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Federal Trucking Regulations

Accidents involving trucks and smaller vehicles are all too common, and many of them occur because the driver or truck was not in compliance with federal trucking regulations.

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) warns drivers, “Each time you turn the key, you are responsible for your own safety, as well as the safety of all the people who share the road with you.”

Unfortunately, far too many drivers are noncompliant with federal safety rules, or the trucks are not maintained to proper standards. That may result in serious injuries and fatalities to others on the road, as well as the driver.

Louisville attorney familiar with federal trucking regulations will find out if your accident was partially or completely due to truckers not following the law.

Truck Driver Qualifications

To operate a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds and/or carrying hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is necessary. Under federal regulations, other requirements or disqualifiers for drivers include:

  • Speaking English
  • Age 21 or older
  • Cannot have a drunk driving or substance abuse while driving conviction
  • Cannot have committed any felonies
  • Cannot refuse to take a breathalyzer test for alcohol
  • Cannot have left the scene of an accident

Drug and Alcohol Testing

The U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA require that people with CDLs undergo regular drug and alcohol testing. Besides alcohol, testing is done for the following substances:

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines and/or methamphetamine
  • PCP – phencyclidine, also known as angel dust

Tests are conducted prior to employment, and randomly throughout the year. Drivers suspected of using drugs or alcohol are tested, and all drivers involved in accidents require immediate testing.

Drivers and Maintenance

A person driving a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more undertakes a tremendous responsibility. Federal trucking regulations allow commercial truck drivers – those carrying property, not passengers – to drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. If the driver has had only eight hours off duty – a typical night’s sleep – they may drive only 10 hours.

They may not drive after 60 to 70 hours on duty in seven to eight consecutive days. The next 60 to 70-hour period starts only after the driver has been off duty for at least 34 hours.

Under federal trucking regulations, “inspection, repair, and maintenance intervals” are determined by the motor carrier. There is no more specificity because required maintenance differs by fleet and vehicle.

However, each motor carrier must ensure that all vehicles are in safe operating conditions, repairing any issues immediately.

How an Attorney Can Help

In a truck accident, more than one defendant – the person or company subject to the lawsuit – is often involved. Those parties may include the driver, owner of the trucking company and possibly a mechanic repairing or performing maintenance on the truck.

Because of extensive knowledge of federal trucking regulations as well as state laws, skilled lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident, you need the services of a Louisville truck accident attorney today.