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Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

Posted in Truck Accidents

Broken laws are a common cause of motor vehicle accidents. Truck accidents are no exception. Commercial truck drivers have more laws to follow than average drivers due to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is up to every truck driver and presiding truck company to know and obey the FMCSA’s rules of operation. Breaking any federal commercial motor vehicle safety regulation could lead to an accident.

Large semi-truck in New Mexico

Hours of Service Regulations

The FMCSA’s hours of service regulations control how many hours a truck driver can operate a commercial truck per shift. These rules aim to reduce the number of drowsy truck drivers and related accidents. Drowsy driving is a significant issue among long-haul truckers due to overnight shifts, lack of adequate sleep, health conditions such as sleep apnea and long hours alone on the road.

Hours of service rules limit a truck driver’s shift to a 14-hour maximum window. Within this window, no trucker may drive for more than 11 hours. After each 8-hour period of consecutive driving, the trucker must take a rest or off-duty break of at least 30 minutes. It is against federal safety regulations to drive a commercial truck for more than 60 hours in a 7-day window or 70 hours in an 8-day window. Broken hours of service rules can easily lead to drowsy driving truck accidents.

Truck Maintenance Requirements

Equipment breakdowns are often behind truck accidents in Albuquerque. Large trucks require regular maintenance and daily inspections before a driver embarks. If a trucking company skips inspections, ignores repair needs or fails to adequately maintain its fleet, equipment-related accidents can occur.

  • Broken or missing headlights, taillights or brake lights
  • Missing reflectors or reflective tape
  • Electrical problems
  • Worn down brake pads or improperly adjusted brakes
  • Worn tires or tread
  • Ignored engine problems
  • Low-quality repairs

These are some of the most commonly neglected areas of commercial truck maintenance that cause truck accidents. Truck companies and vehicle owners have a legal obligation to make sure their trucks are in safe and proper working order at all times. Failing to meet inspection, repair and maintenance requirements violates federal law.

Hiring and Training Rules

A trucking company is only as safe as its employees and drivers. Federal requirements determine how a company may engage in hiring and training practices. They set minimum training requirements per position, as well as rules such as conducting background checks on potential truck drivers. All truck drivers in the U.S. must carry commercial driver’s licenses. Breaking federal hiring or training laws to get more people on the road or to deliver cargo faster is an act of negligence that could contribute to inexperienced drivers and related accidents.

Drug and Alcohol Tests

Drunk and drugged driving can be deadly behind the wheel of any vehicle, especially a big rig weighing up to 80,000 pounds or more. Truck companies must under federal law test their drivers for drugs before hiring them, after an accident and at random. They must also test blood alcohol concentration levels after complaints or truck accidents. Trucking companies should not allow drivers that test positive for drugs or alcohol on the job to continue operating trucks.

Illnesses and Impaired Driving

Truck drivers must be in good physical condition and health to safely control commercial vehicles. A trucking company may not hire or retain a driver that has an illness or medical condition that adversely affects the person’s ability to operate the truck. All drivers hired by truck companies in the country must pass physical tests by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The inability to pass this physical will bar a person from becoming a truck driver.

Violated Laws and Trucking Accidents

After a truck accident in Albuquerque, a victim should always consult with an attorney about a potential liability claim. A truck accident lawyer in Albuquerque can assess the crash and events leading up to it for common signs of violated federal safety regulations. A lawyer can also collect any available evidence of a broken law, including evidence from employee logs and black boxes. Then, the lawyer could help the victim form a case against the trucking company for a violated federal rule. A successful injury lawsuit could end in a monetary award for the victim’s damages. Learn more about your rights during a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Albuquerque.