Are There Special Laws Regarding Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases?

Florida is home to many major highways, including I-95, I-75, and the Florida Turnpike. Since these roads connect Florida, it is no wonder they are always heavily traveled by locals and tourists.

These major roadways are also frequented by commercial operators and trucking businesses. This may beg the question: are there special laws regarding commercial vehicle accident cases?

According to a report by Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were nearly 32,000 accidents that involved truck drivers. Reviews of the last five years of data also show that crashes increased by 60%. Pinellas County in Florida is ranked highly regarding the number of car accidents it sees per year.

Commercial Truck Driver Regulations

Experienced personal injury attorneys are more than familiar with Federal Motor Carrier and other safety regulations and how they apply to commercial vehicle operators.

Still, each year more than 4,000 people are killed by commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, larger 18-wheelers, and other big trucks used for transport. In 2019 alone, more than 5,237 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 2% increase over the years prior.

Here are a few examples of regulations and safety measures implemented for the more than 11 million registered commercial trucks on our roadways.

Limit to Hours Per Day Driven

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues Hours of Service regulations. These regulations govern the working hours a truck driver can follow. This regulation was put into place to cut down on driver fatigue, which significantly contributes to many crashes.

According to the intrastate hours of service rules, a driver can drive for 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. They cannot drive after the 16th hour after coming onto duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Additionally, they may not drive 70/80 hours on duty over 7/8 consecutive days.

If a truck driver doesn’t exceed 150 air-mile radius and there is no placarded haz met, they are exempt from maintaining a log book during travel. However, this does not release the driver from their duty to document driving time within 14 hours.

Studies have shown that the risk of truck accidents actually doubles after eight hours, and driver fatigue contributes to 40% of those accidents.

Violations of Safety Laws

Other laws put into place to cut down on commercial truck accidents to protect the safety of other motorists and pedestrians include laws regarding intoxication, error, equipment failure, unstable loads, defective equipment, and overall unsafe vehicle operation.

More than 68% of people killed in a commercial trucking accident were those occupying other vehicles. Because of the large size and weight of commercial trucks and buses, more injuries are inflicted on motorists and passengers in smaller vehicles.

What to Do After Commercial Truck Accident

If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. After the accident, be sure to get to safety, call 911, and take photos of the road, the vehicles, and the scene. Try to document the roadway conditions as well.

You will then exchange information with the other drivers, including the commercial truck driver. While it may seem easier to just let the insurance companies handle everything following an accident, it is not the right path to follow.

Instead, consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the claim process. They will help you with any settlements or aid in filing a lawsuit against the truck driver or company.