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Truck Accident

New Trucking Laws Intended to Increase Safety

February 15, 2016

New Trucking Laws Intended to Increase Safety

In 1933, truck drivers began using paper logs to keep track of their hours on the road. New federal trucking regulations are being enacted that affect truck drivers across the nation, including in Illinois. These regulations change how commercial drivers keep track of their hours, and mandate the use of Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs. By December 2017, drivers of commercial vehicles like semi-trucks and buses will be required to record their driving hours electronically.

Why New Trucking Regulations are Needed

The new electronic logging rules are expected to eliminate nearly 2,000 commercial vehicle accidents, as well as save more than two dozen lives, every year. The problem with paper logs is that they are extremely easy to fake. Many companies are aware of this, and may encourage their drivers to work longer hours than allowed by law. This results in an increase in incidences of fatigued driving. ELDs eliminate the easy route of faking log books to work longer hours and are expected to make the roadways safer for the average driver.

ELDs Eliminate Speeding for Commercial Vehicles

Some have expressed concern that the stricter limits on driving time may encourage commercial drivers to speed in order to cover more ground during their day. However, ELDs also work in harmony with GPS systems, allowing the vehicle’s speed to be tracked constantly. Should a driver begin speeding, and the ELD be checked by authorities, the infraction would be immediately clear, leaving the driver subject to fines and tickets.

Speeds need not be tracked exclusively by ELDs, though. In some areas, a system is in place that recognizes unique signatures from commercial vehicles (typically semi-trucks) and tracks when they pass the next sensor (usually installed at weigh stations). Should the truck pass the next sensor in an unduly short period, the system recognizes that it had to have been speeding and automatically issues a speeding ticket.

Other Changes for Commercial Vehicles

A variety of other changes are in place for commercial drivers in Illinois. These affect drivers in small vehicles in that they are meant to make commercial transportation safer. Commercial vehicles are, by their nature, large and heavy. When loaded, they become even heavier, resulting in greater risk for other motorists. For instance, the Illinois legislature implemented a more uniform law governing the amount of weight commercial vehicles were allowed to carry on public roadways. This is a change from previous requirements that varied according to the road type, and may result in heavier loads on less-than-suitable roads.

New speed limits were also recently approved, changing the acceptable speed for commercial vehicles to 65 miles per hour, comparable to small passenger cars, when on rural interstates. For limited access roads, urban interstates, and other highways, the speed limit did not change; trucks are only allowed to go 55 miles per hour.

Distracted driving is a problem that plagues drivers of all types. For commercial drivers who are caught texting while behind the wheel, a moving violation may be in their future. Commercial drivers are also not allowed to use their cell phones in school zones or construction zones. Unfortunately, these laws are tough to enforce simply because unless a patrol officer sees the infraction, it’s hard to prove that it happened. Distracted driving is a very large contributor to commercial trucking accidents.

When to Consult a Chicago Trucking Accident Lawyer

Accidents with commercial vehicles are typically complicated. The resultant lawsuits may have to be filed against multiple entities; from the driver to the company they work for, the insurance company, and more. Without the guidance of a Chicago trucking accident lawyer, injured parties may find themselves without the information or tools necessary to recover their damages.

There are a variety of laws governing commercial trucking accidents in Illinois that could have a lot of impact on how a case may be decided. Commercial drivers are responsible for many requirements outside of just driving the vehicle. Failure to attend to these could result in greater harm or injury in the case of an accident, and may result in the company’s insurance in refusing to pay. Without consulting a Chicago trucking accident lawyer, it could be impossible to make a full recovery of damages, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or financial.

Regardless of what kind of commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the results can be catastrophic. Negligence, distracted driving, fatigued driving, improper load distribution, mechanical failures, and many other problems can crop up in a typical commercial trucking run. The accidents that result may result in either civil or criminal liability, or both. The statute of limitations starts running out as soon as the accident occurs, too, so seeking advice from a Chicago trucking accident lawyer should happen sooner, rather than later.

If you have been injured in a personal injury or medical malpractice accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago accident and injury law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free case consultation, so that we can help you begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.