Federal Regulations Truck Drivers Must Follow

Being a professional truck driver is a major responsibility, and safe driving is paramount for these professionals. We all rely on truck drivers to keep the economy going in the United States. There are several federal regulations truck drivers must follow to reduce the risk of accidents. These regulations dictate driving hours, vehicle maintenance requirements, and other safe driving practices. When a truck driver fails to adhere to these regulations and causes an accident, those who are injured may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. If you have recently been injured in a truck accident, consider contacting the experienced Arizona truck accident lawyer Chuck Franklin directly at Chuck Franklin Law by calling (480) 545-0700 today to learn more about your legal rights.

Which Truck Drivers Must Follow Federal Regulations?

Federal driving regulations are dictated and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a subset of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). All commercial truck drivers are required to follow these federal regulations. 

In addition to the federal regulations, many states impose their own regulations that apply to any vehicle traveling within the state’s borders. Since many truck drivers travel from state to state while hauling their cargo, it is vital for them to be aware of the regulations of each state the truck enters. 

Hours of Service Regulations for Truck Drivers

The FMCSA’s hours of service regulations are divided into two main categories—one set of regulations for property-carrying drivers (like truck drivers) and another for passenger-carrying drivers (i.e., taxi drivers, rideshare drivers, etc.). These rules govern the number of daily and weekly hours commercial drivers may drive each week and dictate mandatory rest breaks. Truck drivers and other types of passenger-carrying commercial vehicle drivers are required to adhere to the following federal hours of service regulations:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit—This rule limits property-carrying drivers to a maximum of 11 driving hours per day 
  • 14-Hour Limit—The 11 driving hours need to have been driven within no more than 14 hours after the driver first clocked in. Spending time off-duty does not pause or extend the 14-hour period
  • Weekly Driving Limit—Drivers may drive for no more than 60 hours over a 7-day period but are permitted to drive up to 70 hours over a period of 8 days
  • Mandatory Breaks—Truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 consecutive hours. Any activity other than driving can be done during this period
  • Sleeper Berth Provision—This provision allows drivers to split their mandatory 10-hour off-duty period if one of these periods is at least 2 hours and the driver spends the other period in the sleeper berth for at least 7 consecutive hours. The sum of these two periods must always be at least 10 hours. Neither of these time periods applies to the 14-hour time period
  • Adverse Driving Conditions Exception—Both the 11-hour driving limit and the 14-hour period may be extended by up to two hours if the driver runs into adverse driving conditions

Drivers who violate the federal regulations truck drivers must follow may be considered negligent and legally liable for injuries and losses if they cause an accident. Other motorists injured in this type of truck accident could be able to hold the driver and other parties liable in a personal injury lawsuit. You can learn more about your legal options after a trucking accident by directly contacting the experienced attorney Chuck Franklin at Chuck Franklin Law.

Other Federal Safety Regulations for Truck Drivers

The FMSCA has several other categories of regulations that are designed to make sure commercial vehicles are operated safely, including that:

  • Vehicles must be regularly inspected to make sure they are safe to drive
  • Commercial truck drivers must agree to regular drug and alcohol screenings
  • All hazardous materials must be correctly labeled and packaged before being transported, and carriers that transport these materials must have a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit. Drivers who transport these materials must also complete the training requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Those who wish to receive a commercial driver’s license and maintain that license must undergo regular physical exams for health problems that could interfere with the driver’s ability to drive safely

How Federal Regulation Violations Can Cause Trucking Accidents

Federal regulations for commercial truck drivers are designed to protect both the drivers and all other motorists that they will pass on the road while transporting cargo or passengers. Following these regulations can greatly reduce the driver’s risk of being involved in an accident. Conversely, violations can put both the truck driver and other motorists in danger of being injured in a preventable crash.

Some common examples of truck accidents caused by violations to federal regulations include:

  • A truck driver who exceeded the daily or hourly limits causes an accident due to fatigue, also known as drowsy driving
  • An improperly secured cargo load falls from the truck, and debris hits another vehicle, causing it to crash
  • A truck that was not properly maintained malfunctions on the road, causing the truck driver to crash

What Parties Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

Individuals who are injured in traffic accidents often seek financial compensation through either an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party who is considered liable for the accident. Most car accident lawsuits are filed against an individual, but truck accident liability can be more complicated. In most truck accident cases, there are three possible liable parties:

  • Truck drivers may be considered liable if their negligence was at least partly to blame for the crash, including federal regulations violations and other negligence like breaking traffic laws
  • Trucking companies can be held liable for knowingly allowing their drivers to violate federal regulations
  • Manufacturers of defective parts or equipment can be held liable if the defect was a contributing factor in the accident

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Arizona Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one was recently involved in an accident related to a violation of the federal regulations truck drivers must follow, you may have the right to seek compensation. In cases caused by the driver’s negligence, those who suffered injuries may pursue financial compensation for damages related to the crash. The experienced Arizona truck accident lawyer Chuck Franklin at Chuck Franklin Law helps victims of negligence seek financial compensation. Consider calling (480) 545-0700 today to speak with Chuck Franklin directly and learn more about your legal rights.