Federal Trucking Regulations
Many tractor-trailers and semis in Ohio are involved in interstate commerce, moving freight from one place to the next as they travel across the country. These trucks are subject to the federal regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a truck driver or trucking company violated federal trucking regulations in causing an accident, victims should take legal action against the responsible parties. The Cleveland truck accident lawyers at Rubin Guttman & Associates are here to thoroughly investigate the cause of your crash and assert your right to compensation.Federal Trucking Regulations vs. State Trucking Regulations
The United States Department of Transportation enacts and enforces the regulations that cover interstate truck drivers and trucking companies. By contrast, commercial trucks travelling only within Ohio must follow the rules and regulations of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. These state regulations are enforced by the Public Utilities Commission, and they mostly mirror the FMCSA regulations. The state regulations also cover issues related to carrier registration, insurance coverage, and safely operating commercial trucks.Hours of Service
One crucial area regulated by the FMCSA is a truck driver's hours of service. These are regulations put in place to reduce the high risk of crashes due to chronic truck driver fatigue. The FMCSA provides that interstate truck drivers can only drive up to 11 hours after 10 back-to-back hours off duty. They cannot drive more than 14 hours after coming on duty after 10 hours off. Even if they were off duty eating snacks and refueling, the 14-hour limit is absolute. They cannot drive after being on duty for 15 hours after 8 hours off duty. They can drive only when 8 hours or fewer have passed since the end of their last off-duty rest break or sleeper berth period of a minimum of 30 minutes. They also cannot drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days.Logbooks
Another area that is regulated by the FMCSA is a truck driver's recording of information each day in a logbook. Logbooks are supposed to provide a record of the truck driver's activities for a 24-period on both short and long trips. Logbooks should include the total driving hours, hours worked over a 7-day period, miles covered in a 24-hour period, off duty time, and daily vehicle inspection reports. Unfortunately, some truck drivers falsify their logbooks, either of their own volition or because they were encouraged to do so by their employers. Even if a trucking company does not expressly ask the truck driver to falsify the logbook, some trucking companies are pleased with the effect on profit of increased hours working and look the other way. This is inexcusable and puts everyone on the road at risk.
Motor carriers must follow certain regulations when hiring and supervising truck drivers. For example, they need to submit an inquiry to all of the states in which a job applicant held a motor vehicle permit or license in the prior three years from the date of application to get a driver's motor vehicle record. Every driving record obtained needs to be put in the driver qualification file within 30 days from the date that they are employed. If no motor vehicle record is obtained, the carrier needs to document a good-faith effort to get that information and certify that no records exist for the driver in that state.Repairs
Motor carriers are also supposed to conduct systematic repairs, inspections, and maintenance of their fleet under the FMCSA regulations. All parts and accessories are supposed to be in safe and proper condition. Any emergency doors, push out windows, or emergency door marking lights are supposed to be inspected every 90 days. Trucking companies are supposed to maintain certain records for their fleet, such as an identification of the trucks.
Violations of federal trucking regulations serve as strong evidence of negligence by the truck driver or trucking company. Negligence means that the defendant owed a duty of reasonable care but breached this duty and caused the accident. It is likely that your attorney could prove negligence if, for example, a truck driver breached the hours of service rules, fell asleep at the wheel, and caused a jackknife crash that killed a victim inside a passenger car. For another example, if a trucking company never inquired into a truck driver's driving records in other states when that inquiry would have shown a history of drunk driving accidents, and the truck driver gets into a drunk driving accident by failing to check blind spots, a jury may find the trucking company liable.Explore Your Options with a Dedicated Cleveland Attorney
After an accident, the skillful and experienced trial lawyers at Rubin Guttman & Associates can look into whether there were any violations of federal trucking regulations that may have played a role. You can call us at (216) 696-4006 or (888) 488-8529, or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation today. Our firm will arrange a time and place to meet that is convenient for you. Russian, Hebrew, and Spanish language services are available by appointment. We represent victims in Cleveland, Parma, Lakewood, Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Strongsville, Akron, Columbus, Chardon, Toledo, Youngstown, Ravenna, Lorain, Mentor, Beachwood, and Elyria.