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What Types Of Vehicles Are Referred To As Commercial Vehicles?

Commercial vehicles are any type of motor vehicles that are used or maintained for transporting goods or passengers for hire, compensation, or profit.  Some common examples of commercial vehicles are taxi cabs, limousines, buses, box trucks, and trailers.

Is There a Certain Type of Commercial Vehicle that is More Involved in Accidents than Others?

Yes.  According to statistical data from the Department of Transportation, large commercial vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or more are involved in accidents approximately 500,000 times a year, and of the 500,000 accidents, roughly 10% or 5,000 end up being fatal with a great probability of death for the passenger or drivers in the smaller vehicle.  On the other hand, the drivers of the large commercial vehicle trucks are more likely of walking away from the accident, because the size of the truck better protects them during the collision.

What Special Requirements Must One Meet in Order to Drive One of these Commercial Trucks?

To drive a commercial truck they need a commercial driver’s license.  The truck driver must meet medical and residency requirements in addition to passing knowledge and the skills tests, which will vary depending on the state. Truck driver candidates need to know which type of vehicle and what kind of driving they want for their license, i.e., buses, tank trucks, tractor trailers, etc., because each of the commercial driver’s license requirements expect that the driver can pass certain skills test specific to the type of vehicle that they would be operating.  Further, in the majority of cases, passing a written test is a requirement as well.

After the applicant or potential commercial driver becomes familiar with the licensing requirements and they make a decision as to what kind of vehicle they’re looking to drive, they need to go through two additional basic steps. First, they need a learner’s permit so that they are authorized to practice on the public roads with a qualified holder of a commercial driver’s license sitting next to them.  To obtain the permit, the applicant needs to submit proof that they’re medically qualified.  Depending on the state, they might also be required to supply specific documents to prove, for example, their name or residency. In addition, there is a fee that they need to pay in order to get their commercial learner’s permit.

Secondly, the prospective commercial driver must possess the learner’s permit for a minimum of 14 days before taking the skills test, which has three parts, including: 1) the vehicle inspection test, 2) the basic controls test, and 3) the road or driving test. Once the driver has passed the skills test, they take their documentation to the counter for processing.  Depending on the state the commercial driver’s license may be issued on the same day or will be sent in the mail.

Are the Larger Trucks Subject to Different Rules and Regulations?

Larger trucks are subject to the laws and the regulations that generally apply to vehicles on the road.  In addition, commercial vehicles are subject to regulations set by federal and state agencies.   One example would be the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Commercial fleets that are involved with the “intrastate” commerce are subject to regulation by the individual states, but may be exempt from federal laws in cases not involving “interstate” commerce.

State laws may specify additional requirements over and above the federal requirements, and they may also apply to vehicles registered within that state. Some examples of these regulations would include limits on the number of hours that a driver may be in service, the requirement that commercial drivers maintain records on the number of hours that they are on and off duty, and that commercial drivers carry safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, spare fuses, and warning devices for stopped vehicles.

Which Regulations Are the Ones Most Frequently Violated By Truck Drivers?

Two of the most frequently violated regulations involve driving without a license and with maintaining log books. With respect to the driving regulations it’s important to know that commercial truck drivers must have a special type of driver’s license. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that the driver pass a series of tests designed solely for commercial truck drivers.  Again, while the laws may vary from one state to another state, they must generally comply with the Department of Transportation laws and its regulations.

The larger the semi-truck or the tractor trailer that is being operated on the road, the more stringent the test is going to be, and generally these regulations are going to require that the driver have a certain level of proficiency in maneuvering and parking and backing up; maintenance of the engines, lights, tires, pre-and trip inspection routine mastery; hazardous materials, containment regulations, and procedures. In addition to obtaining a commercial driver’s license, the driver must also pass a drug test and a vigorous physical exam to see whether he or she is sufficiently physically fit to drive an 18-wheeler.

Secondly, with the log-book regulations, it’s also important to know that semi-truck drivers need to keep a log book and they need to record information on the number of hours that they drive each day, plus the amount of time that they rest. A driver can drive a maximum of seven hours and then they must rest for 10 hours.  Driving 60 hours or more in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period is illegal.  Another consideration is that commercial drivers must record the dates when they pick up their cargo load, the weight of the truck rig before and after the cargo is onboard, and the final destination and date of its delivery.

For more information on Commercial Vehicle Accidents, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (714) 697-8600 today.

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