Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations
Congress enacted the Motor Carrier Act in 1935 to establish minimum safety guidelines for commercial interstate trucking. Pursuant to this statute, the Interstate Commerce Commission promulgated the Federal Motor Safety Carrier (FMSC) Regulations. Enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA), these regulations comprehensively govern the operations of commercial trucks that engage in interstate travel. While the overarching concern of the FMCA is highway safety, our Lafayette truck accident lawyers know that violations of these regulations can result in hefty financial penalties against truckers and trucking companies. In 2013 alone, the FMCA settled 4,051 cases of rule violations totaling $17,629, 345 in civil penalties issued against truckers and trucking companies.
All businesses engaged in interstate trucking are legally required to comply with the FMSC regulations. Employers are also responsible to make sure that their employees, drivers and crew understand and follow these regulations. Truck owners and drivers are also legally required to routinely inspect their commercial trucks to ensure full compliance with the regulations.
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations cover almost every aspect of trucking in the United States. Under the regulations, a driver must be at least 21 years old, possess a commercial driver’s license, pass a road test, be fluent in English, pass a physical test and be capable of safely operating a commercial truck. If a driver is found to be in violation of these regulations and causes an accident, the driver’s employer is presumed negligent.
A court may also impose punitive damages against the company. Some of the most important provisions of the regulations limit the hours of service a truck driver may work without a break or rest. These provisions were designed to address driver fatigue, one of the leading causes of trucking accidents in the United States. Serving victims in Lafayette and beyond, our truck accident attorneys can try to hold truckers accountable for crashes caused by excessive fatigue.
Generally, after 4 ½ hours of driving, the company must permit the driver to take a break. Drivers are also not allowed to drive more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period without taking a minimum break of 10 hours. The regulations further prohibit companies from imposing deadlines on drivers that would require a driver to travel at excessive speeds to meet a deadline.
In addition to limiting a driver’s hours of service, the regulations require drivers to log their hours of service. Therefore, after an accident, a driver’s logbook may help indicate whether the company violated the law. Furthermore, companies have electronic on-board recorders that record when the vehicle is moving and stopped. These recorders assist the company in monitoring whether the driver is complying with federal law. After a truck accident, this electronic on-board recorder can be used to prove an employer or driver’s violation of the law.
An experienced Lafayette truck accident attorney has a working knowledge of the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations and will know how to thoroughly investigate and determine the cause of a motor vehicle accident.
Broussard, David & Moroux is dedicated to fighting for just results for truck accident victims and their families. We can help you develop a legal strategy that will maximize your recovery under federal and state law. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a truck accident lawyer in the Lafayette area, contact our firm at 888-337-2323 (toll-free) or 337-233-2323 (local).