According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 100,000 traffic crashes occur yearly due to drowsy driving. More than 1,500 deaths and over 70,000 injuries occur each year due to drowsiness while driving on U.S. roadways.
Truck drivers are no exception when it comes to sleeping at the wheel. When truckers sleep while driving on Texas roads, they pose significant risks to other road users. Truckers routinely log long hours of service, with the problem only aggravated by trucking companies that require truckers in Dallas or Fort Worth to get to their destinations as fast as possible. This forces drivers to take a few breaks while on the road.
Truck drivers and trucking companies in Texas are required to comply with state and federal rules and regulations governing all aspects of the trucking industry and their operations. The goal is to prevent catastrophic injuries and fatalities by ensuring safe truck operations. Trucking companies and truckers must comply with regulations issued by the federal and Texas governments or risk losing the right to operate.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the main government agency that oversees trucking operations all over the U.S. The FMCSA drafts and enforces commercial motor vehicle safety regulations in the U.S. Its primary mission is to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving buses and large trucks.
Violations of trucking regulations may result in fines. The FMCSA may also order trucks or truckers off Texas roads for serious or repeated traffic violations. Keep in mind that trucking companies and truck drivers who fail to follow trucking laws and regulations put everyone at risk of catastrophic accidents.
If you have any questions regarding how federal and Texas truck accident laws may affect your Dallas injury claim, contact the Dallas truck accident lawyers of The Francis Firm today. Our experienced lawyers will guide you throughout the claims process and also ensure you receive the appropriate medical care you need to recover.
Let us establish whether a truck driver violated one or more established regulations to prove negligence and liability after a collision. Get your free consultation now.
Truck Driver Qualifications
Reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are approximately 202,270 truck drivers operating in Texas, with roughly 69,790 drivers operating within the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex. All these drivers in Texas must have valid commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) to operate trucks, whether interstate or intrastate.
Texas has three classes of licenses that authorize drivers to operate commercial vehicles of various passenger capacities or weights. Certain types of commercial vehicles also require drivers within the state to pass specialized tests to receive endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles.
Under truck accident law, truck drivers in Texas must be at least 18 years of age to obtain CDLs to operate trucks within the state. To operate commercial trucks across state lines, one must be at least 21 years old. Drivers must also read and speak English well enough to converse with road users, respond to official inquiries, read road signs, and complete records or reports.
Truckers in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex must also pass regular medical fitness inspections. The results of the Medical Examination Report determine whether one can operate a truck in Texas and across state lines.
Truck Inspection Requirements
Truck drivers and motor carriers in Dallas and Fort Worth are required to regularly inspect their trucks. Drivers should scrutinize their big rigs or semis post-trip, inspecting the following parts:
- Hand brakes
- Service brakes
- Wheels and rims
- Rearview mirrors
- Lights and reflectors
- Windshield wipers
Truck drivers must report any issues they believe pose risks to truck operations. This ensures trucks are properly maintained, reducing the risk of breakdowns or accidents while on Texas roads.
Truck Size and Weight Limits
To operate a truck in Texas, trucking companies must meet certain size and weight limits:
- Height: No more than 14 feet
- Width: The maximum load width should be 8’6”
- Front overhang: No more than 3 feet
- Vehicle weight: No more than 80,000 lbs
- Weight on each axle: No more than 20,000 lbs
- Rear overhang: No more than 4 feet
Trucks that exceed these limits must obtain special permits from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Hazardous Materials Regulations
Substances or chemicals that pose a physical hazard, a health hazard, or risk harming the environment are considered hazardous materials. Such materials are subject to stricter regulations in Texas and all over the U.S. Examples of hazardous materials include:
- Poison gas
- Flammable gas or solids
- Radioactive materials
- Infectious substances
- Materials dangerous when wet
- Organic peroxides
- Corrosive materials
Carriers in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex wishing to transport hazardous materials must register with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This federal agency was created to protect the public and the environment by ensuring the secure and safe transportation of hazardous materials by all transportation modes.
Truckers hauling hazardous materials within Dallas and Fort Worth must also undergo specific hazardous materials training and receive the requisite endorsement for their CDLs.
Texas DWI Laws for Truck Drivers
Texas truckers are subject to strict alcohol and controlled substance trucking laws. In fact, it is illegal to operate a commercial motor vehicle in Texas with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or higher. All truckers must pass a drug test before being allowed to operate trucks on Texas roads.
Texas prohibits truck drivers from operating semis while possessing, using, or under the influence of Schedule I drugs, narcotics, or any amphetamine. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers ecstasy, heroin, methaqualone, peyote, cannabis, and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) as Schedule I drugs.
Truck accident law also requires drivers not to consume alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol within four hours of going on duty, while on duty, or while driving. Truckers may not carry any alcoholic beverages while operating trucks on Texas roads unless they are part of the shipment.
Commonly Reported Truck Driver Violations
Commercial vehicles ranging from oilfield trucks to dump trucks cause catastrophic accidents that lead to serious injuries and even wrongful death incidents within the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.
Most truck accidents are preventable. When a trucking accident happens in Texas, one of the common causes of such accidents is human error and driver negligence. Truck drivers who violate laws and regulations established by the FMCSA and the state of Texas risk causing truck accidents.
Some of the most common violations that lead to citations include:
- Lack of a driver’s log or the log isn’t up to date
- Non-English-speaking driver
- Speeding 6-10 mph over the speed limit
- Disregarding wearing a seat belt
- Violating hours-of-service regulations
The FMCSA’s Hours of Service regulations require property-carrying drivers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. The FMCSA also requires drivers to take a 30-minute driving break after 8 cumulative driving hours. Drivers must also not operate trucks after 60/70 hours of driving in 7/8 consecutive days.
Learn More About Trucking Laws and How They May Affect Your Claim
Violation of federal and state trucking laws, such as semi truck parking laws, may be evidence of negligence after a truck accident in Dallas or Fort Worth. Truck drivers and their trucking companies may be held liable if their negligent actions or omissions led to a truck collision in Texas, including driver error or negligent truck maintenance.
The legal team at The Francis Firm can help you if you or someone you care about has been injured in a Dallas commercial truck accident. Our lawyers will conduct a comprehensive investigation to prove that the defendant’s violations led to your accident, injuries, and losses.
For help understanding trucking laws and holding the trucker driver or the truck owner liable for their negligence, contact The Francis Firm today. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are worried about expensive legal fees. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t charge any upfront fees. Let us help you with your truck accident claim. Call us today to schedule your free case review to learn how Texas trucking laws may affect your claim.