Size Matters: Why Trucking Is Such a Heavily Regulated Industry
Due to the sheer size, weight, and momentum of large trucks, trucking accidents are some of the most serious crashes occurring on the roads today, often resulting in grave injuries. For this reason, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to adhere to numerous federal, state, and local safety regulations.
In 1999, the U.S. Congress passed the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, which in turn established the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency that regulates the trucking industry. The rules and regulations govern numerous aspects of trucking, including:
- Driver regulations
- Motor carrier routing regulations
- Applications for the authority to operate
- Reporting requirements
- Record-keeping logs
- Regulations for passenger carriers
- Training requirements
- Safety procedures
- Driver’s license requirements
- Drivers’ hours-of-service limitations
- Rules for inspection
- Repair specifications
- Maintenance requirements
- Rules regarding transporting hazardous materials
- Minimum required financial responsibility
Factors in Trucking Accidents
There is usually more than one cause of a traffic accident, and crashes involving large trucks are no different. According to a study by the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the specific factors that can contribute to accidents involving semi trucks may include:
- Driver impairment (including unsatisfactory training), insufficient experience, fatigue, alcohol or drug use, medical emergency, distraction, and inability to concentrate
- Driver errors, such as speeding or overdriving the road conditions, tailgating, poor judgment, unfamiliarity with the roads, and failure to follow traffic laws
- Vehicle failure, including manufacturing or design flaws, worn or otherwise defective tires, the shifting of cargo, improper maintenance, and sudden, unexpected equipment failure
Colorado’s Unique Challenges
In Colorado, the unique mountainous terrain and unpredictable climate require large-truck drivers to continuously monitor the speed limit, road conditions, visibility, moisture, road grade, load weight, presence of guard rails, and sharp curves, while operators of smaller vehicles should take care to maintain a safe following distance behind large trucks and avoid passing them in hazardous driving conditions.
What If You’re in An Accident with a Truck?
If you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, your first steps should be to seek medical attention and contact law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. Consider hiring a personal injury attorney with experience in the complex federal and state laws that often come into play in accidents involving large trucks.
Image by Rajarshi MITRA