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Commercial motor vehicles, aka semi-tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and trucks, are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which imposes strict regulations on these vehicles and their drivers. The rules enacted by the FMCSA are crafted to ensure that trucks are operated with the highest level of safety possible. Limits are placed on vehicle weight and a driver’s time behind the wheel, and mandatory inspections of vehicle components are required on a routine basis. The reason for such regulation is that these vehicles are so enormous in size and weight that they are much more prone to crashes than common passenger vehicles. Also, once a crash occurs, the massive weight creates the destructive potential energy of 20 average cars.
Drive time limits
Drivers of commercial vehicles are limited in the numbers of hours they can legally drive each work day. On any given working shift, a truck driver may legally drive a maximum of 11 cumulative hours. These driving hours must take place within a working shift of no more than 14 hours. In other words, once a truck driver begins a working shift, the shift must end within 14 hours, and in that period, he may drive no more than 11 total hours. Violations of hours of service regulations can constitute prima facie evidence of driver fatigue if a crash occurs after maximum limits are exceeded.
Maximum vehicle weights
On average, the weight of an 18-wheeler without a payload is approximately 35,000 pounds. By law, the maximum gross weight of a commercial vehicle carrying a load of freight (without a special permit) is 80,000 pounds. Violations of weight regulations, in the form of excessive load weights, can compromise the vehicle’s ability to decelerate under braking and increase the risk of collisions on the roadway. Therefore, excessive weights in violation of FMCSA regulations could pose a danger to all motorists and constitute negligence.
Mandatory inspection of vehicles
Because of the massive potential for destruction if a crash takes place, along with the increased risk of crash inherent in such large machines, truck drivers are required by FMCSA regulations to conduct an inspection of the vehicle at the start and end of each working day of driving. Components such as pneumatic brakes and associated air lines, tires, and other critical parts of the truck must be checked for fitness. Wear and imminent failure of such components that is likely to cause a traffic crash can be detected by inspection, and therefore, can prevent crashes. Because of this, failure to inspect can constitute negligence and increase the risk of traffic crash.
Get experienced legal help to uncover true causes of accidents and recover just compensation
Standard police reports do not reveal violations of FMCSA regulations and therefore, do not relate the entirety of the circumstances involved in truck accidents. If you or a loved one suffered harm as the result of a truck crash, enlist the help of an experienced accident attorney to investigate and uncover the culpable violations that constitute negligence and caused the harm you suffered. Demand just compensation for medical bills, property destruction, and other damages; contact the experienced accident attorneys at The Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC online for a free and confidential consultation or by calling 703-370-8088.