A number of road accidents across Georgia take place due to commercial vehicles. These vehicles pose a huge risk to other drivers on the road primarily because of their larger size and weight. A commercial truck in Atlanta, for instance, can wreck serious damage on a smaller vehicle even in a low-speed collision. If you have suffered losses in a crash with a commercial vehicle, you can seek damages with the help of an Atlanta truck accident lawyer.
Due to the serious risk that a commercial vehicle can pose on the road, Georgia has special designated laws. These laws apply to both commercial vehicles as well as commercial vehicle drivers. The purpose of these laws is to mitigate the risks associated with commercial trucks and to help ensure the safety of others on the roads. Here is a look at these laws.
Definition of a Commercial Motor Vehicle
In order to understand Georgia laws for commercial vehicles, it is important to understand how such vehicles are defined. In addition to 18-wheelers, other vehicles may also qualify as a commercial vehicle if:
- The Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) or Manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) is 10,000 pounds or more.
- The vehicle is carrying a hazardous material in a quantity that warrants the use of placards.
- The vehicle is carrying more than 15 passengers including the driver, even if the passengers are not being carried for monetary compensation.
- The vehicle is carrying more than 8 passengers including the driver, if compensation is involved.
Vehicles that meet the above-mentioned criterion qualify as commercial vehicles under Georgia laws. All such vehicles are required to meet other legal requirements set forth for commercial vehicles.
Two separate sets of hours-of-service rules apply to commercial drivers operating in the state of Georgia. The hours-of-service rules as defined by the Georgia Department of Public Safety are as follows.
Georgia Hours-of-Service Rules:
- A commercial truck driver can operate for up to 11 consecutive hours after having taken a consecutive 10-hour break.
- A commercial truck driver can’t be on duty for more than 14 consecutive hours. After being on duty for 8 consecutive hours, the driver must take a rest of at least 30 minutes.
- A commercial passenger vehicle driver can’t be on duty for more than 15 consecutive hours. Overall, such a driver can’t be on duty for more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, or more than 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
Commercial License Requirements
A commercial driver is required to carry a commercial driver’s license in Georgia if the following conditions are met:
- The driver operates a vehicle that has a gross combined vehicle rating (GCVR) or gross vehicle rating (GVR) of more than 26,000 pounds.
- The driver operates a vehicle that is carrying hazardous material in a quantity that warrants the use of placards.
- The driver operates a vehicle carrying more than 16 passengers including the driver.
In addition to the legal requirements listed above, commercial vehicles and drivers must also meet other requirements. These include the following:
- Radar detectors must not be used on board a commercial vehicle.
- All commercial vehicles must carry a fire extinguisher.
- A regular log of hours-of-service records must be maintained.
- The driver must undergo an annual physical examination by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- The DOT number must be visible on a vehicle’s side if the vehicle operates beyond state limits.
- Safety inspections of the vehicles must be conducted on an annual basis.
- Pre-trip and post-trip safety inspections must be performed for each trip and put into writing for record.
- The driver must undergo a medical examination and receive a medical certificate that confirms that the driver is fit to operate the commercial vehicle.
- Any trailers attached to a commercial vehicle must have brakes if the weight of the trailer is over 3,000 pounds.
How Can an Atlanta Tuck Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have suffered a commercial vehicle accident in Atlanta, it is important to get legal help. As noted above, commercial vehicles and drivers are subject to a wide range of rules and regulations, both on the federal and state levels. Any violation of these rules qualifies as negligence. If your accident is caused by such negligence, you may be entitled to receive full compensation from the trucking company. Reach out to us now to discuss your Atlanta truck accident claim with our lawyers.