5 Common Driving Violations in the Trucking Industry
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Patrick DiBenedetto with Metier Law Firm.
The height, weight, and velocity at which large trucks and 18-wheelers habitually travel can cause a lot of damage in the event of an accident; this is why truck drivers have a legal responsibility to commit to safe driving practices whenever they are on the road.
In fact, there is a specific set of rules that truck drivers are expected to follow in addition to the standard rules of the road everyone is expected to abide by. Truck drivers are required to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure a safe travel experience for themselves as well as anyone else on the road; if a truck driver fails to do so and an accident occurs, the consequences can be disastrous.
5 of the most common violations seen in the trucking industry include the following:
- Inaccurate or missing driver log. Truck drivers are required to keep accurate driving logs recording information including what time they departed and arrived at different locations, as well as how long they were driving between rest breaks. These logs can help piece together a truck driver’s time spent getting to and from their destination. However, it is not unheard of for drivers to falsify or fail to keep with their logs altogether, even in the digital age where many driving logs are electronic.
- Hours of service violations. Truck drivers are required to abide by certain hours of service requirements designed to prevent them from driving while fatigued. For example, drivers may be subject to an 8-hour driving limit beginning from the last break of at least 30 minutes or more. However, pressure from trucking companies and a desire to finish the drive faster could result in truck drivers violating these hours of service requirements and driving well past when they are too fatigued to do safely.
- Poor English language skills. While English certainly doesn’t have to the first language of any truck driver, the FMCSA requires that truck drivers be able to speak passable English, such that they can communicate with others on the road and accurately read and interpret road signs and directions. Unfortunately, even an excellent truck driver could be in violation of FMCSA if they do not have a strong enough grasp of the English language.
- Speeding. Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations from both truck drivers and standard passenger vehicle drivers. The desire to avoid traffic and arrive at a destination as quickly as possible is strong, but it can have serious consequences. Large trucks and 18-wheelers in particular take longer to stop and change direction and can be prone to tipping. This makes speeding in a tractor-trailer more dangerous than in the average vehicle.
- Failing to wear a seatbelt. Like just about anyone seated inside a moving vehicle, truck drivers are required to wear their seatbelts. This rule is designed with their protection in mind to prevent them from being thrown from or within the vehicle in the event of an accident. However, truck drivers also work long hours and may feel more comfortable seated without one, leading them to forego wearing a seatbelt in violation of FMCSA requirements.
Most truck drivers are skilled professionals.
Trucking is a hard industry to work in, often involving grueling hours and time spent away from family and friends. While violations like those discussed above do occur, it’s important to remember that most truck drivers are skilled professionals with valuable experience in a job that a lot of people don’t want.
Adding to the pressure that truck drivers face are trucking companies with a greater interest in profit than the wellbeing of their drivers; this can lead trucking companies to pressure their drivers to knowingly break FMCSA guidelines in the interest of more money faster. This means that when an accident occurs between a large truck and passenger vehicle where the truck driver was primarily at fault, liability may fall on both the truck driver and the trucking company.
To learn more about FMCSA violations in the trucking industry, or to discuss your options for recovery if you were injured in a truck accident, reach out to a truck accident attorney in your area.