Truck drivers and trucking companies must abide by a wide variety of federal motor carrier regulations designed to ensure the safety of large trucks and of the motoring public. When a large truck causes an accident, it may be discovered that the truck driver or the trucking company has failed to adhere to all these regulations. Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations cover everything from the number of hours a truck driver may stay behind the wheel, to size and weight limitations on 18-wheelers, to workplace drug and alcohol testing programs at trucking companies.
Truck accidents often have multiple contributing causes. An experienced truck accident lawyer at Arnold & Itkin LLP can identify all the contributing factors and regulations that were violated in a serious accident. This includes violations of federal trucking regulations and NAFTA regulations.
If you have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a large truck, you should talk to a knowledgeable truck accident attorney about your legal options. When truck drivers or trucking companies fail to follow safety regulations and accidents occur, then they should be held responsible for their negligence and the damage and injuries they have caused.
The lawyers at our firm have years of experience investigating truck accidents. We are experienced trial attorneys and aggressive advocates for our clients. We have taken on some of the biggest trucking companies in the United States. We believe in holding negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable and have a track record of verdicts and settlements to prove it. Our law firm has secured hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients – we are ready, willing and able to see how we can help you.
Trucking Regulations: Keeping Our Roads Safe
Federal motor carrier safety regulations, referred to as FMCSRs, cover commercial truck drivers, the maintenance and repair of trucks and trucking companies. They are intended to keep our roads free of the catastrophic crashes that can occur when cars and trucks collide. Some of the key provisions include:
Hours-of-Service— Commercial truck drivers are limited in the daily and weekly number of hours they may drive a truck. These limits, called hours-of-service regulations, are designed to keep
exhausted drivers off the highway, where they are a danger. Many states have regulations similar to or identical to the federal regulations. A commercial truck driver may drive a maximum of 11 hours and work no more than14 hours a day including driving and non-driving duties. The driver is then required to have 10 continuous hours off before they can drive again. There also are weekly driving limits. Drivers are required to document their time in a log, which shows hours and mileage by day. To deliver freight more quickly and satisfy their employer, truck drivers may violate these limits. Their logs can provide important evidence when carefully analyzed by an experienced truck accident attorney.
Alcohol and Drugs — An 80,000-pound truck driven by a drunken driver is a serious danger to the public. Commercial truck drivers are held to stricter standards than other drivers. They are in violation of
drunk driving laws if their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or higher, as shown by an alcohol breath test. Truck drivers also are subject to random testing for alcohol and drug use by their employer. They are subject to testing after accidents in which the truck driver may have contributed to the crash and after all
fatal truck accidents. Truck drivers may not operate a commercial motor vehicle within four hours after using alcohol. There also are federal rules regarding use of prescription drugs such as amphetamines. Despite tougher rules about impaired driving, a small percentage of fatal traffic accidents each year are still caused by truck drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Weight Limits— Federal weight limits apply to large trucks driven on interstate highways. Generally, trucks on the interstates can have a maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds. Trucks pulling two or more trailers in some western states may exceed that. The weight limits are designed to protect the nation's investment in highways and bridges. But they also affect the cost of transportation, so truck drivers and trucking companies may try to skirt the weight limits to cut costs and make more money. But an overloaded truck can pose a danger on the highways.
- Maintenance and Repair — Preventive maintenance and regular safety inspections can prevent a worn tire or broken component from causing a serious truck accident. For example, the failure of a tractor-trailer truck's air brakes may send a truck careening through a red light. Federal regulations provide minimum inspection standards for commercial motor carriers. But too many trucking companies skimp on routine safety inspection programs and training drivers to recognize signs of trouble before they cause an accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will investigate whether the trucking company has established standards for placing vehicles out of service and whether they have an adequate record keeping system to document the maintenance and repairs. The lack of well-documented inspections and maintenance can provide persuasive evidence of negligence contributing to a serious tractor-trailer accident.
Involve a Truck Accident Lawyer
Our firm represents victims of truck accidents nationwide. We have successfully handled cases involving speeding, driver error, aggressive driving, negligent maintenance and issues of corporate responsibility in commercial vehicle accidents of all types. We are committed to helping people seriously injured in large truck accidents. Once you meet our legal team to discuss your case, you will understand why H Texas magazine in Houston named Arnold & Itkin LLP "Top Lawyers for the People" three years in a row and why Texas Monthly has consistently recognized our attorneys as "Rising Stars."