With numerous highways and interstates, Georgia sees 18-wheelers and commercial trucks daily. Unfortunately, with increased big rigs, the number of catastrophic collisions also increases, and this is because tractor-trailers are significantly larger than traditional SUVs, trucks, and cars. When vehicles collide with big rigs, the injuries and property damage are often devastating.
If the truck driver or a trucking company employing them failed to uphold Georgia trucking company regulations, they could be held accountable for your damages. Your Atlanta truck accident attorney at John Foy & Associates will carefully review the circumstances of your case to determine whether these regulations and rules have been violated and how you can make negligent truck drivers and trucking companies pay.
State and Federal Trucking Rules and Regulations
Trucking companies are legally obligated to follow both Georgia state and federal trucking rules and regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees federal trucking rules and regulations.
There are multiple FMCSA rules and laws trucking companies must follow, or they could face penalties and sanctions. This might include work hour rules, vehicle maintenance and qualifying requirements for truckers, and auto and liability insurance coverage.
Regulations for Trucking Companies
According to the FMCSA, there are specific regulations trucking companies must adhere to. One of the most common is commercial truck weight and size restrictions. The type of commercial truck will determine the maximum weight of a load.
For example, a tandem-axle commercial truck has a maximum weight limit of 34,000 pounds. Alternatively, a single-axle commercial truck has a maximum weight limit of just 20,000 pounds.
The FMCSA also limits commercial trucks’ width, length, and height. These regulations help protect the infrastructure of tunnels and bridges and reduce the risk of causing collisions on major roads and highways.
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Rules Truckers Must Follow
It is not only trucking companies that have rules and regulations that must be followed. Some of the most critical regulations truck drivers must follow include work restrictions, tractor-trailer responsibilities, and alcohol use at work.
Work Hour Rules
Trucking companies and truck drivers must work together to ensure trucks traveling through Georgia follow FMCSA hours of service rules. This limits the number of hours a truck driver can operate the big rig. According to federal law, truckers can only drive for 11 hours. At that point, truckers must have a minimum of 10 hours off work before they can continue driving.
Truckers can only be on the clock and quote for 14 hours. Workers must be given a 30-minute break for every eight hours of driving during these hours. Truck drivers are prohibited from working more than 60 hours within seven days or no more than 70 hours over eight days.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies try to get around these work-hour regulations and pressure their truckers to violate federal and state laws to deliver loads faster and save the trucking company money. This often results in truck drivers causing collisions due to fatigued driving.
Commercial Truck Regulations
According to Georgia state law under GA Code §32, there are also rules in place. Truck drivers are legally obligated to ensure their cargo is adequately secured with tie-downs, dunnage bags, securement tools, shoring bars, or dunnage. This will prevent cargo from getting loose and rolling in the big rig’s trailer.
Georgia law considers any vehicle weighing at least 26,001 pounds a commercial truck. This does not include emergency vehicles, farm equipment, or military vehicles. The law states that commercial trucks in Georgia have the following restrictions:
- They cannot exceed heights of 13’6”
- They cannot way more than 80,000 pounds
- They cannot exceed a width of 8’6”
- They cannot be more than 100 feet in length
Trucking companies transporting cargo or utilizing commercial trucks that exceed these limits can obtain a permit to use an oversized vehicle from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Laws Regarding Alcohol and Drug Use
A federal law under 49 U.S. Code §382 prohibits truck drivers from using drugs or alcohol while operating a tractor-trailer. It also requires truck drivers to comply with alcohol and drug testing requirements. Trucking companies should regularly subject truck drivers to the following:
- Drug or alcohol testing when there is reasonable suspicion of drunk or drug driving
- Pre-employment drug or alcohol testing
- Drug or alcohol testing after an accident
- Drug or alcohol testing before a trucker is allowed to return to duty
- Unannounced drug or alcohol testing
- Random drug or alcohol testing
Federal law requires truck drivers to be tested for a wide array of drugs, including:
If a truck driver refuses to comply with federal drug or alcohol testing requirements, they may have their commercial driver’s license (CDL) suspended or revoked and be prohibited from continuing to operate tractor-trailers.
Common Causes of Georgia Truck Accidents
One of the primary reasons truck accidents occur with such frequency in Georgia is because trucking companies and truck drivers fail to follow state and federal rules and regulations. By violating hours of service rules, failing to perform necessary inspections, and operating big rigs under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the likelihood of a catastrophic collision dramatically increases.
Meet with an Experienced GA Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If our investigation reveals that the truck driver or trucking company failed to adhere to federal or state trucking regulations, we will do everything we can to make them pay. You deserve maximum financial compensation, especially when negligent trucking companies and truck drivers fail to uphold their obligation to ensure trucks are properly maintained and operated at all times.
A dedicated Georgia truck accident lawyer at John Foy & Associates can help you throughout the claims process and ensure viable parties are held accountable. Learn more about what is next for your truck accident lawsuit when you contact our team for a 100 percent free consultation. Schedule yours today when you call our office or fill out our convenient contact form.