections. Therefore, these companies must ensure the safe operation of all parts, accessories, and systems of the vehicles that are commuting on our nation’s highways every day;
- Minimum mandated insurance coverage - states across the nation mandate higher amounts of liability insurance than drivers of regular passenger cars, which must be maintained by trucking companies and commercial drivers. The logic behind this requirement is the serious and often fatal harm a heavy commercial truck can cause in the event of a collision; and
- Operations of commercial vehicles - there are special rules that apply to commercial vehicles and their drivers, such as regulations regarding alcohol and drug use, periodic physical examinations with stringent requirements, and a limit on the number of consecutive hours during which a driver may work behind the wheel of a commercial truck.
Violations of FMCSA Rules
The FMCSA reports that there were more than 5,000 enforcement cases from which over $36 million in fines were collected in its 2014 fiscal year. As many as 8.1 million single-unit commercial trucks and 2.5 tractor-trailers were registered in the United States as of 2013, according to the FMCSA. As of December 2014, more than half a million interstate motor carriers and intrastate hazardous material carriers were operating throughout the nation. The estimated number of licensed commercial drivers employed by these companies is approximately 5.7 million.
As many as 3.8 million roadside inspections performed by state and federal officials were conducted in 2014. Minor violations may lead to fines, while more serious ones can result in the issuance of an “out of service order” to a vehicle or driver. Before a cited driver or a vehicle can resume operations, the violations must be corrected.
New Braunfels Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a trucking accident in Texas, contact an experienced and aggressive New Braunfels semi-truck accident attorney right away. The Bettersworth Law Firm focuses on all types of trucking accidents, and can provide sincere legal advocacy for victims. Our aggressive attorneys represent clients throughout the state of Texas. Contact (888) 392-0039 today to schedule a consultation.