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What impact do trucking regulations have in a negligence lawsuit?

As discussed last week in this blog, there are few things that pose more danger on the road for Pottsville residents than speeding semi-trucks. In light of these unique dangers, federal authorities are currently proposing capping the speed at which large trucks could travel on the nation's highways.

Regardless of whether the new proposal passes, there are already a number of regulations in place that govern truckers and commercial carriers. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has certain motor carrier safety regulations that apply to the operation of a motor carrier vehicle with a gross weight in excess of 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce or in excess of 17,000 pounds in intrastate commerce. These regulations are an adoption of the applicable portions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The federal trucking regulations go beyond simply establishing rules of the road like those that apply for other drivers. For example, there are specific standards that are established to ensure the safety of motor carrier vehicles. If these safety regulations are violated, it can result in a citation being issued to the driver or the carrier, as well as fines and additional action.

The violation of the federal trucking regulations can also play a part in a negligence lawsuit based on

a commercial vehicle accident. For example, in a suit involving negligent truck maintenance, the federal trucking regulations may come into play if the company has failed to follow the regulations with respect to proper maintenance of the vehicle. Accordingly, in any motor vehicle crash involving a truck, it is important to determine whether any federal trucking regulations have been violated, as these violations can help establish negligence on the part of the driver or carrier.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, "Trucker's Handbook," accessed on Sept. 3, 2016

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