Truck drivers in California must follow federal and local regulations to protect themselves and other road users. When truckers fail to uphold these obligations, they are significantly more likely to cause traffic accidents, which often have devastating consequences.
This article discusses some of truck drivers’ most frequent safety violations and how our lawyers can help after a truck accident.
HOURS OF SERVICE (HOS) VIOLATIONS
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets strict limits on how long interstate truck drivers can be on the road and how often they must take breaks. In particular, they may only drive for up to 11 hours within 14 hours of coming on duty and must take a 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours without one. These guidelines are in place to prevent accidents caused by drowsy truck drivers.
California has its own guidelines for drivers who do not cross state lines.
FAILURE TO CONDUCT A PRE-TRIP INSPECTION
FMCSA rules say truck drivers must inspect their vehicles before they start driving. Truckers are required to check the following parts and equipment during pre-trip inspections:
- Engine compartment
- Fuel tank
- Fluid levels
- Wheel lug nuts
- Coupling system
- Lights and reflectors
- Driver’s cabin
- Truck’s emergency kit
These pre-trip inspections alert truck drivers to worn or damaged parts so they can get the parts repaired or replaced before hitting the road. Driving with broken or defective parts is extremely dangerous because truck drivers may lose control of their vehicles and be unable to prevent collisions.
Moving violations include speeding, making unsafe lane changes, failing to use turn signals, tailgating, and engaging in other risky behaviors. While many moving violations are not specific to truck drivers, the consequences for these violations can be worse for truckers. FMCSA data show that nearly 8 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in one recent year received a citation for at least one moving violation.
FAILURE TO SECURE VEHICLE EQUIPMENT OR LOAD
The consequences can be catastrophic when truck drivers fail to secure equipment or cargo. An unsecured payload could fall from the truck, striking nearby vehicles or other road users as it falls, or another driver might hit the cargo that spills onto the road. Even if it doesn’t fall off the truck, improperly secured cargo could shift and cause the truck driver to lose control.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL
Truck drivers who are intoxicated behind the wheel are a significant hazard. Even certain prescription medications can have adverse side effects and impair a driver’s ability to drive safely. In one recent year, FMCSA data show that about 5 percent of truck drivers involved in fatal collisions received a citation for impaired driving.
Truck drivers must keep meticulous records of their routes, hours driven, inspections, repairs, and other data. Truckers who alter these logs or do not keep records to avoid potential safety violations may put themselves and others at risk.
DRIVER’S LICENSE VIOLATIONS
Most states have strict requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In California, drivers who apply for a CDL must pass a federal entry-level driver training course, have a valid California driver’s license, complete 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, and meet additional requirements.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED FOLSOM TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS TODAY
If you were injured in an accident caused by a truck driver, you have the right to pursue compensation. The lawyers at The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, are committed to advocating for people injured in truck crashes. Contact our experienced Folsom truck accident attorneys today for a free consultation.