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Featured Image Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) aims to set safety standards to prevent commercial truck accidents. They set federal regulations for all truck drivers nationwide and cannot be overruled by state laws.

The FMCSA can enforce all regulations and compel inspections, investigations, and compliance reviews. Suppose a truck driver or company fails to abide by the rules. In that case, they can be liable for any injuries or damage caused by their negligence, and any federal regulation violations can make proving your case easier.

Contact The Zimmerman Law Firm to find out how our truck accident lawyer can help you hold the responsible parties liable.

Federal Truck Driver Regulations

In addition to following all state and local traffic laws that govern all vehicles on the road, commercial drivers must adhere to additional regulations.

Hours-of-Service Regulations

Truck drivers spend countless hours on the road. To prevent accidents due to fatigue and lack of sleep, there is a maximum number of hours that truckers can operate behind the wheel. Under federal law, truckers cannot exceed a maximum of 11 hours during a 14-hour shift and cannot exceed more than 60 hours total in seven consecutive days or more than 70 hours in eight straight days.

Truckers must take a 30-minute break after driving for eight or more hours since their last break. In Texas, truckers are prohibited from driving for more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time and from driving beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty.

The maximum permissible hours behind the wheel is less if the trucker carries passengers. Although these regulations exist, trucking companies often push drivers to meet specific delivery deadlines, forcing them to operate without adequate rest. 

Truck Driver Logs

The FMCSA requires commercial truck drivers to log their activities during their shifts. Traditionally, drivers were required to physically write down their stops, breaks, and inspection results. However, most newer trucks automatically log this information using electronic logging devices. 

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Federal and Texas law requires truckers to obtain their CDL to operate a commercial vehicle legally. To be eligible for a CDL, drivers must possess a valid Texas driver’s license, pass a vision test, provide proof of medical wellness, and take a written knowledge and skills exam. 

Texas CDL holders can obtain specific endorsements permitting them to operate certain vehicles. For example, T endorsement allows drivers to tow double or triple trailers and N endorsement allows drivers to operate tanker trucks that transport liquids and liquefied gasses.

CDL holders are held to stricter safety standards than non-commercial driver license holders. For instance, although drivers can legally operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or less, CDL holders must have a BAC of 0.04% or less.

To obtain a CDL, drivers must first have a commercial learner’s permit and then pass a road test. The CDL application process also requires a written test and medical clearance.

Truck drivers must understand English on a basic level to read traffic signs and communicate with law enforcement if necessary. 

Size Restrictions

Trucking regulations set all commercial trucks’ size, weight, and speed restrictions. The precise requirements will vary depending on the type of truck, its number of axles, its size, and more. 

For instance, trucks with more than three axles cannot exceed 55 miles per hour and must travel in the right lanes.

Typically, semi-trucks with a cab and trailer cannot be over 65 feet long or weigh over 80,000 pounds. If they do, there are special rules for carrying an oversized load, such as having a spotter car, “oversized” signs, lights, and more. 

Additionally,  truck drivers are often subject to random weight station inspections to ensure compliance. 

Inspection Requirements

In addition, to weigh station inspections, truck drivers and companies must ensure their vehicle is inspected for safety before each route. Drivers must check that the truck is in safe working condition, including checking brakes, lights, mirrors, wipers, and even the engine.

If the driver finds any faulty components, they must make a report and have them fixed immediately. To meet deadlines, truckers often ignore problems with their rig. The driver and trucking company may be liable if a mechanical failure or malfunction contributes to the crash. 

Under federal and state regulations, truck drivers are also required to be drug and alcohol tested on a routine basis. Employers are required to perform these tests during the hiring process and can request testing anytime during the trucker’s employment. 

Who Does the Federal Regulations Apply To?

Federal trucking regulations apply to more than just semi-trucks. All commercial trucks must comply with federal regulations to operate on the road legally. These include:

  • Tractor-trailer semi-trucks,
  • Moving trucks,
  • Garbage and recycling trucks,
  • Utility trucks,
  • Construction vehicles, 
  • Cement trucks,
  • Logging trucks, and
  • Crane trucks.

All operators of these commercial vehicles must comply with federal and state laws. 

How Federal Regulations Impact Truck Accident Lawsuits

A federal trucking regulation violation can significantly impact the outcome of your truck accident lawsuit. Showing that the driver who hit you violated a federal trucking regulation can make it easier to prove your case. However, you should always gather as much evidence as possible to bolster your claim.  

Evidence will help you prove fault and hold those responsible accountable. Our seasoned team can help you compile all the necessary evidence in your case. Reliable and credible evidence can come in many forms, including:

  • Police and accident reports,
  • Traffic citations,
  • Federal trucking regulation violations,
  • Eye witness statements,
  • Camera footage from traffic and dash cams,
  • Nearby surveillance video,
  • Black box data from the truck,
  • Logbooks,
  • Medical records,
  • Drug and alcohol test results,
  • Truck maintenance records,
  • Photos and video of the accident scene,
  • Expert testimony and reports, and 
  • Accident recreation technology. 

Truck driver regulations are an integral part of keeping our roads safe. We can help you determine if there may have been any violations and how they may bolster your case.

Texas Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one was recently the victim of a truck accident and suspect federal regulation violations may be at play, we are here to help. At The Zimmerman Law Firm, you will never be bounced from attorney to attorney.

The lawyer you meet with during your consultation will be the one with you every step of the way, providing personalized representation. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation.

Where You Can Find Our Waco, TX Office

Author Photo

Michael Zimmerman

Michael was born in Houston, Texas. His education at Baylor and Texas State Universities earned him a Bachelor of Science degree in 1987. His major was in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry. He finished his legal education at Texas Southern University in 1990, earning a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1990.

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