Prevention of truck collisions is essential because truck accidents are often very serious and can cause permanent or deadly injuries. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules imposes strict regulations on the trucking industry in an effort to reduce dangerous behaviors likely to result in auto accidents. If truck drivers and trucking companies follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), the risk of many types of collisions may be decreased. For example, FMCSRs impose hours-of-service limitations to reduce the potential for drowsy driving crashes and FMCSRs establish clear rules for truck loading to prevent accidents caused by overweight vehicles or unstable loads.
While FMCSRs are intended to protect everyone's safety, an experienced auto and truck accident lawyer knows rules are not always followed. When a company or driver violates the rules, FMCSA audits may reveal the problem and can result in penalties being imposed on the driver or the company. The penalties should be harsh enough to act as a strong deterrent and to incentivize drivers and motor carriers to follow FMCSRs to avoid the grave consequences of non-compliance. Trucking Info reports FMCSA has taken an important step towards encouraging compliance by raising the fines. The new fines for violations went into effect on June 2, 2015.
New Fines for Negligent Truckers & Trucking Companies Could Help Prevent Collisions
Both truck drivers and their employers may be subject to fines for violation of commercial driver's license rules, hazardous material transport rules, and general Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Fines were increased in many of these areas. In some cases, the increases were substantial. For example:
- The previous maximum fine for an egregious violation of hours-of-service rules used to be $11,000 but is now $16,000.
- The previous maximum fine when a motor carrier did not record violations of FMCSRs was $11,000 and is now $16,000.
- The previous fine for violations associated with the transport of shipment of hazardous materials was a maximum of $50,000 per violation and is now a maximum of $75,000 per violation.
- The previous fine for violating packaging or container requirements for hazardous materials was $50,000 and is now $75,000.
- The previous fine for an employer permitting a CDL driver to violate an out-of-service order was up to $16,000. The new maximum fine is $27,500.
These are just a few of the many increases FMCSA has put into place. Hopefully, the added fines will act as a strong deterrent and encourage compliance with rules designed to protect the public.
When FMCSA identifies a common carrier or a driver who may be violating safety rules and regulations, an audit can be conducted. If violations are identified during the audit, these fines may be levied against the truck company or truck driver. FMCSA enforcement actions and fines are public record and can become available after the agency takes action. The information about audits and fines may be used in a legal case against the truck company to help prove negligence or wrongdoing. This means those injured by a truck accident could potentially get help making their case by using evidence from FMSCA audits.