An Overview of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Any driver knows the feeling of passing a big rig. For many, the experience is coupled with white knuckles tightly grasping the steering wheel as you watch the road carefully, ready to adjust your speed or veer out of the way at any moment.
Why are most drivers more careful around semi-trucks than traditional vehicles? The answer is simple: the stakes are so much higher. Any accident can have devastating results. But when a 30,000 lb rig is involved, the result can be catastrophic.
Fortunately, the Department of Transportation is aware of this fact and has created an administrative group to set forth regulations that help prevent serious injuries and deaths caused by these kinds of vehicles.
This group is called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and it is tasked with several specific responsibilities, including the following:
- Increase safety awareness
- Improve access to safety information and technologies
- Keep high-risk operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) off of the roads
If you are the driver of a traditional vehicle and have never heard of the FMCSA, that’s not surprising. But because this organization does so much to keep America’s roadways safe, it may be time you learned more. In the article below, you’ll find answers to common questions about the FMCSA and the dangers of a truck accident injury.
What Qualifies as a CMV?
CMV is an abbreviation for “commercial motor vehicle.” But what is a CMV, exactly? Essentially, a CMV is any vehicle that is used for business purposes and meets at least one of the following criteria:
- Transports hazardous materials
- Is designed to carry 16 passengers or more
- Has a combined weight of 26,001 lbs or more
Several different types of CMVs are seen in both urban settings and on major roadways. Examples of these include:
- Chartered buses
- Large delivery trucks
Anyone who drives the types of vehicles listed above must acquire a CDL, or commercial driver’s license. These licenses have more restrictive requirements than standard driver’s licenses. For example, while the blood alcohol limit is .08 for most drivers, the limit for a CMV driver is .04.
What Is the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program?
The goal of the FMCSA is to prevent collisions, injuries, and fatalities involving CMVs. As you might imagine, this is not an easy task. Any vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 lbs is capable of doing a lot of damage, even in seemingly minor collisions.
For this reason, the FMCSA has created the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. This program aims to audit drivers of CMVs, enforce established standards, and keep problematic drivers off the roads.
To do this, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program breaks its standards into seven important categories. These include the following:
- Driver fitness (including medical concerns and licensing)
- Hazardous materials compliance (including rollover prevention)
- Alcohol and drugs (including testing and protocols)
- Vehicle maintenance (including sanctions for those who don’t make required repairs)
- Hours-of-service compliance (to combat the issue of fatigued drivers)
- Crash indicator (to monitor drivers who crash frequently)
- Unsafe driving (including improper lane changes and failing to wear a seat belt)
The FMCSA also fields complaints from the public and weights those grievances with the categories mentioned above. Anyone who wishes to remark upon issues with a CMV or driver can fill out the online complaint form provided by the Department of Transportation.
What Else Should I Know About the FMCSA?
The FMCSA was established in 2000. Since then, it has set forth numerous regulations and created multiple programs to improve CMV safety so that American roads are safe for everyone.
In 2014, the administration created the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. All physicians on this registry are required to undergo specialized training on evaluating CMV drivers who travel on the interstate.
The administration also performs extensive research to further aid CMV safety. Over the years, research topics have included driver fatigue. Because of this research, they have been able to set accurate regulations regarding hours of service. This gives drivers the rest and time off they need to operate their vehicles safely.
I’ve Suffered a Traffic Accident Injury — What Should I Do Next?
After an accident, especially one involving a heavy truck, you should check yourself and your passengers over for injuries. If you find any injuries, call 911 immediately or ask someone else to do so. Try to keep yourself or the injured person stationary until medical personnel arrives.
Once injuries have been cared for, you should also ask for the contact information of the other driver as well as witnesses. That way, you can contact everyone involved later on when filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.
These are the details you will want to collect from the driver of the truck:
- The driver’s CDL number
- The license plate number of the truck
- The name of the driver’s insurance provider and their policy number
- The driver’s full name and phone number
Also, it is important that you refrain from admitting fault in any way. Even something as simple as an “I’m sorry” could be brought up later and harm your case.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Auto Accident Injury?
Most traffic accident injury claims are best handled by an attorney. If you are worried about or uncomfortable with the claims process, even for a minor accident, call an attorney.
You should also reach out for legal assistance in the following scenarios:
- You experienced a hidden injury that didn’t present until after you filed a claim
- The other driver has filed a claim against you
- The damages and injuries exceed a few hundred dollars
Remember, an attorney is there to lend support. So if you feel at all concerned about the legal processes ahead of you, reach out to an attorney.
You can schedule your free claim review with TruckingAccident.com today. Simply fill out our contact form or call our phone number. We are ready and willing to discuss your motor vehicle accident injury and how we can help you.