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Understanding Trucking Regulations and Accident Liability

By Butler Prather LLP on February 25, 2024

A semi-truck is about 40 times bigger than a car. Crashes involving big rig trucks cause a high rate of fatalities and catastrophic injuries for people in other vehicles. That’s why it’s so important to prevent truck accidents.

The trucking industry is regulated by state and federal laws. These rules are designed to ensure that trucks are properly maintained and safely loaded. There are also laws to make sure truckers are properly trained and don’t engage in unsafe activities, such as driving too many hours without taking a break or operating a truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Understanding Georgia’s Trucking Laws

In a recent year, there were in Georgia, and truck accidents make up over nine percent of vehicles involved in fatal crashes. States have a strong interest in truck safety, and that’s why Georgia has laws to reduce the number of truck accidents.

The federal government heavily regulates trucking, but Georgia laws and state and local law enforcement play an important role in protecting the public from dangerous trucks. Motor carrier compliance officers employed by the Georgia Department of Public Safety enforce state laws with a special emphasis on statutes relating to the operation of commercial vehicles on public roads.

Operating a big rig truck is a serious responsibility. You must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive a vehicle that weighs 26,001 pounds or more. State and federal requirements for CDL operators in Georgia  include:

  • Demonstrating proof of identity, residence, and citizenship or lawful status
  • Carrying the required amount of insurance
  • Passing a vision exam.
  • Being subject to immediate suspension of CDL for BAC levels of .04 or higher
  • Submitting to drug and alcohol testing when required
  • Never use a police radar jamming device
  • Passing an annual physical
  • Performing regular pre-trip and post-trip truck inspections
  • Maintaining a driver log that demonstrates compliance with federal hours of service (HOS) regulations

Federal Trucking Regulations

Semi-trucks are far more dangerous than regular motor vehicles. These trucks are heavy, unwieldy, and take about 600 feet to a complete stop when traveling at 65mph.

Truckers and trucking companies may be held liable for injuries caused by negligent behavior. For example, when a trucking firm hires a new employee without ensuring the driver has a safe record, it’s called negligent hiring, and the company may be held liable for injuries caused by an unqualified driver.

When a truck driver injures someone due to a violation of the law, it’s called negligence per se. Demonstrating negligence per se can make it easier for the accident victim to recover damages.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees rules and regulations that govern trucking, including:

  • Trucking industry standards relating to weight and size limitations for commercial trucks.
  • Maintenance and inspection Semi-trucks are subject to inspection at weigh stations, border checkpoints, carrier terminals, and when a truck is stopped by a law enforcement official.
  • Licensing requirements are subject to FMCSA regulations, and CDLs are issued and administered by individual states to make sure truckers have the necessary skills, training, and a safe driving record.
  • Hours of service (HOS). A fatigued trucker is a serious hazard for everyone on the road. Truck drivers are required to take regular breaks to prevent them from driving too many consecutive hours without a rest or logging too many hours over a specified number of consecutive days.
  • Drug and alcohol testing. Drivers are required to submit to testing when they first apply for a CDL, as well as after a fatal accident, after an injury-causing accident if the driver is cited for an infraction, at random intervals, and when a law enforcement officer has reason to suspect that the driver may be operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Don’t Let Truck Accident Injuries Derail Your Life—Call Butler Prather LLP

Trucking companies fight tooth and nail to prevent accident victims from getting fair compensation. Fortunately, the experienced Georgia truck accident lawyers at Butler Prather LLP know how to take on the big trucking companies and win. We’ll file a claim or lawsuit to help you get the resources you need to start putting your life back together.

Butler Prather LLP has won landmark cases for clients in over 30 states. Our Georgia personal injury attorneys have won over a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts, including nine verdicts that exceed $100 million and over 60 verdicts and settlements of over $10 million.

Call (706) 322-1990 for a free consultation with us, and let’s see how we can help.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

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