Georgia state law and federal law include strict regulations for operating large trucks. These regulations cover truck driver duties, vehicle safety and maintenance, trucking employer responsibilities, the amount and type of cargo that can be transported, and much more.
Key Federal and State Trucking Regulations
Trucking regulations are designed to ensure the safe operation of large vehicles. Violating these regulations can easily cause a devastating truck accident.
Some of the most commonly-cited regulations in truck accident lawsuits are:
- Hours of Service. Truck drivers are subject to maximum driving time limits and are required to take periodic breaks. Drivers sometimes violate these rules due to pressure to complete a trip more quickly.
- Drug and alcohol use. Commercial driver's license holders are subject to much stricter limitations on drug and alcohol use than regular drivers. For example, a commercial driver is forbidden to operate the vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Employers are also required to perform drug and alcohol tests on their employees.
- Equipment. There are hundreds of extremely specific regulations regarding required truck equipment, including brakes, tires, lights/lamps, cargo securement, hitches and towing assemblies, and more. There are also specific requirements for inspection, repair and maintenance.
- Weight and cargo limits. Regulations specify the maximum amount of different types of cargo a commercial vehicle can carry.
- Driver's License. Truck drivers must possess the appropriate commercial driver's license for their vehicle and cargo type. Employers may be held responsible if an accident occurs and they knowingly employed a driver that did not have the correct license, whose license was suspended, or who was otherwise not qualified to drive.
- Truck driver hiring and training. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring and training their drivers properly. For example, they must perform certain background checks on their drivers and ensure that they have the correct commercial driver's license and training.
- Logs and Record-Keeping. Truck drivers and their employers are required to keep regular records documenting compliance with various regulations.
These are just a few of the regulations governing commercial trucking activity. It can be quite complicated to determine which regulations apply to a particular truck and whether a violation contributed to causing an accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to apply their in-depth knowledge of these federal and state trucking regulations to help you build your case against a truck driver, trucking company, or other responsible party in a truck accident case.
When Do Federal and State Truck Regulations Apply?
Many people think that state and federal trucking regulations only apply to semi-trucks, tractor-trailers or other very large trucks. In fact, with a few exceptions, a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more that is used for business purposes is usually considered a commercial vehicle and is likely subject to state and federal trucking regulations.
In general, Georgia has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations as state law, which means that many of the federal interstate trucking regulations also apply to Georgia commercial vehicles.
Trucking regulations generally apply to a vehicle that meets any of the following criteria:
- A vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more;
- Passenger vehicles that carry more than 8 passengers (for compensation);
- Passenger vehicles that carry 15 or more passengers (that are not used to transport passengers for compensation); or
- A vehicle that carries hazardous materials of a certain type and quantity.
In addition, Georgia has its own laws governing commercial vehicle activity in a number of situations.
Our firm has the knowledge and experience to handle truck accident cases, including in-depth knowledge of the relevant state and federal regulations. If you have been in a truck accident, contact the Hadden Law Firm as soon as possible.