What is the FMCSA?

Posted By Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law

25 Oct. 2016

As you are likely well-aware, there are millions of motor vehicle accidents in the United States each year. While trucking accidents are less common than standard car accidents, negligent truck drivers place innocent drivers and passengers in harm’s way each and every day, and this danger cannot be ignored.

If you’ve had your driver’s license for some time, think, have you ever seen a truck driver text behind the wheel, drive aggressively, or almost kill a motorist because he failed to observe them on the road? Maybe you have witnessed a dangerous event with a semi-truck, or maybe your own life was at risk when a trucker nearly struck you.

Truckers can be dangerous, but we need them. The United States relies heavily on the trucking industry; cities and towns across America obtain their food and supplies from truckers. If the trucking industry were to come to a halt, it would be felt in every corner of the nation and the economy could be impacted in as little as one day.

While we value semi-trucks immensely, there are a percentage of truck drivers and trucking companies that knowingly and intentionally fail to adhere to commonsense safety practices. For example, some truckers drive under the influence of sedating medications, while others drive with so little rest, they fall asleep at the wheel.

Other times, trucking companies fail to maintain their vehicles, ultimately leading to a horrific accident because of a brake failure or another mechanical malfunction. Some of these failures are so extreme, the entire trucking company is shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

FMCSA Regulates Commercial Motor Vehicles

What is the FMCSA exactly? It’s the lead federal agency that regulates and provides oversight of commercial trucking companies and commercial truck drivers. The FMCSA’s mission is to “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and busses.”

In order to accomplish its goals, the FMCSA:

  • Develops and enforces safety regulations against trucking companies,
  • Seeks out and focuses on higher risk carriers and enforces safety regulations,
  • Creates educational messages for truck drivers, trucking companies, and the public, and
  • Partners with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to reduce truck-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

According to the latest data from the FMCSA, there were 3,978 fatal crashes involving trucks and busses in 2014. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of large trucks that were involved in injury crashes increased from 73,000 to 88,000, a 21 percent increase, the FMCSA reports.

So, what causes all of these trucking accidents? While passenger driver error is partially to blame, we cannot forget that truck drivers are human and they too make mistakes. Often, a trucking accident has nothing to do with a driver of a passenger vehicle, but has everything to do with a negligent truck driver.

Common causes of truck driver errors that lead to trucking accidents:

  • Speeding,
  • Fatigued driving,
  • Driver inexperience,
  • Distracted driving,
  • Driving with an overloaded truck,
  • Driving a poorly-maintained truck,
  • Aggressive driving (road rage),
  • Texting while driving,
  • Failure to look for other drivers on the road,
  • Taking a turn too fast,
  • Unfamiliarity with the road,
  • Reckless driving, and
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

While the FMCSA does its best to develop and enforce commonsense safety regulations, unfortunately, it cannot prevent all trucking accidents as is demonstrated in the thousands of trucking accidents that occur each year. That is where personal injury attorneys come in.

If you were injured in a trucking accident in New Jersey, we urge you to contact our personal injury firm, Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law to schedule a free consultation.

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