Due to the massive size of commercial trucks, accidents are usually catastrophic and often result in fatalities. Trucking accidents can be caused by any number of factors, some of which are entirely preventable. To protect the public and reduce the number of accidents, the federal government has established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA develops and enforces safety regulations. When truck drivers and their employers fail to adhere to these safety regulations, they should be held accountable for accidents that occur as a result.
Some of the most notable FMCSA regulations include:
Commercial Driver License Requirements: All commercial truckers must demonstrate that they understand the rules and safety requirements by passing a written test. This test enables them to get their commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition, drivers must have a Medical Examiner’s Certificate that assures that they meet all the physical and medical standards for safely operating a commercial truck. To hold this certificate, called a DOT card, a driver must also undergo routine drug and alcohol testing. Certain employers fail to comply with these regulations and allow drivers who have failed drug tests behind the wheel.
Prohibition Against Drug and Alcohol Use: In addition to requiring regular drug and alcohol testing, the FMCSA rules also require drivers to take drug and alcohol tests after they are involved in an accident.
Maintenance of Regular Records: Truck drivers and their employers are required to keep truthful records regarding how long they were on the road for a single trip, how long they slept, and how much weight they are carrying. These records can be very useful evidence in the event of a truck accident. Similar to how airplanes have “black boxes,” commercial trucks have a device on board that keeps track of certain information. Data from the “black box” can be cross-checked with the log if a falsification of records is suspected. An experienced truck accident lawyer can subpoena this evidence and documentation for your case.
Maximum Weight Load Restrictions: Overloading a truck can cause it to overturn or have a dangerous tire blowout. If you were involved in a crash with a truck, we can examine the records relating to when the truck was last weighed and whether the weight load restrictions were complied with.
Hours of Service: The FMCSA has set strict limits on how many hours a day truck drivers can work. Fatigued truck drivers have slower reaction times like that of intoxicated drivers. Fatigued drivers are also prone to dangerous micro sleep incidents; when a driver falls asleep behind the wheel for a split second. To ensure that drivers do not exceed the hours of service requirements, they are required to keep detailed records of when they slept, the duration of sleep, rest breaks, and off-duty hours.
Regular Maintenance and Inspection: If you are involved in a truck accident, an experienced lawyer can help you determine whether the driver, the trucking company, or both should be held accountable. Trucking companies are legally required to keep their fleet in safe operating condition. They must keep detailed records of inspection, repairs, and maintenance for every vehicle in their fleet. Vehicles that are not fit to be driven should be taken off the road until they are properly serviced.
Hazardous Materials: There are special rules that apply to drivers who transport hazardous materials. All hazardous materials (“hazmats”) must be properly categorized, described, marked, packaged, and labeled.
Hazardous Waste: The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) develops safety regulations for transporting hazardous materials. If a trucker does not follow those guidelines and you are injured as a result, you should consult with an attorney to learn how to pursue a claim against the truck driver, their employer, and the company shipping the hazardous material.
Cell Phone Use: When the driver of an 80,000-pound truck takes his eyes off the road to dial a phone number, they are six times more likely to be involved in a collision. Truckers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to cause an accident. The FMCSA heavily regulates cell phone use by truck drivers.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, contact an experienced New Jersey truck accident lawyer at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP today at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to arrange for a free consultation. With offices located in Edison, Toms River, and Red Bank, we fight for injured victims throughout New Jersey and have a proven track record of recovering all entitled compensation for those injured in trucking accidents.