Trucking Laws & Regulations in Texas

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    A serious truck accident can leave you injured and put you out of work for weeks, months, and possibly forever. Medical bills, lost wages, and trying to recover from your injuries can create a confusing and painful time for you.

    If you have been injured in a truck accident and you need help including making an injury claim, turn to experienced truck accident lawyers you can trust.

    The Callahan Law Firm has more than 25 years of experience helping truck accident clients just like you. We have a deep knowledge of truck accident laws and regulations, and we are ready to handle your case to maximize your recovery. Our team will work to make the entire process as stress-free for you as we can. We prepare every case with the expectation that it will go to trial. The truth is most cases are settled before trial, but in our experience, a case that is prepared from day one with the expectation of a trial results in a much better financial recovery for our clients. And if the case must be tried to a judge or jury, over the years we have developed a reputation of success in the courtroom. When you have our personal injury attorneys on your side, the insurance companies will know to treat your injury claim seriously.

    We offer a free case consultation, and we are available to answer any questions you may have. If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact us today. Reach out online or call us now.

    Interstate vs. Intrastate Trucking

    In any truck driving accident claim, it is important to know whether you are dealing with an interstate trucking or intrastate trucking company. Interstate trucking moves goods across state lines, while intrastate trucking stays within a single state. This fundamental distinction affects some of the rules and regulations that apply to your accident claim.

    Federal regulations govern trucking that affects interstate commerce. Interstate trucking is largely subject to federal regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These strict rules affect the registration of the vehicle, the safe operation of vehicles, the documentation that is required of the truck and shipping companies, and minimum safety fitness standards that truck drivers and carriers must meet.

    Intrastate trucking regulations govern trucks that operate within a single state. Most states have adopted all or part of the federal regulations. Texas has adopted a significant portion of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which in turn requires truck drivers and trucking companies operating in the state to comply with those rules.

    After a trucking accident, determining whether the truck was involved in interstate or intrastate trucking is one of the first determinations made in a trucking claim. If you have been in an accident, contact a truck accident attorney who knows the applicable laws, rules and regulations in trucking cases to make sure your claim is handled properly.

    Federal Registration Requirements

    Motor carriers involved in interstate trucking must take several steps before being allowed to transport loads between states. They must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), obtain a U.S. Department of Transportation number, obtain a Motor Carrier number and receive operating permission from the FMCSA. Carriers must also file an identification report with the FMCSA and comply with any relevant safety, fitness and financial responsibility requirements set out in the law.

    As part of this process, motor carriers must designate a registered agent in every state in which they operate. This allows carriers to be served with claims and lawsuits in each state. Having a registered agent in every state creates a clear channel for contacting the company and holding it responsible for any claims.

    As part of the federal registration requirements, carriers of hazardous materials (both interstate and intrastate) must register with the federal government. This licensing scheme means that drivers of hazardous materials must hold special safety permits before being allowed to operate. This licensing system allows regulators and those injured in truck accidents to quickly know whether a truck involved in an accident was properly licensed.

    Texas Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

    Under Texas truck driver laws, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for Texas drivers who operate a “commercial motor vehicle” on Texas roads and highways. A commercial motor vehicle is defined based on certain factors including the weight of the vehicle, if it is designed to transport more than 15 passengers, or whether the vehicle is used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding. Some exceptions exist for farmers, firefighters, and military drivers, but nearly all other commercial drivers must have a CDL. These licenses set important minimum standards for commercial drivers.

    For interstate driving, Texas commercial drivers have to meet these requirements:

    • Must reside in Texas
    • Be at least 21 years old
    • Must have a valid Commercial Driver License
    • Read and speak English
    • Must have 20/40 vision or better and not be color blind
    • Must have good hearing
    • Must not be addicted to drugs or alcohol
    • Have no impairment of extremities that interferes with driving
    • Must not have heart problems, high blood pressure, respiratory dysfunction, or other physical problems that could affect vehicle control
    • Must not have epilepsy or similar conditions that could result in loss of control of the vehicle

    For intrastate driving, Texas commercial drivers must:

    • Reside in Texas
    • Be at least 18 years old
    • Must have a valid Commercial Driver License
    • Meet any fitness requirements outlined by Federal requirements, including those outlined above
    • Meet any state mental and physical requirements

    These and other requirements may apply to the driver. If you have been injured, a truck accident lawyer can help you investigate and understand what standards the truck driver should have met.

    Texas DOT Weight Regulations

    Any time cargo is loaded, the driver is responsible for inspecting the load, making sure the load is properly distributed and secured, knowing the weight of the load, and ensuring that the truck is not overloaded. Under those regulations, truckers must know:

    • Their gross vehicle weight rating.
    • The gross combination weight rating
    • Axle weight
    • Tire load
    • Coupling device capacity (for example, the amount of weight that a device such as a hitch can pull)

    In Texas, the laws that govern weight limits are found in the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 621 and the Texas Administrative Code Chapters. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the maximum gross weight of a truck and cargo is 80,000 pounds. Also, a single axle has a max weight of 20,000 pounds, while other arrangements, such as a tandem axle group, can be permitted at weights up to 34,000 pounds. Under TX DOT regulations, the number of axles on the vehicle and the axles’ arrangement forms the basis for how much weight the truck is allowed to carry.

    Some exceptions exist to these weight limits. In a trucking case it is important to understand what laws and regulations apply, what cargo was on board, and whether the driver was properly licensed.

    Talk to a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Now

    If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident in Texas, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer in your corner. At The Callahan Law Firm, we have a history of successfully representing people and families who have been harmed in truck accident cases. We are here and ready to help you. For a free case consultation, contact us online or call us today.