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Basic Truck Driver Responsibilities

Basic Truck Driver Responsibilities

Basic Responsibilities of Truck Drivers

As a long-time Sacramento resident, I want to help my fellow Sacramentans understand the responsibilities of the commercial trucks with whom we commonly share the roads. Knowing these responsibilities can help us understand when a commercial truck driver is liable for a trucking accident.

Primary Trucker Responsibility

Like all drivers on the road, commercial truck drivers have a duty to drive safely and avoid trucking accidents. Commercial drivers, however, have a greater responsibility because the size of their vehicles often makes any accident serious. As such, truckers are subject to more rules than regular drivers.

The many other responsibilities of commercial truckers are laid out in the California Commercial Driver Handbook. The key points are summarized below.

Responsibility to be Medically Fit

The second key responsibility for commercial truck drivers is to ensure that they are medically fit to be operating their large vehicles. Drivers must obtain a medical certificate before being issued a commercial driver’s license. This merely certifies that the driver is unlikely to fall unconscious while operating his vehicle.

Speed and Commercial Trucks

Commercial drivers in California are prohibited from traveling more than 55 miles per hour when they have a trailer attached. The handbook further requires that drivers maintain a safe distance in front of them while traveling at any speed to ensure they can come to a stop without hitting other vehicles.

Speed requirements also require truckers to appropriately match their speed to road conditions.

Driving in Difficult Weather

In addition to describing how to drive in icy conditions, the handbook also offers descriptions of how to drive in other types of extreme weather. Drivers are encouraged to show caution in high temperatures to try to prevent blown tires that present a hazard to other drivers.

Distracted Driving

The handbook strictly prohibits commercial drivers from distracted driving. It calls on drivers to never use their cell phone or eat while driving. It also encourages drivers to pull to the side of the road when operating their GPS or CB radio.

This is perhaps the most commonly violated responsibility and a major cause of trucking accidents in California.

Responsibility to Maintain the Vehicle

One of the most overlooked responsibilities of every commercial driver is the need to maintain their vehicle. Truckers are actually expected to inspect their truck before the start of every trip. This inspection includes checking for visible fuel leaks and ensuring all breaks are fully operational.

The responsibility to maintain the vehicle also includes regular in-depth inspections of the vehicle. Drivers must also make every effort to repair any issues discovered during any inspection in a reasonable amount of time.

Responsibilities When Carrying Hazardous Materials

Truckers have an even greater responsibility to drive safely when carrying hazardous materials. This is so essential that even drivers that do not carry hazardous materials are expected to know how to identify them to assess whether they are qualified to transport the materials.

Failure to Act Responsibly

A truck driver’s failure to act responsibly in any of these areas or any area of the law greatly endangers everyone on or near the roads. If you have been in an accident with a truck driver you believe did not act responsibly, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer.

Related Articles by Ed Smith ~

Sacramento Truck Accident Attorney & Personal Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith and I am a Sacramento truck accident lawyer. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.  When you call me we can go over the details of your accident by telephone and I can help you determine if the truck driver involved acted irresponsibly.

I have practiced personal injury law exclusively for 34 years. My career has allowed me to become a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This forum is reserved for trial lawyers with million-dollar verdicts or more.

Take a look at our injury lawyers’ reviews on Yelp, Avvo, and Google and some of our Past Verdicts and Settlements.


Image Source: Via Wikimedia Commons by – Veronica538 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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