18 Wheeler Accidents

Preparing and investigating an 18 wheeler collision is much different than a typical car accident case. The lawyer you choose must know this difference. The laws and regulations governing 18 wheelers are much different than an every day car accident.

The preparation of your case must be accomplished with knowledge of the regulations listed below otherwise an inexperienced lawyer may overlook these regulations.

For example, the federal regulations are found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 C.F.R. § 350-399). These regulations govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic.

49 C.F.R. § 382 – Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

Drivers who are required to have a commercial drivers license (CDL) under Section 383 must be tested if they drive a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds, has a gross vehicle range of over 26,000 pounds, is designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is used to carry hazardous materials.

49 C.F.R. § 383 – Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties

Drivers must have a CDL if they drive a vehicle of more than 26,000 pounds, transport themselves and 15 or more passengers or carry hazardous materials.

49 C.F.R. § 391 – Qualification of Drivers

If a driver operates a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds, carries 16 or more passengers or transports hazardous materials, he or she must comply with certain regulations. Truck drivers must be at least 21 years old, speak English, be physically able to safely operate a truck, have a valid CDL and must not have been disqualified for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, committing a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, refusing to take an alcohol test or any other reason.

49 C.F.R. § 392 – Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles

A truck driver, the trucking company and all other people responsible for the management, maintenance, operation or driving of any commercial motor vehicles or the hiring, supervision, training or dispatching of drivers must comply with federal regulations in order to operate a tractor trailer, tanker, straight truck or other commercial vehicle in interstate travel. Drivers must not drive while sick or tired and may not use illegal drugs. Drivers must obey traffic laws, load cargo safely, perform periodic inspections and drive cautiously in hazardous conditions. Drivers must be able to stop the vehicle before reaching railroad tracks, must stop when carrying hazardous materials or a trailer and must not shift while crossing railroad tracks.

49 C.F.R. § 393 – Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation

The purpose of this section is to make sure that no employee or employer of a commercial motor vehicle company drives a truck or allows one to be driven unless the truck complies with the requirements in this section. There are specific regulations dealing with lighting devices and reflectors, brakes, brake performance, tires, emergency equipment, protection against shifting or falling cargo, securement systems blocking and bracing, front-end structure, frames, doors, hood, seats, bumpers, wheels and steering wheel systems.

49 C.F.R. § 395 – Hours of Service of Drivers

This section has a number of restrictions related to the hours that a driver is permitted to drive. A driver is not allowed to drive more than 10 hours following 8 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty. A motor carrier cannot require a driver to drive for any period after having been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days. Further, a driver cannot drive if he has been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the motor carrier operates trucks every day of the week. There are also regulations regarding time spent driving in hazardous weather conditions.

49 C.F.R. § 396 – Inspection, Repair and Maintenance

This section applies to drivers of commercial vehicles that carry more than 15 people, weigh over 10,000 pounds or transport hazardous materials. It also applies to all motor carriers, officers, agents, representatives and employees directly concerned with the inspection and maintenance of those vehicles. The motor carrier is responsible for ensuring that all parts are in proper working condition and must maintain and keep repair and inspection records. A driver is not permitted to operate a vehicle that is likely to break down or cause an accident. Drivers must inspect their trucks at the start of each day and report any defects.

49 C.F.R. § 397 – Transportation of Hazardous Materials

These provisions apply to drivers of commercial motor vehicles that transport hazardous materials. They also apply to motor carriers who are involved with transporting hazardous materials and employees of these carriers who perform supervisory duties related to the transportation of hazardous materials. With certain exceptions, the driver of a commercial motor vehicle that is carrying explosives cannot leave the vehicle unattended. There are also restrictions about where a driver carrying explosive materials can park. Smoking is not allowed within 25 feet of a truck containing explosives or flammable materials.

Negligence Grounds include but are not limited to:

  • Driving drowsy
  • Excessive speeding
  • Driving too fast for the conditions
  • Aggressive driving
  • Improper Maintenance
  • Improperly Secured Load/Spilled Loads

Rick is on call and is prepared to help you immediately. Serious injuries require experienced attorneys that know how to handle these types of cases.