Trucking Laws

Trucking Regulations Are Designed To Maintain Highway Safety

Federal, State and Border Guidelines

When truckers take to the roads in the state of Texas, there are many preestablished rules which regulate safety on our highways. The source of such rules originate in both federal and state jurisdictions and also incorporate border-crossing laws set up in the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Such rules affect not just truck drivers but also the companies which employ them, holding them each accountable should an accident occur. Included in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or FMCSR which is supported by the Texas Department of Public Safety are guidelines encompassing a plethora of important issues such as limitations to consecutive hours of truck driving; parameters for vehicle size and weight; and implementation of programs to restrict banned substances while on the job.

Specific Rules Affecting the Commercial Trucking Industry

Hours of Operation

Truck drivers must comply with a set number of hours they are eligible to drive on a daily and weekly basis. These limitations, which are referred to as hours-of-service regulations, specify that a driver cannot exceed 14 hours of work which includes both driving and non-driving activities, with a maximum of 11 hours devoted to the task of exclusively driving a truck.

At that point, the driver must refrain from driving his truck for ten consecutive hours during which time he should rest before resuming his schedule of driving. There are additional restrictions governing how many weekly hours he may drive, all of which must be recorded in both mileage and hourly breakdowns in a formal log which the company must maintain by law.

Because of delivery deadlines, bonuses for better customer service, or incentives to encourage more efficient performance, drivers and their employers may be tempted to violate, ignore or alter some of these rules in the interest of personal or corporate benefit.

Vehicle Weight Restrictions

According to federal law, a truck using an interstate highway hauling an oversized load cannot exceed 80,000 pounds in gross weight. While this and many variations and exceptions to these rules are an attempt to preserve the integrity of our existing roads and bridges, it is often the case that both truckers and employers who choose to circumvent such laws risk stiff penalties for violations. In addition, with compliance sometimes resulting in the onus of additional costs of transportation or other considerations which affect company profit or loss, such infractions by truckers and their employers can seriously jeopardize public safety and be ruled as dangerously negligent should an accident take place.

On-the-Job Use of Alcohol or Drugs

Because of the massive weight and size of an 18-wheeler transporting a load of maximum proportions and hazardous content, a driver who is operating his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs poses a critical threat to the safety of everyone else close to his rig. For this reason, commercial truck drivers are governed by a different set of regulations from the everyday motorist. Exceeding a blood alcohol level of .04 percent as determined by a Breathalyzer device and operating a commercial vehicle less than four hours after alcohol consumption is deemed illegal. Further restrictions also exist for the use of amphetamines and other prescription drugs. Yet, despite these intimidating federal laws with dire consequences, an alarming number of annual fatalities in 18-wheeler accidents are still attributed to driving under the influence.

Vehicle Maintenance and Repair

Many accidents are caused by equipment deficiencies in one way or another, some of which can include tire blowout, air brake failure, ill-maintained systems, and poorly operating mechanical parts. In addition, if the company refuses to perform routine vehicle safety evaluations along with implementation of regular employee educational development and standards of operational intelligence, chances are that careless drivers using equipment in a precarious state of disrepair will eventually result in a tragedy which could have been prevented. Such an event would be described as truly negligent with the driver and his employer sharing full responsibility.

Only a Brilliant Lawyer Can Reveal How Negligence Is to Blame!

Trucking laws may play an important role in your personal injury or wrongful death case. But it will require the skills of a very experienced attorney to discover exactly what happened and who is at fault.

The Houston law firm of Joel A. Gordon and Associates offers you the opportunity to receive a free consultation during which you can share every detail of your claim with a highly competent attorney proficient at representing clients with your kinds of circumstances to produce the financial relief and just compensation you deserve. Your expedience is essential since the state of Texas limits the time in which to file your case to a very restricted deadline. Call us as soon as possible to find out the best way to proceed with your legal claims.