Federal Regulations for Truck Drivers

The federal government has an invested interest in everyone’s safety on America’s roads and highways. This is why anyone who wants to get behind the wheel of a car needs to prove they can drive safely first and always follow practices outlined by the Department of Transportation. But the government also recognizes that commercial trucks, with their increased size, increased weight, and increased amount of time spend on the road, inherently pose an even greater threat to peoples’ health and wellbeing when driven negligently. To this end, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was founded in 2000 and implemented additional federal regulations truck drivers must follow to help avoid and prevent truck accidents.

Three of the Most Important Truck Regulations

  1. The Black Box: You may have heard that airplanes all use a “black box” system to track important data relevant to a plane’s maintenance and flights, but did you know that commercial trucks are also equipped with a black box? A truck’s log will record the duration and frequency of rest periods, the speed of the vehicle, and more, all to help investigators reconstruct the events leading up to a truck accident. Specifically, it is meant to pinpoint moments of truck driver recklessness or negligence.
  2. Regular maintenance: There is no big piece of equipment out there that does not require regular maintenance to remain safe and usable, and commercial trucks are certainly no exception. Depending on the cargo a truck usually carries, the routes it generally takes, and its make and model, a commercial truck will require inspections and maintenance at frequent intervals. Negligence may be found if the trucker doesn’t bring the vehicle in for inspection, if the trucking company doesn’t allow the truck to be inspected, or if the maintenance crews are lenient and miss critical mistakes.
  3. Shift schedules: If a commercial truck weighs more than 10,001 pounds – the limit is 80,000 pounds so this will include virtually all 18-wheelers with or without cargo – its driver cannot be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours in a 14 hour shift after an 8 hour break. When a driver works more than 7 days in a row, they must be scheduled to receive a 34 hour break period. While these regulations may already seem somewhat dangerous – who can spend 11 hours behind the wheel and not get exhausted? – they can actually be stretched further if the driver does not leave a 100-air mile radius or needs to complete a mandatory delivery.

The FMCSA has laid the groundwork for safe truck driving habits, but there is still room for improvement and additional regulations. If everything was perfect, truck accidents wouldn’t continue to be a massive problem for motorists all across Texas, especially in the Midland-Odessa oilfield regions. If you have been in a truck accident and you think the driver may have violated set regulations, you could have a strong personal injury claim on your hands. Get the facts straight and your case prepared correctly with Lenahan Law Firm and our highly-experienced Dallas truck accident attorneys. Call 888.828.5630 for a free consultation.

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