Under federal truck driving laws, truck drivers are required to perform inspections on their vehicle before and after a trip. These regulations are in place to help ensure that the vehicle remains safe to operate. Not many people are aware that a lot of the responsibility for commercial vehicle maintenance falls on the drivers. This may range from carrying out the necessary safety inspections before getting on the road to making sure the cargo has been properly secured.
What Are the Truck Driver’s Responsibilities?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to perform a number of actions to ensure safety compliance. Here are some of the things truck drivers are required to do:
- Conduct safety inspections on the trucks before and after the trip. Truck drivers are required to complete and sign a written report that confirms they have inspected crucial vehicle parts such as tires, mirrors, brakes, horn, etc.
- Before getting on the road, the truck driver must be satisfied that the vehicle is safe to operate. They should then review the most recent inspection report and sign it.
- If the driver makes the determination that the truck is unsafe to operate, the truck’s owner or trucking firm must repair the problems before the driver can take the vehicle back on the road. The driver has a legal obligation to make sure the problems are fixed before driving the truck.
- Trucking companies cannot force a driver to operate a truck that has been found to have safety issues. In fact, carriers cannot allow drivers to operate a vehicle with problems, even if the drivers are prepared to take that chance. Written driver inspection reports must be preserved by the carrier for at least three months.
Trucks are inspected roadside at weigh stations and portable scales, which provide an on-the-spot safety check for the vehicles. These are essentially a way to enforce regulations set forth by the FMCSA. In cases where there are violations, the findings will reflect poorly on the carrier and not the driver, and will be included in the company’s Safety Measurement System or SMS score, which is an indication of how well the company and its driver follow federal truck safety regulations.
Dangers of Failure to Maintain
Large trucks travel thousands of miles each year and are exposed to a variety or roadway and weather conditions. It is crucial that the trucks are in good shape and that the vehicle parts are serviced, repaired and replaced as needed. When tires or brakes fail at highway speeds on a large, heavy truck, it could severely impact other passenger vehicles on the roadway. Failure to properly inspect trucks can result in injuries and damages that could be catastrophic or even fatal.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by lack of proper truck maintenance, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the truck driver, the trucking firm, a maintenance firm (if there is one) and other potential parties. An experienced Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer will be able to obtain and preserve critical evidence such as vehicle maintenance records after a truck accident to determine whether a failure to maintain the vehicle caused or contributed to the crash.