Federal Trucking Laws
The commercial trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation which has established a number of rules and regulations to help prevent truck accidents and ensure the safe and efficient transportation of goods nationwide.
There are many causes of truck accidents, but often they involve a violation of FMCSA regulations, which can make your case more complex. Norfolk, Virginia truck accident lawyers John Cooper, Jim Hurley, Bill O’Mara and Griff O'Hanlon have many yearsof combined experience handling these cases and know exactly what to look for when it comes to proving a violation of the law and seeking the full compensation you are due.
Overview of FMCSA Laws
There are literally hundreds of regulations for truckers and the companies they work for, but some of the most basic (and commonly violated) federal trucking laws include:
- Truckers must be 21+ years old, and:
- Carry a valid commercial driver’s license
- Complete all state and federally required trucking safety courses
- A trucker may not operate his or her vehicle for more than 11 consecutive hours, and these driving hours must follow at least 10 hours of off-duty rest time
- Detailed records of drive time must be kept in the trucking log
- Detailed records must be kept of vehicle inspection and maintenance
- Truck drivers must not report for duty with a blood/alcohol level of 0.02 or more, and truck drivers cannot carry alcohol with them unless it forms part of their cargo.
- Truckers must undergo special physical training and pass an exam every two years.
- Vehicles are required to have certain markings. All trucks must display markings including their USDOT number, Hazmat markings and other markings if they are carrying dangerous materials.
- A load must be:
- Properly secured
- Within the truck’s towing capacity
- Within the trailer’s holding capacity
- Within state weight limitations
The reasons for these rules are obvious. They are intended to prevent things such as truck driver fatigue, vehicle malfunction, rollovers, and jackknife accidents. Weight restrictions also help prevent runaway trucks, loss of braking capacity, and the extent of damage impact that a semi-truck can cause.
Does a Truck Have to Comply with The Hours of Service Regulations?
The Hours of Service regulations are among the most important federal laws that apply to truck drivers. They are intended to ensure drivers take adequate breaks and don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Notwithstanding these important rules, hundreds of wrecks every year are caused by drowsy truckers. Sometimes trucking companies bend the rules to make impossible timetables for the delivery of goods.
The Hours of Service regulations apply when a truck or a bus is used as a business, takes part in interstate commerce and complies with one or more of the following stipulations.
- The truck weighs 10,001 pounds or more;
- The vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more;
- The vehicle is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation;
- The vehicle is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
- It is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards.
Experienced Virginia Truck Accident Lawyers
Federal trucking regulations provide a framework for the trucking industry in the United States. When we are asked to investigate a trucking accident with injuries, or a death, one of the first things we will do is to check if the federal regulations were complied with.
A failure to follow one of the many federal regulations will help build up a powerful case against a trucking company or another relevant entity like a broker or a shipper.
Despite the presence of these safety regulations, thousands of truck accidents occur in Virginia and North Carolina every year. If you have been seriously injured in one of these accidents, our Norfolk, Virginia truck accident attorneys can help you. We will thoroughly investigate your accident to determine the cause and identify which FMCSA laws were violated.
Please contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced trucking team. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers has a main office opposite the Circuit Court in Norfolk and client meeting locatons in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Please schedule an appointment before visiting our client meeting locaitons. We represent people hurt in trucking accidents across the Commonwealth in Virginia and in North Carolina.
If you cannot conveniently come to us, our attorneys will be happy to come to you at your home or at your hospital bed. Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers is the author of The Best Book About Virginia Trucking Accidents. It can be ordered on our book page.