Photo of attorney John A. Houghton

Caring And Attentive Service.
Tireless Pursuit Of Justice.

On the road to safety: What happens when a commercial truck does not follow the rules?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2024 | Truck Accidents

The traffic ahead grinds to a stop on a busy freeway. We hit the brakes in time to avoid an accident, only to look up in our rearview mirror and see a massive eighteen-wheeler approaching fast. Our heart rate accelerates, and we hope the driver is paying attention, that they hit the brakes, that the brakes work.

This scenario can end one of two ways. The risks that come with a crash between a commercial truck and passenger vehicle are so high that our government has taken steps to better ensure this type of scenario has a happy ending.

How has the government taken steps to better ensure this scenario has a happy ending?

Lawmakers have passed laws that task the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with putting together and enforcing rules to require commercial truck drivers and companies take steps to use our roadways safely.

Unfortunately, the industry does not always follow these rules.

According to recent analysis of data of the 1.5 million roadside inspections available from the FMCSA’s Roadside Inspection Visualization Tool, more than half of the inspected vehicles had at least one violation. This means hundreds of thousands of commercial vehicles are not currently in full compliance with these safety regulations.

But they are still on the roads.

What are the federal regulations that apply to commercial vehicles?

There are many. Some examples include:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) Rules: These limit the number of consecutive hours truckers can drive to prevent fatigue.
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Requirements: Drivers must pass rigorous testing to obtain a CDL, ensuring they have the necessary skills and knowledge.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing: Mandatory testing helps prevent impaired driving among commercial truck drivers.
  • Vehicle Maintenance Standards: The law also requires regular inspections and maintenance to keep trucks in safe operating condition.

Federal regulations are not mere suggestions; they are strict laws that trucking companies and drivers must follow. If an inspection uncovers a violation, penalties can include fines and a need to fix the issue.

What happens when a non-compliant vehicle is involved in an accident?

Compliance with federal trucking regulations is not just about following rules; it’s about protecting lives. If the violation played a role in the accident, it is likely the victim has some legal recourse. This can help provide funds to cover the costs that result from the accident. The path to recourse can be different in each case. The driver, trucking company, or even vehicle manufacturer may bear some level of responsibility for the accident. It is important to take all options into consideration when building a case to hold the responsible party legally accountable for their role in the accident.