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Federal Safety Regulations for Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks are some of the heaviest and most dangerous vehicles on the road. It is not surprising that the state of North Carolina and the federal government regulate these enormous vehicles aggressively. For most large truck drivers in trucking companies, the primary source of regulations and rules is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In this article, we will discuss some of the most important federal safety regulations for commercial trucks.

Who is Subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

Not every large vehicle that you see on the road must follow federal safety regulations for commercial trucks. There is a common misconception that federal regulations only apply to large tractor-trailers. The regulations apply to any vehicle that weighs 10,001 pounds or more. The regulations also apply to any bus that transports between nine and 15 people, including the driver.

As a result, even large vehicles like a Ford F-350, a heavy-duty pickup truck pulling a small axle trailer with a tractor on it, need to comply with federal regulations. In other words, even when a vehicle is not being used for commercial purposes, it could still fall under the requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Finally, when a large bus or truck crosses state lines, the driver will likely be required to follow FMCSA rules. The mechanics and maintenance workers, and businesses that maintain these large vehicles may also be required to follow these regulations.

Truck Drivers Must be Familiar With Federal Regulations

These federal guidelines apply to anyone involved in a commercial motor vehicle operation, not just the truck drivers. As a result, the federal regulations apply to managers, dispatchers, trainers, hiring managers, and supervisors. Even truck drivers who are in training need to comply with these regulations. Just because a driver obtains a commercial driver's license does not mean he or she is familiar with these federal regulations.

Although drivers are required to be familiar with these regulations, it does not mean that companies enforce this requirement. Unfortunately, their negligence can result in devastating truck accidents.

Regulations Imposed by the FMCSA

The FMCSA has created numerous rules for nearly every part of the interstate trucking industry. Some of the most well-known regulations involve how often truck drivers need to take breaks while driving. For example, since March 2017, the FMCSA has limited commercial bus or truck drivers to 11 hours of driving per day. Even though the driver can work up to 14 hours a day, he or she needs to take at least three of those hours off and not drive during them.

This regulation is an attempt to stop truck accidents caused by driver fatigue and drowsiness. Truck drivers drive for long hours and cover significant distances, which is mentally and physically exhausting. These regulations prevent drivers from driving while tired, which can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. They force drivers to get enough rest to curb fatigue-related truck accidents.

Truck drivers must keep logs that detail when they are driving and off the road and the time they are resting. These logs used to be written down on paper and could be falsified easily. New technology allows commercial trucks to capture and record data automatically. This helps police and accident investigators to determine how much time the truck driver spends on the road without taking a break when looking into the cause of the truck accident.

The FMCSA also regulates how and when trucking companies must maintain their vehicles. Failure to maintain a vehicle is always dangerous, regardless of the vehicle type. However, it is especially hazardous when large vehicles have mechanical issues, especially issues with their breaks. Trucking companies may try to cut corners and avoid paying to maintain their vehicles, which can cause devastating accidents.

Contact a Charlotte Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you or your loved one were injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you might be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our skilled personal injury lawyers have an in-depth understanding of FMCSA regulations. We also have the resources and experience to thoroughly investigate your case, giving you the best opportunity possible to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our North Carolina law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

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