The American economy depends on the trucking industry, and there are more than 2 million tractor-trailers on US roads annually. That’s why there are many laws and regulations in place that drivers and their companies must obey to ensure safety.  Truckers and trucking companies must follow these laws and regulations to ensure safety on American roads. But not all of them stick to the rules, which, in turn, causes many truck accidents  that otherwise could be avoided. Some of these accidents involve serious injuries, and thousands die yearly in truck accidents. This article highlights the major trucking laws and regulations that truckers and trucking companies must follow. In addition, if you were recently hurt in a truck crash, a Maryland truck accident lawyer at Pinder Plotkin could help you receive compensation for your losses and damages.

FMCSA Trucking Rules Overview

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees the trucking industry in the United States. The FMCSA sets rules for all US commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and more. FMCSA trucking rules cover these critical areas to ensure public safety:
  • Truck driver qualifications. This truck driver law regulation states the person must be at least 21 and hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). They also must have a basic ability to speak and understand English.
  • Commercial truck operation. Truck drivers must obey laws that ban drug and alcohol use. They must also be physically examined periodically to ensure they are healthy.
  • Truck inspection, maintenance, and repair. Trucking companies must ensure their rigs are safe by performing regular safety inspections. All vehicle parts, systems, and accessories also must be regularly inspected.
  • Minimum insurance requirements. Trucking companies and truckers must have commercial insurance and liability coverage. The FMCSA mandates that each truck have at least $750,000 and up to $5 million in coverage, depending on what the truck carries. Maryland also requires the same coverage level for commercial vehicles.

Hours-of-Service Regulations

The FMCSA has established strict rules about how long truckers can drive in a given period. These are called hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. FMCSA’s rules vary depending on if the truck carries goods or passengers:

Carrying Goods

  • The driver can drive up to 14 consecutive hours after having a 10–hour break
  • The driver must have a 30-minute rest after every eight hours of driving
  • The driver cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days

Carrying Passengers

  • The driver can drive up to 15 consecutive hours after taking a 10-hour break
  • The driver can drive up to 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days
  • The driver can drive up to 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in eight days
Sadly, there are far too many tractor-trailer accidents in Maryland when drivers exceed their HOS limits. The trucking company often pushes the driver to meet a demanding delivery schedule. When the company is in a rush to maximize profits, many Marylanders are seriously injured or killed in truck accidents.

Alcohol and Drug Testing

The FMCSA also has established regulations for drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers. These rules are detailed in 49 CFR Part 40. If these regulations are not followed, the trucking company can be fined. Alcohol and drug tests are usually done during the hiring process, after a wreck, and randomly throughout the year. FMCSA rules require trucking companies to test for these illegal drugs:
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Phencyclidine

Truck Safety Inspections

490 CFR 396.11 states that all truck drivers must perform safety inspections on their rigs after every workday. The safety reports must describe any problems that may make the rig unsafe for the road. Additionally, the safety report should list broken or defective parts that need replacing.

Common Causes of Maryland Truck Accidents

The government has established many trucking laws and regulations to ensure public safety. Still, many tractor-trailer accidents happen because basic rules were violated. If you were hurt in a trucking accident because of one of the below reasons, talk to an attorney today:
  • Driver fatigue. Despite HOS regulations that limit the number of consecutive hours truckers can drive, many drive more than they should. Some truckers ignore the rules in the hopes of making more money. Few things are more terrifying than a truck barreling down the freeway with a driver nodding off at the wheel.
  • Distracted driving. Truckers must pay attention to the road at all times. But they can be tempted by cell phones and other distractions. If a texting driver causes an accident, your personal injury attorney can subpoena their cell phone records for evidence.
  • Improper vehicle maintenance. Even though truckers must inspect their trucks daily, many accidents are caused by worn brakes, tires, and many other problems.

Contact Our Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers Now

Despite the many trucking laws and regulations on the books, far too many truck accidents happen because of flouting the rules. If you or someone you know was hurt in a truck accident, you can rely on Pinder Plotkin today to stand up to the insurance companies and fight for maximum compensation.

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