The United States FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) governs trucking companies and truck drivers by establishing strict rules and regulations designed to avoid unsafe actions that could cause serious trucking accidents. The rules are enforced to regulate truckers, vehicles and motor carrier companies.
The FMCSA issues, maintains and enforces the regulations under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which lists all regulations and laws governing the entire U.S. trucking industry. The title is continuously updated to reflect critical regulatory information involving:
Hours of Service (HOS)
Truck drivers are regulated by the amount of hours they can work every day, shift or week. HOS was first established at the end of 2011, with recent compliance provisions updated in July 2013. Currently, the provision allows drivers to operate the vehicle eleven hours as a daily driving limit in an effort to minimize driver fatigue by driving long days with minimal sleep.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures
Every trucker who maintains a CDL (commercial driver’s license) must follow drug and alcohol rules as mandated by the FMCSA. The regulations help identify where and when a trucker can be subjected to testing and under what situations. These rules outline who can be tested, what substances the test is looking for and the testing procedures used.
Mobile Phone and Texting Restrictions
A high majority of trucking accidents with serious injuries or fatalities often involve mobile phone use or texting behind the wheel. As a result, the FMCSA strictly prohibits truckers from texting while operating a commercial vehicle. This includes a ban on emailing, SMS (short message service) text information, instant messaging, requesting or commanding access to a website, initiating or terminating voice communication on mobile devices, or any engagement with other electronic text entry or retrieval on any form of electronic communication devices.
The rules and regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration help ensure safety on the nation’s highways. Part of this includes ensuring that commercial truckers are sufficiently qualified to handle transporting goods across America’s roadways. Every trucker is required to maintain a medical examiner’s certificate in order to operate an interstate commercial motor vehicle. To receive the certification, the trucker is required to pass a physical and complete a medical history form to assist medical examiners in making a fitness determination.
Transporting Hazardous Materials
Many truck accident injuries occur when truckers fail to follow federal truck regulations when transporting hazardous materials. The FMCSA has outlined numerous hazmat regulations and offers training on rollover prevention to increase safety on the nation’s roads. Motor carriers must maintain a satisfactory rating to transport hazardous materials. In addition, the trucker must identify the load using placarding and be sufficiently trained on how to properly respond to a hazmat emergency. This can minimize dangers to the public when transporting dangerous or hazardous materials.
Securing Cargo Loads
A fully loaded 18-wheel commercial motor vehicle can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Some of the most serious trucking accidents involving life-threatening injuries and fatalities are the result of shifting cargo that was improperly secured before or during transport. Because of that, motor carriers providing interstate commerce transport are required to comply with cargo securement rules by using sufficient tie downs to secure cargo loads.
In addition, the trucking company and trucker must ensure that all systems and devices utilized to secure loads meet specific performance criteria. This means that all tie downs including cordage, wire rope, synthetic webbing, chains and steel strapping is in proper working order without weakened or damage components that might have the potential to adversely affect its performance.
Nearly eight out of all 10 rollover accidents involving commercial trucks occur because of some type of driver error. Because of that, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers valuable training aids to truckers holding a CDL license to learn methods to prevent rollovers. The training outlines specific FMCSA guidelines to minimize the potential of a rollover accident based on roadway factors, load effects, driving abilities and the commercial vehicle’s design and performance.
With proper training, the commercial trucker can prevent sudden movements of the vehicle that often leads to rollovers and help identify the highest rollover risk areas on roadways under any condition. Effective training also teaches the trucker how to control the load during turns and while driving on straight roadways. By controlling speed, and maintaining a proper “speed cushion,” the trucker can minimize the potential of a dangerous rollover that could cause serious injuries or death.
Every safety regulation established by the FMCSA is designed to reduce the potential of collisions, injuries and fatalities in accidents involving large commercial vehicles including trucks and buses. This is because unsafe driving behaviors can cause serious accidents. Regulations by the federal agency require truckers to wear seatbelts, abide by the posted speed limit and follow the traffic laws of every community they drive.
It is the duty of motor carrier companies to identify any pattern of noncompliance of their truckers behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle and provide regulation education and the importance of compliance. The motor carrier is required to ensure that the trucker understands what violate safety on the roadway including reckless driving, speeding, inattention and improper lane changing.
The best commercial truck driver in the world can still cause a serious accident with injuries or fatalities if the vehicle is not properly maintained. Specific safety regulations by the FMCSA require proper maintenance on the vehicle to prevent dropped or spilled cargo, shifting loads and overloading. In addition, the trucking company and the driver must ensure that the vehicle has reflectors and lamps that operate properly and quality tires that are not worn out.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit
If you are injured by the negligent actions of a truck driver or trucking company, it is essential to file a claim or lawsuit for compensation. A reputable personal injury law firm can file a claim on your behalf to secure recompense for your injuries, damages, loss or the wrongful death of a loved one.