Trucks are responsible for numerous accidents on California roads every year. In order to attempt to prevent as many incidents as possible, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to comply with safety regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). As a means of enforcing its regulations and promoting safety, the FMCSA developed its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program (CSA). Unfortunately, there are still violations of these rules occurring, which can lead to a devastating accident.

truck accident

California truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates have a thorough understanding of both the legal and medical issues surrounding serious big rig accidents. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident involving a semi-truck,  it is important that you speak with an attorney who is experienced in helping clients with California truck accident litigation. 

With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our personal injury attorneys represent truck accident victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation, please call 949-727-9300.

Freight Truck Loading Regulations

When traveling between states, large trucks are restricted to a combined weight of 80,000 pounds by national regulations. Without a weight limit, there’s a very real possibility that trucks will be too heavy to drive and maneuver safely. Furthermore, too much weight leads to an increased amount of pressure on the tires and axles, which leads to a greater chance of them breaking down and causing an accident. 

There are also requirements for sufficient loading and securing cargo. The center of gravity of the cargo in a trailer is out of balance can cause fishtailing or even jackknifing since the trailer is loaded unevenly. The trailer could also turn over or collide with another vehicle nearby if it isn’t loaded according to proper safety regulations. However, it’s all too common for trucking companies to disregard these loading regulations.

Semi-Truck Maintenance Regulations

The FMCSA also states that trucks need to be properly and regularly maintained. Considering the number of miles trucks travel every year, this is absolutely imperative. 

Trucks should undergo daily inspections to ensure that all components are functioning as intended. In spite of the durable construction of commercial trucks, they still require careful maintenance to protect driver safety and the safety of others who share the road with them. Tires, brakes, lights, and other components on trucks need consistent maintenance. This is particularly important for the brakes, as brake failure can have catastrophic consequences. 

Poorly maintained tires can also be very problematic. Tires wear out quickly, and when older tires are used too long, they can pose a danger to other motorists on California roads. Maintaining proper tire inflation is also an essential maintenance step for trucks.

Trucking Company Hiring Regulations

In order to ensure that trucking companies are working with the best possible drivers, the FMCSA also imposes hiring regulations. A trucking company cannot hire a driver with a previous DUI, a poor driving record, or any other issue that could make them unfit to operate a truck. There are requirements for all drivers to meet specific regulations before being considered “safe” behind the wheel. To ensure proper training in driving an 18-wheeler truck, drivers are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). 

In addition, drivers must also be able to prove that they are medically fit enough to operate a truck. Why? Because the dangers of health conditions such as sleep apnea or seizures on the road are serious. During the hiring process, trucking companies conduct checks on drivers’ backgrounds and may also conduct random drug tests to ensure their safety. 

Hours of Service Regulations

Because driving long hours without breaks is such a dangerous practice, the FMCSA also imposes hours of service regulations. It is prohibited for drivers to operate without breaks for more than eight hours. Drivers are required to stop every eight hours for at least 30 minutes. Every 14 hours, they must take a 10-hour break before they can drive again. What’s more, a driver cannot drive for more than 11 hours during those 14 hours on duty.

Such hours of service regulations are implemented primarily because insufficient sleep makes a driver incapable of driving safely. Without regular breaks and proper sleep, drivers may be incapable of driving attentively and could even fall asleep at the wheel. Driving too much without a break also increases the risk of mistakes, and those mistakes can all too easily put other motorists in danger. Unfortunately, despite regulations, the hours of service rule is the most common trucking violation and leads to many accidents every year on California roads.

Common FMCSA Safety Violations

As already discusses, commercial truckers and trucking companies must adhere to specific safety rules and regulations, largely due to their vehicle’s size and weight, which makes accidents a very dangerous reality. However, despite these regulations, violations do still occur. In many instances, the passenger of the other vehicle is more likely to suffer damages, injuries, or even fatalities than the truck driver. Below are some of the most common trucking safety violations.

Long Work Hours and Fatigued Truck Drivers

Professional truck drivers must obey the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Under the FMCSR, which includes regulations regarding how long a driver can work without taking a break. It is illegal for truckers to drive commercial motor vehicles for more than eight hours per day. Driving a truck for a living often means spending unending hours behind the wheel. But due to pressures to deliver loads as quickly as possible, this rule is often broken. A driver who breaks the rules is endangering not only himself but also other motorists.

Inclement Weather

Weather-related incidents include rain, snow, fog, wind, ice, hail, and smoke from wildfires causing an accident. When the driver doesn’t adjust how they drive to meet such conditions, accidents can easily occur.

Reckless Driving

Driving erratically and causing others to lose control of their vehicles. In fact, Drivers of trucks can even run smaller vehicles off the road, sometimes without even noticing.

Road Rage

Truck drivers can be incredibly intimidating and dangerous when exhibiting road rage, tailgating, and demonstrating other aggressive driving behaviors.

Falsified Logbooks

Dishonest drivers may keep two logbooks, one with false information and the other with the truth, in an attempt to outwit law enforcement officials.

Negligent and Careless Driving

With long hours on the road, truck drivers can all too easily succumb to distractions, such as changing radio stations or eating, which can result in serious accidents.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol are prohibited for truck drivers, as driving under the influence is extremely dangerous.

Insufficient Training

Safety concerns and defensive driving skills should be taught to drivers by trucking companies in order to prevent accidents related to inadequate training and skills.

Traffic violations

All too often, traffic offenses like speeding, improper lane changes, and not yielding the right of way cause catastrophic incidents.

Unrealistic Schedules and Expectations

Trucking companies often impose unrealistic delivery deadlines to maximize profits, which encourages drivers to hurry despite the known safety risks.

Freight Truck Loading Violations

The loading and the securing of freight needs to be done in very specific ways in order to prevent it from shifting and causing an accident.

Poor Truck Maintenance

Some companies attempt to save costs by cutting corners in repairs or do not inspect and replace brakes regularly.

Improper Vehicle Safety Equipment

In addition to mirrors, lights, reflectors, and brakes, the FMCSR also stipulates that commercial trucks must carry proper safety equipment.

Missing or Improper Underride Bar

The regulations require underride bars on all trucks as a safety measure to prevent vehicles from running underneath them should an accident occur. These bars must be of a certain width and height. If not, vehicles can easily run underneath trucks, often leading to fatal accidents.

Contact an Experienced California Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been in a freeway truck accident in California, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation. The California truck accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can then help determine if you have a valid accident claim. 

With multiple offices located in Irvine, Anaheim, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our semi-truck accident injury lawyers represent victims across California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers, please call 949-727-9300.