Driving a commercial vehicle means following state and federal semi-truck driving regulations. It also means being aware of the much larger size of your vehicle and its cargo. Here’s what you need to know about newly revised regulations and how they affect your liability should you become involved in an accident.
Hours of Service Revision
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised the hours of service for drivers on June 1st, 2020. This was done to give drivers increased flexibility without risk to their safety. Compliance will be required of all motor carriers beginning on September 29th, 2020.1
Modifications to FMCSA Regulations
Semi-truck driving hour regulations now require that semi drivers take a 30-minute break for every eight hours that they drive. Previously, a break was required after eight hours of on-duty time. As well, the 30-minute break can occur while a driver is on duty and/or off duty.
For commercial semi-truck drivers, another revision to the regulations is that drivers now have an additional two hours in their driving window to reach their destinations during periods of adverse weather.
The sleeper berth exception has also been modified. Now, drivers can meet their off-duty minimum requirement of ten hours by spending at least seven hours of that time in the berth. Previously, a driver was required to spend at least eight hours in the berth.
Modifications now also require drivers to spend a minimum of at least two hours off duty outside or inside the berth. These two periods must total a minimum of ten hours, and off-duty time cannot extend beyond the driving limit of fourteen consecutive hours.
Finally, the short-haul exception has been expanded to 150 air-miles. It also allows truck drivers to work 14-hour shifts.
Additional Laws That Improve Safety
In addition to the high risk of an accident due to driver fatigue, which necessitated the above new truck driving regulations, other laws are in place to ensure the safety of truck drivers and other drivers on the road.
Regular inspections ensure that regular maintenance of commercial trucks occurs, significantly reducing the risk of accidents needing a personal injury lawyer. That is why all owners of commercial trucks, as well as all trucking companies, must submit their vehicles to regular inspections.
The security of cargo is crucial to avoid shifting, which can cause trucks to lose control. Generally speaking, the FMCSA requires all cargo to be secured via structures that include tiedowns, shoring bars, and dunnage bags.
The cargo that a single truck is allowed to carry is another important federal rule. In addition to federal regulations, drivers are also governed by Texas laws, which limit cargo weight and size. Alcohol and drug use while driving a commercial vehicle continues to be prohibited by law.
If you were involved in an accident while driving a truck in Texas, the experienced personal injury attorneys and truck accident lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris can protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. Claim your free consultation by calling 713-364-0723.