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What are the rules of the road for truck drivers? What do they have to abide by? Well, every truck driver has a commercial truck driving license. It’s a CDL. They have to get that in any state, and the CDL rules are uniform throughout the United States. The federal government promulgates those rules and there are Code of Federal Regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act that govern the rules of the road for truck drivers and they have to abide by those. There’s a lot of different ones, about the pre-trip inspection they have to do: tires, fuels, fuel levels, liquid levels in their vehicle, that their air brakes are on, check their brakes, check tires, make sure the brake lights, a variety of things that are working.

On the road, there’s a lot of other rules they have to abide by. They have to abide by all of the regular safety rules. They also have to have a 360-degree view, have to be able to see everything around them. They have to anticipate collisions. They’re driving 60, 70, 80,000-pound vehicles. They stop slower. The reaction time is longer. They have more mass. They go longer when they do brake. There’s a lot of things that go on with that. In inclement weather, they have to reduce their speed by at least a third in rain or the type of weather that we normally see. A lot of truck drivers don’t do this, and many also do. There are many safe drivers out there as well. We’ve represented a lot of them and do now. Sometimes, when it’s so icy out, they can’t travel at all, and they’re not supposed to, or limited visibility. So, anytime when they’re not going to be able to react to instances and brake in time, they have to do that.

They have hours of service restrictions too. They can only drive so long. So, they can drive eleven hours a day. There’s a certain amount of time: They need a break between them, a 10-hour break between when they get on the road again. And then, there is also overtime. There is a certain number of hours they can travel in six days, a certain number of hours they can travel in seven days. And, drivers keep logs, are required to keep logs of all their driving time: stop, rest periods, when it occurred as well.

Many drivers have GPS or call com or electronic recordations of their driver’s log. So, there are written driver’s logs; there are also computer driver’s logs; they keep track of that as well. And, different larger tracking companies have GPS systems where they track that as well. We can tell in trucking cases when we pursue claims against trucking companies or truck drivers, over time, if they’re showing, driving 64, 65 miles an hour over a 30-day period, we know they’re going too fast because that should be a lot less, so that’s other data we can look at.

Also, most trucks have black box or ECMs, electronic data records that track what they do about your brake application, how much throttle speed. So, if there is an event and it trips the algorithm in the black box, it will record and save that data. We’re able to get that data as well later. There are various requirements about at least over half the braking ability or three-fourths of the braking ability of the tractor or the trailers have to be working at all time. So, truck drivers regularly are supposed to get their brakes checked to make sure they have adequate braking ability to slow these tractors and trailers down in time.

There are certain other regulations for hazmat transport, tandem transport, a variety of other things. So, when an event happens where someone is injured and killed in a tractor-trailer crash, we look at those things to make sure the trucking company and the driver was compliant with those, and that’s why these rules are out there for reasons. There have been past events that necessitated these rules, and continued compliance with them, obeying the rules of the road for truck drivers keeps it safe for everybody because when those rules get violated and the truck driver needlessly injured or killed someone, they’re responsible for that harm.

If you have any questions about trucking regulations, we have the books; we have the experts; we’ve done many depositions in these areas. I could go on and on. I don’t want to go too long. This is just really an overview. But, if you have any questions about that, go to www.burgerlaw.com. We have a trucking section. Call me, Gary Burger, at 866-599-2222, 314-542-2222, in Illinois it’s 618-272-2222, or email me at gary@burgerlaw.com. Thank you.

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