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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Explained

The trucking industry is a vital part of our nation. Truck drivers provide a valuable service of transporting goods across the country. However, trucks can be dangerous machines, transporting hazardous materials and weighing up to 80,000 pounds which can cause tremendous force if involved in an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration tries to protect public safety by passing and enforcing various regulations. Here is what you need to know about this important entity and its regulations.

The Role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets, monitors, enforces, and updates trucking industry regulations. The FMCSA also conducts safety audits and carrier inspections to ensure trucking companies and drivers have complied with these regulations.

The FMCSA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation. It regulates commercial motor vehicles and buses. It has been put in place to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving these vehicles. In this regard, it is a public safety organization.

Key Aspects of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act codifies the FMCSA’s regulations. This expansive set of regulations involves many different rules that apply to the trucking industry. It is also regularly updated. The first Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations were published in 1937. These laws apply to commercial vehicles that weigh over 10,000 pounds, are designed to transport more than 15 passengers or transport hazardous materials in quantities that require the vehicle to be placarded.

Key aspects of this law include:

  • Hours of Service (HOS) rules – The Hours of Service rules set limits for how long a truck driver can drive before being required to take a break. They also set limits on the total number of hours a trucker can drive in a workweek. Generally, a driver cannot drive more than 11 hours in a day or more than 60 or 70 hours in a 7- or 8-day time period. The driver must take a break of 34 consecutive hours before being able to restart a 7- or 8-day time period.
  • Driver qualification standards – There are several rules regarding the minimum qualifications that a driver must have, including testing requirements and having a commercial driver’s license. Drivers must also be certified to be physically fit enough to safely operate a motor vehicle. Drivers can lose their driving privileges if they commit traffic violations or test positive for drugs or alcohol.
  • Vehicle maintenance requirements – Trucking companies must keep their fleet of vehicles in a safe condition. They must perform regular maintenance and inspect the vehicles at specific intervals.

There are many other regulations that could impact your case. If you were involved in a commercial motor vehicle accident, you should work with a lawyer who is familiar with these regulations and how they can impact your claim.

Ready to Learn More About Your Rights After an Accident?

If you were injured in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a trucking company or driver, you have legal options. The Doan Law Firm has a nationwide practice in 40 cities from coast to coast. Our Houston truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t owe us a dime unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about how we can help.

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