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What Trucking Safety Regulations Affect My Case?

February 28 2022 | Car Accidents

Being involved in a large truck accident in New Haven can come with many challenges and complications, including catastrophic injuries and unique types of evidence to use during a personal injury claim. One of the elements that make commercial truck accidents unique is the fact that special federal and state safety regulations apply to the trucking industry. Find out how these laws might affect your New Haven truck accident lawsuit.

Truck Driver Hiring and Training Procedures

Like all motor vehicle drivers, truck drivers must obey basic traffic laws and roadway rules. However, they must also receive special training and licenses before they can operate commercial motor vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rules and requirements for truck driver qualifications. 

Truck drivers must be in good health and physically able to control a big rig. They must have commercial driver’s licenses and the proper training to operate large trucks. They must also pass criminal background and driving record checks. A trucking company that cuts corners to get new drivers on the road faster can compromise the safety of the operation of the truck and increase the risk of accidents.

Hours-of-Service Rules

The hours-of-service (HOS) rule by the FMCSA may be involved in an accident that was caused by a drowsy truck driver. This rule imposes the following driving time limits on truck drivers who are transporting cargo for daily shifts and workweeks:

  • A 30-minute mandatory rest break if more than 8 hours have passed since a driver was last off-duty.
  • A maximum of 11 hours of drive time after completing 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • No more than 14 consecutive hours on duty at any time, including rest breaks.
  • No more than 60 hours of driving in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 days.

The purpose of the HOS rule is to ensure that truck drivers get enough rest breaks to prevent drowsy driving. If there is evidence that a truck driver was fatigued or fell asleep behind the wheel – such as a truck accident where the truck’s brakes were never applied – the HOS rule may come into play to prove that the truck driver is at fault.

Drug and Alcohol Tests

In Connecticut, it is against the law for a commercial truck driver to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level at or above 0.04 percent. This is half the legal limit for standard motor vehicle operators. It is also against the law to operate a big rig under any intoxicating substance, including prescription medications. 

Trucking companies must by law conduct random drug and alcohol testing of their drivers, as well as testing prior to hiring new drivers and after truck accidents. If drugs or alcohol are found in a driver’s system, the trucking company must report it to the Department of Transportation and take remedial action against the driver, such as suspension or termination.

Fleet Maintenance Requirements

All trucking companies have a legal responsibility to properly maintain their fleets. Truck maintenance is critical to the safe transport of cargo or passengers. A maintenance problem or equipment breakdown in transit – such as a tire blowout, steering issue or brake failure – could cause a major truck accident. Federal laws are in place that outline inspection, maintenance and repair requirements for all commercial motor vehicles.

Cargo Load Securement Rules

Every year, a percentage of big rig accidents are caused by lost cargo loads. These accidents can generally be prevented if trucking companies follow safety regulations related to size and weight limits, load distribution, hazardous materials, and cargo securement. If a trucking company or staff member breaks a load securement law, this increases the risk of losing the load in transit and causing a serious traffic accident. 

If you believe that a broken trucking safety regulation caused or contributed to your recent truck accident in New Haven, contact Jacobs & Jacobs for legal advice.

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