The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was created by the US government to help regulate the trucking industry and improve safety standards across the nation. Every trucking company and truck driver in the country must adhere to the FMCSA’s regulations.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies and their drivers fail or refuse to follow these rules, resulting in devastating wrecks and life-altering injuries. Below are some of the most commonly violated trucking regulations.
Under the FMCSA, it is unlawful for trucking companies to hire drivers with a history of DUI/DWI, poor driving records, or other issues that make them unsafe on the road. While some of these rules may not be written specifically in the regulations of the FMCSA, they can still violate other laws or regulations, and can lead to serious collisions and subsequent injuries.
In order to be considered “safe” behind the wheel, a driver must meet the FMCSA’s regulations. Often times, a driver will require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to ensure he or she is adequately trained in driving an 18-wheeler truck. It is a violation of trucking regulations to fail to report license suspensions or disqualifications.
Drivers must also prove they are medically fit to operate a vehicle by keeping medical examination cards up-to-date. Conditions such as seizures or sleep apnea can pose fatal risks on the road.
Background checks and random drug tests also help establish the safety of drivers who are hired by trucking companies. If drivers are allowed to drive shortly after failing an alcohol or drug test, they jeopardize the lives and safety of everyone on the roads with them.
Large trucks are limited to a combined total weight of 80,000 pounds for interstate travel by nation-wide rules. When these rules are violated, trucks may be too heavy to maneuver or stop properly. Additionally, the odds of breaking down and causing a wreck are increased by the extra strain on each tire and axle. Next to hours-of-service violations, disregarding weight restrictions is one of the most frequently-violated trucking regulations.
The FMCSA also stipulates the manner in which cargo must be loaded and secured. The trailer of a big rig is merely a large container on wheels, with no control or steering of its own. When trailers are loaded unevenly, or the cargo’s center of gravity is too high, or too much in one area, it can lead to fishtailing, or even jackknifing. Unstable and swerving trailers are also more susceptible to flipping over or colliding into other nearby vehicles.
The maintenance standards detailed in the FMCSA are intended to ensure trucks are safe. This is crucial, considering that trucks travel thousands of miles every year. While commercial trucks are made to endure decades of driving, they still require careful upkeep to protect the safety and wellbeing of truck drivers and those with whom they share the roads.
Like all vehicles, the tires, brakes, lights, and other systems on trucks must be consistently maintained. Daily inspections help ensure everything is working properly and help prevent accidents. Well-trained drivers are also more likely to notice when brakes are having trouble before they fail.
Tires are particularly troublesome elements of truck safety. Due to the amount of driving done by trucks, tires wear down quickly, and many trucking companies look for shortcuts in their upkeep. Tread is replaced and rear tires are re-capped. This can keep older tires in service for dangerously too-long. It is crucial for drivers to check their tires frequently and adhere to inflation requirements. Failure to do so can result in catastrophic injuries on the highway.
Hours of Service Regulations
The FMCSA dictates the amount of driving truck drivers can perform. While trucks can run smoothly for miles, humans cannot; we need sleep, bathroom breaks, food, and focus.
Hours of service regulations limit how long drivers can go without breaks. Drivers are required to take at least a 30-minute break every eight hours. They must take a 10-hour break after driving 14 hours on duty before they may resume. During those 14 hours on duty, including necessary breaks, a driver cannot drive more than 11 hours.
Additionally, truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in a seven-day period, from the first time they go on duty. Once a driver’s work week is completed, they must remain off-duty for a minimum of 34 hours.
A driver who is too tired cannot drive safely. When these regulations are violated, drivers are unable to stay focused and awake. When someone drives too many days in a row, mistakes are more likely to happen, and the consequences of those mistakes can be catastrophic. Unfortunately, hours-of-service violations are the most common trucking violations.
Yosi Yahoudai, Esq.
Founding CEO & Managing Partner
1880 Century Park East Suite 717
Century City, California 90067-2536