Posted on: 18 May 2016Share
If you have recently decided to expand your job prospects by getting your commercial driver's license, then you probably want to start driving a semi truck and hauling loads soon. As a new truck driver, you should understand that safety needs to be your first concern. Overall, professional truck drivers are considered quite safe since they only cause 3% of all vehicle accidents. However, a large and heavy truck is more likely to cause a serious injury or a death when an accident does occur. For this reason, the federal government sets guidelines that must be followed by all truck drivers. If you do not follow these guidelines, you may be liable for a trucking accident if it does occur, and you will be on the hook for damages and injuries. Before you take your first trucking assignment, consider some of the regulations you need to follow to protect yourself from a potential lawsuit.
Follow License Restrictions
If you have recently gone through training for a commercial license, then you likely have a class A license. This allows you to drive a semi truck and a truck with a towed trailer. With a class A license you can drive a semi truck as long as the gross weight of the vehicle does not exceed 80,000 pounds. This limit is a national one and it is extremely important to have your truck weighed before transporting loads to make sure the truck is at or below 80,000 pounds.
You should also understand that your license may not allow you to carry or transport certain types of materials. You will need an endorsement on your license to transport certain things. Most of the endorsements can be gained by taking specific tests. The tests let you tow double or triple trailers or a tanker trailer. They also may let you carry hazardous items. A special, and separate, endorsement is also required if you want to haul a tanker that contains hazardous materials. You will need to contact your local DMV to inquire about endorsements. In many instances, you can simply take the written test and have it graded at the DMV. Do not carry any materials or haul trailers without the correct endorsement. If you do, a lawyer can argue that your lack of hauling knowledge contributed to the accident. Even if you do not cause an accident, your CDL license may be revoked for a period of time.
Do Not Exceed Driving Limits
Many accidents are caused by individuals driving while they are tired. Truck drivers are known to work long hours to deliver loads as quickly as possible. Since this leads to tired driving, the federal government now has strict guidelines that tell truck drivers how long they are able to stay on the road. In general, you will not be able to drive more than 11 hours straight. Also, you will need to take a long break of at least 10 hours if you have been on the road off and on for 14 hours. This 14 hour period will include breaks. You will only be able to work 60 to 70 hours in a given week.
You will need to make sure that you follow these federal guidelines. Keep detailed records in a log book to show when you drive, take breaks, and rest for long periods of time. This will help to show that you are not driving while tired if an accident happens while you are on the road. The log book will also provide your lawyer with proof of a safe driving record if you are sued at some point.
Being safe on the road as a new truck driver means following regulations carefully. Not only does this allow you to prevent accidents from occurring, but it helps to keep you from having to go through a lengthy and costly legal battle if and accident does occur while you are on the road. For more information on ways to protect yourself from a lawsuit, talk to a truck accident attorney.