Trucking is a major industry in the United States. Millions of trucks are on the highways delivering goods and services every day. According to some industry sources, in 2019 alone the trucking industry was a $791 billion industry with about 72.5% of all freight transported in hauled by the trucking industry. See the website at www.trucking.org.
Trucking Regulations and Safety
Trucking in the US is regulated by the US Department of Transportation and there are industry wide standards as issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). See the website at www.fmsca.dot.gov. These standards and safety rules apply to interstate trucking and the states, such as Pennsylvania, have adopted many parts of these regulations for intrastate trucking as well.
Drivers and “CDL” Licenses
Drivers of these large commercial vehicles are required by law to have special training and licensing. To get a Commercial Driver License (CDL), a driver must attend an approved school and pass a special test. Commercial vehicles such as tractor trailer combinations or buses are much larger and heavier than the typical car or pickup truck. Drivers who operate these large commercial vehicles must be trained properly so that they can do so safely. The FMCSA regulations require that CDL drivers get regular physical examinations. Also, drivers are required to keep logs of their driving hours to help prevent drivers from operating these huge vehicles when they are too tired or fatigued to drive.
These large heavy commercial vehicles require CDL licensed professional drivers to have a good understanding for how these vehicles respond to adverse weather conditions (wet roads, freezing or icy conditions, fog, snow) and road conditions (curves, downhill grades, intersections). CDL licensed professional drivers need to be aware of how much space is need to bring these large heavy vehicles to a stop or how much room is needed to negotiate a curve or sharp turn. “Oversize” vehicles or combinations (tractor-trailers) that are wider, higher or longer than normal present even more need for safety precautions and regulations. Operating these “oversize” vehicles and loads on narrow, hilly or winding back roads can be most challenging and potentially hazardous. Large commercial vehicles present other challenges with risk for injury to others such as “off tracking” or “dog tracking” when traveling though a curve or turn in the road. In these situations, the rear of the vehicle or trailer will tend to run off the road (when turning right or a going through a right hand curve) or into the opposite lane of travel (when turning left or going through a left curve).
Hazardous chemicals, flammable or explosive materials present special risks that require even further training and testing for CDL licensed professional drivers above and beyond the basic safety requirements. Should these types of substances spill or ignite, there is the ever present risk of serious injury or death. To haul these dangerous loads, the CDL professional driver needs special training and licensing to know best how to avoid these risks.
Commercial Vehicle Safety Requirements and Regulations
Commercial vehicles are subject to various safety requirements and regulations for inspections and maintenance. Safety checks are required regularly to avoid dangerous failures. An equipment failure on such huge vehicles can result in devastating harm or death. Trucks and other large commercial vehicles are subject to rules on how much weight a vehicle can carry. There are also regulatory rules for what are called “oversize” commercial vehicles carrying “wide loads” or very long loads or trailers. Such oversize commercial vehicles often require “escort” or “pilot” vehicles to travel ahead and behind them to warn other drivers they are approaching. Loads must be properly placed and secured to avoid shifting while in motion or for freight to come loose. “Dumped” or “spilled” loads of cargo falling from a truck or trailer onto other vehicles or into their path can result in serious injury or death.
Some trucking companies or drivers will flaunt the rules. It may be to save money or time or just because of carelessness or a lack of concern about the risks. Maybe the truck or trailer will get overloaded to save the money it would cost for an extra trip or another vehicle and driver. Maybe a driver will not keep an accurate log of his hours behind the wheel because he or she wants to make some extra money, or maybe because the trucking company is pushing the driver for more profits. When there is a crash with a commercial vehicle such as a tractor-trailer combination, these types of rule breaking needs to be considered as possible factors in investigating the case.
Crashes and Injuries
- Rear end collisions
- Over loaded trucks
- Speeding trucks
- Reckless drivers
- Tired or fatigued drivers
- Sudden lane change accidents
- Jack-knifed trailers
- Too fast for conditions accidents (fog, rain, sleet or freezing)
- Off tracking or “dog tracking” trailers
- Spilled loads or freight on roadways
- Interstate highway accidents
- Exit ramp accidents
- On ramp accidents
- Turnpike accidents
- Swerving vehicle
- Snow or ice flying off a truck
- Construction zone crashes
You can Call May Law at 570-287-7332 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. Discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney who will treat your case with the compassion and attentiveness you deserve.
May Law serves clients in Northeast Pennsylvania, including Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, and Wyoming Counties, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Tunkhannock, Stroudsburg and the Poconos.