Understanding FMCSA Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency under the U.S. Department of Transportation. The FMCSA’s responsibility includes regulating the commercial vehicle industry and enforcing its safety standards. Its main goal is to reduce the risks of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. Although there are strict guidelines in place for the commercial vehicle industry, trucking companies and their drivers are often cited for making violations that impact road safety for everyone. Here are the top five FMCSA violations that increase the risks of a truck crash and severe injuries.
Violation #1: Disobeying Road Regulations
Under FMCSA Code 392.2, commercial motor vehicle drivers must abide by all laws, ordinances, and regulations of the jurisdiction in which they are operating their vehicles. Some of the most common moving violations are:
- Speeding (going well above posted speed limits)
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- Making improper lane changes (changing lanes without signaling, aggressive lane changes)
- Reckless driving (unlawfully passing another vehicle, weaving in and out of traffic)
- Making improper turns
- Failing to yield to the right of way
- Railroad grade crossing violations (vehicles not having enough room to clear the tracks entirely without stopping)
- Failing to obey traffic control devices (traffic lights, stop signs, etc.)
Violation #2: Failing to Use a Seatbelt While Operating a CMV
Citations for not wearing a seat belt restraint are the second-most common FMCSA violation. According to FMCSA Code 392.16, drivers must not operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without being properly restrained by a seat belt. CMV drivers must ensure that passengers on board wear their seat belts while the vehicle is in motion. Motor carriers are responsible for ensuring that vehicle fleets have proper seat belt assemblies for their drivers and passengers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2012, roughly 700 truck drivers or their passengers died. Wearing a seatbelt could have saved up to 40% of those lives.
Violation #3: Using a Mobile Phone While Operating a CMV
According to the FMCSA, truck drivers texting or using a cell phone while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a crash. FMCSA code 392.82 strictly prohibits CMV drivers from using handheld mobile devices while operating their vehicles. The only time using a cell phone while driving is permitted is during an emergency.
Violation #4: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or alcohol
FMCSA Codes 392.4 and 392.5 states that drivers must not possess, be under the influence of, or use drugs or alcohol while on duty. A study published by the National Library of Medicine on the prevalence of drugs and alcohol in fatally injured truck drivers revealed the following concerning statistics:
- Drugs were detected in 67% of the truck drivers.
- 33% of the truck drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.
Violation #5: Driver Failing to Conduct a Pre-Trip Inspection
Conducting pre-trip inspections is critical to road safety. FMCSA Code 392.7 mandates that all CMV drivers conduct a pre-trip inspection. These inspections ensure that all parts of the vehicle are in working order. Mechanical failures are a common cause of truck accidents and can include:
- Brake failure
- Transmission failure
- Tire blowouts
- Steering failure
- Suspension failure
- Broken lights (headlights, taillights, sidelights, or signals)
- Windshield wiper malfunction
- Rear underride guard failure
- Unhinged trailer
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It’s not uncommon for truck accident victims to sustain catastrophic injuries. From traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries, the aftermath of a truck crash can lead to lifelong challenges. If a negligent truck driver injured you or a loved one, you have the right to pursue compensation to cover your medical costs and other expenses associated with your injuries. Our team of experienced truck accident lawyers is here to protect your rights and support you when going through a difficult time.