As experienced South Florida accident and injury attorneys, we look to federal safety regulations during our accident investigations. The federal and state safety regulations help us prove the negligence or recklessness of truck drivers who caused injury to our clients. Federal and state regulators play a vital role in protecting the public from harm resulting from unsafe trucks and negligent driving behavior.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a federal agency charged with enforcing safety regulations relating to commercial vehicles such as big rigs, cargo tankers, and large passenger buses used in interstate commerce. The FMCSA has the authority to investigate commercial vehicle crashes as well as investigate truckers' compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. The FMCSA may revoke licenses for failure to comply with safety regulations. The FMCSA regularly revokes DOT licenses for failure to abide by safety regulations and endangering the public. The FMCSA issued two such rulings within the last two years.
In August of 2016, the FMCSA revoked the DOT license of a Florida company after an investigation into a deadly crash. The agency ordered the company to cease all commercial activity involving its trucks whether in or out of the state of Florida. The FMCSA found that the company posed an imminent threat to public safety. The crash happened on July 2, 2016, when the commercial vehicle failed to stop at an intermittent red light and slammed into another commercial vehicle that had the right-of-way. Five people died in the crash, and twenty-four others suffered injuries.
The FMCSA, in conjunction with Florida law enforcement authorities, conducted an investigation into the collision. The investigators found that the commercial truckers violated numerous federal and state safety regulations. For example, the company did not have any records to show that its drivers were properly licensed or comply with any regulations to prove the drivers were physically fit to drive as commercial drivers. The company did not implement a random alcohol or drug detection program. The company's trucks failed safety inspections, and the company did not keep track of the hours its drivers were behind the wheel. All of these safety violations justified the FMCSA in revoking the company's DOT registration.
In September of 2014, the FMCSA was forced to revoke the DOT registration of another Florida company as an imminent threat to public safety. The company operated a fleet of 33 tractor trailer trucks. The FMCSA began its investigation after learning the company vehicles were involved in five truck crashes in the previous twelve months. Maintenance failures caused two of the crashes. In one of the crashes, the driveshaft fell out of the transmission and landed on the roadway. A passing motorist struck the disabled driveshaft. In still another crash, the company's driver was driving a company vehicle despite having a suspended Commercial Drivers License (CDL) as a result of a failed drug test.
The FMCSA found many other infractions. For instance, the company's truck drivers received 15 citations for speeding in the previous year. Also, the trucking firm had ten additional moving violations. The trucking company failed to properly maintain its vehicles. The FMCSA found 112 safety and maintenance violations in 42 roadside checks by law enforcement. Compounding the problems, the company failed to follow the rules regarding drug testing and logging drivers' hours.