The Most Common FMCSA Trucking Violations in California

The freight industry is a vital portion of California’s economy, as well as a critical link in the country’s supply chain. With 30 percent of the nation’s imports flowing through California’s ports, the trucking industry is booming, filling California’s roadways with large, fully loaded commercial trucks.

Trucks in California are subject to federal regulations through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and additional state standards. Violating these regulations increases the chances of a truck accident and leaves the truck driver, the trucking company, and sometimes cargo-loading companies and truck maintenance companies liable for the victim’s damages like medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering.

After a truck accident in California, the injury victim’s attorney performs a thorough investigation. One of the most important factors they investigate is whether or not the driver, trucking company, or other freight industry entity violated one of the following FMCSA regulations.

Failure to Obtain or Keep Current a Valid California Commercial Driver’s License

Drivers of commercial trucks and buses must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and keep it up-to-date. This requires a valid California standard driver’s license first, then a CDL learner’s permit for 14 days. Then the driver must pass a written exam, vision and hearing tests, and a medical examination before the state will issue their license. Commercial driver’s license violations are common infractions in California.

Violations of Driving Hour Regulations

Federal law limits trucker driving hours and consecutive working days and also mandates specific break times for drivers during their on-duty shifts. Drivers must meticulously log their driving hours and breaks to ensure they are complying with federal limits. Today, these logging systems are typically electronic. Unless a driver is an independent contractor, the trucking company a driver works for must routinely monitor their drivers’ logs to ensure they aren’t exceeding their driving hours. Employers have a duty to not set unrealistic driving goals that drivers cannot meet without exceeding their hour limits.

Driving hour regulations and logging help lower the risk of drowsy driving accidents involving large commercial trucks that put smaller vehicles at significant risk.

Exceeding hours and/or falsely logging hours are common serious violations of FMCSA regulations.

Violating Truck Inspection and Maintenance Regulations

FMCSA requires drivers to perform routine inspections of their trucks and trailers before and after each trip and to carry copies of their inspection reports. If they find any problems, they must report the problem and keep a record of all repairs and regular maintenance. According to FMCSA 5.2:

“Parts and accessories shall be in safe and proper operating condition at all times.”

Failing to make repairs noted on an inspection report is a common violation.

Drivers have an additional duty to inspect their loads to ensure the load is correctly balanced and safely secured.

California standards require routine in-depth inspections and maintenance on commercial trucks at least once per year, or every 90 days for trucks hauling hazardous materials.

If a maintenance failure causes an accident, the truck driver, the trucking company, or the truck maintenance company may share liability depending on how the problem was missed, unreported, or improperly repaired.

Violating Weight Limits

Commercial trucks are limited to specific maximum weights depending on the size of the truck and the number of axles. The maximum weight limit for fully loaded semi-tractor-trailer trucks is 80,000 pounds. Hauling a heavier load requires FMCSA permission and special permits.

A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help After a FMCSA Violation Results in an Accident

Commercial trucks place motorists in smaller vehicles at risk when they violate any of the FMCSA regulations, which were developed and implemented to increase safety. If a truck driver, trucking company, or truck maintenance company violates a regulation and the result is an accident, a commercial truck accident claim can achieve financial accountability and provide compensation for the injury victim’s damages.

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