Texas uses a fault-based system, which means that after a motor vehicle accident, the negligent party’s insurance company is usually responsible for the victim’s injuries. If you have been injured in a truck wreck in Texas, you may be wondering what kind of insurance regulations commercial trucks must adhere to.
Insurance Requirements for Large Commercial Trucks in Texas
As with all vehicles sharing Texas public roadways, large commercial trucks are required to carry insurance coverage. However, since large trucks are frequently involved in crashes that lead to severe injuries and fatalities, they must abide by additional insurance guidelines.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for the oversight of commercial motor vehicles and requires different levels of insurance coverage for commercial carriers. Some of the financial responsibility minimum requirements that the FMCSA has for commercial motor vehicles are as follows:
- General freight: For-hire vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce with a gross weight rating over 10,000 pounds that do not transport hazardous materials must carry at least $750,000 in insurance coverage.
- Low hazmat: Vehicles in interstate or foreign commerce over 10,000 pounds in weight must carry $1,000,000 in coverage if they carry oil, hazardous waste or other hazardous materials.
- High hazmat: Any vehicle in foreign, interstate, or intrastate commerce with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 or more pounds must carry at least $5,000,000 in insurance coverage if they carry hazardous substances transported in cargo tanks, portable tanks, or hopper-type vehicles with capacities in excess of 3,500 water gallons.
However, these liability requirements were created by Congressional legislation in the 1980s and have not been changed since then. Some have argued that the minimum liability insurance requirements for motor carriers should be raised to improve compensation for injured third parties. A 2011 study by the United States Department of Transportation adjusted the minimum insurance requirements of commercial trucks for inflation and came up with the following numbers:
- General freight carriers, currently required to have $750,000 in coverage (as designated in 1982), would need to carry $3,203,649 in coverage to provide victims with the same level of compensation for their medical bills in 2011.
- Low hazmat carriers, required to carry $1,000,000 in liability since 1982, would need to carry $4,271,531 to cover the same level of medical treatment in 2011.
- High hazmat carriers, carrying $5,000,000 worth of coverage as enacted in 1982, would need to carry $21,357,657 to provide victims with the same level of liability in 2011 dollars.
In other words, in order for victims to receive the same amount of financial resources victims would have received in the eighties, truck companies would need to carry about four times the current limits.
Commercial Large Truck FMCSA Regulations
Having minimum insurance requirements in place helps protect people who suffer injuries in truck crashes. In addition to insurance coverage minimums put in place by the FMCSA, truck drivers must adhere to other FMCSA restrictions meant to protect the public. These rules cover many facets of the trucking industry.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates:
- The qualifications required to become a truck driver
- Truck operations, such as hours of service limits
- Truck repairs and maintenance
- Weigh stations
- Roadside inspections of large trucks
- Investigations into trucking complaints
- Trucking terminal audits
FMCSA regulations must be followed by any vehicle in the United States that is:
- Used on public highways for interstate commerce to transport passengers or property
- Over 10,000 pounds in weight
- Transporting more than eight people (including the driver) for compensation or more than fifteen people (including the driver) without compensation
- Used in the shipment of hazardous materials that require placarding
The FMCSA also performs compliance reviews, trucking terminal audits, and oversees investigations into trucking complaints to verify that the federal trucking guidelines are being followed.
Texas Regulations for Large Commercial Trucks
Under Texas state law, truck drivers are prohibited from driving more than eleven hours in succession. After working fourteen hours total, interstate truck drivers must also have at least ten hours off duty before they are allowed to start their next shift.
Intrastate truck drivers, on the other hand, are permitted to work for twelve hours in succession after having eight hours off duty. However, they are only allowed to work up to seventy hours within seven consecutive days.