While the trend towards stricter supervision and compliance is a good thing, the proof is where the rubber hits the road. The statistical data indicate that the most important factor is the human factor, not regulation. There are numerous examples where the law mandates one thing and a segment of the public ignores or flouts the law. In this blog we have covered DUI and failure to purchase mandatory insurance—cases in which the law fails to make a suitable impression on scofflaws. In these cases, as well as with negligent truck or bus drivers, accident victims have only post facto recourse.
Enhanced regulation works to your benefit by putting compliance requirements on commercial drivers. In cases where you have been injured by a commercial vehicle through no fault of your own, regulation works in your favor to prove the driver of the commercial vehicle was negligent. The more regulations they failed to comply with, the simpler it is to win your case and demand suitable compensation.
How is a commercial vehicle defined? According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), commercial vehicles:
• Are over 10,001 pounds (5 tons), or
• Carry 8 or more passengers for pay, or
• Carry 15 or more passengers on an unpaid basis
This means that compliance should be carefully scrutinized not only for truck accidents, but for any kind of minibus, taxi, or school transportation. Your attorney will check to make sure the driver is registered properly, and that the driver and vehicle met all applicable standards.
What are the key points of compliance for commercial vehicles?
• The vehicle must be fit for service with all parts in acceptable working condition, and servicing must be done regularly to maintain the vehicle in proper working order.
• The driver must be competent. Records are maintained for registered drivers, and hired drivers should meet screening requirements.
• The driver should be alert and not exceed the number of road hours considered safe for driving without drowsing at the wheel.
• For trucks, proper loading is essential. Load shifting can result in accidents and unsafe spills.
Another safety factor coming to Tennessee is that seat belts for school busses will be mandatory as of July of 2023. Legislation requiring that existing busses be retrofitted with belts was prompted by the deadly Woodmore crash which killed six children in 2016. There is no question that here again the human factor is crucial. Getting kids to comply with the seat belt law, and getting drivers to enforce it is a challenge which falls on parents and educators. Underscoring the importance of safe behavior is essential to creating a safer driving culture.
[At least until the robots take over the roads]