When It Comes to Truck Safety, FMCSA Expands Its Reach
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a number of new safety regulations in recent years. Addressing everything from truck and bus driver health to hours of service and maintenance schedules, the new regulations represent a significant outreach on the part of the agency in its attempts to reduce the rate of injuries and deaths suffered in commercial truck and bus accidents each year.
Every Denver automobile accident lawyer committed to protecting clients takes a keen interest in state and federal safety regulations, especially in the area of commercial trucking and bus safety. Although the overall number of passenger car accidents has been steadily dropping on U.S. roads in recent years, the number of truck accidents – especially those that cause catastrophic injury or death – has remained steady.
The FMCSA’s new regulations are designed to combat this stagnation in truck accident death rates in a number of ways. Some of the key portions of the new regulations include:
- A broad mandate to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FMCSA to “withhold, suspend, amend, or revoke” licenses and carrying authorities held by drivers and companies if violations are found, especially if a single violation is serious or if a pattern of violations is seen over a period of time.
- Creation of a Unified Registration System (URS) that collects information about commercial truck and bus drivers and the companies they work for. Each U.S. state sends vehicle registration information to the database, listing the commercial vehicles registered in each state. The FMCSA has indicated it will use the database to identify patterns of safety violations and noncompliance, which it will use to target drivers and companies most in need of inspection and regulation.
- Expanded Hours of Service (HOS) rules that limit the number of hours in each day and week a driver may be behind the wheel and maybe on duty. Off-duty periods must now be scheduled so the driver can take advantage of the human brain’s naturally sleepiest time of day – between midnight and five in the morning – to get the maximum benefits of sleep.
- Enhanced provisions regarding the physical health and regular doctors’ visits required of commercial truck and bus drivers. These provisions include the creation of an FMCSA database of health practitioners qualified to provide medical exams for commercial truck and bus drivers, along with additional requirements for screening truck and bus drivers for medical conditions most likely to interfere with the ability to drive a truck or bus safely.
Several of the new FMCSA regulations have been developed over the course of several months or years, and some of them have become the subject of litigation. However, several regulations have recently gone into effect or will go into effect by the end of the year, dramatically broadening the FMCSA’s authority to address unsafe situations in commercial transportation.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact an experienced Denver auto accident lawyer at Levine Law today. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand and protect your legal rights while we seek the compensation you deserve.