If you consider the sheer weight and size of an 18-wheeler, it is easy
to see how every truck accident will most likely be very serious, if not
catastrophic. There are common contributing factors in most
trucking accidents, some the same as with
motor vehicle collisions. However, due to the seriousness of trucking accidents, many clients ask
whether the trucking industry is regulated by the government. The answer is yes.
The Federal Agencies that Regulate the Trucking Industry
Recognizing the inherent risk of serious injury and property damage that
results from trucking accidents, the federal government has passed certain
laws and regulations governing how the trucking industry operates. Specifically,
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a division
of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates not only the trucks
but also the truck drivers.
A Summary of FMCSA Regulations
The FMCSA provides regulatory oversight and guidance on various matters
related to the trucking industry. For instance, they have established
medical requirements for truck drivers, including drug and alcohol testing
requirements. There are also regulations concerning the transportation
of hazardous materials, as well as, how to properly secure cargo. Possibly
one of the most important regulations is the one establishing the “hours
of service” limitations.
“Hours of service” regulations
The federal government has imposed very strict limitations on the number
of hours a truck driver can drive consecutively, as well as, how many
hours of rest are required before the driver can resume driving. The obvious
goal of these regulations is to prevent trucking accidents caused by driver
fatigue. These rules currently limit truck drivers to an 11-hour daily
driving limit. As of July 2013, the maximum average workweek is limited
to 70 hours, allowing the driver to resume driving only after resting
for 34 consecutive hours. Truck drivers are also required to take a 30-minute
break during the first eight hours on shift.
Driving Log Requirements for Truck Drivers
Federal regulations also require truck drivers to keep a driving log which
records their driving hours while on shift. This log must be submitted
to their employers. The trucking companies are required to maintain the
logs in case of a federal audit. The logs must also be submitted to law
enforcement if requested during a roadside inspection.
If you have questions regarding a trucking accident case,
contact us online or by calling the Law Office of Cody R. Wix, LLC at (205) 381-4787.