The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency tasked with regulating the commercial truck industry in the United States. The regulations enacted by the FMCSA are intended to improve safety standards industry-wide and to make driving less hazardous for everyone. Unfortunately, truck drivers and their employers do not always abide by these regulations, such as the hours of service rule. This negligence often leads to devastating and sometimes even deadly truck accidents. If you suspect that your commercial truck accident was caused by a regulation violation, schedule a free case review with an experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp as soon as possible.
Commercial Truck Accident Statistics
According to the 2022 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts sheet, 5,664 accidents involving commercial vehicles took place, accounting for 4.6% of all accidents within the state that year. Of those, 116 caused fatalities of which 93 were an occupant of the smaller vehicle. Further, 2,000 commercial truck accidents in that same year resulted in some degree of injury, and 3,548 caused property damage.
What FMCSA Regulations Are Violated Most Often?
The most frequently violated trucking regulations that lead to car accidents on Virginia Beach roadways are:
Hours of Service
The total number of consecutive hours truck drivers are allowed to operate their vehicles without taking a rest break is limited. Regrettably, a lot of operators find it hard to follow these regulations because they can make more money by driving longer hours and making their deliveries as soon as possible. If a truck driver gets behind the wheel without adequate sleep, and sufficient food and bathroom breaks, the impacts on their health and driving ability, both long and short-term, leave them more prone to causing a serious accident.
Alcohol and Drug Violations
It is a violation of industry regulations for any truck operator to drive their rig while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Freight companies are required to drug test all new employees and conduct periodic drug tests on their existing workforce. Testing a driver who has been involved in an accident is mandatory.
If a freight company fails to perform required drug and alcohol testing and document the results, they are violating FMCSA regulations and could be subject to hefty fines and even lawsuits.
Inadequate Background Checks and Driver Training
Before a truck operator is able to legally drive a commercial truck, they must be properly trained. Regulations state that freight companies must thoroughly screen potential drivers, and ensure they have the appropriate credentials, a valid commercial driver’s license, and a clean driving record. Truck operators are also required to carry a current medical examination card that shows they are medically qualified to drive.
Operators with no or inadequate driver training or who are in poor health are far more likely to cause a serious accident. If this happens, both the driver and their employer could be held liable.
Lack of Maintenance
All commercial truck owners are required to conduct regular inspections and perform routine maintenance on their fleet and their equipment. Freight companies must make sure that all of their equipment is in proper working order, such as:
- Turn indicators
- Tail lights
Failing to inspect and/or maintain trucks and other equipment can result in accidents. Freight companies that are negligent could be held accountable.
Improperly Loaded Freight
Truck operators, freight companies, and cargo loaders are responsible for the proper loading and securement of cargo that is placed on a truck. Trailers that are unbalanced or overloaded can quickly become unstable, especially at highway speeds. This makes them dangerous for the truck driver as well as everyone else around them on the roadway. Improperly loaded cargo can shift and cause the driver to be unable to maintain control of their vehicle. This can lead to rollover accidents and other serious types of collisions as well.
Did a Regulation Violation Cause My Virginia Beach Truck Accident?
Truck drivers are required to maintain records to document things such as required maintenance, hours of service, and numerous other FMSCA regulations. Sadly, in an attempt to rush deliveries or simply cut corners, a lot of drivers and freight companies have no issue hiding or falsifying these records in order to conceal their blatant violations.
When you work with an experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we can begin collecting strong supporting evidence for your case, including records, logbooks, cellphone and black box data, and pre and post-trip inspection logs. We then use this to prove non-compliance with FMCSA regulations, just as we did when we secured a $3.5 million settlement for the 5-year-old daughter of a man who was killed by a truck driver who violated safety regulations. Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free review of your commercial truck accident case by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our online form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Hampton.
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