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The Role of Federal Regulations in Preventing Truck Accidents

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), large trucks and buses are involved in nearly 10% of all serious traffic in the United States [1]. Truck accidents are not as common as traditional car accidents. However, truck accidents can sometimes cause more serious injuries given the nature of the crashes. While there are many factors that can contribute to a truck accident, federal regulations play a crucial role in the mission to prevent collisions.

The FMCSA has outlined a number of rules and regulations that truck drivers and trucking companies must follow to prevent accidents We asked our truck accident lawyers to discuss some of these laws here.

(Click each heading to learn more)


Read more about each regulation below.


Hours of Service Requirements

the interior of a truck cab with a driver holding the steering wheel

One important way that federal regulations help to prevent truck accidents is through the establishment of Hours of Service (HOS) requirements. These rules, which are enforced by the FMCSA, limit the number of hours that truck drivers can work each day and week in order to prevent fatigue.

The Hours of Service rules may vary depending on a number of important factors including the area the driver operates in and if the driver is working on an oil well or natural gas site. There are a number of different rules for the latter. [2] In Wisconsin, pursuant to the FMCSA, truck drivers must generally follow these rules for rest in some of the following cases [3]:


  • For more than 11 hours of work - 10 consecutive hours off duty must follow.
  • For any period after having been on duty 14 hours - 10 consecutive hours off duty must follow.
  • After having been on duty for 70 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days - 34 consecutive hours off must follow.
  • After having been on duty for 80 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days - 34 consecutive hours off must follow.


Interestingly, some studies have shown that drowsy truck driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and the HOS requirements were developed by the federal government in part to help ensure that truck drivers are well-rested and alert while behind the wheel.


CDL Licenses in Wisconsin

close up of a multiple choice exam sheet with bubbles to fill
Another way that regulations and laws help prevent truck accidents is by setting standards for commercial driver's licenses (CDL). In order to obtain a CDL, drivers must pass a series of tests to demonstrate their knowledge of traffic laws, vehicle safety, and other important topics [4].

These requirements help to ensure that only qualified individuals are allowed to operate large trucks on the road. Often, trucking companies also have road tests or look to additional requirements in evaluating drivers for employment. In order to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) in Wisconsin, an individual must meet the following requirements [5]:


  • Be at least 18 years old to operate a commercial vehicle in Wisconsin, and at least 21 years of age to drive a commercial vehicle across Wisconsin state lines.
  • Hold a valid Wisconsin driver's license.
  • Pass a medical exam and obtain a medical certificate.
  • Pass a written test to obtain a commercial learner's permit (CLP).
  • Hold a CLP for at least 14 days before taking the road skills test.
  • Pass a road skills test in the type of truck that the individual will be operating.
  • Provide proof of Wisconsin residency.
  • Provide proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
  • Pay the required fees.


Vehicle Maintenance

It is important for truck drivers to be familiar with federal maintenance regulations to ensure that their trucks are properly maintained, safe, and legal to operate.

In order to ensure that your rig is always up in proper operating condition, thorough and regular inspections should be conducted when dictated by the law and/or applicable company policies. [6] These inspections must be documented and generally include checks of the following systems and components:


  • Brake systems
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Lighting devices and reflectors
  • Tires Horns
  • Windshield wipers
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Emergency exits
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Others


In addition to these regular inspections, truck drivers and trucking companies must also perform maintenance on their vehicles as needed to keep them in safe operating condition under the law. This may include replacing worn or damaged parts, such as tires or brakes, and performing necessary repairs.


Insurance Requirements

close up of two men at a table look through documents

One important way that the laws can help aid in the unfortunate event of a truck accident is by establishing minimum insurance requirements for trucking companies. Insurance in truck crashes is often a highly complex situation that is best investigated by a truck accident law firm. 

By setting certain standards and enforcing compliance, the FMCSA attempts to create a safer
environment for all road users.

Despite the many safety regulations that are in place at the federal and state level, truck accidents can still unfortunately happen. When these accidents do happen, it is important for the victims to seek the help of an experienced and highly- successful truck accident law firm who can help them to navigate the legal system and pursue the compensation they deserve.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, please give us a call.  We are a large personal injury firm with a serious focus on trucking law. We are well-versed in trucking matters. Additionally, we are passionate about helping injured victims and making a difference in our community. We are proud of our results. Our team and attorneys have won countless awards and designations and are members of prestigious groups, both in Wisconsin and throughout the United States.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, call us today for a free case evaluation: (414) 276-6666. Wfor more than 30 years, Gruber Law has expertly handled thousands of personal injury accident cases for clients all over Wisconsin.

Yes, it's always worth it to hire a car accident lawyer. It's also a good idea to contact a lawyer after a minor car accident.




Disclaimer: This post provides general information but is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

Steven Gruber car accident attorney
( Personal Injury Attorney )

Attorney Steven Gruber was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His family has deep roots in the Wisconsin legal community, as his father, David, founded Gruber Law Offices almost 40 years ago and his mother, Nancy, is a managing attorney with the firm. Steven is an award-winning attorney who focuses on serious injury cases and firm strategy and operations. Some of Steven’s awards and memberships include National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Top 10 Attorney in Wisconsin by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys, The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, just to name a few. He has successfully handled cases regarding serious matters that have been publicized by the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC, Fox and many other media outlets. At Gruber Law Offices, Steven also manages and leads a powerful team of 130 talented professionals. He is proud to continue the family legacy of positively impacting our community.