State Rules and Regulations for Intrastate Trucking
Accidents Involving Intrastate Truckers
Commercial trucks—whether they be delivery vans, garbage trucks, commercial trucks, or semi trucks—operate under both state and federal law. Commercial trucking laws are very different from the general motor vehicle laws that apply to passenger cars and light trucks; as a general rule, trucking laws are much more detailed and stringent. This is because accidents involving large trucks can be extremely serious and often cause serious injuries and death.
Commercial Trucks Present Specific Safety Issues
Commercial trucks log millions of miles on state and federal highways, and these trucks present special challenges when it comes to safety because of their large mass, and because of their necessary and ubiquitous presence on the nation’s roads alongside much smaller vehicles, including passenger cars and motorcycles.
While most vehicle laws are designed to prevent any type of vehicle accident, the avoidance of accidents involving commercial trucks earns special attention from state and federal regulators because of the potential for very serious injury, property damage, and traffic disruption that can be caused by these large vehicles and the loads they carry.
Interstate truckers are primarily regulated by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), under regulations published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Commercial vehicles that operate interstate, such as many moving companies, freight carriers, and interstate passenger busing companies, must comply with all of these regulations, which are frequently updated to reflect the latest information regarding vehicle and operator safety.
However, states, including the state of Illinois, also regulate commercial trucks. While federal law still applies for certain types of trucks—primarily commercial trucks that have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 18,000 lbs.—that operate intrastate (that is, only within one state), state law is the primary regulatory mechanism for regulating intrastate commercial trucks.
Commercial Trucks that Operate Mostly within the State of Illinois
Some common commercial trucks that usually only operate intrastate include:
- Garbage trucks;
- Local delivery trucks;
- Some intrastate moving trucks;
- Dump trucks;
- Gas trucks;
- Water trucks;
- School buses;
- Fire trucks and fire engines; and
- Local transit buses.
These types of vehicles, when they operate only intrastate within the state of Illinois, are subject to Illinois commercial trucking laws. These laws may cover a wide variety of matters that deal not only with who may drive, but how trucks must operate, and the requirements that trucking companies must meet.
Such conditions may include:
- Special speed limits on highways for trucks;
- Weight load limits, including limits on towed cargo;
- Load tie-down requirements;
- Driving age (under federal law, interstate truckers must be at least 21 years old, but the legal age for intrastate commercial trucking in Illinois is 18) for commercial drivers licenses;
- Special drivers tests;
- Towing limits;
- Special regulations depending upon the type of cargo (for example, hazardous materials);
- Vehicle safety equipment requirements;
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance requirements;
- Driver drug and alcohol testing;
- Lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limits;
- Driver background checks;
- Insurance requirements;
- Driver hours-of-service limitations; and
- Approved trucking routes.
Trucking companies must comply with all of these regulations in order to operate lawfully within the state of Illinois, and the failure to comply with these laws can lead to fines and other sanctions by state regulators. In addition, if a trucker or trucking company is in violation of these laws—such as failing to properly secure a cargo load, or driving longer than regulations allow— and, as a result of the violation, causes an accident which leads to injury or death, the trucking company may be liable in negligence to the injured party.
Commercial Truck Drivers Have Incentive to Drive Unsafely
The regulations which govern commercial trucks are well-defined and stringent, and both state and federal regulators are fairly strict on inspection and enforcement. However, at the same time, trucking companies operate under other pressures which can lead them to “cut corners” when it comes to regulations.
Naturally, trucking companies are paid for delivering their goods on time and in good condition. While this is normal and acceptable, trucking companies also want to keep their costs down in meeting these requirements. That means that they may pressure drivers to carry extra cargo, drive longer hours, drive faster than the speed limit or conditions allow, or hurry their way through inspections or in tying down loads. And when these regulations are broken, it is not uncommon for the result to be an accident.
In Illinois, 104 people were killed and 2,680 people were injured in accidents involving big rigs and buses in 2011. Of these, only 15 of those killed and 1,211 of those injured were the occupants of these large vehicles. This means that a majority of people injured or killed in a truck accident are the ones in the passenger vehicle, not the truck.
If You Were Injured by a Commercial Truck in Illinois, Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you are involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, or someone you love is killed in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact the Illinois truck accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C.. We know that how and where you proceed to obtain recovery for your injuries may depend to a large degree upon the particular state or federal laws that apply to the vehicle involved. In order to obtain all the damages to which you may be entitled, it is important that you retain an experienced attorney who is familiar with both state and federal trucking laws and regulations.
To obtain a free consultation on your trucking accident injury, contact Abels & Anne, P.C., toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO, (529-2442), locally at (312) 924-7575, or you may use the online form right here on this page. Remember, your consultation is free, and there is no obligation to work with our firm. You will never pay a fee unless and until damages are recovered on your behalf.