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New York Truck Accident Laws

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There are very strict rules and regulations that drivers of commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers must follow in New York. That’s for a very good reason. A truck accident can cause devastating consequences and life-changing injuries. The extensive training and testing that drivers must go through is intended to protect people on the road.

At Giampa Law, our experienced Bronx truck accident lawyers are very familiar with these rules and regulations. When clients have been hurt in a collision, we investigate to see whether these rules and regulations were followed. Our goal is to hold negligent drivers and trucking companies accountable and help the injured recover the financial compensation they deserve.

Here is more information about the state and federal truck laws that New York truck drivers must follow.

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    New York Commercial Driver’s Manual

    Every driver in New York who operates a commercial vehicle must have a commercial driver license (CDL). The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles created a manual for commercial truck drivers to help them prepare for their skills test. Officially known as the “New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commercial Driver’s Manual,” it discusses CDL regulations, requirements, and the testing process.

    What special rules apply to New York CDL drivers?

    Rules and regulations that CDL drivers must follow in New York are described in the commercial driver’s manual. Some of those rules concern:

    • Driving safely, including vehicle inspection, basic control of the vehicle, shifting gears, controlling speed, seeing hazards, distracted driving, driving at night, driving in different conditions, driving emergencies, antilock braking systems, skid control and recovery, crash procedures, and hazardous materials rules.
    • Transporting cargo safely, including inspecting cargo, weight and balance, cargo securement, and cargo needing special attention.
    • Transporting passengers safely, including vehicle inspection, loading and trip start, after-trip vehicle inspection, and prohibited practices.
    • Air brakes, including the parts of an air brake system, dual air brake, inspecting and using air brakes.
    • Combination vehicles, including safe driving, combination vehicle air brakes, antilock brake systems, coupling and uncoupling, inspecting.
    • Doubles and triples, including pulling double/triple trailers, coupling and uncoupling, inspecting, and air brake check.
    • Tank vehicles, including inspecting, driving, and safe driving rules.
    • Hazardous material, including regulations, communication rules, loading and unloading, driving and parking rules, and emergencies.
    • School bus, including danger zones and use of mirrors, loading and unloading, emergency exit and evacuation, and special safety considerations.

    What are truck weight limits in New York?

    The legal weights for trucks with pneumatic tires, according to the New York City Department of Transportation, are:

    • Per Inch of Tire Width – 88 lbs
    • Any One Wheel – 11,200 lbs
    • Any One Axle – 22,400 lbs
    • Any Two Axles – 36,000 lbs
    • 3 or More Axles – 80,000 lbs

    What are the medical standards for driving a CMV in New York?

    In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in New York, a driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) must get a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) physical from a medical examiner who is listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCS) National Registry. Upon completion of the physical, the driver will receive a Medical Examiner Certificate to present to the DMV for their records. This certificate must be updated regularly. If it is not updated within 55 days of notification from the DMV, the CDL holder will be downgraded to a non-CDL class license.

    What is a pre-trip inspection?

    Commercial truck drivers must inspect their vehicle before their trip to make sure everything  is working properly and that the truck is safe to drive. Some of the things drivers are required to check are the truck’s:

    • Tires, wheels, and rims
    • Belts and hoses
    • Steering
    • Suspension
    • Brakes
    • Fluid levels (such as oil and coolant)
    • Lights and reflectors
    • Mirrors and windshield
    • Emergency equipment.

    What skills tests do truck drivers have to pass to get a CDL in New York?

    Along with the physical test, vision exam and other medical standards for driving a CMV in Texas, truck drivers who want to obtain a CDL must pass several skills tests:

    • Basic vehicle control skills test – Drivers must demonstrate their ability in various exercises, including straight line backing, offset back – both left and right, and parallel parking, both on the driver’s side and conventional, or right side.
    • Driving test – In a road test, drivers are asked to demonstrate their ability to perform turns, navigate intersections, drive on urban roads, drive on the expressway, stop and start the truck, navigate curves, and handle railroad crossings and bridges. Drivers are monitored for their overall performance and general driving behavior.
    • Written test – To obtain a Commercial Learning Permit (CLP), a person must already have a valid New York driver license and score at least 80% on a general knowledge test that includes multiple-choice and true or false questions.
    • Pre-trip vehicle inspection test – Drivers are asked to demonstrate their knowledge of the CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Checklist by inspecting a truck before taking it on the road.

    What federal laws are commercial truck drivers required to follow?

    All commercial truck drivers must follow the laws of New York, as well as federal trucking laws, such as those found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These federal laws address rules and regulations for drivers, including:

    The federal rules and regulations in Title 49 cover a wide range, including:

    • Cell phone policy – Drivers are prohibited from texting or using a cellphone while driving.
    • Hours of Service rules – These address the number of hours a driver can spend on the road per day and per week, as well as required breaks.
    • Drug and alcohol testing – There are strict rules in place for commercial truck drivers regarding the use of drugs and alcohol while driving, and random tests are conducted. In New York, the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers with a CDL is .04%.
    • Truck Driver Logbook – Drivers are required to record how many miles they drive each day, when they take their mandatory breaks, and other information.
    • Reflective DOT tape requirement – All commercial vehicles are required to have reflective tape on certain parts of the truck to increase visibility.
    • Sleep apnea regulations – Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interferes with breathing. People with sleep apnea often have reduced alertness and performance, making driving more dangerous. While there are no FMCSA regulations specifically addressing sleep apnea, people who have been diagnosed with the condition are not considered medically qualified to operate a CMV.

    If you’ve been injured, we can help

    A truck accident can change your life in seconds. But insurance companies will fight against your claims for financial compensation, because they know there’s a lot of money at stake. That’s why you need an experienced truck accident lawyer who can provide aggressive legal representation and will fight for the compensation you deserve.

    Our firm has been fighting for the injured for decades. If you were hurt in a truck accident in New York, learn more about how we can help. One of our truck accident attorneys can review the details of your collision, discuss your legal options for recovering compensation, and answer any questions you have. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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