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Regulations That Make Commercial Trucking Safer

Truck drivers and the companies they work for have strict regulations to keep everyone safe. 

Regulations That Make Commercial Trucking Safer - Sand Law Minnesota - Personal Injury Truck Accident Attorney

Like anything, driving a commercial truck comes with a set of rules and regulations. These regulations are set to keep everyone on the road safe, including the driver and other cars. 

Driving a commercial truck is different from driving a car. Commercial trucks have to abide by all the rules of the road, while also following their own specific set of rules. A commercial truck can weigh as much as 30,000 pounds, so it’s important that these rules are followed. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants.” In 2018, 4,136 people died in commercial truck accidents. 67% of those people were passenger vehicle occupants. 

Understanding Trucking Regulations

Impaired Driving Prevention

There’s a lot to understand when it comes to trucking regulations. There are many things that drivers need to know before getting behind the wheel of a car. Like passenger cars, impaired driving can be a large problem in the trucking community. 

However, there is a regulation in place to prevent impaired driving. Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 382 covers impaired driving as well as drug testing. The controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulation was put in place to ensure the safety of trucks on the road. An impaired driver can be a danger to everyone. 

This regulation covers all employees who drive commercial motor vehicles (CMV) with a gross weight of 26,001 or more pounds. It also covers an employee who drives a commercial motor vehicle intended to transport 16 occupants (including the driver). Any driver transporting hazardous material is also covered. 

The drug and alcohol tests include pre-employment (optional for alcohol), random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, follow-up, and return-to-duty testing. Therefore, drivers are closely monitored for substance abuse at all times while employed. 

Licensing and Training Requirements

Commercial truck drivers have to meet certain standards before they’re allowed to get their Commercial Driving License (CDL). Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 383 states that applicants are required to have a good driving record before applying for their CDL. 

A good driving record is defined as someone who has not had more than one license, has not had a license suspended, and has not had any type of motor vehicle conviction. Drivers who haven’t had their license for at least one year are not eligible for a CDL. These regulations ensure that truck drivers are good drivers in general before driving a commercial vehicle. 

The disqualification of a driver, as stated in Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 391, can happen if a driver drives while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, if they leave the scene of an accident, or if they commit a felony with their motor vehicle.  

General Requirements of Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

There are a lot of requirements for truck drivers and trucking companies. This section, Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 392, lays out everything that is required from a truck driver. Basically, it speaks about how truck drivers are required to drive, especially as it differs from a passenger car

For example, most drivers are required to make a full stop before any railroad crossing. It also speaks about hazardous conditions, and how drivers must proceed with extreme caution whenever conditions change. 

Requirement for Proper Safety Equipment

If extensive regulations belong anywhere, it’s in the safety department. Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 393 covers the parts and accessories necessary for safe operation. It goes into detail about each specific part required. 

For example, “Parking brakes. Each commercial motor vehicle must be equipped with a parking brake system that meets the applicable requirements of §393.41.” Each specific part of the commercial truck is broken down into great detail to ensure that everything is as safe as possible. 

Regulation of Driving Hours 

There are very specific rules on how long a driver can operate their vehicle, and these rules differ depending on the type of vehicle. Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 395 states that for a property-carrying vehicle, the driver may not drive without having 10 hours off duty. A driver also may only drive during a 14-hour period. They may not drive after the 14-hour period without having 10 consecutive hours off duty. 

However, within that 14-hour period, a driver may only drive a total of 11 hours. Drivers also cannot drive for more than 8 consecutive hours without taking a break of at least 30 minutes to avoid truck driver fatigue.

For passenger-carrying vehicles, the rules are slightly different. These drivers are not allowed to drive for more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, they are not allowed to drive until they take an 8-hour break when on duty for more than 15 hours.

Commercial Truck Drivers Are Required to Log Their Driving Times  

In addition to the driving time limits imposed on truck drivers, there are also FMCSA regulations that require drivers of commercial vehicles to log their driving times. This gives authorities a way to track truck driving times so they can reinforce hours of service regulations. 49 CFR Subpart B – Subpart BElectronic Logging Devices (ELDs) stipulates the requirements and exemptions for these ELDs.

This system originally used paper logbooks but has since moved on to use electronic logging devices known as ELDs. The log of trucker driving hours and other information of their status is known as a Record of Duty Status or RODS and is recorded in an ELD. Truckers’ RODS will contain the following information.

  • Date
  • Vehicle number
  • Total driving hours
  • Total number of miles driven within 24 hours
  • Carrier’s name
  • 24-hour period starting time
  • Address
  •  Driver’s certification/signature

The Proper Loading of Commercial Trucks

The FMCSA also has regulations for the proper loading of commercial trucks outlined in 49 CFR 393, Subpart I. How a truck trailer is loaded up may not seem like an important detail but this aspect of truck operation has led to many severe truck accidents.

Since semi-trucks carry so much weight, how that weight is carried is important. Concentrating too much cargo weight in one space can cause imbalances that can tip trailers or increase the chance of jackknifing. How cargo is secured and placed also is important otherwise it can come loose and either spill out as a dangerous lost load or shift around in the trailer and cause the truck to lose control.

Inspection and Repair Requirements

With all of those required safety parts, there’s bound to be an inspection required at some point. Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 396 covers this regulation. It states that, “Every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal vehicles subject to its control.” 

Basically, they’re required to inspect the vehicles or have them inspected. Inspection is necessary since parts and accessories must be in a safe and proper operating condition at all times. Motor carriers also must keep detailed records of their inspections, maintenance, and repairs. 

Control of Hazardous Materials Transportation   

Transporting hazardous materials is inherently more dangerous. Because of that, there’s a specific set of rules in place for these types of transports. Federal Regulation 49 C.F.R. § 397 states that a motor vehicle carrying hazardous materials should not be left unattended on a public street, highway, or highway shoulder. 

There are also specific rules for where trucks transporting hazardous materials can park. They cannot be parked within 5 feet of a traveled portion of a public street or highway, on private property, or within 300 feet of a bridge, tunnel, dwelling, or place where people work, congregate, or assemble. 

Contact an Experienced Minnesota Truck Accident Lawyer 

These rules and regulations are all put into place to keep drivers of commercial trucks and passenger vehicles safe. What happens if you’re injured in a commercial truck accident? It’s possible that one of these (or many other) regulations could have been broken. 

Truck accidents differ from car accidents because of how heavily the truck drivers and trucks are insured. Also, when it comes to a truck accident, there are multiple parties that can be held responsible. The truck driver, the trucking company, and the truck manufacturing company can all be held liable in some cases. 

If you or someone you love has been injured in a commercial truck related accident in Minnesota, contact the lawyers at Sand Law. One of our highly qualified truck accident lawyers can review your case at no cost. Contact us today at 651-291-7263 or by online

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is it to hire a truck accident lawyer?

Truck accident lawyers do not charge by the hour nor require a large down payment. They work for a contingent fee that is taken out of the settlement they get you. Their fee will consist of usually 33% of the compensation they get you. If they are unsuccessful, then they get paid nothing.

How much is a commercial truck accident lawsuit worth?

A truck accident lawsuit’s value is entirely dependent on the value of the damages suffered by the plaintiff. This can differ from case to case, although truck accidents often involve catastrophic injuries that affect quality of life.

There may not be a precise dollar value estimate in general for truck accident cases but they tend to have a higher value than many others due to the increased severity of injuries involved. It is not unusual for truck accident lawsuits to attain clients millions of dollars to cover their damages.

Why do I need a truck accident lawyer?

A truck accident lawyer is essential if you want to get a settlement to properly compensate your damages. Insurance companies will do everything they can to reduce the money they pay and they have more resources and time on their side.

A truck accident lawyer evens the odds with their expertise, skills, and resources in place specifically to help clients like you. They can help with everything from negotiating a settlement, and representing you in court, to investigating your case to find evidence. Without them, you are likely to make an easy mistake, get taken advantage of, and end up forced to settle for less or lose all possibility of getting compensation.