Who is Really Responsible for Inspecting and Maintaining Commercial Trucks?

Florida has several laws in place governing commercial trucking companies and their drivers. These laws exist to help keep the vehicles in proper working order and, hopefully, reduce the risk of a truck accident on Florida roadways. Among such laws is the requirement that each commercial truck driver is responsible for inspecting his vehicle every single day. Florida Statute §396.11 requires each driver of a commercial truck to prepare a written report “at the completion of each day’s work on each vehicle operated.” The truck driver must inspect the vehicle from top to bottom; from brakes, coupling devices, and wheels and rims, to horns, lights, mirrors, steering wheels, and emergency equipment.

Should the driver encounter a defect in any aspect of the truck that could cause the safety or reliability of the vehicle to be affected, that information must be included in the report and provided to the trucking company for repair. Upon receiving notification of a flaw in the vehicle, responsibility falls upon the trucking company to correct the problem before allowing any other driver to operate that vehicle.

Unfortunately, safety procedures are not always followed by drivers or the trucking companies who employ them. Tractor trailer drivers often run long hauls, going without the proper amount of sleep for days at a time. Driver fatigue is not only dangerous on the road as the driver runs the risk of falling asleep at the wheel, but is also dangerous to the inspection process.  After returning from a long haul, the last thing some truck drivers desire to do is inspect their rig from top to bottom. This can lead to oversights in the inspection process, or skipping the inspection altogether and filing a false or misleading report to the trucking companies.

The failure to follow these safety requirements by the trucking company is usually based on financial motives. Client expectations of how quickly their goods will be delivered make commercial trucking a highly competitive field. Looking at these factors, trucking companies will often weigh the benefits of repairing the vehicle (safety for its drivers and other motorists on the road) against the costs of doing so, such as losing the use of the truck while it is being repaired, the cost of the actual repair, and the possible loss of a client due to the delay. It is easy to see how a trucking company could find it more profitable to ignore the broken taillight or cracked mirror and send the truck back into operation without making the required repairs.

Thankfully though, Florida law also requires that these daily inspection reports be kept in the driver’s log. These logs can be crucial in the case of a trucking accident to help determine who is to blame for the collision. Was it the driver who failed to properly inspect the vehicle or the trucking company who ignored the driver’s reports and failed to repair the truck?

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a commercial trucking accident, you will likely be left wondering several things, including what actually caused the accident and who is really at fault. At Dolman Law Group, our experienced commercial truck accident attorneys understand the many moving parts involved in trucking collisions and we are committed to helping you recover the maximum amount for your injuries. For more information about the causes of commercial trucking accidents, or for a free case evaluation and consultation, contact the attorneys at Dolman Law Group today. 727-451-6900