In 1935, in response to the growing number of serious and fatal car and truck accidents in the United States Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act. The Act created the Bureau of Motor Carriers of the Interstate Commerce Commission (the "ICC"). Incredibly, for better and for worse, it remains the framework of how we work to keep truck drivers safe - and us safe from them.
It was not a perfect law and still is not. Commercial trucks are still too unsafe and are causing too many deaths a year. But this is the law and lawyers handling truck crash claims need to understand this law to understand the truck driver's legal obligations in liability dispute cases and to understand the insurance issues in these cases to maximize the available insurance which is often key in making serious injury and wrongful death truck accident claims.
The ICC promulgates and enforces safety regulations in the trucking industry. The safety regulations developed by the ICC are called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations. The FMCSR states that the purpose of these regulations is to "help reduce or prevent truck and bus accidents, fatalities and injuries by requiring drivers to have a single commercial motor vehicle driver's license and by disqualifying drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles in an unsafe manner." See 49 CFR 383.1(a). Again, the licensing process is far from perfect. There are still too many truck drivers on the road with commercial trucking licenses that should not have them.Law Specific to Commerical Trucks
Truck accident lawyers in Maryland need to be familiar with Title 49, Parts 350 to 399 of the FMCSR which deal specifically with commercial trucks. While the trucking industry was deregulated substantially in the last 20 years and the licensing and monitoring of professional truck drivers is now handled on the state level, the FMCSR continues to provide safety standards by which professional truck drivers and motor carriers are required to follow in the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
The FMCSR standards apply to all interstate trucking operations in the United States, including Maryland. With respect to intrastate trucking (truck operating only in Maryland), Maryland has adopted virtually some of the FMCSR regulations with change, specifically Parts 382, 390-393, and 395-399 have been incorporated by reference into Maryland law with only minor exceptions (such a Part 391 exception for farmers transporting by truck farm products within 150 miles of the farm).
- Maryland Truck Accidents (overview of truck accident lawsuits)
- Truck Accident Safety Study (what causes truck accidents?)
- Personal Injury Victim Help Center
- Federal Regulation on Truck Driver's Obligation to Secure the Truck's Load
- Accident Risks Associated with Big Rig Trucks