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What Special Rules Are There in Virginia to Protect Motorists from the Dangers of Tractor Trailers and Semi Trucks?

3 oncoming semi-trucks on highway

Everyone has been in the situation where you are driving on I-64, I-95 or another highway going the speed limit or even a little over and a tractor-trailer, seemingly swerving back and forth onto the dividers between lanes and with its driver barely in control, blows past you like you are parked. This is, unfortunately, an everyday occurrence on Virginia’s interstates, state highways, and even surface streets in the Commonwealth. Large trucks are frequently driven in an unsafe fashion, often because the companies that employ their drivers may be pushing their drivers past their natural limits despite Commonwealth and federal laws meant to discourage them from doing so.

Many people nevertheless naturally wonder whether the rules are different for the tractor-trailers speeding down Virginia’s freeways than for the other motor vehicles on the road. Truck drivers are on the road for long stretches of time at once and, despite federal and Commonwealth laws meant to limit their time behind the wheel, often are drowsy while behind the wheel of a potentially lethal vehicle. Worse, the driver might be talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel while operating such a large, dangerous vehicle despite laws prohibiting such behaviors. One false move could mean death or serious injuries to not only that driver but everyone in the cars around that driver.

Given how dangerous such trucks can be if they are not driven as safely as possible, they are naturally heavily regulated by both the state and the federal government. However, trucking companies still routinely take action to avoid compliance with the many state and federal laws and regulations that apply to their industry. This is why it is particularly important to have an experienced trucking accident attorney like the attorneys of Kalfus & Nachman representing you if you have been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer or semi-truck in Virginia. Our experience with such companies and the tricks they try to play will enable you to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries suffered as a result of a truck driver’s negligence.

Commonwealth Law and Federal Law Governing Trucks and Truck Drivers

Trucking companies and truck drivers are regulated at both the state and federal level in Virginia. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Commission is a federal regulatory agency that oversees the operations of trucking companies and promulgates rules and regulations mean to ensure the safety of trucking companies and their drivers across roads and highways across the country.

Virginia also regulates trucking companies and their operations on the state’s roads at the state level as well. However, and unlike in some states that may have looser regulations than the Commonwealth, Virginia’s trucking regulations at the state level largely mirror those that exist at the federal level. However, Virginia does have some regulations that are unique to the Commonwealth as compared with other states. For example, Commonwealth law strictly limits the size and weight requirements for the trucks that are permitted on Virginia’s roads. A tractor-trailer cab may only carry a single trailer under Commonwealth law, unlike in some states that permit tractor-trailer cabs to carry two trailers at a time on that state’s roads.

Virginia and the federal government also regulate the hours that truck drivers are permitted to drive. If a driver is carrying property or cargo only, the driver is permitted to drive up to 12 hours in a single day under Virginia law, but the driver is then required to take ten rest hours before getting behind the wheel again. Federal and Commonwealth law also places limitations on the number of hours a driver can be on duty during a single week and the number of consecutive days in a row the drivers can be behind the wheel.

Federal regulations and Commonwealth law also regulate what truck drivers can do with mobile phones while behind the wheel. Under federal regulations, truck drivers are expressly prohibited from texting while driving a truck, while under Commonwealth law it became against the law for any driver to even hold a mobile phone while driving as of January 1, 2021. Additionally, under a separate Commonwealth law, commercial drivers like truckers are expressly prohibited from using mobile phones to text, talk, or for any other reason while behind the wheel. Truckers are nevertheless still permitted to use their CB radios to communicate with one another while operating their vehicles.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman

At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys have recovered millions in compensation for our clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, including the victims of trucking accidents. The experienced trucking accident attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman can use our thorough knowledge and understanding of the Commonwealth and federal laws governing trucking companies and their drivers to help you pursue full and fair compensation for your losses after you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident. Therefore, if you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a trucking or motor vehicle accident, then please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone today at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation regarding your particular situation.

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