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Truck Driver Negligence


Attorneys for Truck Accident Injury Victims in Western Missouri

Accidents involving commercial trucks (tractor trailers) are inherently dangerous. The majority of those killed in these accidents are the occupants of passenger vehicles, who are vulnerable based on the size disparity alone. These trucks can weigh over 20 times that of a standard passenger vehicle, are a threat for “roll-over” accidents, and typically require a larger stopping (braking) distance than an automobile. In 2006, Congress implemented the Unified Carrier Registration Act which created national uniformity in registering, identifying, and insuring motor carriers. The industry is centrally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

FMCSA has four coded categories for truck collisions that are somehow associated with driver fault:

  • Performance: Such as the driver demonstrated a lack of directional control or overcompensation
  • Non-performance: The driver had fallen asleep or experienced a medical emergency
  • Recognition: Driver became distracted or demonstrated inattentiveness
  • Decision: Speeding, failing to yield, etc.

Driver Daily & Weekly Operating Limits

Truck accident safety is closely tied to driver performance, which is hindered when the individual is fatigued. Therefore, the FMCSA has set clearly defined hours of service (operation) regulations. Drivers may operate a truck for a total of 11 hours after being off-duty for a period of at least 10 hours. Drivers may operate for 8 hours and then are required to take a 30 minute break. For example, a driver could drive for eight hours and take a 30 minute break before driving an additional three hours to reach the daily limit of 11 hours. Weekly schedule limitations are typically based on seven-day schedules of 60 hours (7/60) or eight-day schedules of 70 hours (8/70).

Commercial Truck Driver Documentation Requirements

How do we know that drivers are adhering to the rules when they are out traveling the roadways? Drivers have traditionally been required to maintain a written log of all activity including driving time, break time, etc. Due to the potential for inaccuracies or misrepresentation of this data, the FMCSA is transitioning all carriers to electronic logging devices (ELDs). These devices are installed aboard the vehicle and synchronize with the vehicle’s engine for automatic generation of information to be logged. For carriers presently using paper logs (written), the deadline for ELD installation is December 2017. Those employing automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs), which are older types of devices that rely on outdated technology, must transition to ELDs by December 2019.

Commercial Truck Driver Vehicle Inspection Requirements

All drivers must complete a basic report at the conclusion of each work day for each vehicle that they operated. The driver is tasked with inspecting the condition of the following key vehicle components:

  • Tires, wheels, brake, and steering systems
  • Lights, reflective accessories, mirrors, horn, and windshield wipers
  • Coupling mechanism
  • Equipment for emergencies

Driver Usage of Mobile Devices & Accessories

Drivers are prohibited from using mobile devices for phone calls, text messaging, and such. Radar detectors are not to be used or possessed in a commercial vehicle. An emergency exception applies to usage of mobile devices for contacting emergency responders.

Driver Licensing, Testing & Financial Requirements

  • Must be 21 years of age or 18 for exclusively intrastate drivers
  • Be capable of safely moving, securing, and distributing cargo
  • Hold a valid Commercial Driver’s License, pass a written test and road test, and a medical examination
  • Maintain a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance at all times

Contact a Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyers

Since 1952, the law firm of Norton & Spencer, P.C. has been representing injury victims in car, truck and motorcycle accidents.

We may be able to obtain the financial compensation that you need amid this difficult time. There are time constraints that apply to filing a claim; therefore, contact a Kansas City truck accident attorney at the office today for a free consultation at 866-251-5423.