Greg Prosmushkin
Sep 23, 2022

The Role of Federal Regulations in a Commercial Trucking Accident

Commercial trucks are far heavier and bigger than passenger cars. Therefore, such trucks must abide by certain rules when they are carrying goods and other products. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are certain safety regulations for commercial vehicles. An injury claim will subsequently be filed if the trucking accident happened due to a violation of FMCSA regulations or negligence.

Which Federal Agencies Regulate Trucking Laws?

There are both state and federal agencies that regulate the trucking industry. Unfortunately though, certain laws may adversely affect you if you have been a victim of a semi-truck or commercial motor vehicle accident. 

Two of the federal agencies that regulate the trucking industry and its laws are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation

One of the fundamental sources of federal trucking companies is Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Let’s take a brief rundown of some of the fundamental FMCSA regulations and how violations can cause deadly trucking accidents.

What Elements Do Federal Trucking Regulations Cover?

Federal regulations are meant to regulate trucking companies, truck drivers, shippers, trucks, trailers, and brokers who hire the drivers for shippers and trucking companies. 

Whenever a truck driver is operating in a particular state or somewhere else, they need to comply with federal laws. Further, these people must also share the responsibility of compliance. Some of the common regulatory areas are:   

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Insurance requirements
  • Holding a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Hours of Service Regulation must be followed
  • Weight limit for a truck (based on the size of the truck)

Drug And Alcohol Testing

During employment, truck drivers must comply with drug and alcohol testing requirements. Drivers must pass through a federal clearinghouse to get hired. After getting hired, drivers are oftentimes checked annually for both drugs and alcohol. Further, after a crash, testing is likely to occur. Employers, motor carriers, and shippers are responsible for this testing and record-keeping.

Insurance Requirements

Under federal law, the minimum requirements of insurance and bonding are $750,000 coverage. However, they are not adequate in case of catastrophic crashes. It is a challenging task to discover hidden insurance and other excess details when trying to seek settlements.

Holding A Valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A normal driver’s license does not permit someone to drive a big rig. For operating such vehicles, there is a specific CDL required. The department of every state is responsible for issuing the license to the drivers. However, FMCSA set standards for licensing and testing. 

There are three categories of CDL based on the weight of the commercial truck. If the driver is driving without any CDL, it demonstrates the negligent conduct of both the truck owner and the truck driver.

Hours Of Service Must Be Regulated

Truck drivers who are operating commercial trucks are always under stress to deliver the goods on time. It may compel them to drive for more hours under fatigue. Such factors can lead to truck accidents. 

To avoid such accidents, FMCSA has certain strict regulations that are mandatory. Hours of service refers to the maximum time a truck driver can drive. According to these regulations, they are allowed to operate a vehicle for 11 hours, including some time off duty. They must never operate beyond 14 hours continuously. 

The rules also indicate that drivers must take a break of 30 minutes after they have been driving for 8 hours. If the truck driver is driving in bad weather conditions, the rules are more stringent. Extending beyond the specified limits will be considered a violation of the FMCSA regulations.

The Amount Of Weight A Truck Is Carrying Is Based On The Size Of The Truck

Unnecessary extending the truckload can lead to severe collisions. Therefore, the cargo must be loaded within secure limits. Otherwise, it can lead to being the fundamental cause of a crash or damages. However, the load limits vary depending on the size of the truck, cab frames, secured devices, suspension systems, and body type of the truck.

If a commercial truck has a single axle, its weight cannot exceed 20,000 pounds. For two-axle trucks, the weight limit must not be more than 30,000 pounds. Overloading of the truck can lead to tire blowouts, rollovers, and other dangerous consequences.

When truck drivers don’t comply with these federal regulations, the results can be disastrous. If you have been involved in a truck accident, an experienced Philadelphia truck accident lawyer can answer the many questions you may have after such a troubling event. Call the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin today to find out more.