Large trucks and semi trailers are unlike any other vehicles on the road. They are extremely large, heavy, and known for making long trips across the state and country. As such, special rules may apply to these trucks, their drivers, and the trucking companies that own them.
The trucking industry is heavily regulated by both state and federal law. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates interstate trucking, the Georgia Department of Transportation regulates trucking within the state. These laws regulate the hours a trucker may be on the road, the transportation of hazardous materials, and safety equipment and procedures. If you are involved in an accident with a large truck, these rules may help us establish important evidence of negligence. The trucker and their employer may be liable if all elements are established.
If you were injured in a crash with a commercial truck, contact our Georgia truck accident attorneys at Howe Law to make an appointment for a free case review by calling (844) 876-4357.
Trucking Industry Regulations and Commercial Truck Accidents in Georgia
Each state regulates intrastate transit and commerce, including commercial trucking and truck networks. In Georgia, this is typically handled by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The Georgia Code includes numerous statutes pertaining to commercial drivers, commercial driver’s licenses, and trucking regulations. These apply to intrastate trucking within Georgia.
If a trucker drives interstate, a different set of rules and regulations may apply. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces rules and regulations for trucks traveling across multiple states. If a truck travels from Georgia to another state or from another state to Georgia, the FMSCA rules would apply.
Why are these rules important? They may shed light on why a truck driver and their employer should be held liable. They also give our Atlanta truck accident lawyers an idea of what truck drivers and trucking companies are supposed to do. If the defendant’s behavior deviates from these regulations and rules, we might be able to prove fault.
Examples of Special Rules for Commercial Truck Accidents in Georgia
State and federal laws regulate numerous aspects of the trucking industry. From licensing to safety equipment, truckers and trucking companies have a lot of rules and requirements to keep up with. If they do not, they might be liable for causing an accident.
Hours on the Road
One aspect of trucking that is strictly regulated is the number of hours a driver can be on the road. As you can imagine, truckers are on the road for a very long time. The number of hours they can drive is limited to ensure drivers stay energized and awake at the wheel.
According to 49 C.F.R. § 395.3, commercial truck drivers transporting property (i.e., cargo, not people) may be on duty for no more than 14 hours. They may be driving for no more than 11 hours at that time. On top of that, a driver may not drive for more than 8 hours without taking at least one 30-minute rest.
Drivers can only be placed on duty on the road if they have been off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before the start of their trip. This limits how often drivers can be on the road and how many shifts they can take in certain periods.
If we believe that the truck driver who caused your accident fell asleep at the wheel, we can check their driving logs to see when they last took a break and how long they had been driving. If they were driving in violation of these rules, they might be liable for your injuries.
Trucks Carrying Hazardous Materials
Many trucks carry dangerous materials. Cargo might be toxic, flammable, or combustible. These truck drivers and trucking companies face an extra set of rules and restrictions to ensure safety on the road. Under 49 C.F.R. § 397, there are many laws and regulations that truckers and trucking companies must abide by when transporting hazardous materials.
For example, when a truck transporting hazardous materials is parked, it must not be parked within 5 feet of the road. This is important in accidents where a truck was pulled over on the side of the road when the accident happened. The truck also cannot be parked within 300 feet of a bridge, tunnel, residence, place of work, or other areas where people typically assemble.
Another important regulation to consider is routing. Trucks that carry hazardous materials must not be routed through heavily populated areas. Any places where crowds tend to gather should be avoided. If you were in an accident with a truck in a densely populated neighborhood, talk to a lawyer immediately.
Safety Equipment and Regulations
Another aspect of the trucking industry that is heavily regulated is safety equipment and procedures. For example, many trucks have brakes on just the cab section of the truck. However, the laws state that trailers must also have brakes if they weigh more than 3,000 lbs. This likely includes most eighteen-wheelers. If you were in an accident with such a truck that lacked the necessary brakes on the trailer, the trucker and trucking company might be liable.
Very specific safety protocols are also required. Truck drivers must often have a medical examiner’s certificate that states they are medically cleared to drive. Many accidents happen because drivers experience medical emergencies behind the wheel, like a heart attack or stroke. Ill or infirm drivers may not be allowed to drive certain kinds of trucks. If your accident happened because a trucking company negligently allowed an ill driver behind the wheel, an attorney can help you sue.
How Special Rules for Commercial Trucks Affect an Accident Case in Georgia
These rules and regulations surrounding the trucking industry give us an idea of what safe driving is supposed to look like for commercial trucks and truck drivers. We can compare the details of your accident with the safety rules and regulations to see if any rules were broken and if the defendants can be held liable.
For example, the regulations might tell us that specific braking systems are required for trucks weighing over a certain amount. If the commercial truck meets the weight limit but does not have appropriate brakes, the truck driver and the trucking company might be liable for the accident.
In some cases, these rules play a big role in how we present evidence and arguments in court. These results represent industry standards. The truckers and trucking companies involved might be liable if industry standards are not followed.
Call Our Georgia Truck Accident Attorneys if You Were Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident
Contact our Gainesville, GA truck accident lawyers at Howe Law to make an appointment for a free case review by calling (844) 876-4357