Your Guide to Trucking Laws in Texas
Trucking laws in Texas exist to protect those who make their living on the road, but when the rules and regulations aren’t enough, you’ll need a Texas truck accident lawyer to step in and make sure that justice is served.
Truck accident lawsuits are often necessary when state or federal regulations are bent or broken in favor of the trucking company making a buck. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Texas trucking accident, call the personal injury lawyers from Grimes & Fertitta to get what you deserve.
Federal trucking laws and regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency that regulates how many hours a truck driver can drive through “hours of service” laws. The current federal hours of service regulations state that:
- A driver must have ten consecutive hours “off duty” before beginning a driving shift
- After ten hours “off duty,” a driver may only be “on duty” for 14 consecutive hours
- Drivers may only drive for 11 hours at a time
- Every eight consecutive hours of driving a driver is entitled to one 30-minute break
- A driver cannot be “on duty” for more than 60 hours over the course of seven days, or more than 70 hours over eight days, a period which can reset after 34 consecutive “off duty” hours
These regulations apply to trucks and truckers engaging in interstate commerce, if your payload isn’t leaving Texas, the rules will be a bit different.
What are the DOT regulations in Texas?
How many hours can a truck driver drive in the state of Texas? Trucking laws in Texas are a touch more business-friendly but feature similar regulations to those stipulated by the FMCSA. Some Texas motor vehicle laws for truckers include:
- A driver must have eight consecutive hours “off duty” before beginning a driving shift
- Drivers may only be “on duty” for 15 consecutive hours
- Drivers may only drive for 12 hours at a time
- A driver cannot be “on duty” for more than 70 hours over the course of seven days, a period which can reset after 34 consecutive “off duty” hours
“On duty” time can include loading, maintenance, and other non-driving trucking activities. As you can see, the rules in Texas are designed as much to help trucking companies drive profits as they are to help you drive your truck. If you or a loved one has been involved in a Texas trucking accident as the result of unmet regulations, call an experienced and dedicated Houston truck accident lawyer from Grimes & Fertitta.
Texas DOT rules and regulations on trucking
Texas motor vehicle laws are overseen not just by the FMCSA at the federal level, but by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) at the state level as well. Both the FMCSA and TxDPS enforce regulations in the following areas of truck driving:
- Vehicle requirements include a minimum of safety features. TxDPS has specific and strict requirements regarding visibility, operation, and training on minimum safety features.
- Licensing for truck drivers in Texas will depend on vehicle class, but generally requires that Texas truckers obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and have a reasonably clean driving record.
- Operating limits include the restrictions on driving hours listed above, the keeping of driving logs, as well as more strict guidelines for the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Financial minimums detail the minimum insurance policies that trucking companies are required to carry in order to protect truck drivers and others on the road.
- Maintenance requirements stipulate that a truck is frequently inspected and well-maintained.
These rules and regulations are put in place to protect truck drivers and the people around them, but they also exist, to some extent, to protect trucking companies from liability. At this point, you may be asking yourself “what laws protect truckers?” And you would be right to ask. Other than the restrictions on shift length and billable hours, there aren’t many laws put in place to explicitly protect truck drivers.
Liability and injuries in a trucking accident
Liability and injuries are two essential factors in any claim after a Texas 18-wheeler accident. Determining liability can be thought of as determining causation, and therefore fault, for the accident. Some common causes of truck accidents include:
- Fatigued driving by overworked drivers is exactly why strict regulations are in place surrounding shift times and “off duty” hours. Unfortunately driving logs and regulations are not always enough to stave off unsafe practices. Companies will incentivize drivers to make routes faster by disregarding regulations, which can lead to accidents (and place the burden on the drivers).
- Failure to maintain vehicle and maintenance requirements pertaining to brakes and tires are common causes of accidents and can place liability on either the driver or the trucking company.
- Distracted or unsafe driving is rendered even more dangerous by the size and weight of an 18-wheeler. Speeding and reckless driving is often what cause a truck to jackknife.
If you were injured in a trucking accident, you need an aggressive trucking accident lawyer. The trucking company already has a lawyer — probably multiple — on the case, you can’t afford to go without. No matter how severe your injury or how little you are at fault, it is not guaranteed that you will receive the compensation you deserve. Those high cervical spine injury settlement amounts won’t matter one bit unless you have a lawyer who can prove that you were not liable for your injury.
How can a Houston truck accident lawyer from Grimes & Fertitta help?
The trucking laws in Texas are not always enough to protect a trucker who has been involved in a trucking accident or the individual on the other end of the accident. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, you need to take action now. The lawyers at Grimes & Fertitta are not only expert personal injury lawyers but are also former insurance company lawyers who know just how the trucking companies will attempt to cover their bottom line.
The Texas truck accident lawyers at Grimes & Fertitta know that truck accidents can take away people’s livelihoods and destroy their lives. Call us today at (713) 224-7644 or contact us online for a free consultation to begin defending your life.
More Helpful Articles by Grimes & Fertitta: