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Truck Accident Laws and Regulations

Federal Law

The trucking industry is heavily regulated by both federal and state governments. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for passing and enforcing driving rules for commercial truck drivers. These regulations can be found in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 49. The behavior of drivers and trucking companies is restricted in many areas; however, numerous trucking accidents still occur daily in the Unites States because these regulations are frequently ignored, forgotten or willfully disregarded.

The federal regulations found in the CFR outline rules that must be followed prior to the operation of a commercial vehicle. First and foremost, federal law mandates that truck drivers strictly adhere to all of the rules of the road. Truck drivers must follow posted speed limits at all times, and use signals or other indicators when changing lanes or exiting the interstate. Truck drivers must also activate their vehicular hazard warning lights if the truck is stopped on the highway for any reason other than slowing due to traffic. Extreme caution must be exercised by truck drivers when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Truck drivers must reduce their speed when such hazardous conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the truck must be discontinued and cannot be resumed until the truck can be safely operated.

The condition of the truck driver is also a concern of federal law. A person may not drive a commercial truck if their ability or alertness is impaired or likely to become impaired through fatigue, illness or any other cause that would make it unsafe for him or her to drive. In the same vein, no driver can possess, be under the influence of, or use illegal drugs or any other controlled substances while on duty. Drivers are also prohibited from having physical control of trucks when under the influence of alcohol that has been consumed within four hours of going on duty.

FMCSA regulations require motor carriers to implement successful controlled-substances use-and-misuse programs. This requirement is meant to prevent truck accidents caused by drunken truck drivers and drivers who are under the influence of drugs.

The FMCSA regulations also prohibit motor carriers to permit unqualified persons to drive commercial trucks. An operator is not allowed to drive with a suspended or revoked truck driver’s license. A truck driver must also pass the required road test and medical examination and have a record free of certain criminal offenses to be qualified to drive a truck. FMCSA regulations also have detailed requirements regarding parts and accessories necessary for the safe operation of trucks and trailers. Critical parts of the truck, such as tires, brakes, lights, axles, engines and other equipment and accessories, must be in good working order, and emergency equipment must be installed and ready for use at all times. Haulers of freights must ensure that all devices for securing the cargo are in appropriate working order. These strict requirements are in place as an attempt by the federal government to prevent truck accidents that are caused, even in part, by improperly maintained equipment or a lack of safety equipment.

In addition, federal regulations require carriers to have certain levels of insurance coverage on each one of their trucks, depending on the routes taken by the truck as well as the nature of the materials being hauled. These regulations are intended to protect potential victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay sufficient out of pocket damages.

Also of legal significance is the requirement that truck drivers maintain a record of duty status, also known as a driver's log. To confirm that the truck is in safe operating condition, the driver must undertake a pre-trip inspection. The pre-trip inspection must start by reviewing the previous vehicle inspection logs. The log book must be in the truck driver’s own handwriting, must be clear and legible, and all entries must detail his or her activities and duty status within each 24 hour period. Entries in the log book must contain the history of the travel, equipment, people and problems from each trip, as well as a description of any breakdowns, delays, foul weather or emergencies encountered during the operation of the truck. If anything is marked for repair, the trucker must double check to verify that the repair was performed. Drivers who are not in compliance with all of these requirements may suffer penalties. A driver’s log entries may be admissible as evidence in a truck accident lawsuit.

In Massachusetts, the violation of any relevant statute or regulation can be potentially used as evidence in a personal injury claim resulting from a Massachusetts tractor trailer accident. For the purposes of your truck accident or wrongful death claim, these commercial trucking regulations can be significant and highly beneficial in proving the negligence of a commercial truck driver, trucking company or other party involved in the truck accident.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a Massachusetts truck accident, you should contact an experienced Boston, MA truck accident injury attorney at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates. We will work with you to gather any and all evidence of a violation of federal trucking regulations so as to obtain fair and just compensation for your injuries. Call us today at 617-787-3700 or contact our Boston truck collision lawyers via email at info@gilhoylaw.com to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.

Massachusetts Law

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration governs all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic. Occasionally, situations arise where a truck, tractor trailer or another commercial motor vehicle is involved in only intrastate travel. For example, a Boston based electronics store may own a truck which makes deliveries only to customers residing in Massachusetts.

In that event, Massachusetts law provides regulations and oversight. The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has adopted some parts of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations into Massachusetts laws that affect trucks operating solely within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Massachusetts has adopted Part 391 of the Federal Regulations, with some exceptions. Massachusetts drivers who only operate intrastate are exempt from certain qualification requirements. These include exemptions from the 21 years of age requirement, from having the ability to fluently read and speak the English language and from certain road tests and written examinations. This means that a Massachusetts resident may obtain a truck driver’s license at the age of 18.

Massachusetts has also adopted Part 392 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This section states that drivers are not allowed to run the engine of a truck or other commercial vehicle for more than 5 minutes if the vehicle is stopped.

Finally, Massachusetts law has adopted Part 393 of the CFR in its entirety. One notable regulation from this section is that drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is equipped with a muffler in good working order. This regulation is intended to prevent excessive or unnecessary noise, which is distracting to other drivers on the road, as well as the truck driver.

Our Boston, MA truck accident lawyer specialists are experts in state and federal trucking regulations. Our Boston truck accident attorneys are aware of the operations of the trucking industry, and we remain fully informed about trucking accident news and information.

Our Boston truck accident personal injury lawyers will use our understanding of the law to your advantage, and we will work vigorously to obtain the best possible results for you. If you or someone you know has been involved in a Massachusetts truck accident, call our Boston truck accident lawyers or Boston wrongful death attorneys today at 617-787-3700 or email us at info@gilhoylaw.com.
If You or a Loved One Has Been Injured or Killed in a Massachusetts Truck Accident, You Need an Experienced Boston Truck Accident Lawyer Expert to Help You. Our Massachusetts Truck Crash Attorney Specialists and Boston Wrongful Death Lawyers Have Extensive Experience With Truck Accident Cases.
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