Thousands of large trucks drive through Houston every day. These vehicles are essential to our economic well-being. However, trucks are notoriously responsible for many serious accidents in Texas and throughout the United States.
Being hit by one of these large, commercial vehicles can be devastating. That’s why, various state and federal agencies work to closely regulate the trucking industry. Truck drivers must comply with many unique rules, meant to reduce the likelihood of causing severe collisions.
These regulations can be complicated and recovering compensation after a truck accident is very different than a case that only involves normal passenger cars. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who is familiar with these trucking regulations.
New Changes For Truck Drivers’ Hours Of Service
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains strict rules regarding the hours of service (HOS) that truck drivers must abide by. It’s not uncommon for a serious, and even deadly, truck accident to be the result of a sleep-deprived trucker who was exhausted while behind the wheel.
Federal regulations are meant to keep commercial vehicles from being operated for too many hours within a day. These regulations require truck drivers to keep detailed records of their HOS.
Officials at the FMCSA insist that updates to HOS rules are meant to make the trucking industry safer. Truck drivers are often concerned with these rules since they are often paid by the mile, and new regulations can directly impact their income.
Updates to truck driver HOS regulations in 2020 include:
- Split Sleeper Berth – Truck drivers can now extend their on-duty period by splitting their 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time. This grants drivers more flexibility when making their schedule.
- 30 minute rest break – This update will require a rest break after eight hours of driving as opposed to eight hours on the clock.
- New flexibility in poor weather – On-duty time can be extended by up to two hours in order to allow a truck driver enough time to get out of an area of poor weather.
- Updated short-haul expectations – These drivers can now operate up to 14 hours in a 150 air-mile radius without needing to use an electronic logging device.
- Pausing a 14 hour clock – Truckers can now “pause” their 14 hour work clock once per duty day. This allows them to better schedule their time during hours of heavy traffic.
Possible Changes To Truck Speed Limits
Lawmakers have tried for years to have speed limits lowered for all trucks that travel on state and federal highways. The concern is that large vehicles frequently lose control and cause serious collisions.
Many people do not believe that commercial trucks should be allowed to travel as fast as 70 or 75 miles per hour. However, many regulators are concerned about trucks having different speed limits than smaller passenger vehicles.
These “split-speed limits” may cause confusion, and drivers may not understand that they have a different limit than other cars or trucks. While split-speed limits are not yet the law, industry experts are concerned that they may pose risks of:
- Rear end collisions – Trucks that are traveling at a lower speed than cars may be more likely to get hit in a rear end collision. A passenger car that runs into a truck faces a serious risk of losing control and driving off the road or into other vehicles.
- Access ramp accidents – Having split-speed limits can cause confusion when a car or truck is merging onto a highway via a ramp.
- Lane change accidents – Trucks have large blind spots, and they often fail to notice small cars when they attempt a lane change. Having different speed limits can add to the complexity of this already dangerous maneuver.
How A Lawyer Can Help You After A Houston Truck Accident
Truck accident victims often have catastrophic or life-threatening injuries. It’s important to contact and experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible if you are in this position.
The trucking company and driver will work hard with their insurance companies to avoid liability. Our attorneys know how aggressive the other parties can be. We understand that proving negligence requires having a strong understanding of laws and regulations that apply to the trucking industry.
To recover damages, your lawyer must:
- Gather necessary evidence – Examining the evidence in your case will allow your counsel to understand exactly what happened. This includes details that might illustrate how the truck driver or their employer failed to follow government regulations.
- Negotiate for a settlementM – The insurance companies involved will be willing to offer you a fair financial settlement if you have a strong case for damages. Our lawyers have negotiated with many insurance providers on behalf of our clients.
- Win at trial – While most accident cases don’t end up going to trial, your lawyer must know how to win in court if necessary.
The Krist Law Firm Can Help
Federal regulations for the trucking industry are constantly being adjusted and debated. The government must make sure that truck drivers are operating their vehicles safely. Unfortunately, many drivers and trucking companies fail to obey regulations or take reasonable steps to ensure safety.
Hundreds of people are killed every year in Texas in trucking accidents, and many more thousands are badly hurt. Do not delay in contacting a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer if you are in this position. You case can be complex, and your lawyer may have to investigate many details before they can secure the compensation that you deserve.