Best Lawyers
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Best Lawyers 2023
Super Lawyers
Justia Lawyer Rating
Legal Elite
2019 Top 3 Personal Injury Lawyer in Miami
Best Lawyers 2018

Overview of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are some of the heaviest and most dangerous vehicles on the road. It’s no surprise then that the state and federal governments aggressively regulate these enormous vehicles. For most large truck drivers and trucking companies, the main source of rules and regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

What is the FMCSA?

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulates nearly every type of moving vehicle, from cars and trucks to planes and trains. As a division of the USDOT, the FMCSA is tasked with overseeing commercial trucks, buses, and other types of carrier vehicles, and regulates the trucking industry throughout the United States.

Congress created the FMCSA in 2000 with the mandate to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities related to large truck and bus accidents. To do this, the Administration takes a four-pronged approach. First, the Administration reviews data, surveys, and studies conducted nationwide to produce regulations for the trucking industry based on scientific data. The Administration also works with truck and bus companies to balance these safety regulations with trucking company concerns about employee efficiency. Second, the Administration focuses on high-risk motor carriers in particular, and uses targeted safety data and information systems to reduce accidents. Third, the FMCSA works to educate drivers, carrier companies, and the public about safety measures which can reduce bus and truck accidents. Finally, the FMCSA works with state, local, federal, and private agencies to collaborate on ways to prevent truck accidents and bus accidents.

Who Must Follow FMCSA Regulations?

The regulations created by the FMCSA govern most commercial motor vehicles that cross state lines. If a truck weighs over 10,000 pounds, or if a bus transports between 9 and 15 people (including the driver), then it will be subject to FMCSA rules. If, however, the commercial truck or bus never goes outside state lines or engages in interstate commerce, then the FMCSA rules will not apply and the vehicle will be subject only to applicable state regulations.

When a large truck or bus crosses state lines, every person who interacts with that vehicle is likely required to follow FMCSA rules. This includes drivers, managers, and dispatchers as well as hiring managers, trainers, and supervisors. It may also include mechanics and maintenance workers and companies who repair and maintain these large vehicles.

What Types of Rules Does the FMCSA Create?

The FMCSA has created rules for almost every conceivable area of the interstate trucking industry. Some of the most well-known safety regulations limit the number of hours a driver can be on the road. For instance, as of March 2017, the FMCSA limits a commercial truck or bus driver to 11 hours of driving per day. The driver may work up to 14 hours per day, but at least three of those hours of work cannot involve driving. Driving for long hours and great distances is a physically and mentally exhausting task, and these limitations ensure that drivers have enough time to get an adequate amount of rest.

The hours-of-service rules are somewhat complicated, and depend on how many hours a driver has worked in a day and in a week. The regulations require drivers to keep logs of the amount of time that they are on the road and the amount of time that they stop to rest. In the past, these records were written down on paper and often could not be verified by any substantive proof. However, technological developments in commercial trucks now capture and record this data automatically. This allows police officers and accident investigators to determine exactly how much time a driver spent on the road without taking a break.

Hours-of-service limitations are not the only rules the FMCSA creates to increase safety in the trucking industry. In late 2016, the FMCSA enacted the first minimum training requirements for drivers who want to receive or renew a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Before the creation of that rule, drivers did not have to undergo any type of mandatory training program before getting on the road with a vehicle that can weigh several tons. The FMCSA hopes that the new training requirements will reduce the number of accidents, promote driving efficiency, and reduce costs across the trucking industry.

Violating FMCSA Rules Often Leads to Accidents

Drivers and trucking companies that ignore hours-of-service regulations and other FMCSA rules put everyone on the road in danger. While all car accidents can cause injuries, collisions with large trucks or buses are often catastrophic and can lead to severe, permanent injuries or death.

If you were injured in an accident with a large truck or commercial vehicle, the Miami semi-truck accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz P.A. can help. We know how devastating truck accidents can be, which is why we work on a contingent fee basis with no cost to you up front. To schedule your consultation, call (877) 475-2905 today.

Client Reviews

I am a lawyer in Massachusetts. I had a case to refer against a cruise line in Florida and did my homework on which firm to represent the client. Let me take the guessing out of it for you. Call this law firm and sign up. Brandon Parrelli, Google User
A big shout out to Nick Gerson & Schwartz for helping me navigate my care after a fall against a major cruise ship. They took care of me all along the way and saw me through such a very hard time. I highly recommend their firm if you are looking for a firm that truly cares about you. 5 Stars all the way! Janna Wright, Google User
Mr Nick Gerson has been extremely attentive (even on weekends!) and has been more than willing to take time to answer all my questions. His receptionist (Suzanne) and paralegal (Carla) are courteous, friendly and highly efficient in all matters. Mr Gerson's diligence lead to a very quick resolution of my case. I am more than pleased to recommend you seek him as your attorney. You will not regret you did!! G.I.B.
Mr. Gerson and all his team gave to my case the careful and professional attention it needed from the beginning to end. Unfortunately, a year ago I was involved in a car accident on the victim side. I have appreciation for the good service that was given to me and my situation. Thanks. Cales & Mr. Hyde (Carlos Andrés García Jiménez), Google User
Gerson & Schwartz did an excellent job with my case! Nick Gerson was my primary contact throughout the process and I was overly pleased with his level of professionalism and commitment. Thanks again to the firm for both winning my case and handling it with the upmost respect. Read the full review » Jhlechia Ervin
Phil is the best attorney! The staff is very helpful and were always kind and understanding. Especially during a PIP claim which can be very frustrating. I am so lucky that I found Gerson & Schwartz to resolve my case, I truly believe there could have been no better outcome. Romina Frascarelli, Google User
Excellent attorneys, they leave no stone unturned in any case and get max value. Jon Zepnick, Google User
I hired Gerson & Schwartz, PA for a personal injury/slip and fall case. Phil Gerson, Nick Gerson, and Ed Schwartz were awesome! They were very professional, supportive, and informative through the whole process. I was amazed at how much time and effort they put into presenting my case. They fought hard for me and I am very happy with the outcome. I love these guys and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an attorney who will look out for your best interest and fight hard for what you deserve. Deb Betts, Google User