South Carolina Trucking Laws & Regulations Lawyer in Columbia, SC

trucking laws

Because of their size and the dangerous cargo they sometimes haul, commercial trucks are heavily regulated by state and federal laws. These laws and regulations are intended to protect all road users and minimize the prevalence of avoidable accidents. When a truck driver or a trucking company carelessly or willfully breaks these laws, they put the public at risk of catastrophic injuries. As a result, they can generally be held liable in the event that their conduct leads to an accident.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis can help you hold those responsible for your harm accountable and demand financial compensation for your losses.

Attorney Chris Davis has extensive experience holding negligent parties accountable for their actions and securing ordinary South Carolinians the compensation they deserve for injuries caused partially or totally by another’s conduct. Our firm is committed to providing compassionate and professional service to all of our clients and pursuing their legal needs in a timely and efficient manner. Our success in pursuing these aims have led to numerous awards, 5-star reviews on Google, and – most importantly – the fact that so many of our former clients refer their loved ones to our firm when they sustain injuries. We take great pride in being a firm that our former clients recommend to others.

If you have been injured in a truck accident that may have been caused by regulation violations on the part of a truck driver or trucking company, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Reach out to the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis today for a free initial consultation and to speak with our Columbia truck accident lawyer about how we can help you pursue the justice you deserve.

South Carolina Trucking Regulations

South Carolina state law, like federal law, imposes various important regulations on the trucking industry. If it is discovered that any of these regulations were violated in the timeline leading up to your crash, evidence of said violations can serve as evidence to strengthen your case. Some of these laws and regulations include:

  • Age requirements – Truck drivers must be at least 21 years old to operate a commercial truck in interstate commerce.
  • License requirements – Truck drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license. To obtain a CDL, a driver must have a valid driver’s license and pass a physical exam.
  • Endorsement requirements – To operate trucks with air brakes, trucks with double or triple trailers, tanker trucks, or those designed to haul hazardous materials, truck drivers must obtain the appropriate endorsement(s) on their CDL.
  • Hazmat transportation requirements – Obtaining a CDL endorsement to haul hazardous materials also requires passing a TSA background check.
  • Intrastate DOT numbers – Trucking companies that transport hazardous materials within the state of South Carolina must have an intrastate USDOT number.

Weight restrictions

Trucks may not transport more than 20,000 pounds (with a 10 percent tolerance) on a single axle when operating on non-interstate roads. Interstate roads permit no tolerance. Trucks are limited to gross vehicle weights (exclusive of 10 percent tolerance) of:

  • Single-unit with two axles: 35,000 pounds
  • Single-unit with three axles: 46,000 pounds
  • Single-unit with four axles: 63,500 pounds
  • Single-unit with five or more axles: 65,000 pounds
  • Combination of vehicles with three axles: 50,000 pounds
  • Combination of vehicles with four axles: 65,000 pounds
  • Combination of vehicles with five or more axles: 73,280 pounds

Trucks may not exceed 80,000 pounds without an overweight permit.

Length & width restrictions

Trucks are also subject to certain length, width, height, and overhand limits, including:

  • Length: 60 feet
  • Width: 8’6”
  • Height: 13’6”
  • Overhang: Three feet in front, six feet in rear

Exceeding dimensional restrictions requires obtaining an oversize permit.

Federal Truck Driver Hours of Service Laws

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues regulations that govern the number of hours that commercial truck drivers may spend on duty and behind the wheel. These hours-of-service regulations are designed to help reduce the risk of truck drivers becoming drowsy or fatigued while behind the wheel. The federal hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers state that:

  • Drivers are limited to 11 total hours of driving after an off-duty period of at least 10 consecutive hours.
  • Drivers must take a break of at least 30 uninterrupted minutes after driving for eight consecutive hours without another 30-minute break. The break may be spent on-duty but not driving, off-duty, in the sleeper berth, or any combination thereof.
  • Drivers may not drive after having spent 60 total hours on duty within a seven-day period or after 70 total hours on duty in an eight-day period. The seven/eight-day periods are determined by their carrier’s operation schedule and reset after an off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours.
  • Drivers may split a 10-hour off-duty period so long as one period in or out of the sleeper berth is at least two hours long and at least seven hours are spent in the sleeper berth. All sleeper berth parings must add up to at least 10 hours.
  • Drivers may extend the 11-hour limit by up to two hours when encountering adverse driving conditions.
  • Drivers are exempt from the hours-of-service regulations if the driver operates exclusively within a 150 air-mile radius of their work reporting location, the driver’s duty shift does not exceed 14 hours, and the driver returns to their work reporting location at the end of their shift.

Other Federal Regulations for Truckers

Truck drivers and trucking companies must also follow these other important federal regulations:

  • All motor carriers that engage in interstate transportation of goods must apply for an FMCSA operating authority before the carrier’s drivers may drive across state lines for business.
  • Trucks must have a DOT registration number.
  • Motor carriers engaged in the transport of hazardous materials must obtain required permits.
  • Truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce must have verification of their legal and physical/medical ability to safely operate a commercial truck. This includes having passed a physical examination conducted by a medical professional certified by the FMCSA.
  • Drivers who are required to undergo a physical must submit to physicals at least every 24 months.

Requirements for Truck Owners and Fleet Managers

Trucking companies are also required to follow certain procedural requirements, involving:

  • Electronic logging devices – The FMCSA requires motor carriers and truck drivers to install and use electronic logging devices on commercial trucks. These logging devices are intended to track a truck driver’s on-duty and driving times and to automatically upload these logs to the driver’s employer or motor carrier.
  • Conducting drug and alcohol testing – Motor carriers are also required to implement a random drug and alcohol testing protocol for their drivers. This includes requiring all new hires to undergo a drug and alcohol screen before they enter service unless the driver has already taken a random drug/alcohol screen within the past 30 days.
  • Background checks – Finally, motor carriers are required to conduct DOT background checks on all newly hired drivers. This background check should cover the applicant’s driving history, verification of their authorization to work in the U.S. and their licensing to operate commercial trucks, their drug and alcohol screen results, and the results of their physical exam. Background checks must be completed within 30 days of a new hire’s start date.

How Our South Carolina Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer Can Help You

If you have been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, you need an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf and help you recover maximum compensation for the expenses and losses that you’ve incurred due to the accident. A South Carolina tractor-trailer accident lawyer from the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis is ready to:

  • Work directly with you – Rather than working with a paralegal or assistant, you will work directly with attorney Chris Davis himself.
  • Provide responsive communication as your case progresses – This includes answering calls and emails day and night when your questions or concerns cannot wait.
  • Conduct a detailed investigation of the accident – This investigation will review every piece of evidence to identify which parties can be held liable for your injuries and how to hold them accountable for their conduct.
  • Document your injuries and losses – We will also speak with your treating providers to determine what kinds of compensation you may require in the future as a result of your injuries.
  • File your claims with the trucking companies and their insurers – We will start by pursuing an efficient resolution of your case via a settlement aimed at providing you with the financial recovery you deserve.
  • Take your case to trial – If any settlement offered by the trucking companies and insurers is not in your best interests, we won’t hesitate to litigate your case in court.

Contact Our Columbia Truck Accident Law Firm for a Free Consultation Today

If you have been hurt in a truck crash that was either not your fault or only partially your fault, get the legal representation you need by contacting the Law Offices of S. Chris Davis today for a free, no-obligation case review. Our Columbia truck accident law firm is ready to get to work on your case and to demand the full and fair compensation to which you’re rightfully entitled.