The danger associated with large trucks traveling on our nation’s roadways was recognized as early as 1935 when the United States Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act (MCA). The MCA authorized the ICC to exercise regulatory authority over interstate trucking. In 1937 the Bureau of Motor Carriers of the ICC promulgated the first Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations have been expanded since their inception, and today are known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (“FMCSR”), which are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
The purpose of the FMCSR is to create uniform standards of travel and thereby promote safety by helping to prevent truck collisions. The obligations and responsibilities under the FMCSR are shared by both truck drivers and the companies that employ them.
The FMCSR embodies the principle that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The regulations therefore provide that all motor carriers, their employees, and drivers, shall be knowledgeable of, and comply with, the regulations. Further, carriers are required to instruct each of their drivers regarding all applicable rules and regulations of the FMCSR, and to supervise truck drivers.
Obligations Imposed by the FMCSR on Trucking Companies
The Obligation to Meet Industry Standards
Under these regulations, trucking companies are subject to on‑sight examinations by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to determine if they have a safety program in place to ensure compliance with various safety requirements of the regulations. At the time of these examinations, the carrier must demonstrate that it has adequate safety management controls in place to ensure compliance with the Safety Provisions of the regulations.
If a carrier has a history of violations of the Safety Provisions of the regulations (such as a higher than expected number of vehicular collisions and/or hazardous materials incidents), this fact can be “strong evidence that management controls are either inadequate or not functioning properly.”
Qualifications For a Carrier to Employ a Driver
Before a carrier allows an individual to drive, it has an affirmative duty to determine if the individual is “qualified.” To be qualified to drive under the FMCSR, an individual must meet 11 separate criteria:
a. Must be at least 21 years old;
b. Must be able to sufficiently read and speak the English language;
c. By reason of experience and/or training, must be able to safely operate the vehicle;
d. Is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with subpart E – Physical Qualifications and Examinations of this part;
e. Has a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by only one state or jurisdiction;
f. Has prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs him or her with the list of violations or the certificate as required by Section 392.27;
g. Is not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the Regulations;
h. Has successfully completed a driver’s road test, and has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test, or has presented an operator’s license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs him or her has accepted as equivalent to a road test;
i. Has adequate vision in both eyes, adequate hearing, be free from a psychiatric disorder, epilepsy, high blood pressure, insulin‑dependent diabetes, certain heart conditions, have adequate use of his or her extremities, and have no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.;
j. Complete road test to demonstrate his or her ability to handle the vehicle, to perform pre‑trip inspections, coupling and uncoupling of units, and to use the vehicle’s controls and emergency equipment; and
k. Has met the stringent requirements as to the employment application and pre‑employment investigation in accordance with Section 391.21;
These are only some of the regulations and responsibilities which are applicable to truck companies. Other regulations, for instance, specify that the truck company has an ongoing duty to supervise its drivers.
We Know the Legal Requirements and Responsibilities of Truck Companies
As truck crash injury attorneys, we are well-versed in the requirements, regulations, and responsibilities that are applicable to truck companies and their drivers. These matters are complex, but a thorough understanding of these requirements, regulations, and responsibilities is important in proving liability for a truck crash case.
Please call me today if a family member has been killed or if you or a family member have been injured in a truck crash. Once I learn about your case, I can advise you of the options that exist for recovery against all of those who may be legally liable for causing your damages. Our representation for clients is on a contingency fee basis, meaning that no fees are owed to us unless and until we recover damages.