Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to adhere to various federal and state regulations to ensure safety for all road users. From violations of Hours of Service (HOS) regulations to issues related to vehicle weight, and drug and alcohol testing, understanding these common infractions is vital to promote safer practices in the trucking industry.
Hours of Service Regulations
Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are enforced by the FMCSA to prevent driver fatigue, enhance road safety, and reduce the risk of accidents caused by drowsy driving. Violations of the federal limits on driving hours and rest periods are one of the most common causes of truck accidents on the road. Examples of these types of HOS violations include truck drivers exceeding the maximum allowable driving hours within a designated period, failing to take required breaks, and falsifying logbook entries to misrepresent driving hours. When HOS regulations are violated, serious consequences of truck driver fatigue can result. Fatigued drivers are not able to perform adequately and are more prone to making dangerous driving errors. Operating a large commercial vehicle with decreased alertness creates a risk for other vehicles on the road.
Commercial vehicle drivers are responsible for following all traffic laws the same way as other motor vehicle drivers on the road. Some of the most frequent traffic violations committed by truck drivers include:
- Speeding: Exceeding the posted speed limits or driving too fast for road and weather conditions.
- Failure to Observe Traffic Signals: Disregarding traffic signals, including running red lights or stop signs.
- Improper Lane Changes: Changing lanes without signaling or unsafely weaving through traffic.
- Following Too Closely: Tailgating other vehicles, not leaving enough space to stop safely in case of sudden braking.
- Failure to Yield Right of Way: Not allowing other vehicles or pedestrians the right of way when required.
- Distracted Driving: Using mobile devices, talking on the phone, texting, or engaging in other activities that distract from attentively driving on the road.
- Failure to Use Signals: Not using turn signals when changing lanes or making turns.
- Driving in Restricted Areas: Entering roads or areas where commercial trucks are prohibited or restricted.
These types of traffic violations can have serious consequences for truck drivers such as fines, points on their driving record, and potential suspension of their commercial driver’s license. The truck accident lawyers at Piasta Newbern Walker, LLC share that traffic violations which result in commercial truck accidents often cause greater damages and more severe injuries for those involved.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Violations
Drug and alcohol testing violations create significant risks for road safety and are a top concern in the trucking industry. Some examples of common violations include drivers refusing to undergo mandatory drug and alcohol testing, testing positive for prohibited substances, or attempting to tamper with test samples to avoid detection. It is also common for truck drivers to avoid complying with drug and alcohol testing requirements after an accident. Truck drivers are also required to adhere to follow-up testing after positive drug or alcohol test results, especially after a traffic offense or frequent violations. Another violation can include not disclosing medications used which can impact driving abilities.
Truck Weight and Load Regulations
Regulations on maximum truck weight are set by federal law, while overall limits can vary depending on the state’s Department of Transportation laws. Common violations of truck weight and load regulations include commercial trucks exceeding the legal weight limits or failing to properly secure cargo. These violations create risks for catastrophic accidents on the road, as well as damage to federal roads and infrastructure. Other common trucking violations include surpassing the maximum allowable weight for a specific vehicle type, disregarding axle weight limits, and neglecting to use appropriate devices to secure cargo. Commercial trucks which are overweight or have improperly loaded cargo can cause malfunctions on the vehicle’s tires, brakes, and other auto parts which increases the risk of accidents. Additionally, the risks of improperly secured loads can include shifting during transit causing stability issues and potential cargo spills on the road. Given the large size of commercial trucks compared to other vehicles on the road, enforcing weight and load regulations is vital to ensure road safety and prevent dangerous accidents.