Did a trucker safety violation cause my crash?

Wrecked Front End of a Semi-Truck After a WreckIf you were in a collision with a commercial semi-truck in Indiana, this is an important question to answer. Our experienced truck accident investigators will get to the bottom of what caused your crash, and we will hold the trucker and their employer accountable if Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations were violated. Here, we take a look at some of the most common safety violations truckers make to help you understand what might have caused your crash.

Common Truck Driver Safety Violations

Truckers may have thousands of hours of driving experience under their belts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally break traffic laws, just like non-commercial drivers. And even though they should be well aware of the additional FMCSA regulations that apply to them, some truckers choose to ignore them to get to their destination faster or to make more money. When a trucker’s safety violation causes a crash that injures occupants of other cars, they—and often their employer—can be held liable. According to FMCSA, some common ways truckers break the law include:

  • Committing a moving violation. Commercial vehicle operators are subject to the same traffic laws as every other vehicle on the road, but when they commit a violation such as speeding, following too closely, improper lane changes, reckless driving, or failing to yield the right of way, they can cause a lot more damage than a standard passenger car.
  • Using a hand-held cellphone while driving. Regardless of the laws in a particular state a trucker is passing through, it is always illegal for a commercial vehicle driver to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
  • Possessing narcotics or amphetamines while on duty. Not only is it against federal law for truckers to use “pep pills” or narcotics while driving, but they are also barred from possessing them while they are on duty. The presence of a banned substance in a truck cab could provide evidence of fault.
  • Possessing alcohol while on duty. A similar law applies to alcohol. It is illegal for truck drivers to use alcohol within four hours of operating their vehicle, but it is also illegal to have wine, beer, or distilled spirits in their possession at all while they are on duty. Exceptions are made for alcohol that is manifested as cargo.
  • Having unauthorized passengers on board. Long-haul truckers might be tempted to travel with a passenger for company and conversation. However, unless they have written authorization from their employer, they cannot carry any passengers. An unauthorized passenger could create enough of a distraction to cause an accident.
  • Texting while driving. Truckers, like other drivers, are barred from manual texting while driving, even if the text is work-related. Texting requires the driver to take their eyes off the road long enough to miss seeing a stopped car or other obstacles in front of them.

It is important to note that these FMCSA regulations also include clauses that prohibit a motor carrier from allowing or requiring its drivers to engage in the restricted activity. This means that, in some situations, the trucking company or driver’s employer could be named as a liable party if they allowed or required a driver to break the law.

Inspection and Maintenance Violations

Commercial truck drivers are required by federal law to inspect their vehicles every day. Motor carriers are also required to conduct inspections and perform regular maintenance. If a tire blowout, brake failure, trailer uncoupling, or other mechanical problem was the proximate cause of the collision, the truck driver, trucking company, and individual mechanics could be held liable for your damages.

Because collisions with tractor-trailers can cause catastrophic injuries and deaths, the damages involved can be very high. It is vital that you work with an experienced Indianapolis truck accident attorney to determine the life-long value of your claim and make sure you get the full compensation to which you are entitled.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller