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.
- Overview of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
- Truck Driver Negligence
- Accidents Caused By Truck Driver Fatigue
- Distracted Driving Truck Accidents
- Truck Accidents Due to Drug and Alcohol Use
- Accidents Due to Improper Loading
- Truck Accidents Due to Negligent Maintenance
- Truck Accidents Due to Substance Abuse
- Truck Accident Investigations
- Evidence in Truck Accident Cases