The fact that commercial trucks pose greater risk than other vehicles on the road to most drivers is a commonly accepted truth. After all, these big rigs are often much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles. When vehicles of vastly different sizes collide, the large vehicle clearly has the advantage.
Despite the potential for horrific accidents and a large annual death toll, commercial trucks still share the road with passenger vehicles. In order to reduce the risk that commercial trucks pose, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has rules in place that reduce unsafe commercial driving practices and therefore the potential for serious collisions and crashes.
Regulations limit how long truck drivers can go without rest
People cannot safely drive when they are exhausted or fatigued. The more tired someone is, the slower their reaction time, the harder it is for them to focus on the road and the greater the chance that they could cause an accident.
Unfortunately, commercial truck drivers often have to work with strict deadlines that may not take traffic conditions or weather into account. The need to deliver a load on time could lead some drivers to continue driving while past the point of safety. In order to prevent this, the FMCSA restricts how long a driver can continue driving at any given time. Truck drivers may not drive beyond the 14h hour after they come on duty or for more than 11 total hours in a shift.
The rules also limit driving to no more than 70 hours at the wheel every eight days. When followed, these rules help ensure that truck drivers receive adequate rest between shifts at the wheel. That helps to reduce the potential risk caused by tired truck drivers. Unfortunately, even with electronic log books to track driving hours, some commercial drivers or trucking companies still bend of break these rules.
Regulations also prohibit text-based communication
Every state has its own policy regarding text messages while driving. Most states criminalize the practice, but not all do. In order to ensure safety regardless of the state, the the FMCSA has a rule banning all text-based communication while operating a commercial vehicle. Anyone caught violating this rule, regardless of what state they are in, will face fines. Repeat offenders could lose their eligibility for commercial truck driving. Unfortunately, many truck drivers still choose to email or text while at the wheel. Some even use social media or surf the web while driving.
Ideally, no one would get into collisions caused by negligent truck drivers. However, these accidents happen quite frequently. If you suffered injuries in a crash caused by a truck driver, it is worth exploring whether exhaustion or distraction may have played a role. If there is any evidence that points to negligence on the part of the driver, you may have grounds to pursue the driver or their employer for compensation for your injuries, property losses and lost wages.