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Posted in Trucking accident on September 7, 2020
Trucking regulations are what keep the transportation industry safe and sustainable for truckers and surrounding drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in charge of regulating commercial trucking on a nationwide scale. The FMCSA has hundreds of rules trucking companies and their employees must follow. When companies break these rules, West Virginia trucking accidents can happen.
Before hiring a new driver, a trucking company must properly check the applicant’s background, including any history of auto accidents. Requirements to drive a commercial truck in West Virginia include having a Commercial Driver’s License and passing special written and driving tests. New drivers must also undergo criminal background checks. Drivers must agree to submit to random drug and alcohol testing as well as testing after accidents. Trucking companies are responsible for properly training new drivers as well. Lack of truck driver training can lead to dangerous mistakes such as using the incorrect braking technique.
The truck drivers themselves also have to obey many federal and state trucking regulations. One is the hours of service rule. This rule helps ensure truck drivers in West Virginia are not operating big rigs while drowsy or fatigued. The hours of service regulation limits truck drivers to a maximum of 11 on-duty hours in a single 14-hour workday. After 8 of these hours, the driver must take a 30-minute rest or sleeper berth break. A truck driver must fulfill a rest period of 10 hours before he or she can continue driving. In addition, truck drivers have an overarching maximum of 60 or 70 work hours in a 7- or 8-day period. Breaking the hours of service rule could lead to drowsy truck drivers and related accidents.
In West Virginia, it is against the law for a motor vehicle driver to operate a car with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or above. The state’s drunk driving law reduces the legal BAC for truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators, however. A truck driver in West Virginia cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC at or above 0.04%. Cutting the legal BAC level in half discourages truck drivers from driving drunk. This is critical due to how dangerous large, heavy big rigs are for others on the road.
Trucking companies and cargo loaders must make sure trucks do not exceed federal weight and height restrictions. This is essential for the safe operation of the vehicle. A truck that is too heavy or unbalanced could be prone to rollovers, lost cargo loads and other disasters. They may also be too difficult for the driver to stop and maneuver. The West Virginia Department of Transportation outlines its legal size and weight limits for hauls. Exceeding these limits requires a special permit. An oversized load is one that exceeds 80,000 pounds. The FMCSA also has rules in place for proper load securement and transporting hazmat.
A trucking company cannot ensure the safe and responsible transportation of goods without regular truck and equipment inspections. Trucking companies are in charge of maintaining their fleets. Even if the company only leases and does not own a truck, federal law makes the company responsible for accidents involving the vehicle. The FMCSA has guidelines for the inspection, repair and maintenance of commercial trucks. These include a requirement for trucking companies to have schedules in place to ensure trucks remain in safe operating condition. Negligent truck maintenance could lead to part breakdowns and accidents.
A trucking company or driver could be liable for any accident caused by a breach of federal or state law. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in West Virginia, a personal injury attorney can help during a free consultation. Contact an attorney to discuss holding someone responsible.