Operating a large commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, involves a great deal of risk, not only to the drivers but to those who share the road with them. The federal government recognizes the risk, which is why it has imposed regulations on the trucking industry.
The agency responsible for devising and enforcing these rules and regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The goals of FMCSA include increasing everyone’s safety by reducing truck accidents. To that end, they have created regulations that directly address a few specific issues.
1. Health and Safety
The body needs a certain amount of sleep in order to function properly. A sleep-deprived driver is not only unhealthy but also poses a threat to other drivers on the road. FMCSA, working in concert with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has placed the following limits on the length of time that a driver can operate a truck:
- Duty limit of 60 to 70 hours during a seven-day work week
- Mandatory 30-minute break after eight hours of driving
- An 11-hour driving stint in a 14-hour period must be preceded and followed by a minimum of 10 off-duty hours
2. Loading and Weight Limits
Weight limits are in place to prevent an overloaded vehicle from rolling over or having equipment failures because of undue stress. Additionally, there are very specific loading procedures in place to prevent the cargo from coming loose, a particularly dangerous situation for other vehicles in the vicinity.
3. Training and Licensing
To operate a large commercial vehicle, truck drivers have to undergo special training and pass a test. The requirements are even more exacting for carriers of hazardous materials. A truck driver’s license is issued by his or her state of residence, and is valid wherever they travel, so only one is allowed. In addition to the training and licensing exams, truck drivers must also pass a physical exam to ensure they are healthy and vigorous enough to handle the work.
4. Drugs and Alcohol
In addition to being prohibited from taking any controlled substances within eight hours before a shift, drivers are also not allowed to carry alcohol in the cab with them. Only if it is part of the cargo is alcohol allowed in the vehicle. A driver cannot have a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.02 when reporting for duty.
Despite these efforts to make the roads safer for everyone, accidents still occur. Injuries sustained in a trucking accident are more likely to affect the driver of the other vehicle and to be severe. If you have been injured in a collision with a large commercial vehicle, contact a law office today. They may be able to help you obtain compensation.