Most would agree that an important function of government is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. From state and federal laws criminalizing unwanted behavior, to rules and regulations that protect the environment, there is a plethora of involvement by government at all local, state, and federal levels. When it comes to regulating the manner in which commerce is conducted, protecting drivers and passengers on our roadways is abundantly important. In fact, given that our citizens drive millions of miles per year, along with the danger presented by tractor-trailer truck crashes, the importance of regulation can hardly be overstated.
A Good Reason for Regulation
Unfortunately, deaths across the United States from large truck crashes have increased every year since 2011. In Oregon, deaths have increased every year since 2013. Automobile occupants suffer the majority of these deaths. Moreover, as the population continues to grow, one might expect commerce to continue increasing. With more traffic on the roads, the potential for death and injury increases, and the need for regulation becomes more apparent.
How Are Truckers Regulated?
The United States government has passed regulations which apply to all large trucks involved in interstate commerce. Trucks and truck drivers that are not involved in interstate commerce are subject to the laws of the particular states in which they are located. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues regulations which interstate truckers must follow.
These regulations are initially published in a publication called the Federal Register. The compilation of all of these regulations is located in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are located at 49 C.F.R. Sections 350-399. In the next section, we will provide some examples of regulations applicable to truckers and trucking companies.
Examples of Regulations
- Hours of Service (49 C.F.R. Sections 395.1 – 395.38) – Semi-truck drivers must comply with regulations limiting the number of hours they may drive. These regulations acknowledge that drivers make more mistakes when they are tired.
- Inspection, Repair, and Maintaining Maintenance Records (49 C.F.R. Sections 396.1 – 396.25) – There are numerous regulations which must be met to demonstrate that the tractor and trailer are safe to be on the road. For example, there are specific regulations applicable to lights, blinkers, and the way in which cargo is secured. Proper records must be maintained.
- Driver Qualifications (49 C.F.R. Sections 391.1 – 391.71)- Driving a semi-truck is serious business. Therefore, drivers must be properly trained and licensed. Drivers must also meet minimum health requirements, to prove that they are in sufficient physical condition to drive these dangerous vehicles.
- Transporting Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules (49 C.F.R. Sections 397.1 – 397.225) – truck drivers and trucking companies transporting hazardous materials must meet a variety of regulations designed to ensure safety and protect the public. There are also specific rules related to how these big rigs should be parked.
Call an Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, you probably have a number of questions. Was the truck engaged in interstate commerce and subject to federal regulation, or involved in intrastate activities and subject only to Oregon law? Did the truck driver or the trucking company violate regulations or other laws? How can the accident, the trucking company, and the truck driver be investigated properly? At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we are proud to help Oregonians hold these big companies accountable for their wrongdoing. We believe such accountability by all of our citizens is the best way to promote a safe society for all of our families. Please call us with your questions and we will be happy to help.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Data: https://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx
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