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The US government’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) were established in 2000 to regulate the trucking industry and improve vehicle safety around the country. The FMCSR have the force of law, and govern all trucking companies and truck drivers in the United States. When truck drivers and the companies who employ them refuse to follow these rules, they can cause severe, catastrophic, and sometimes deadly accidents. When trucking companies and their drivers ignore these safety rules and injure other motorists, judges and juries often award significant damages to punish and deter dangerous conduct.
If you or someone you love was injured by a truck driver’s carelessness or a trucking company’s policies that put profits over people, it’s important that you work with a skilled and experienced Ohio trucking accident injury lawyer to seek compensation for your injuries. The Ohio trucking accident and injury lawyers at Robenalt Law are here to help.
Learn the Most Common Violations of Trucking Regulations and Safety Rules
Driver Fatigue and Hours of Service Violations
Professional truck drivers and motor carriers are required to comply with the FMCSR. These rules create the standards that commercial truckers must follow and, among other things, restrict the number of hours a truck driver can drive. Unfortunately, many truck drivers often need to drive too many hours on too little rest to comply with unrealistic delivery expectations, or to make extra money.
Under the FMCSR, drivers must take at least one 30 minute break for every 8 hours of driving. They must stop driving after 14 hours on duty, and must take a 10 hour break before they can resume driving. Drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours during a 14 hour day, and cannot drive more than 60 hours in a 7 day window, or more than 70 hours in 8 days. After this week, a driver must stay off duty for at least 34 hours straight.
When truck drivers violate these rules and drive without adequate rest, they create a dangerous condition for other motorists that could lead to injuries or even death.
To comply with FMCSR hours of service regulations, truckers are required to keep track of the number of hours they drive in a day. In an effort to outwit law enforcement officials and make more money, some commercial drivers keep two sets of logbooks – one that contains false information about the number of hours driven, and one that contains the truth.
Despite the additional training they receive, and despite the heightened consequences of a mistake behind the wheel, even commercial truck drivers make mistakes like speeding, improperly changing lanes, failing to yield the right of way, or running a red light. If these mistakes lead to catastrophic injuries, the truck driver, the company that owns the truck and trailer, and even the company for whose benefit the goods were being hauled could all be liable.
Improper Vehicle Maintenance
The FMCSR include vehicle maintenance standards that are intended to ensure that a vehicle is safe. The routine maintenance required on a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle includes upkeep on the lighting, brakes, tires, and other systems. The FMCSR mandate daily inspections, and are intended to help alert drivers to potentially hazardous brake issues before the brakes fail.
Tire maintenance is also important. But in an effort to save money, many trucking companies use “re-capped” tires, or tire “re-treads” that allow them to keep tires in service longer. Unfortunately, these refurbished tires can be prone to failing, which can result in a dangerous, sometimes life-threatening situation.
Violating Loading Rules
The FMCSR limit large trucks to a combined weight of 80,000 pounds for interstate travel. Violating these rules can make the truck difficult to control, and too heavy to stop or maneuver properly.
The FMCSR also mandate how cargo must be loaded and secured. If the trailer is loaded unevenly or the cargo’s center of gravity is off-center, the vehicle can become dangerous and difficult to control.
Use of Drugs or Alcohol
Commercial drivers are prohibited from using drugs or alcohol while driving. Random drug and alcohol tests help ensure that a driver is safe, but if a driver failed a test and was allowed to drive anyway, they could cause a serious accident.
If a commercial driver causes an accident and injury because he or she was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, courts will often punish the driver and the company that hired them with an award of significant damages.
Improper Hiring and Inadequate Training
Trucking companies are required to make sure their drivers are properly trained in safe driving techniques and defensive driving, and are fit to drive. In most cases, truck drivers must have a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL), which ensures they are properly trained to operate an 18-wheeler. They must also have a valid medical examination, and be able to prove they are medically fit to drive.
Injured in a Trucking Accident? Contact an Ohio trucking Accident Injury Lawyer Today
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in trucking accident, it’s important that you speak to a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney as quickly as possible. Contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at the Robenalt Law Firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call 216-223-7535, complete our online form, or email [email protected].
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured to secure compensation for trucking accidents.