Recordkeeping Requirements for Truckers & Motor Carriers: An Overview & How these Records Can Matter in Truck Accident ClaimsJune 26, 2017
Federal trucking regulations1 require commercial truck drivers and trucking companies to keep various documentation related to:
- Drivers’ experience and activities
- Commercial trucks
- The operations of the company.
These regulations are overseen by authorities at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If truckers or motor carriers violate these regulations, they can be subject to fines and possibly other penalties.
Trucking records can play another important role, aside from simply maintaining compliance with federal regulations. In the aftermath of a truck crash, these records – or a lack of them – can reveal if, when and/or how the negligence of a truck driver and/or a motor carrier may have contributed to the wreck.
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Federal Recordkeeping Requirements for Truckers
According to federal regulations, some of the records that truckers are required to document and/or maintain include:
- Duty status records – These records document time behind the wheel, as well as on-duty versus off-duty time. As such, these records are important to (dis)proving compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) requirements and when driver fatigue may have contributed to a crash.
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance records – These records detail when trucks have been inspected, the condition of a truck’s equipment and when repairs or other maintenance is performed on the truck. They also specify what type of maintenance has done. Consequently, these records can reveal when failures to inspect and/or maintain a truck may have contributed to a truck wreck.
- Cargo–related records – These should include details about the nature, weight and potential hazards associated with the cargo being transported. They also detail when cargo was picked up and who loaded it. As such, these records can uncover when trucks are overloaded, when the proper precautions haven’t been taken with hazardous cargo or when other cargo-related factors may have played a role in causing an accident.
When it comes to records that truckers are required to keep, it’s also important to point out that:
- Some records can be kept electronically or as hard copies (e.g., paper logs).
- Different records may need to be retained for shorter or longer periods of time. In other words, there may be different retention requirements for different types of records.
- In some cases, truckers may need to keep records with them and make these records available to inspectors upon requests.
Federal Recordkeeping Requirements for Trucking Companies
Motor carriers are also required by federal law to maintain various records, including (but not limited to) records related to:
- The company’s operating authority, like:
- Documentation affirming the carrier has a valid U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number & a Motor Carrier (MC) Number
- Records establishing an MC’s headquarters or principal place of business
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of current vehicle registration
- Permits for handling hazardous (or other) materials (for certain cargo/carriers)
- Drivers, such as:
- Drivers’ employment applications and road test certificates
- Records related to drivers’ commercial licenses and medical fitness
- Drivers’ training records
- Any known vehicle or traffic violations drivers have incurred
- Drivers’ drug and alcohol test results
- Driver logs and HOS records
- Vehicles, like:
- Vehicle ownership records (if a party other than the motor carrier owns the vehicle)
- Records documenting each truck’s vehicle identification number (VIN), model and year
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance reports.
Why Trucking Records Can Be Important in Truck Wreck Claims
When it’s time to prove liability for a truck accident, trucking records can be pivotal to uncovering the oversights and/or negligence of truckers and/or trucking companies. For example, some of the liability-related factors that these records can uncover include:
- HOS violations, including the falsification of duty status logs
- Failures to inspect or maintain trucks
- Failures to verify the credentials and fitness of truck drivers
- Failures to conduct the required alcohol and drug testing on drivers (during the hiring process, following accidents or at any other required point in time)
- Failures to comply with any federal trucking regulation.
The attorneys at the Amaro Law Firm are skilled at obtaining and analyzing various types of trucking records to:
- Identify all parties that are liable for a truck wreck
- Strengthen our clients’ claims
- Helping crash victims secure the full amount of compensation to which they are entitled.
Get on the Road to Recovery: Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm
A truck accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm can review your potential claim and advise you on your best options for compensation and justice in the aftermath of a truck wreck.
Call (713) 352-7975 or email our firm to set up a free consultation with us and take the first step on the road to recovery. If you are unable to visit our offices for this meeting, we offer virtual consultations, and we can travel to your location.
The attorneys at the Amaro Law Firm represent truck accident survivors and families from across the U.S. in various types of truck wreck claims. Our history of success and exceptional advocacy in these cases has earned us 5-star ratings on Google and Facebook.
1: More information regarding recordkeeping and other regulations enforced by the FMCSA