Why Are Tractor-Trailers Highly Regulated?

When it comes to understanding tractor-trailer regulations, it’s best to start by looking into why the federal government stepped in and created them in the first place. Why does the government have one set of rules for cars and a completely different set for tractor-trailers? Well, the simple answer is, if two cars collide, generally, they’re going to be about equal in protecting their passengers. But if you get hit by a tractor-trailer, you’re dealing with a whole different ballgame; you’re going to be seriously injured or even killed.


Lack of Sleep

The federal government has looked at accidents over the years and pinpointed a main cause; fatigue.  A lack of rest is the most critical thing we find when investigating these cases. The driver has been driving too long, for too many hours, for too many days. Remember, this is not an hourly per day regulation. You’ve got to look at how many hours were driven on Monday AND Tuesday, as well as how many hours the driver slept in between. Taking it even further, how many hours were driven in the entire week? There are very specific regulations that drivers have to follow because, in a tractor-trailer wreck, the traveling public is who pays the ultimate price.


Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Obviously, you don’t want people operating cars who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Well, you certainly don’t want someone barreling down the interstate at 70 miles per hour in an enormous vehicle who is impaired in any way. So, there are very strict regulations about alcohol and drug use. One of the other big problems we see out there are stimulants. Some people call them speed. Some people call them uppers. No matter what you call them, when a truck driver’s exhausted and he’s popping speed or popping uppers to try and stay on the road, it’s the traveling public that’s going to pay the price. If he crosses the lane or crosses the median, the resulting accidents are devastating to people, just horrible injuries and death.


Maintaining the Rig

Another area the government takes pretty seriously is the rig itself. These trucks have to be maintained properly. The braking systems are not like the braking systems on your automobile at home and they’ve got to be closely monitored. Once again, not just protecting the truck, but protecting the public that the truck is going to be near. There are also some strict rules when it comes to the security of the load. You can put your golf clubs or your kid’s bicycle in your car pretty much however you want. The way a tractor-trailer is loaded has got to abide by specific federal regulations so that the load is safe as it sits on the truck, properly secured and not likely to shift when the truck begins moving. As a driver, every time you park you’ve got an obligation to walk all the way around the rig, check the restraints, and make sure that your load hasn’t shifted.


Using the Regulations for Protection

So, why should you know and understand these regulations if you or someone you know has been hurt in a tractor-trailer accident? Well, let me speak from experience. We had a case where a driver simply stopped to get some dinner, got back in his truck and drove off. The problem was, he didn’t check to see that his load had shifted and wasn’t secured. As a result of this oversight, two young people on the way to their wedding had a roll of aluminum come soaring into their windshield, killing one and severely injuring the other.  We were able to prove that this happened because the driver opted to skip a simple regulatory check.

It’s imperative that your lawyer has the experience and knowledge to protect you in the case of a tractor-trailer accident.  I’ve only touched on the surface of all the regulations that come into play, but I hope it will demonstrate the importance of having an attorney who understands where to start digging for answers and has expert witnesses who can help figure out why you or a loved one was seriously hurt because of a tractor-trailer. If you have more questions concerning the issue please give The Segal Law Firm a call at 855-344-9100.