Saving Lives on North Dakota Highways
Why Federal Regulations Keep Truck Drivers Safe on the Road
As North Dakotans, we often take for granted the conveniences in our daily lives. Thanks to truck drivers we have fresh produce transported to local supermarkets and products delivered right to our doorstep. According to the American Trucking Association, almost 70% of freight tonnage in the United States is transported by trucks. But truck driving is a dangerous profession that includes long hours on the road facing hazardous weather and road conditions.
However, thanks to mandatory federal regulations trucking companies are held accountable for the safety of their truck drivers. Established in 2000, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, monitors the commercial motor vehicle industry. The organization ensures that trucking companies and their drivers follow safety regulations and their main priority is to prevent truck accident injuries and fatalities. FMCSA also developed strict standards for commercial driving tests and licensing requirements.
Hours of Service
One of the biggest issues that truck drivers face is road fatigue. As a result, FMCSA changed their hours of service rules to prevent drowsy driving accidents. This regulation limits the driving hours of truck drivers to ensure they stay alert and awake. For commercial trucks that weigh more than 10,001 pounds, the 11-hour limit states that truck drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after they have been off duty for 10 consecutive hours.
The 14-hour limit is the daily maximum driving limit – even though it’s not based on a 24-hour time period. For example, if a driver was off duty for 10 consecutive hours and then starts his shift at 8 am, he cannot drive his truck past 10 pm. The 60/70-hour limit states that drivers cannot drive a commercial truck if they have been on duty for 60 hours for 7 consecutive days or cannot drive after being on duty for 70 hours for 8 consecutive days.
Alcohol and Controlled Substances
According to FMCSA regulations, truck drivers cannot transport any alcohol or drugs with them while driving their scheduled route, unless it is part of their cargo. Also, they cannot consume any alcohol or drugs within 8 hours before their shift, including prescription medication that adversely affects their driving. In order to prevent driving while under the influence, drivers must have a low blood alcohol level of .02 when they return to duty.
Another crucial federal regulation is the installation of black boxes in commercial trucks. Electronic log systems, or black boxes, and global positioning systems (GPS) track and monitor truck routes, driving hours logged, and any mechanical issues. The black box also records the truck’s speed, rest stop breaks, and even records if the truck driver brakes suddenly or experiences low tire pressure.
If you are involved in a truck accident, the black box is very helpful because it produces key evidence when injury attorneys investigate the cause of your accident. The black box determines if a trunk accident was caused by the driver’s error, mechanical issues, or other negligent circumstances.
Routine Truck Maintenance
In order to prevent accidents, commercial trucks must undergo routine maintenance and inspections to ensure the trucks are safe to drive. If trucking companies or mechanics are lax with routine maintenance, they can be held liable if it is determined that the cause of the accident was a result of a mechanical problem that was not fixed.
If you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident and suffer painful injuries as a result of your employer’s negligence, contact our truck accident attorneys at the Larson Law Firm, P.C. today. We always stand in your legal corner and fight diligently on your behalf to get fair and full compensation for your lost income, medical bills and emotional suffering.