Truck drivers, whether they are self-employed or under the employment of a logistics company, are required to abide by a number of federal trucking regulations. Among them, rules about the number of hours drivers are allowed to be on duty, safe driving requirements, and maintenance and repair requirements to assure the vehicle is safe. These regulations are in place to protect the drivers as well as the public from unsafe practices that could result in accident, injury or death.
Drivers’ Hours of Service
There are very strict guidelines as to the number of hours per day and per week that truck drivers are allowed to be on duty. The amount of time that is spent driving, loading, unloading, inspecting and repairing the vehicle, as well as time spent doing paperwork and other activities, all count towards the number of hours on duty. The reason for this is actually quite simple; drivers who are not well rested are more likely to make mistakes that can lead to accidents.
Safe Driving Requirements
It is against federal trucking regulations for drivers to operate their trucks if they are sick, tired, or if while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, whether illegal or prescribed, if they interfere with their performance. Truck drivers, like all other drivers, have to abide by the traffic laws and drive cautiously in hazardous conditions. In addition, they are required to come to a full stop before reaching a railroad track. Most of these requirements are common sense, as in the case of driving while using drugs or alcohol. However, common sense does not always prevail.
Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
Every commercial motor vehicle on the roadways across the country must be adequately maintained so it is safe for both the driver of the truck and the other motorists. Every part of the truck is covered under the federal trucking regulations, from the headlights to the brakes to the tires, frame and bumpers. It is the responsibility of the trucking company and its drivers to assure that the truck complies with the requirements. Companies and drivers that allow trucks that are not properly maintained or repaired are putting themselves and others at grave risk.
Regulations are not Foolproof
Despite the myriad of regulations pertaining to trucking companies and their drivers, accidents do happen. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals some startling statistics in their latest Traffic Safety Facts report revised in May 2014. According to the report, 330,000 large trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds were involved in traffic accidents in 2012. In those accidents, more than 3,900 people were killed and 104,000 people were injured. What’s even more startling is that 73 percent of the fatalities and injuries were people in vehicles other than the truck.
The truck drivers and companies that employ them are responsible for their safety and that of others on the roadways as well. Compliance with the regulations mentioned above, is mandatory. However, human error, both in judgment and action, can and often does create dangerous situations that put people at risk. If you or someone you know was injured in a accident involving a truck, contact a qualified truck accident attorney at DDB Law. We have the experience required to review all the intricacies of trucking regulations in order to determine fault or negligence.