Truck Accident Not Obeying the Rules of the Road
In a contest of weight and size, there is no stacking a passenger car against a semi tractor-trailer, which can weigh 20 times as much and take 20 percent longer to stop. All operators of large trucks are expected to obey the following rules:
- All the same Massachusetts rules of the road applicable to everyone else (except where otherwise specified);
- Massachusetts commercial truck regulations (permits required for any deviation);
- Stringent federal regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established solely to regulate the commercial vehicle industry and reduce truck and bus crashes. Where state or federal regulation on large trucks may differ, operators and carriers are expected to follow whichever standard is stricter.
The need for uniform federal regulation arose from the fact that there are so many trucks hauling goods across state lines. There are nearly 900,000 active interstate motor carriers in the U.S, according to the American Trucking Association, and roughly 36 million trucks registered for business purposes – excluding government and farming.
Given the damage large trucks can – and do – inflict, it’s imperative that:
- Manufacturers follow meticulous safety standards;
- Carriers properly maintain and insure their vehicles and vet, train and supervise their drivers;
- Drivers always abide the rules of the road.
Even all of that might not guarantee a crash would never happen, but our Boston truck accident lawyers know it would go a long way.Federal and State and Local Laws for Commercial Vehicles
Under the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR Part 392, all carriers and their officers, agents, representatives and employees responsible for managing, operating or driving a commercial vehicle must comply with the laws of the jurisdiction they are operating within. These regulations provide a host of safety standards, rules and requirements for these individuals to follow.. For example, commercial drivers, must:
- Have a valid commercial driver’s license.
- Properly secure cargo (this pertains to carriers as well).
- Remain drug and alcohol-free while driving a commercial vehicle (unless taking a medication, prescribed or over-the-counter, that will not impact driver performance).
- Complete daily inspection reports.
- Pass a medical exam to ensure driving fitness.
- Hours of Service restrictions. Maximum 11 consecutive hours of drive time after being off-duty for 10 hours (property-carrying commercial vehicles) and no driving after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, with 30-minute breaks at least every 8 hours.
- Comply with electronic logging device rule to monitor hours of service.
- Avoid use of electronic devices, such as smart phones, while operating a commercial vehicle.
Similar rules are peppered throughout the Massachusetts driving laws as well. These are outlined in 720 CMR § 9.00, which covers Commonwealth Regulations for driving on highways. These traffic rules apply to all drivers, with a few specific to truckers. They include:
- Drive within marked lanes (staying entirely in a single lane and not moving into another until it’s determined such a move can be made safely);
- Pass on the right; Per MGL Ch. 89 § 4C, any highway with more than one passing lane in the same direction, heavy trucks (those in excess of 2.5 tons and used for transportation of goods, wares and merchandise) are required to keep right. During ordinary operation, when they overtake and pass other vehicles, truckers are restricted to the next passing lane – except in an emergency;
- Only overtake when there is space ahead to do so;
- No obstructing the necessary and normal traffic flow;
- Avoid following the vehicle ahead more closely than is prudent and reasonable considering speed and road condition;
- Slower vehicles outside business and residential districts are to stay at least 200 feet apart except when overtaking and passing one another;
- Use of reasonable care in starting, turning stopping and backing, ensuring that these maneuvers can be made safely;
- Obey all traffic control signals – but never proceed through an intersection absent due regard for the safety of other people, regardless of what indicators the traffic control signals are given;
- Signal lane changes and turns;
- Sound horn when necessary to ensure safe operation of the vehicle;
- Avoid driving on roads under construction where road surfaces may present an unprotected hazard;
- Adjust speed when signs or warning lights indicate there are highway workers and equipment present;
- Avoid U-turns.
All motorists are further expected per 720 CMR 9.09 to “exercise due care” to and use caution with consideration for the other travelers, using extra care around pedestrians.
In addition to state and federal regulations, there are Boston Traffic Rules, some pertaining specifically to truckers, many of the unique ones having to do with parking, backing and loading. The city does have a provision requiring all trucks that are city-owned or city-contracted to have side guards to prevent underride crashes.
Because most deaths and serious injuries in large truck crashes are suffered by those in passenger vehicles, there are also enhanced insurance requirements for commercial vehicles. Per federal law, anything weighing over 10,000 pounds needs to be insured by a minimum of $750,000 and any driver transporting hazardous material must maintain at least $5 million in coverage.
If you are injured in a Boston truck accident by a truck driver who failed to obey the rules of the road, our dedicated injury attorneys can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL