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Written by: J. Todd Tenge

Federal Trucking Regulations

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We’ve Seen How Hours-of-Service Violations Lead to Crashes in Colorado

Anyone who has spent time on highways knows just how valuable big rigs are to our economy. Semi-trucks carry countless dollars’ worth of goods from coast to coast, and we depend on them for the products that make modern life possible. However, some trucking companies push their drivers too hard, encouraging them to break federal regulations put in place to protect everyone on the road. And when a tired trucker gets behind the wheel, it puts everyone in danger.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident caused by a driver who violated federal regulations, you are entitled to compensation for your damages. But first, you have to uncover the violation. Truck accident lawyer Todd Tenge knows the laws regarding truck accidents, and he can help you hold all negligent parties accountable. You can learn about your rights and options by speaking with Mr. Tenge in person.

Please call (303) 625-6741 today to schedule a free consultation at our Denver office. As always, if a you are too injured to come to us, we can come meet you – at Kindred Hospital or beyond.

What Is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

The United States Department of Transportation establishes rules that apply to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), which either:

  • Weigh more than 10,00 pounds, including freight
  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Transport enough hazardous material to require safety placards

Tractor-trailers, big rigs, 18-wheelers, flatbeds, refrigerator trucks, tankers, dump trucks, wreckers, box trucks, heavy haulers, certain passenger vans, and other vehicles fall under this definition.

Types of Federal Trucking Regulations

All commercial trucks engaged in interstate traffic are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These federal trucking regulations require motor carriers to meet specific operational and safety standards for issues related to:

  • The inspection, surveillance and maintenance of trucks.
  • Commercial truck licensing for drivers, including background checks and medical assessments.
  • Drug and alcohol testing procedures for drivers.
  • Limits to how long truckers can spend “on-duty,” called “hours of service” or “HOS.” HOS regulations set the maximum operational limitations and minimum off-duty requirements for drivers, as well as how drivers and their employers must document these hours.

The most frequent cause of large truck crashes in Colorado, we’ve found, is overly-tired drivers. So, let’s dive deeper into the HOS regulations.

Federal Hours of Service Regulations

A driver whose truck meets the commercial vehicle definitions is subject to strict regulations with respect to how long he or she can operate the vehicle without a break.

  • 11-hour limit: A trucker may drive at most 11 hours total after having spent 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-hour limit: A trucker may not drive beyond the 14th hour following his or her return to duty after 10 consecutive hours spent off duty.
  • Rest breaks: With few exceptions, a trucker may drive only if 8 hours or fewer have elapsed since the end of his or her last off-duty or sleeper berth rest period of 30 minutes or more.
  • 60/70-hour limit: A trucker may not drive after having spent 60 or 70 hours on duty in 7 or 8 consecutive days, respectively. A truck driver may restart a 7 or 8 consecutive day period after spending 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper berth provision: A truck driver using the sleeper berth provision must spend at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus an additional 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or some combination of the two.

Unfortunately, despite the many regulations in place, truck accidents still happen – especially on I-70, I-25, and I-76. Because of the difficulty of getting compensation from a trucking company, as well as the technical and legal details you have to know to prove your case, it’s important to make sure you work with an experienced trucking lawyer after any incident with a big rig.

Why You Need a Colorado Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accident claims can be incredibly complicated for a multitude of reasons. Establishing liability and proving fault require extensive investigation. It can be a lengthy process, due to the number of potentially responsible parties: whether individual drivers, the company itself, the truck or part manufacturers, or someone else entirely.

Additionally, trucking insurance companies are notoriously aggressive. They’ll attempt to diminish the value of your claim to pay you less than you are actually entitled to receive. Attorney J. Todd Tenge has nearly 30 years of experience handling seriously complicated cases, and he knows the ins and outs of conducting investigations and securing the evidence necessary to file a successful claim. Recently, he achieved a $1.05 million settlement on behalf of a man who was rear-ended by a long-haul truck, leaving him with serious and long-term back injuries.

In another, more tragic case, the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, filed on behalf of a woman who lost her husband in a wrongful death lawsuit. A semi-truck collided with his vehicle on I-70 and forced it off the highway, and he succumbed to cranial trauma. We know exactly what large trucks can do, and we fight truckers’ negligence all the way to court.

The Tenge Law Firm, LLC, Can Help

When a truck driver violates hours of service regulations, it can easily lead to a catastrophic accident. Victims suffer worse injuries in a crash with a semi-truck, including shattered bones, crush injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic amputation, brain damage, and internal organ rupture. If you or your family member was injured by a careless truck driver, don’t wait.

Todd is an expert in the federal rules for CMVs and stands ready to litigate your case. He will review the logbooks, toll receipts, gas receipts, maintenance records, bills of lading, delivery receipts, and other records to determine whether a violation has been committed.

Please contact the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, by calling (303) 625-6741 to schedule a free consultation. Mr. Tenge has offices in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins, Colorado.

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