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Trucking Rules and Regulations in Orange County

When Someone Breaks the Rules, They Should Pay Up

Commercial trucking is a necessary part of this nation’s economy. For many retailers, it’s the primary way to transport their goods to different places throughout the country. Anytime you’re on the highway, you’re likely to see various semi-trucks of different sizes driving along.

Due to their massive size and weight, these vehicles can be especially frightening for other cars. A collision between a commercial vehicle and a car can have disastrous consequences for the people in the car, which is why the U.S. Department of Transportation imposes strict rules and regulations on trucking companies. But when a trucker acts in a negligent manner, or the trucking company fails to properly maintain its vehicles, it can quickly become a matter of life and death for innocent bystanders.

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Hours of Service

Trucking is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), and there are serious consequences if a truck driver or trucking company violates any of their rules. To prevent drowsiness and improve safety on the road, the FMSCA introduced new Hours of Service regulations. These restrictions control the length of time that drivers may operate their vehicle per shift. For property-carrying drivers, these rules include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: Truckers are only allowed to drive for up to 11 consecutive hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • 14-Hour Limit: No one may drive after the 14th hour of a continuous shift if it follows 10 consecutive hours spent off-duty.
  • Rest Breaks: Drivers may only drive if it has been 8 hours or less since the last time they were off-duty or in their sleeper berth for at least 30 minutes.
  • 60/70-Hour Limit: Truck drivers cannot exceed 60/70 hours of working within a 7- or 8-day timeframe. They may only restart a work week after resting for at least 34 hours off-duty.

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Vehicle Maintenance

Under federal law, motor carriers are required to undergo systematic inspections, repairs, and maintenance to keep them in safe operating condition. Each inspection must be thoroughly documented following the completion of each workday. At the very least, the following items must be included in every inspection report:

  • Service brakes
  • Parking brakes
  • Steering wheel
  • Tires
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency equipment

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What Happens When the Rules Are Broken?

These rules and regulations for commercial trucks are meant to ensure the safety of the driver, any pedestrians, and all other cars on the road. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the top priority among trucking companies. A truck driver may feel pressured to push himself beyond the hours of service to deliver a load quickly. When this happens, excessive fatigue can quickly creep in, and his ability to stay attentive, follow traffic laws, and make the correct decisions on the road can be compromised.

Another common violation involves the company or the driver overloading his truck past the proper weight limits. This can be especially dangerous because it affects multiple systems in the vehicle, making it far more difficult to brake at an appropriate time and make turns. Additionally, a truck with too much weight has a different center of gravity than the same truck with less cargo. As a result, the truck driver will be unable to operate the vehicle in the same way and could cause a catastrophic accident.

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Liability in a Truck Accident

Due to their massive size and weight, trucks have serious accidents. They can result in severe injuries and, in the worst possible cases, a wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been the victim in a truck accident, you’ll probably want to start looking to hold someone accountable. Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

Determining fault in a truck accident depends on the causes of the crash. If the driver is shown to have been intoxicated while operating his vehicle, the liability would likely fall on the individual driver. However, if the accident was caused by poor truck maintenance or overloaded freight, the trucking company could also face a civil lawsuit.

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Get Legal Guidance From the Team That Can Help

At Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, we recognize that a truck accident can change your life forever. Not only must you contend with potentially severe injuries and steep medical costs, but other negative factors make it almost impossible to return to your previous life. That’s where we come in.

Our experienced Orange County truck accident attorneys have helped many victims receive financial compensation to protect their livelihood. We have recovered millions of dollars through our strategic and effective representation. Let us help you fight your case. Give us a call at (949) 752-7474 to learn more.

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