Sometimes life seems to be one series of rules after another. From early childhood our parents start setting boundaries. In school, principals and teachers set parameters for our behavior. Spiritual people often choose to follow a set of religious tenets. In social interactions, all of society sets mores for acceptable behavior. Even in the workforce, whether we are lawyers, firefighters, accountants, welders, healthcare professionals, or anything in between, many of us must adhere to professional and occupational standards.
While it may seem somewhat restricting at first blush, when we step back and think about it, there is a good reason for all of these rules. They help protect us all from wrongdoing and make society safer. And truck drivers are no different – there are many rules they are required to follow. In fact, due to the extreme harm that can be inflicted by semi-trucks in accidents, truck driving is a highly regulated activity.
Semi-truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce, whether based in Oregon or anywhere else in the country, must follow federal trucking regulations. These regulations are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. As the regulations are published, they appear in a publication called the Federal Register. They are then taken from the Federal Register and compiled in the United States Code of Federal Regulations, often abbreviated as CFR. We have provided a convenient link to the online version of the CFR.
Examples of Regulations
Some people are surprised by the sheer number of regulations applicable to truck drivers and the wide variety of topics they cover. Here are a few examples:
- Requirements to make and maintain records – not only are trucking companies and truck drivers mandated to create many types of records, they are also required to retain them for specified periods of time. Reviewing these records can be crucial in investigating a tractor-trailer accident.
- Special training requirements – most people understand that truck drivers must receive special training and obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive a semi-truck. However, even more specialized training is sometimes required, such as for drivers of Larger Combination Vehicles.
- Hours of service regulations – truck drivers must follow strict rules on how many hours they can drive and when they must take rest breaks.
- Strict limits on the use of alcohol and drugs.
- Shipping schedules must conform to speed limits – this means that a trucking company cannot set a schedule between points which would require the driver to speed to comply with the schedule.
- Equipment requirements – semi-trucks and trailers are often required to be have certain equipment. Moreover, it must be inspected regularly.
Keep in mind that these are only a small fraction of the total number of applicable regulations, designed to illustrate the breadth of the rules Oregon’s truckers must follow.
Why Is Trucking So Heavily Regulated?
Unfortunately, as important as the trucking industry is, many people in the motoring public are injured and killed every year by semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. While truck safety statistics improved for a number of years, there has recently been somewhat of a regression. Since 2011, deaths across the country have increased every year. The death toll for 2015 exceeded the death toll for 2009 by 22 percent. In Oregon, truck related fatalities have increased every year since 2013.
Call with Questions
If you have been involved in a wreck with a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle, the investigation of the accident can be essential to your claim. The ability to hold truck drivers and trucking companies responsible for their wrongdoing can rest on understanding the many regulations truckers must follow, and then examining compliance with those regulations. The lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have many years of experience with these rules and regulations and would be happy to answer any questions you might have about them.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=0b8823936fb0bcb20b7ae23a9d50e909&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title49/49cfrv5_02.tpl#300
Federal Safety Regulations: https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/pages/laws.aspx#Federal_Safety_Regulations
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute Large Truck data: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/fatalityfacts/large-trucks/2015
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Data: https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx