The Current (And Future) Laws Surrounding Trucking Accidents

Given that self-driving trucks are now a reality, it is important to examine the current state of Missouri’s laws and regulations regarding truck accidents – as well as where they may be in a few years. We will also examine what impact this may have on the trucking industry.

The rules and regulations governing commercial truck drivers in the state of Missouri are relatively strict. These regulations are designed to keep all drivers on the road safe and minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. In addition to standard traffic laws and statutes, there are additional laws that are specific to commercial vehicles. For example, commercial drivers must comply with special rules and licensing requirements to operate a commercial vehicle in the state. Drivers must undergo training in the proper operation of the vehicle to receive several certifications, and renew those certifications yearly. In their day-to-day job, drivers are limited in the number of hours they’re able to drive – they must take a 10-hour rest between shifts, during which they’re not allowed to drive at all. Drivers also may not surpass more than 60 hours in a week’s time or 70 hours in eight consecutive days without a break of at least 34 consecutive hours. Failure to do so can result in stiff penalties or license suspension.

Furthermore, there are several rules in place that govern how commercial trucks must be operated and maintained to ensure that they remain safe and in good working condition. These include several restrictions on the overall dimensions of a truck and its trailer, as well as weight restrictions on the cargo those trucks are allowed to tow. Failure to follow these rules can result in serious penalties and fines for both the truck driver and the company that owns the vehicle.

Self-driving trucks understandably pose an important question – who will be liable if an accident involving self-driving vehicles occurs? Currently, state laws assign liability to individuals on a case-by-case basis when determining who is at fault in an accident. In the event that a vehicle is self-driving, who will be held responsible for any damages that occur as a result? It is likely through state legislation that responsibility for accidents involving self-driving vehicles will be assigned to whichever entity was operating the vehicle at the time the accident took place. However, the laws are still being developed and it’s unclear how exactly self-driving cars will be regulated. One option is to still leave the determination of fault up to the courts. However, there may be other options available under Missouri state law that effectively allow autonomous vehicles to be treated like regular cars when it comes to accident liability. For example, some states have passed legislation allowing insurance companies to handle accidents with self-driving cars in the same way as they handle accidents with regular cars. Alternatively, the state could require that all autonomous cars and trucks be equipped with electronic data recorders so that officials can examine the cause of the accident and determine whether any negligence on the part of the car manufacturer led to the accident. It is likely that the state of Missouri will move forward with some form of regulation regarding the operation of self-driving vehicles in the near future.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC, is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri.

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