Louisiana residents may be aware that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency tasked with reducing the number of accidents and injuries involving commercial vehicles like buses and semi-tractor trailers. These vehicles are a serious threat to other road users due to their size and weight, and ensuring that their braking systems are up to the job is an important function of the FMCSA.
While some commercial vehicles use the same kind of hydraulic braking systems found on passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks, most large trucks and buses rely on more powerful air brakes. The regulations specifying how these systems should perform are called Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The FMVSS for hydraulic brakes went into effect in 1983, and the standard for air brake systems dates back to 1975. There are also federal standards for vacuum and electrical braking systems as well as parking and emergency brakes.
These regulations require that the braking systems of trucks and buses are able to stop the vehicle and hold it in place. Controls for emergency brakes must be placed in a way that allows drivers to reach and apply them while seated and restrained by a safety belt. If a vehicle's braking relies on a number of interconnected systems, the regulations stipulate that a failure of any part of this system should not lead to a loss of braking.
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries for occupants of other smaller vehicles that are involved, and the victims may want to seek civil remedies when negligent actions played a part. Some big rig accidents are caused by distracted, drowsy or impaired drivers, but many others occur due to defective components or inadequate vehicle maintenance. Trucking companies owe a duty of care to all road users to ensure that their vehicles are safe and operated by competent drivers, and a personal injury attorney may file a lawsuit against them on behalf of accident victims when they fail to meet this obligation.