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Federal and State Trucking Regulations

If you or a loved one have been injured in a commercial truck accident, contact our Birmingham truck accident lawyers Belt & Bruner, P.C for help. Our team of skilled Alabama injury attorneys has over 65 years of collective experience handling personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents, and they can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Because of the danger large commercial trucks pose to other drivers on the road, the trucking industry is subject to an extensive set of state and federal safety regulations. Truck drivers and trucking companies engaged in interstate commerce must comply with these standards to ensure the safe and professional operation of commercial trucks. When commercial drivers or trucking companies disregard safety regulations, the results can be catastrophic.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Trucking Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a federal agency responsible for helping to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. FMCSA sets and enforces a vast array of safety truck driver training requirements with which drivers and companies must comply.

Hours of Service

FMCSA restricts the hours a truck driver may spend behind the wheel in a given day or work week to keep fatigued drivers off the road and promote public safety. The existing hours of service rules are:

  • Interstate commercial truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • Truck drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.
  • Truck drivers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.
  • Trucks drivers may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Mandatory 30-minute break after the first eight hours driving.

Truck drivers must keep track of their time and duty status using logbooks. Part of that requirement is making sure that logbooks reflect an accurate and complete record of the driver’s activities for each 24-hour period. Logbooks can be inspected by state or federal agencies at any time. Unfortunately, violations of the hours of service regulations are not uncommon. In fact, one of the most common violations among truck drivers in 2015 was the failure to properly log their duty status. In addition, there were 136,585 hours of service violations in 2015.

Vehicle Requirements

Pursuant to FMCSA regulations, truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for making sure that their vehicles and equipment are in proper working order, regularly inspected, repaired, and maintained. Truck drivers and trucking companies must also maintain accurate maintenance records and comply with cargo securement regulations.

Qualification of Drivers

Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, and understand English sufficiently enough to converse with the general public, read traffic signs and signals, to respond to official inquiries, and to maintain proper records
  • Have adequate experience or training to safely operate the big rig, 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or another type of commercial vehicle for which he or she is responsible for driving
  • Meet physical qualifications to operate a commercial truck
  • Have a current and valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued only by one state or jurisdiction
  • Has supplied his or her employer with a driving record or certificates
  • Not be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle
  • Has successfully completed a driver’s road test and obtained a certificate of a driver’s road test

Alabama Trucking Regulations

Alabama sets its own regulations for commercial trucks operating within the state and has adopted most of the FMCSA standards. The Alabama Public Safety Commission and the Alabama Department of Public Safety work in cooperation with the FMCSA to regulate and enforce safety standards for the commercial trucking industry.

To operate a vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or is used to carry hazardous materials in Alabama, drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To be eligible for a CDL in Alabama, drivers must be at least 18 years old, pass a vision exam, and obtain a DOT medical certificate. Applicants must also take and pass a written knowledge exam and a driving test.

Contact Our Experienced Birmingham Truck Accident Lawyers

If you have suffered an injury in an accident involving a large commercial truck (18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, big rig, semi, tanker or dump truck) in Alabama, the Birmingham truck accident attorneys of Belt & Bruner, P.C., are here to help you determine your legal options. We are committed to helping accident victims throughout Alabama obtain justice for their injuries and we will fight to secure the maximum compensation possible in your case. Our successful track record in personal injury cases includes numerous recoveries in excess of $1 million.

Let us put our extensive knowledge of federal and state trucking regulations, trial skills, and resources to work for you. Call us today at 205-933-1500 for a free consultation.

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