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The federal government imposes strict regulations on the trucking industry to promote their drivers’ and the public’s safety. These regulations are designed to set a minimum standard of safe operation. In the U.S., The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency responsible for creating and issuing the guidelines that govern various aspects of the trucking industry and the activities of truck drivers. These federal trucking regulations cover actions and behaviors, such as truck driver hours, drug and alcohol use, the transport of hazardous materials, routine truck maintenance, and many more.
While these standards are to intended keep other people on the road and truck drivers safe, negligent practices still exist, and when accidents do occur, it’s often unsuspecting motorists who pay the price. If you have been the victim of a trucking accident in Missouri or Illinois, you need an attorney who understands truck accident law as well as the state and federal trucking regulations, and how they apply to your case. At The Cagle Law Firm, an experienced St. Louis truck accident attorney can review your situation, determine if your accident was caused by a driver or company that didn’t follow the necessary regulations, and will help you recover the compensation you need.
To set up a free discussion about your case, call us today at (314) 276-1681 or send us a request through our contact form.
Overview of Federal Trucking Regulations
Section 49 C.F.R. §§ 350-399 of the FMCSA contains the applicable federal laws governing the trucking industry. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney, who handles truck accident cases can help you sort out the law with respect to your case.
Some of the more common federal regulations that affect truck litigation include:
General Driver Qualifications
Any driver operating a commercial vehicle, including a tractor-trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds that transports hazardous material or carries 16 or more passengers must adhere to specific provisions provided by 49 C.F.R. § 391.11. According to this regulation, commercial drivers must:
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Be able to physically and safely operate the commercial truck
- Have the ability to read, speak, and understand English
- Possess a valid CDL
- Possess a driving record free from a license suspension or revocation for DUI (alcohol or drugs), the commission of felony, refusal to take an alcohol test, or conviction for fleeing the scene of an accident.
Hours of Service (HOS)
The purpose of the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations is to prevent drivers from operating commercial vehicles in a tired or drowsy condition. It is unfortunate that some employers encourage their truck drivers to violate these federal trucking regulations to maximize the speed of shipments to particular destinations.
The HOS rules may be summarized as follows:
- Drivers must not exceed a 14-hour on-duty period. Drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours within this 14-hour on-duty period and only after 10 consecutive hours off-duty.
- Drivers may have 60 hours maximum of on-duty time in a seven-day span, or 70 hours maximum of on-duty time in an eight-day span.
- Drivers may only begin a new seven or eight-day period after taking a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off-duty.
- Drivers must take regular 30-minute rest breaks if more than eight hours have passed since their last rest break or off-duty time.
Drivers are also required to record their hours of operation in a log book. Although drivers used to record their hours in paper books manually, many now are required to use certified electronic logging devices (ELD). The goal with ELDs is to increase the compliance with hours of service regulations.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
As part of its federal trucking regulations, the FMCSA mandates that drivers comply with drug and alcohol testing. This includes screening for cocaine, marijuana, and opioids, among other substances. Drivers’ blood-alcohol concentrations are also tested. These tests are conducted randomly as well as in certain specified instances, including after an injury that requires medical treatment, after a fatal trucking accident, and for new employees.
Special Missouri Trucking Regulations
In Missouri, some commercial motor vehicle and tractor-trailer routes only involve intrastate travel. In these cases, certain Missouri laws differ from their federal counterparts. Examples of these include:
Drivers must be 18 years of age or older to obtain a CDL or Class E license. They must be a minimum of 21 years of age if transporting hazardous materials. In Missouri, not all of the federal physical requirements apply to drivers conducting intrastate commerce. Drivers are, however, required to submit to the same drug testing requirements as provided under federal law.
Hours of Service
The State of Missouri incorporates the same federal trucking regulations relating to hours of operation with one distinction. Intrastate drivers transporting farm supplies or agricultural commodities are not subject to the maximum federal driving and on-duty requirements if:
- The transportation is restricted to a 100 air mile radius from the source of the farm supply distribution point or commodities, and
- The transporting occurs during planting and harvesting seasons
Special Illinois Trucking Regulations
In Illinois, many tractor-trailer and other commercial drivers only operate in intrastate travel. For trucks operating only within the State of Illinois, some of the State’s trucking regulations differ somewhat from the corresponding federal regulations. These include:
Qualification of Drivers
The State of Illinois incorporates most of the federal regulations into its guidelines with certain exceptions. For example, commercial vehicle operators must be 18 years of age or older, as opposed to 21 under federal law.
Regarding physical qualifications, Illinois also has some special provisions. The State allows drivers with vision problems and insulin-dependent diabetics to continue operating commercial vehicles if they started doing so before July 29th, 1986.
Hours of Service
Illinois adheres to the federal hours of service provisions with only a few differences. One in particular: drivers operating within 150 air-mile-radius of the normal reporting location are exempt. Additionally, motor vehicles conducting agricultural movements are not included in the HOS requirements during both planting and harvesting seasons.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Truck Accident Attorney
At The Cagle Law Firm, our experienced attorneys have a thorough knowledge of the state and federal trucking regulations. We can investigate your case to determine if any FMCSA or state regulations were violated from the party responsible for your injuries. You can turn to us after your accident and have confidence we will work vigorously to secure the compensation you are owed for your losses.
To schedule a free, initial consultation, call us today at (314) 276-1681 or fill out our convenient contact form.