white truck with damaged hood

Federal Motor Carrier Safety ActCommercial Driver Duties

Commercial Driver Duties

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Act specifies the training and skills of a commercial driver and directs every state to only issue a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to drivers that meet these requirements.

Commercial Driver’s License StandardsFederal Law dictates minimum Commercial Driver License Standards

The first step to winning a truck accident case is identifying what the truck driver did or did not do that was negligent. A Board Certified Truck Accident Attorney has demonstrated a thorough understanding of truck driving rules and regulations. The Maryland Driver’s Manual is less than 50 pages. The industries’ most popular Tractor-Trailer Driver Training Manual by J.J. Keller is 864 pages. Applying the rules of the road for car driving to a truck accident case is a common error. The 864 page Tractor-Trailer Driver Training Manual is filled with the safety rules that are meant to protect the public and prevent accidents. The FMSCA requires every commercial motor vehicle driver to know:

  • Safe operation regulations.
  • Safe vehicle control systems.
  • Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Control Systems.
  • Basic vehicle control.
  • Shifting transmissions.
  • Backing.
  • Visual Search techniques.
  • Communication techniques and procedures.
  • Speed management
  • Space Management.
  • Safe night time operation of a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Extreme Driving Conditions.
  • Perceiving Hazards.
  • Emergency Maneuvers.
  • Skid control and Recovery.
  • Interplay between Cargo and vehicle control.
  • Vehicle Inspections.
  • Transportation of Hazardous Materials.
  • Mountain Driving.
  • Fatigue and awareness.
  • Air brake knowledge covering seven areas.
  • Combination vehicles.

Combination vehicles.The commercial motor vehicle driver must also demonstrate the following skills:

  • Pre-trip vehicle inspection skills.
  • Basic vehicle control skills.
  • Safe on-road driving skills.
  • Ability to display such skills under realistic on-street conditions.

The Federal government also has specific endorsements for drivers of school buses, transporters of hazardous materials, trucks with double or triple trailers and passenger transport vehicles, and tankers. An effective truck accident attorney must be familiar with the extensive procedures, standards and techniques that a trained commercial motor vehicle driver is supposed to perform. These requirements are far more extensive than those required for a standard driver’s license.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle call a Board Certified Truck Accident Attorney. A Board Certified Truck Accident Attorney can identify the potential errors committed by the truck driver and/or his company that caused your accident. Commercial truck drivers are given several hundred pages of safety rules to follow to protect the public. George Patterson is a Board Certified Truck Accident Attorney and offers free consultations at his Annapolis and Bowie offices.

The Commercial Driver’s Manual Is Only A Starting PointA Commercial Driver’s manual is a guide that provides a limited summary of a Commercial Truck Driver’s Responsibilities.

Every commercial truck driver should have a c copy of the federal motor carrier safety regulations in their glove box. The industry sells pocket copies of the regulations at a nominal cost. In fact, many industry commercial driver’s manuals advise drivers to keep a copy of the regulations with their truck. Large commercial trucking companies frequently provide in-house training and materials on driver safety. It is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney to investigate the applicable rules and all the sources of those rules.

Commercial trucking has a very high turnover rate. Due to this rapid turnover it is not uncommon to find inexperienced drivers and drivers that have been let go by several companies behind the wheel.

Truck Drivers Are HumanTruck driver's often fail to fully comply with applicable rules and regulations

Every day, I observe truck drivers failing to follow the rules. These violations typically appear like normal driving to the public. Here are a couple of examples that illustrate that commercial truck drivers must follow a different set of rules. We should expect drivers of 80,000 pound vehicles to take extra care.

In heavy traffic on roadways with regular stop lights, it is expected to see bumper to bumper traffic. In a car as soon as some space ahead opens, we pull forward and maintain speed with the car ahead. A truck driver can’t stop as quickly as a car and a truck driver must leave more space to stop. What happens to that safe space? Other cars change lanes into this wide-open space. What is a truck driver supposed to do? The correct answer is to try to maintain the stopping space by driving a few miles per hour slower than surrounding traffic. Thus, when that car changes lanes into your stopping space as traffic stops the truck driver is already falling further behind and has gained the necessary space to stop.

As car drivers we keep an eye on the car driving ahead. Truck drivers are trained to scan traffic ahead both near and far. A trained commercial truck driver must scan a vast area of the roadway to anticipate the driving conditions that he will encounter and to prepare accordingly. After an accident, a witness can often be heard that the truck driver did nothing wrong because he could not have stopped that big truck with so little time to react. The correct question should be, had the truck driver been driving at a proper speed under industry standards and scanning the roadway ahead would this accident have been prevented? If the answer is yes, then the truck driver may be liable.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, please contact the truck accident lawyers at Patterson Law. Patterson Law has offices in Bowie and Annapolis Maryland. Please call 301-888-4878 to schedule your free consultation with a Board-Certified Truck Accident Attorney. The Annapolis office is located in the Patterson Law Building at 1 Willow Street, Annapolis, Maryland. The Bowie office is located in the Omni Medical Building, 4000 Mitchellville Road, Suite A202, Bowie Maryland.

He worked diligently for me this was my first experience working with a lawyer, and George made it an extraordinary experience. Not only did he initiate the consultation by coming to my home because I was too badly bruised to make the drive to his office, but he also answered all of my calls and emails in a timely fashion. When it became time to present my case he ensured I was kept abreast to all information and I was completely prepared to proceed. George won my case because he is an awesome and knowledgeable lawyer, who genuinely cares.


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Truck Accident victims expect to be compensated for what they have endured after a truck accident, but insurance adjusters can only obtain authority to compensate damages that have been properly documented. A properly documented damage or loss is a damage that a trial lawyer can enter into enter into evidence.

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If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident or suffered a serious personal injury due to someone else’s negligence please contact the best personal injury lawyers at Patterson Law. George Patterson has been featured in an article published in the Best Lawyers in America. The “best” injury lawyers may be reached at their Annapolis or Bowie offices at 301-888-4878.

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