Operating a tractor trailer is a big responsibility that goes well beyond the daily driving that many Californians do in their passenger vehicles. Semi trucks are much larger than even the largest SUV, and, with a full trailer, they can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
Because large trucks are so much bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles, both federal and California laws impose many requirements and restrictions that most other drivers need not think about. For example, not just anyone can jump behind the wheel of a tractor trailer; drivers must first get a special license before they can drive a truck in California or throughout any other part of the country.
In addition to having special training and licensing requirements, federal regulations limit the number of consecutive hours, and hours per week, that a truck driver can stay on the road. Truck driver fatigue can lead to deadly accidents, which is why it so important for drivers to adhere to the hours of service regulations.
Not only does the truck driver have to be ready and able to perform the job safely, but so too does their equipment. The driver and the truck company that owns the truck must ensure that the vehicle's brake system is in good working order and that the truck has no other mechanical problems that would lead to an accident. Furthermore, the truck's weight load must be within certain guidelines, and, if the truck is moving hazardous materials, the equipment must comply with federal safety regulations.
When a truck is involved in an accident, it can cause devastating consequences for people in smaller vehicles. People who are affected by a truck accident should try to determine if the driver and truck company were complying with all applicable laws and regulations during the time of the accident. Likewise, if a truck accident is caused by negligent or reckless driving, injured victims or their family members can pursue legal claims against the driver and the truck company.