Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act

Commercial Driver Duties

Commercial Driver Duties

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Act Specifies that Types of Training a Commercial Driver Must have and Directs every State that Issues a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to comply.

Commercial Driver’s License Standards

Federal Law dictates minimum Commercial Driver License Standards

The FMSCA requires every commercial motor vehicle driver to know:

  • Safe operation regulations.
  • Safe vehicle control systems.
  • Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Control Systems.
  • Basic vehicle control.
  • Shifting transmissions.
  • Backing.
  • Visual Search techniques.
  • Communication techniques and procedures.
  • Speed management
  • Space Management.
  • Safe night time operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Extreme Driving Conditions.
  • Perceiving Hazards.
  • Emergency Maneuvers.
  • Skid control and Recovery.
  • Interplay between Cargo and vehicle control.
  • Vehicle Inspections.
  • Transportation of Hazardous Materials.
  • Mountain Driving.
  • Fatigue and awareness.
  • Airbrake knowledge covering seven areas.
  • Combination vehicles.

The commercial motor vehicle driver must also demonstrate the following skills:

  • Pre-trip vehicle inspection skills.
  • Basic vehicle control skills.
  • Safe on-road driving skills.
  • Ability to display such skills under realistic on-street conditions.

The Federal government also has specific endorsements for drivers of school buses, transporters of hazardous materials, trucks with double or triple trailers and passenger transport vehicles, and tankers. An effective truck accident attorney must be familiar with the extensive procedures, standards and techniques that a trained commercial motor vehicle driver is supposed to perform. These requirements are very different from a standard driver’s license.

The Commercial Driver’s manual is only a Starting Point

A Commercial Driver’s manual is a guide that provides a limited summary of a Commercial Truck Driver’s Responsibilities.

Every commercial truck driver should have a c copy of the federal motor carrier safety regulations in their glove box. The industry sells pocket copies of the regulations at a nominal cost. In fact, many industry commercial driver’s manuals advise drivers to keep a copy of the regulations with their truck. Large commercial trucking companies frequently provide in-house training and materials on driver safety. It is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate the applicable rules and all the sources of those rules.

Commercial trucking as an industry has a very high turnover rate. Due to this rapid turnover it is not uncommon to find inexperienced drivers and drivers that have been let go by several companies.

Truck Drivers are Human

The rules and regulations that the federal government requires of truck companies are time consuming and are often not fully complied with.

Every day, I observe truck drivers failing to follow the rules. These violations typically appear like normal driving to the public. Here are a couple of examples that illustrate that commercial truck drivers must follow a different set of rules. We should expect drivers of 80,000 vehicles to take extra care.
In heavy traffic on roadways with regular stop lights it is expected to see bumper to bumper traffic. In a car as soon as some space ahead opens, we pull forward and maintain speed with the car ahead. A truck driver can’t stop as quickly as a car and a truck driver must leave more space to stop. What happens to that safe space? Other cars change lanes into the wide-open space. What is a truck driver supposed to do? The correct answer is to try to maintain the stopping space but to also drive a few miles per hour slower. Thus, when that car changes into your stopping space as traffic stops you are already falling further behind and have gained the necessary to stop.

As car drivers we keep an eye on the car driving ahead. Truck drivers are trained to scan traffic ahead both near and far. A trained commercial truck driver must scan a vast area of the roadway to anticipate the driving conditions that he will encounter and to prepare accordingly. After an accident a witness can often be heard that the truck driver did nothing wrong because he could not have stopped that big truck with so little time to react. The correct question should be, had the truck driver been driving at a proper speed under industry standards and scanning the roadway ahead would this accident have been prevented? If the answer is yes, then the truck driver may be liable.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, please contact the truck accident lawyers at Patterson Law. Patterson Law has offices in Bowie and Annapolis Maryland. Please call 301-888-4878 to schedule your free consultation with a Board-Certified Truck Accident Attorney.

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