There is no doubt that the commercial trucking industry is crucial to the functioning of the U.S. economy. We rely on these vehicles and their drivers to move goods across Tennessee and the country to keep our stores stocked. However, the presence of these massive rigs on our highways poses a safety risk to the much smaller vehicles we drive. It is essential that truck drivers are skilled and attentive and that their trucks are maintained to a high safety standard. With nearly three million semi-trucks traveling over 300 billion miles each year, the safety of our families depends on strict federal regulations that govern truckers and trucking companies.
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a crash with a commercial semi-truck, it is important that you contact an injury lawyer with truck crash experience. Proving that the driver or their employer was negligent in the crash will likely come down to proving that a federal law was violated, so it is vital that your lawyer knows Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations inside and out.
Key FMCSA Safety Regulations That Protect Drivers Like You
Truckers and trucking companies are held to very strict standards in an effort to protect the public from unsafe trucks, untrained drivers, and overly demanding schedules. The regulations that have the greatest impact on public safety include the following:
- Hours of service (HOS). The HOS regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel and require rest breaks and off-duty periods. The current regulations include a maximum of 11 hours of driving time after ten consecutive hours off-duty, a 14-hour on-duty limit, and a requirement for a 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving.
- Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. The ELD mandate requires most commercial truck drivers to use electronic logging devices to record their hours of service. ELDs replace traditional paper logbooks and help ensure accurate and consistent tracking of driving and rest times.
- Drug and alcohol testing. Truck drivers are subject to regular drug and alcohol testing as part of FMCSA regulations. The testing includes pre-employment testing, random testing, post-accident testing, and reasonable suspicion testing to ensure drivers are not impaired while operating commercial vehicles.
- Commercial Driver's License (CDL) requirements. FMCSA sets standards for obtaining and maintaining a CDL. These requirements include written tests, skills tests, medical examinations, and adherence to specific regulations for different classes of commercial vehicles.
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance. Truck drivers and carriers are responsible for conducting regular vehicle inspections and ensuring the proper maintenance of their commercial vehicles. These inspections cover various aspects such as brakes, tires, lights, steering, and other safety components.
- Weight and size limits. FMCSA imposes regulations regarding weight and size limits for commercial vehicles. These regulations vary depending on the type of vehicle, specific routes, and states involved, ensuring compliance with safety standards and infrastructure limitations.
- Hazardous materials transportation. Truck drivers involved in transporting hazardous materials must adhere to specific regulations outlined by FMCSA. These regulations include proper packaging, labeling, placarding, and documentation for the safe transport of hazardous materials.
- Medical certification. Commercial truck drivers are required to undergo regular medical examinations and maintain a valid medical certificate to ensure they meet the physical qualifications necessary for safe operation.
- Driver qualification. FMCSA sets standards for driver qualifications, including age requirements, driving history checks, and specific disqualifications based on criminal records or other factors that may impact driver safety.
- Driver training. FMCSA regulations include guidelines for driver training programs and requirements for entry-level drivers, ensuring they receive adequate training on various aspects of safe and responsible commercial vehicle operation.
If a truck driver or trucking company violates any of these regulations and a crash occurs as a result, they can be found at fault for the accident and held liable for your losses, which could be extensive, considering the damage that can be done when a semi-truck hits a passenger car.
Potential Injuries Suffered by Occupants of Cars Hit by Semi-Trucks
Collisions between commercial trucks and passenger cars are often fatal for occupants of the smaller vehicle. If you lost a loved one in a crash with a semi, and the truck driver or trucking company is found to be at fault, you could hold them accountable through a wrongful death legal action.
Victims who survive truck crashes often sustain serious, life-altering injuries, such as the following:
- Spinal injuries. High-impact collisions with semi-trucks can result in spinal injuries, such as herniated discs, fractures, or spinal cord damage causing partial or complete paralysis. These injuries can occur due to the intense forces exerted on the spine during the collision, causing compression, twisting, or hyperextension of the spinal column.
- Head and brain injuries. Occupants of cars hit by semi-trucks can sustain head and brain injuries. This can include concussions, skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or intracranial bleeding. The impact of the collision or contact with objects within the vehicle can cause these injuries.
- Chest and abdominal injuries. The force of a collision with a semi-truck can lead to chest and abdominal injuries. These injuries may include broken ribs, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, or collapsed lungs. They can occur due to the impact of the collision or contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, or seat belt.
- Limb injuries. Limb injuries can involve fractures, dislocations, severe contusions, lacerations, or amputations of arms, legs, hands, or feet. These injuries may result from the impact of the collision or being trapped within the wreckage.
- Psychological injuries. Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event can have long-lasting psychological effects on the individuals involved. It is not uncommon for victims to suffer psychological effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or emotional distress.
It is essential that you contact our truck accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after the crash so that we can begin investigating what happened and preserving vital evidence. The longer you wait, the harder it could be to get you the compensation you will need to live with a life-changing injury.