Large commercial trucks such as semis, tankers, and 18-wheelers can pose a significant danger to public safety if improperly-maintained and operated. Keeping the number of truck-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities to a minimum requires truck drivers to not only be extremely well trained, but also committed to operating an 80,000 pound vehicle as safely as possible.
Unfortunately, if truck accident statistics are any indication, truckers don't always live up to these ideals. In fact, in 2009 alone, large commercial trucks were involved in approximately 296,000 crashes that injured 74,000 and killed nearly 3,400. The following year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)—which regulates the commercial trucking industry in the United States for safety—developed its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative.
The data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program is designed to prevent truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities by allowing truckers and trucking companies to address potential safety issues before they become life-threatening problems. When operators and trucking companies violate CSA rules, they can cause catastrophic accidents.
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by a commercial driver in violation of CSA rules, here's what you should know.
Common CSA Violations Committed by Truckers
Compliance with the CSA standards shouldn't be difficult; most of the rules are fairly simple, common-sense regulations that can help commercial truck drivers avoid preventable accidents with other motorists. And yet, FMCSA inspectors see the same violations pop up repeatedly. Some of the most common CSA rule violations include:
- Lighting violations. A truck with broken headlights or taillights, or missing its reflectors or reflector tape, can be difficult for other motorists to see at night.
- Brake violations. CSA rules require truckers to inspect their brakes before and after each shift. Improperly-installed or improperly-maintained brake systems lead to devastating accidents.
- Tire violations. Worn tires make it difficult for trucks to have proper traction and can lead to frightening blowouts. Checking tire tread depth should be a standard part of a trucker's pre- and post-shift inspection routine.
- Health violations. Some medical conditions can impair judgment and negatively affect driving performance, which is why the FMCSA requires commercial truckers to submit to periodic medical exams and obtain a certificate of medical fitness.
- Log violations. Truckers are required to keep accurate logs of their shifts. However, some drivers may falsify their logs in an attempt to circumvent Hours of Service rules that limit shift lengths and mandate rest.
- Communication violations. CSA rules require truck drivers to be able to speak enough English to participate in roadside inspections, including answering questions and completing necessary paperwork.
Trucking Companies Can Also Violate CSA Rules
Commercial truck drivers aren't the only ones that can be found in violation of CSA rules. Trucking companies may be held liable for accidents, injuries, and property damages caused by their employees if they required or permitted them to drive more than 11 hours per shift, or required or permitted them to work after 14 hours of being on duty.
Potential Penalties for CSA Rule Violations
Truckers and companies caught violating CSA rules may face significant penalties, including steep fines. If cited for repeated violations, truckers may have their commercial driver's license suspended or even revoked.
Were You Seriously Injured in a Truck Accident?
Truck accidents can be absolutely devastating for the motorists involved. Those who are fortunate enough to live through the accident may be left with serious, debilitating, or even permanently disabling injuries that require extensive medical treatment and care. Often, necessary care comes at a price that's difficult—or in some cases, impossible—for accident victims to afford. Fortunately, the law gives injured accident victims the right to sue a negligent truck driver for compensation for injuries and damages, including medical expenses.
If you were severely hurt in a truck accident caused by an operator who violated CSA rules, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial review of your case.