Commercial trucks plying on our roadways cause many accidents, but they are a necessary evil. Big rigs are needed for most of the inland transportation of many of the goods and products that consumers use. But when these 18-wheelers, weighing as high as up to 80,000 pounds, go out of control somehow, the damage they cause is often substantial. It may involve serious injuries to people and even fatalities. To prevent accidents and minimize the chances of injuries to people, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces trucking regulations.
As stated earlier, the commercial truck regulations are meant to reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the roads. Certain federal and state laws are framed to keep semis as safe as possible and prevent breakdowns and collisions. In case of non-compliance to these regulations, fines are imposed on the vehicle operators. Trucks could even be forced off the roads if the violations are severe and recurring. While the FMCSA enforces these regulations, sometimes a violation is not much evident until after an accident has taken place.
There are some general categories of the rule and regulations governing the trucking operations that include driver responsibilities, truck maintenance, and insurance. A big rig operator must be at least 21 years of age, and he must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). For operating inside any U.S. state, they are also required to understand and speak the English language. While behind the wheel, the drivers can’t use drugs or alcohol, and they also have to pass a periodic medical test.
Both truck drivers and the companies employing them have to follow the regulations limiting the time a driver can be on the driving seat or on the clock. The vehicle operators must log their driving time and they are strictly forbidden from driving for long periods of time without resting. According to one FMCSR rule, commercial drivers are required to take a minimum of 10 hours rest after being on duty for 14 hours, and they are required to take at least 10 hours rest after 11 total driving hours.
Then, vehicles must be properly maintained and regularly inspected. A commercial vehicle must be in safe working condition for taking to the roads. Moreover, drivers and trucking companies must carry insurance. The required liability minimums for commercial vehicle operations are higher than those of the passenger vehicles.
Despite all these regulations being in place, accidents do happen on the roads on a regular basis. The most common causes of truck accidents are safety laws violation, mechanical failure and human error. Speeding, failure to obey traffic signals or signs and improper lane changes are the most common type of violations that cause truck accidents.
Also, drivers can become fatigued and drowsy due to driving for longer than prescribed hours. This can lead them to fall asleep on the driving seat and swing into oncoming traffic or plow into the vehicles ahead of them. Sometimes the truck operators hope on the driving seat while they are intoxicated. Distraction is another reason for accidents.
After an accident occurs, law enforcement and other relevant officials investigate the incident to determine the cause behind it, keeping in view all the possible factors that might have contributed to it.
When a commercial driver or trucking company is found to have violated the laws, they may be considered negligent and held responsible for resulting damages and injuries. The victims in such cases are entitled to compensation that may cover the medical costs, money for lost wages and recompense for pain and suffering. The negligent must compensate for the damage their negligence has caused. If you or a loved one gets hurt in a commercial vehicle collision, contact us to discuss your case with a commercial trucking accident lawyer for free.