The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (the “FMCSA”) promulgates regulations applicable to both the trucking and motorcoach industriesi. It is important to remember that these regulations (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations commonly called the “FMCSR’s”) constitute minimum standardsii. 49 CFR §391.1 establishes minimum qualifications for drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Nothing prohibits a truck or bus company from exceeding these minimum safety standards in their operations. The FMCSR are applicable in interstate commerce. State and local laws relating to safety are not precluded by the regulations so long as they do not prevent compliance with the FMCSR, therefore local law may provide additional opportunities for proof of a cause of action. Many states have adopted all or most of the regulations as applicable to intrastate commerce – with differences/tweaks that can be material in any given state. That said, in my home state of Kentucky, for instance, they are incorporated for the most part via administrative regulation 601 KAR 1:005.

Motor carriers (whether transporting people or property) and their drivers bear regulatory responsibilities in the maintenance and operation of the inherently dangerous machines with which the law entrusts them to operate. Insight into actual industry customs, practices, and the practical aspects of operating a tractor-trailer or motorbus present important opportunities for establishing liability for negligence and potentially punitive damage claims. That said, this paper is intended to highlight important, and perhaps some not well known, FMCSA regulations that may be of help.

 

  • Adverse Weather Conditions. 49 C.F.R. §392.14

Truck and bus operators must operate their vehicles safely in adverse weather; this means changing from the way they drive in good weather. We all have witnessed truckers and bus drivers plow through bad weather as if immune to the laws of physics. That said, such drivers are operating illegally. The standard of care for driving in adverse weather requires “extreme caution”. Speed must be reduced. 49 C.F.R. §392.14 states: “[E]xtreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.”

 

 

  • Hours of Service.

If confronted with a potential hours of service (HOS) violation, unless you are an expert in auditing log books and carrier records, it may serve you best to engage a trucking industry expert to audit and assist as you investigate whether your case involves an HOS violation. Falsification of log books is a way of life for many drivers and carriers. Many drivers keep two sets of log books –actual logs, and falsified logs. Auditing the supporting data, including charting pick-ups, fueling, border crossings, etc., gets complicated. Using someone with auditing software and industry experience is a practical means of establishing whether an HOS violation exists.

HOS regulations for property carrying drivers and passenger carrying drivers differ. Drivers carrying property hours of service are governed by 49 CFR §395.3. Drivers carrying passengers hours of service are governed by 49 CFR §395.5. These regulations are reproduced below:

§395.3 Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in §395.1, no motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements:

(1) Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;

(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

(3) Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(ii) Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in §395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

(b) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, for any period after—

(1) Having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or

(2) Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.

(c)(1) Any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

(2) Any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

(d) A driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period. When a driver takes more than one off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours within a period of 168 consecutive hours, he or she must indicate in the Remarks section of the record of duty status which such off-duty period is being used to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.

§395.5 Maximum driving time for passenger-carrying vehicles.

Subject to the exceptions and exemptions in §395.1:

(a) No motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle:

(1) More than 10 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty; or

(2) For any period after having been on duty 15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.

(b) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, for any period after—

(1) Having been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or

(2) Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.

 

  • Cargo Securement.

Injuries can occur during the unloading or loading of cargo. The shifting of cargo during transit can also be a factor in the causation of an accident in the course of transit or at the dock. Obviously, a load can simply spill during transit too. Cargo securement rules are promulgated by the FMCSA, with the general rule being that Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.

Cargo securement regulations begin at 49 CFR §393.100. This regulation states that commercial motor vehicles subject to cargo securement standards include trucks, truck tractors, semitrailers, full trailers, and pole trailers. Each commercial motor vehicle must, when transporting cargo on public roads, be loaded and equipped, and the cargo secured to prevent the cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing or falling from the motor vehicle. Cargo must also be contained, immobilized or secured to prevent shifting upon or within the vehicle to such an extent that the vehicle's stability or maneuverability is adversely affected. Particular types of cargo also require particular measures for their safe transit. Specific rules apply to intermodal containers, logs, lumber, metal coils, paper rolls, concrete pipe, automobiles, heavy machinery, crushed vehicles, and the list goes on.

Next, if you have a cargo securement issue, look at 49 CFR §392.9. The driver must have the cargo and vehicle properly distributed and secured. The cargo must not obscure the driver’s view ahead or to the right or left sides, interfere with his free movement or access to accessories required for emergencies. That said – look for coolers, computers, and other items with the cab. Once the truck is loaded, the driver’s duty does not stop. The driver must assure his or her self that cargo securement is appropriate, must inspect the cargo for load securement within the first 50 miles of the trip and make adjustments, and must reexamine the cargo and and make necessary load securement adjustments whenever the driver makes a change of duty status, when the vehicle has been driven 3 hours or 150 miles, whichever comes first. This is not the case if the load has been sealed.

 

  • Employee Credentialing, Testing and Training.

Driver qualification, training, certification (including longer combination vehicles), safety compliance, records retention, and the reporting of accidents or violations of law can be of issue in your case. Drivers are required to undergo regular medical evaluations for fitness as well. Entry level driver training regulations commence at 49 CFR §380.501. An entry level driver is a driver with less than one year of experience operating a CMV with a CDL in interstate commerce. Entry-level driver training is training the CDL driver receives in driver qualification requirements, hours of service of drivers, driver wellness, and whistleblower protection as appropriate to the entry-level driver's current position in addition to passing the CDL test. The employer using an entry-level driver must ensure the driver has received a training certificate, and that record must be retained by the employer as long as the driver is employed, and for one year thereafter.

General qualifications for drivers are covered by 49 CFR §391.11. It states:

(a) A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Except as provided in §391.63, a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle unless that person is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

(b) Except as provided in subpart G of this part, a person is qualified to drive a motor vehicle if he/she—

(1) Is at least 21 years old;

(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;

(3) Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle he/she drives;

(4) Is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with subpart E—Physical Qualifications and Examinations of this part;

(5) Has a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator's license issued only by one State or jurisdiction;

(6) Has prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs him/her with the list of violations or the certificate as required by §391.27;

(7) Is not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the rules in §391.15; and

(8) Has successfully completed a driver's road test and has been issued a certificate of driver's road test in accordance with §391.31, or has presented an operator's license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs him/her has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with §391.33.

 

  • Physical Qualifications of Drivers

Commercial drivers must be medically certified as physically qualified to do so, and when on duty have a current medical examiner’s certificate that he or she is physically qualified to do so. Reading the requirements, when those are juxtaposed against personal experience with many truck drivers, always makes me wonder how some drivers could ever get certified... Fitness to drive may be one of the most overlooked opportunities presenting in cases for fairly and materially biasing a jury against a driver or company. If one should not have been driving at all, and the person’s particular disqualifying medical condition contributed to causing the accident, people/jurors should get angry…

The regulation addressing physical qualifications for drivers is 49 CFR §391.41. The driver must undergo a physical examination addressed in 49 CFR §391.43. There are very specific physical requirements that must be met (though there are provisions for a medial variance that can be obtained). Falsification of certification cards, of fraudulent certifications are not uncommon in the industry. Some of the most common physical conditions creating problems for qualification are emphasized in bold type in the portion of 49 CFR §391.41(3)(b) excerpted below.

49 CFR §391.41(3)(b) states that a person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person:

(1) Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to §391.49;

(2) Has no impairment of:

(i) A hand or finger which interferes with prehension or power grasping; or

(ii) An arm, foot, or leg which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or any other significant limb defect or limitation which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor vehicle; or has been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate pursuant to §391.49.

(3) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin for control;

(4) Has no current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse, or congestive cardiac failure.

(5) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;

(6) Has no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely;

(7) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular disease which interferes with his/her ability to control and operate a commercial motor vehicle safely;

(8) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a commercial motor vehicle;

(9) Has no mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with his/her ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;

(10) Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70° in the horizontal Meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber;

(11) First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA Standard) Z24.5—1951.

(12)(i) Does not use any drug or substance identified in 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I, an amphetamine, a narcotic, or other habit-forming drug.

(ii) Does not use any non-Schedule I drug or substance that is identified in the other Schedules in 21 part 1308 except when the use is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, as defined in §382.107, who is familiar with the driver's medical history and has advised the driver that the substance will not adversely affect the driver's ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.

(13) Has no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.

 

  • Drug and Alcohol Testing.

49 CFR §382 establishes standards for drug and alcohol testing. Companies are required to retain records on their alcohol misuse prevention programs. Alcohol consumption is prohibited during safety functions, and for periods of time before and after an accident. The types of tests required are: pre-employment screening for drugs including Marijuana (THC metabolite), Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates (including heroin) and Phencyclidine (PCP)). Additional drug and alcohol testing is done based upon any reasonable suspicion, subsequent to an accident, randomly, upon return-to-duty, and in follow-up. Post-accident testing is not always required. It is governed by §382.303:

§382.303 Post-accident testing.

(a) As soon as practicable following an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a public road in commerce, each employer shall test for alcohol for each of its surviving drivers:

(1) Who was performing safety-sensitive functions with respect to the vehicle, if the accident involved the loss of human life; or

(2) Who receives a citation within 8 hours of the occurrence under State or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident, if the accident involved:

(i) Bodily injury to any person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or

(ii) One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

(b) As soon as practicable following an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle operating on a public road in commerce, each employer shall test for controlled substances for each of its surviving drivers:

(1) Who was performing safety-sensitive functions with respect to the vehicle, if the accident involved the loss of human life; or

(2) Who receives a citation within thirty-two hours of the occurrence under State or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident, if the accident involved:

(i) Bodily injury to any person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or

(ii) One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

(c) The following table notes when a post-accident test is required to be conducted by paragraphs (a)(1), (a)(2), (b)(1), and (b)(2) of this section:

Table for §382.303(a) and (b)

Type of accident involved

Citation issued to the CMV driver

Test must be performed by employer

i. Human fatality

YES
NO

YES
YES

ii. Bodily injury with immediate medical treatment away from the scene

YES
NO

YES
NO

iii. Disabling damage to any motor vehicle requiring tow away

YES
NO

YES
NO

(d)(1) Alcohol tests. If a test required by this section is not administered within two hours following the accident, the employer shall prepare and maintain on file a record stating the reasons the test was not promptly administered. If a test required by this section is not administered within eight hours following the accident, the employer shall cease attempts to administer an alcohol test and shall prepare and maintain the same record. Records shall be submitted to the FMCSA upon request.

(2) Controlled substance tests. If a test required by this section is not administered within 32 hours following the accident, the employer shall cease attempts to administer a controlled substances test, and prepare and maintain on file a record stating the reasons the test was not promptly administered. Records shall be submitted to the FMCSA upon request.

(e) A driver who is subject to post-accident testing shall remain readily available for such testing or may be deemed by the employer to have refused to submit to testing. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the delay of necessary medical attention for injured people following an accident or to prohibit a driver from leaving the scene of an accident for the period necessary to obtain assistance in responding to the accident, or to obtain necessary emergency medical care.

(f) An employer shall provide drivers with necessary post-accident information, procedures and instructions, prior to the driver operating a commercial motor vehicle, so that drivers will be able to comply with the requirements of this section.

(g)(1) The results of a breath or blood test for the use of alcohol, conducted by Federal, State, or local officials having independent authority for the test, shall be considered to meet the requirements of this section, provided such tests conform to the applicable Federal, State or local alcohol testing requirements, and that the results of the tests are obtained by the employer.

(2) The results of a urine test for the use of controlled substances, conducted by Federal, State, or local officials having independent authority for the test, shall be considered to meet the requirements of this section, provided such tests conform to the applicable Federal, State or local controlled substances testing requirements, and that the results of the tests are obtained by the employer.

(h) Exception. This section does not apply to:

(1) An occurrence involving only boarding or alighting from a stationary motor vehicle; or

(2) An occurrence involving only the loading or unloading of cargo; or

(3) An occurrence in the course of the operation of a passenger car or a multipurpose passenger vehicle (as defined in §571.3 of this title) by an employer unless the motor vehicle is transporting passengers for hire or hazardous materials of a type and quantity that require the motor vehicle to be marked or placarded in accordance with §177.823 of this title.

 

  • Ill or Fatigued Driver.

49 CFR §392.3 states that “[n]o driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed.” Cases of fatigue can often be dovetailed with violations of driver qualifications for physical fitness: sleep apnea is a condition that may be so significant if untreated as to likely interfere with a driver’s ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely, yielding him/her too fatigued to drive safely.

 

  • Vehicle Inspection, Repair and Maintenance.

Records must be retained of driver inspections, as well as systematic fleet inspections, repairs and maintenance. 49 CFR §393 delineates necessary parts and equipment for the commercial vehicle, and the same must be kept in working order. Records must also be retained on the vehicle for prescribed periods of time. Brake inspections must be performed by qualified brake inspection personnel 49 CFR §396.25. Many drivers or carriers will claim to have inspected their brakes, but lack the qualification to do so. If you have a case with an equipment violation bad brakes, or other issue, 49 CFR §396.7 states that a vehicle shall not be operated in such a condition as likely to cause an accident or breakdown of the vehicle. Any motor vehicle discovered to be in an unsafe condition while being operated on the highway may be continued in operation only to the nearest place where repairs can safely be effected. Such operation shall be conducted only if it is less hazardous to the public than to permit the vehicle to remain on the highway

 

  • Retroreflective sheeting and reflex reflectors; safety equipment

The lack of conspicuity of a semitrailer or other trailer has caused many tragedies. 49 CFR §393.13 has very specific requirements deals with reflectors and the location for the reflectors. As you ride down the road on any given day (especially with anyone in the Trucking Litigation Group of the AAJ) you will find many, many examples of trailers that do not comply with these requirements.

Additionally, many accidents happen because of the breakdowns of a tractor or trailer in or near the roadway. Emergency signals for stopped commercial motor vehicles are addressed in 49 CFR §392.22. Hazard warning signal flashers must immediately be placed on when stopped other than in necessary traffic stops, whether in the roadway, or on the shoulder of the road. Warning devices should be placed (triangles) within 10 minutes of a stop, with locations described in the regulation.

 

  • Aiding and Abetting

This regulation gets results. 49 CFR §392.13 states that “[n]o person shall aid, abet, encourage, or require a motor carrier or its employee to violate the rules of this chapter”. If a carrier is sanctioning violations, this perhaps regulation will, and should, strike fear in the heart of that carrier, the insurer, and defense counsel.

Enjoy this exchange – note that the fellow was not the best reader – though educated, he was justifiably nervous:

· · · · ·Q.· ·If DRIVER (NAME REDACTED) was told by a trainer

·7· ·at your company to calculate his hours of service

·8· ·by taking the total kilometers driven, and driving

·9· ·by his estimated speed, would you agree with me

10· ·that that would mean that the driver was being

11· ·taught against observing the requirements of the

12· ·Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

13· · · · · · · ·A.· ·The first thing is when we train

14· ·our drivers, we train according to law.· And you

15· ·mark your driving time on the logbook, not

16· ·calculate by kilometers.

17· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·So do you believe that Mr. DRIVER

18· ·was actually instructed that way by one of your

19· ·employees?

20· · · · · · · ·DEFENSE COUNSEL (NAME REDACTED):· Object to form.

21· · · · · · · ·THE WITNESS:· To mark by driving time,

22· ·yes.

23· · · · · · · ·BY MR. LANGE:

24· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Can you read Federal Reg 390.13

25· ·into the record, please?

·1· · · · · · · ·A.· ·Where did you say, three --

·2· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·390.13.

·3· · · · · · · ·A.· ·13.

·4· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·If you just read the entirety of

·5· ·it there, it's a pretty short reg?

·6· · · · · · · ·A.· ·It's only this page, right?

·7· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Yes, it is just the very bottom

·8· ·paragraph.

·9· · · · · · · ·A.· ·This here, right?

10· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Yeah.· If you'll start by reading

11· ·the regulation number, the name of the

12· ·regulation and --

13· · · · · · · ·A.· ·It's 390.13:

14· · · · · · · · · · "Aiding or Abetting Violations.

15· · · · · · · ·No person shall add, divert,

16· · · · · · · ·encourage, or require the motor

17· · · · · · · ·carrier audit and apply to violate

18· · · · · · · ·the rules of this chapter."

19· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Do you know what that means?

20· · · · · · · ·MR. DEFENSE COUNSEL:· Object to the extent it

21· ·calls for a legal conclusion.

22· · · · · · · ·BY MR. LANGE:

23· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Are you formulating an answer to

24· ·my question?

25· · · · · · · ·A.· ·What I am saying, we cannot

·1· ·violation.

·2· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·You "cannot violation," I'm sorry?

·3· · · · · · · ·A.· ·We cannot add any -- we cannot

·4· ·encourage or add anything from our company.

·5· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Okay.· You would have been

·6· ·familiar with that regulation during the entirety

·7· ·of the time that Mr. DRIVER was driving for your

·8· ·company, wouldn't you, as the chief safety officer

·9· ·for the corporation?

10· · · · · · · ·MR. DEFENSE COUNSEL:· Well let me just object.

11· ·You've already indicated that that is the 2009

12· ·edition, and we don't have the previous editions.

13· ·And I don't know that if there are any amendments

14· ·to that regulation.· I'm just stating an objection.

15· · · · · · · ·BY MR. LANGE:

16· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Well, do you believe that

17· ·regulation was in effect as of September 12th,

18· ·2008?

19· · · · · · · ·A.· ·I don't know.

20· · · · · · · ·Q.· ·Is that the first time you've ever

21· ·read that regulation?

22· · · · · · · ·A.· ·Yes.

 

I am still unsure whether he was telling the truth about never before reading the regulation on aiding and abetting. He certainly understood me – English was not his first language – but he actually had a degree in it! It was a valuable admission, either way.

 

Truck and bus cases, in close, are complex. Counsel must understand the law. The timing of an investigation, as well as quality of it, are essential. Operating procedures, documents, and attendant operational functions and customs in the industry must be understood and explored. Big trucks and buses cause big accidents. The use of appropriate experts in various fields is critical as well. Approach these cases with respect, diligence and due consideration, and the client’s interests will be both well served, and protectediii.

 

© Lange, 2014

i A wealth of FMCSA materials, including applicable regulations, can be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

ii See 49 CFR §390.1(d), §390.3, and §391.1 for language as to the regulations providing minimum Standards.

 

iii Special thanks go out to Ms. Erin Martinez, Roger Allen, Dennis Lynch, Joseph Camerlengo, and Jen Ojeda for their assistance in this paper, advising of common, and some not so common, FMCSR violations found in their cases.