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Federal Trucking Regulations

The U.S. trucking industry is heavily regulated through federal law (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. §§ 350-399)). The attorneys at The Perecman Firm, PLLC, have extensive knowledge of these regulations and can answer your questions regarding your truck accident case.

The government has several rules in place which regulate how trucks are supposed to operate within the state.

Controlled Substances, Alcohol Use and Testing

Companies are required to implement certain program guidelines to prevent trucking accidents and injuries resulting from drivers abusing drugs or alcohol. Every person who drives a work vehicle is subject to this section. There are additional requirements for drivers who have obtained their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and who drive very large vehicles.

Commercial Driver’s License Standards

This section sets out the requirements for drivers who are going to be obtaining a CDL. Since it’s assumed that holders of a CDL are going to be driving large, powerful vehicles that may carry a significant number of passengers or hazardous materials, the standards for CDL holders are pretty strict. CDL holders must know every procedure and technique needed to operate their vehicles safely. Additionally, drivers must show an understanding that (a) not sleeping properly, (b) impairments in vision, and (c) the use of controlled substances can hurt their driving ability.

Qualification of Drivers

In the U.S., all drivers of large commercial vehicles or vehicles transporting hazardous materials must speak English, have the physical capacity to safely operate their commercial vehicles, and must be at least 21 years of age. Further, drivers of commercial/hazmat vehicles must have active CDLs that have not been revoked for any reason.

Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles

This section requires everyone involved in the process of commercial trucking and/or the transportation of hazardous materials to be in compliance with all relevant rules. There are various rules and driving procedures applying to railroad tracks, sleep deprivation, cargo loading, inspections, and a variety of other aspects of commercial driving.

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation

This section of the law imposes different limitations on the type and placement of accessories in or around a commercial vehicle to ensure that they will not make the vehicle less safe. Any accessory that obstructs the driver’s view or reduces the braking performance of the vehicle may be illegal. A number of other restrictions apply.

Hours of Service of Drivers

One of the biggest concerns that lawmakers have addressed over the past few years is overworked commercial drivers. Historically, companies could require commercial drivers to spend far too many hours behind the wheel, which resulted in terrible accidents. Now, a truck driver’s “on duty” time is limited to a reasonable number of hours. On duty time includes all the time during which a driver is performing most of the duties related to the operation, maintenance, loading, cleaning, or driving of his vehicle.

Inspection, Repair and Maintenance

For some commercial vehicles, drivers have special obligations. This section applies to hazmat transports, large passenger vehicles, and commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds. These obligations extend to the majority of people who are responsible for the vehicle’s operation and its maintenance. Operation of such a vehicle can be prohibited if there is good reason to believe it may malfunction or to cause an accident.

Transportation of Hazardous Materials

The handling of hazardous materials is a very highly regulated part of the commercial transport industry. The regulations apply to drivers, in addition to many different types of trucking industry support staff. Depending on the type of hazardous materials being transported, there may be parking restrictions, limits on whether the driver can leave the vehicle, in addition to many other regulations and restrictions that must be followed.

It could be easy to become overwhelmed with the complexities of trucking regulations. The lawyers at The Perecman Firm, PLLC have years of experience helping clients understand these laws. If you have been involved in an accident with or have been injured by a commercial vehicle, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you pursue your case and better understand your rights.


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