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Federal Trucking Regulations

Because of the dangers tractor trailer crashes pose, the Federal Government enacted numerous rules and regulations to ensure tractor trailer companies and their operators maintain and drive them safely. These safety regulations are codified in law at 49 CFR 390 through 49 CFR 399 and are referred to as the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations.

Below are some of the most common regulations that are violated in trucking accidents:

Hours of Service Trucking Regulations

The Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations are designed to keep drivers from operating commercial vehicles while tired or sleepy. Unfortunately, some employers often encourage truck drivers to break these rules in order to get shipments to their destination as fast as possible. Since drivers are often paid by the mile, they may also be tempted to break these rules in order to rack up more miles for themselves. Sometimes, there are special bonuses available to drivers that make a shipment within a certain time frame.

The HOS rules include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers must adhere to a 14 hour on duty period and may not drive beyond the 14th hour.
  • There is a maximum of 60 hours on duty in a 7 day span, or 70 hours on duty in an 8 day span.
  • Drivers may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • A sleeper berth may be used to split up on duty time, but the driver must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth plus an additional 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth or off duty to use this provision.

Drug and Alcohol Trucking Regulations

While state laws limiting the intoxication of drivers apply to all motorists, the federal regulations place stricter control over professional truck drivers and their employers. Here are some important aspects of drug and alcohol regulation:

  • Performance of safety-sensitive functions is prohibited while using alcohol, within four hours after using alcohol, or while having a breath alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent as indicated by an alcohol breath test.
  • Refusing to submit to an alcohol test or using alcohol within 8 hours after an accident or until tested is prohibited.
  • Some drug and alcohol screenings are required, including: post accident testing, reasonable suspicion of use testing, random testing, and return-to-duty testing.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspections / Daily Driving Logs and Reports

In order to ensure all regulations are met, drivers and their employers are required to keep extensive logs and reports. These range from vehicle inspection reports to the daily log of a driver’s hours. These items include:

  • Accurate logs of on and off duty status.
  • Vehicle condition and safety reports.
  • Drug / Alcohol testing results.
  • Daily inspections of vehicle including brakes, steering, tires, and emergency equipment.

Since trucking companies are only required to keep evidence for a certain amount of time, it is important that victims of a Missouri truck accident seek legal assitances as soon as possible.

Many times, we are contacted months after a crash occurs. You can rest assured the truck company will dispose of any incriminating evidence they are not required to keep. Our law firm takes immediate action to ensure drivers and their employers are placed on notice of the claim, and request certain evidence be retained.

Common Grounds for Regulation Violations

In our experience handling Missouri personal injury lawsuits arising from truck crashes, we have seen employers routinely encourage drivers to break safety rules. The most common violations are:

  • Operating the tractor trailer while fatigued:
  • Operating the tractor trailer in excess of the number of hours permitted by law
  • Overloading the tractor trailer with more weight than is safe
  • Operating the unit with improper maintenance or improper equipment, and
  • Allowing the driver to operate the tractor trailer with inadequate or improper training.

If we determine a truck company knowingly violated one of these safety regulations, we will recommend you pursue punitive damages, for the reckless or conscious disregard for public safety.

If you or a family member were hurt in a truck accident and need more information, contact our personal injury attorneys.

E. Ryan Bradley has extensive experience handling truck crashes. We can help you sort through your truck accident claim or lawsuit. Contact us today for a free consultation.