The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Hill, Jordan &Greer have handled high-stakes negotiations and litigation across NorthAlabama and statewide. When you contact us for legal counsel after a serious truck or car accident, we will treatyou with care and respect, putting your needs and future well-beingfirst.
Overview of Federal Trucking Regulations
Obtaining just compensation after an accident involving an 18-wheeleror other large commercial vehicle can pose serious challenges anddemand a savvy, dedicated attorney. Attorneys Brent Jordan and Jody Greer have essential skills and investigativeresources to go to trial with a major insurer or corporation ifnecessary in your case.
Those involved in the trucking industry must abide by numerousfederal and state regulations. The federal regulations can be found inthe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. §§ 350-399).These regulations govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic.These regulations are extensive and can be confusing. An experienced lawyer at Hill, Jordan & Greer, PC in Huntsville,Alabama, can explain these regulations and how they may apply to yourtruck accident case. The information below summarized the provisions that are more common intruck accident litigation.
49 C.F.R. § 382 - Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing
The purpose of this section is to establish programs withintrucking companies designed to prevent accidents and injuries resultingfrom impairment because of the use of alcohol or drugs by commercialvehicle drivers. This provision applies to all drivers of commercialvehicles in the U.S. and their employers, with some limited exceptions.Drivers who are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL)under Section 383 must be tested if they drive a vehicle that has agross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds inclusive of atowed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000pounds, has a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,000 pounds, isdesigned to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or isused to carry hazardous materials. 49 C.F.R. § 382.107.
49 C.F.R. § 383 - Commercial Driver's License Standards; Requirements and Penalties
By requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a commercialdriver's license (CDL), this provision aims to reduce or prevent truckand bus accidents. With a few exceptions, drivers must have a CDL ifthey drive a vehicle that has a gross combination weight or weightrating of more than 26,000 pounds, has a gross vehicle weight or weightrating of more than 26,000 pound, is designed to transport 16 or morepassengers (including the driver) or is used to carry hazardousmaterials. 49 C.F.R. § 383.5. Drivers must be knowledgeable about thevarious procedures that ensure safe operation of vehicles and be toldabout the negative effects of driving while fatigued, poor vision,alcohol or drug use and improper use of the truck's lights, horns,mirrors and other emergency equipment.
49 C.F.R. § 391 - Qualification of Drivers
If a driver operates a tractor trailer or other commercialvehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds, carries 16 or more passengers ortransports hazardous materials, he or she must comply with certainregulations. Truck drivers must be at least 21 years old, speak English,be physically able to safely operate a truck, have a valid CDL and mustnot have been disqualified for driving while under the influence ofalcohol or drugs, committing a felony, leaving the scene of an accident,refusing to take an alcohol test or any other reason.
49 C.F.R. § 392 - Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles
A truck driver, the trucking company and all other peopleresponsible for the management, maintenance, operation or driving of anycommercial motor vehicles or the hiring, supervision, training ordispatching of drivers must comply with federal regulations in order tooperate a tractor trailer, tanker, straight truck or other commercialvehicle in interstate travel. Drivers must not drive while sick or tiredand may not use illegal drugs. Drivers must obey traffic laws, loadcargo safely, perform periodic inspections and drive cautiously inhazardous conditions. Drivers must be able to stop the vehicle beforereaching railroad tracks, must stop when carrying hazardous materials ora trailer and must not shift while crossing railroad tracks.
49 C.F.R. § 393 - Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
The purpose of this section is to make sure that no employee oremployer of a commercial motor vehicle company drives a truck or allowsone to be driven unless the truck complies with the requirements in thissection. There are specific regulations dealing with lighting devicesand reflectors, brakes, brake performance, tires, emergency equipment,protection against shifting or falling cargo, securement systemsblocking and bracing, front-end structure, frames, doors, hood, seats,bumpers, wheels and steering wheel systems.
49 C.F.R. § 395 - Hours of Service of Drivers
This section has a number of restrictions related to the hoursthat a driver is permitted to drive. There are also regulationsregarding time spent driving in hazardous weather conditions.
From the time a driver begins to work or is required to be inreadiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work andall responsibility for performing work is known as "on duty" time.On-duty time includes:
- Time waiting to be dispatched
- Time inspecting, servicing or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time
- Driving time (all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation)
- Time in or on a commercial motor vehicle (other than timespent resting in or on a parked vehicle, time spent resting in a sleeperberth or up to 2 hours riding in the passenger seat of aproperty-carrying vehicle moving on the highway immediately before orafter a period of at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth)
- Time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle
- Time repairing, obtaining assistance or remaining in attendance upon a disabled commercial motor vehicle
- Time spent providing a breath sample or urine specimen (ifrequested to comply with random, reasonable suspicion, post-crash orfollow-up testing)
- Time performing any other work in the capacity, employ or service of a motor carrier
- Time spent performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier
49 C.F.R. § 396 - Inspection, Repair and Maintenance
This section applies to drivers of commercial vehicles that carrymore than 16 people, weigh over 10,000 pounds or transport hazardousmaterials. It also applies to all motor carriers, officers, agents,representatives and employees directly concerned with the inspection andmaintenance of those vehicles. The motor carrier is responsible forensuring that all parts are in proper working condition and mustmaintain and keep repair and inspection records. A driver is notpermitted to operate a vehicle that is likely to break down or cause anaccident. Drivers must inspect their trucks at the start of each day andreport any defects.
49 C.F.R. § 397 - Transportation of Hazardous Materials
These provisions apply to drivers of commercial motor vehiclesthat transport hazardous materials. They also apply to motor carrierswho are involved with transporting hazardous materials and employees ofthese carriers who perform supervisory duties related to thetransportation of hazardous materials. With certain exceptions, thedriver of a commercial motor vehicle that is carrying explosives cannotleave the vehicle unattended. There are also restrictions about where adriver carrying explosive materials can park. Smoking is not allowedwithin 25 feet of a truck containing explosives or flammable materials.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer
The information provided above is merely a general overview ofsome of the more common federal regulations that arise in truck accidentlitigation. These regulations are complex and voluminous. For more information about these and other regulations, contact anexperienced truck accident attorney at Hill, Jordan & Greer, PC inHuntsville, Alabama.