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Understanding Trucking Regulations in Indiana

State and federal trucking regulations govern commercial trucks, truckers, and trucking companies in Indiana. The sheer size and power behind tractor-trailers make them an enormous threat to other vehicles if not operated with caution. 

Trucking laws in Indiana are there to keep the public safe. If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a crash with a truck in Indiana, it is a good idea to learn a bit about the basic Indiana trucking regulations and how they might affect your claim for damages. At Gerling Law, our attorneys are among the “Trucking Trial Lawyers” Top 10 because of our dedication and experience in the field. You may be entitled to damages if you sustained injuries from a commercial truck and suspected trucking regulation violations. This article discusses some of the Indiana and federal trucking regulations and corresponding violations that can occur. 

Indiana Trucking Regulations

Federal statutes govern many commercial trucking regulations. However, individual states often impose rules, and Indiana is no exception.

Size Restrictions

Indiana trucking laws require semi-trucks to follow specific size and weight guidelines and restrictions. For instance, the maximum total weight of a commercial truck in Indiana cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. In addition to weight restrictions, there are specific height and length restrictions.

Commercial trucks must also adhere to certain size limitations to operate on the roads legally. For instance, a commercial truck’s width is usually eight feet six inches. The truck’s height cannot be more than 13 feet 6 inches. Overall, the truck cannot be more than 50 feet long from both ends of the cab and trailer.

If a truck violates these regulations and causes an accident, they may be liable to you for the damages.

Lane Restrictions for Commercial Trucks and Vehicles

Tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles tend to stay in the furthest right lanes because commercial trucks are generally required to travel in the far-right lane of the interstate. The semi-trucks may use the two right lanes if there are three or more lanes.

Truckers are typically limited to using the far-left lane only to pass another vehicle, enter or exit the roadway, or avoid a hazard.

Limit on Hours of Service Regulation

It is no surprise that truckers often drive long distances and spend significant hours behind the wheel. Federal regulations impose an “hours of service” rule to reduce accidents, restricting the number of hours a driver can operate a commercial truck in 24 hours. 

Commercial truck drivers are required to follow these time limits:

  • Commercial vehicle drivers can drive at least 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty rest;
  • Commercial vehicle drivers can only drive up to 14 consecutive hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty;
  • A long-haul commercial vehicle driver may only drive if 8 or fewer hours have eclipsed since the end of their last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes; and 
  • A 60/70 hour rule restricts drivers from operating a commercial vehicle after 60 hours on duty within 7 days or 70 hours within 8 days without having at least a 34-hour consecutive rest period.

These limitations are essential to ensure truckers are alert, responsible, and physically able to drive safely. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in injuries to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. 

Commercial Driver’s License Requirement

A person must have the required qualifications, experience, and licenses to operate a commercial truck. Specifically, a trucker must obtain and carry a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to drive a semi-truck. 

Because commercial semi-trucks often travel between states, there are many federal trucking regulations to ensure safety country-wide.

To obtain a commercial driver’s license, federal law requires an individual to:

  • Obtain a commercial learner permit for 14 days, and
  • Pass several tests, including the truck inspection test, basic vehicle controls test, and road test.

The applicant’s driving record is also checked throughout all states. Most trucking companies will choose to perform their background and driving record checks before hiring an individual.

Types of Violations

Several types of violations can occur with all of the trucking regulations in place.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Violation

To legally drive a semi-truck in Indiana, a driver must have a valid CDL renewed every four years. An invalid or expired CDL could leave a truck driver liable for a crash.

Inadequate Hiring or Training Violations

Employers must ensure they are hiring individuals with the proper qualifications. Employers are responsible for confirming driver eligibility by performing background checks, drug and alcohol screening, and driving record checks. 

Hours of Service Violation

Most commercial vehicles have electronic logging systems to ensure drivers take the required off-duty time. If the logs show a driver fails to take these needed breaks, they may be liable for a crash. Suppose the employer or trucking company forced a driver to exceed their legal working time limits or ignored logs showing the driver failed to rest. In that case, the company may be held accountable for an accident. 

Maintenance or Manufacturing Violation

The trucking company and the vehicle operator are responsible for properly maintaining the truck and ensuring it meets certain safety standards. The truck must receive all necessary maintenance and service checks, including checks on the brakes, engine, lights, tires, and more. 

If the owner or operator of the commercial truck failed to service and maintain the vehicle properly, they could be held liable for any injuries resulting from an accident. 

It is also possible for a truck or truck part to have a manufacturing defect that may lead to a crash. If an investigation determines that the manufacturer violated safety protocols during the manufacturing process that led to a defect, they may also be held liable. 

Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys in Indiana

At Gerling Law, our team of experienced attorneys can guide you on all possible injury claims resulting from commercial trucking violations. We were named among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the nation and will help you recover all the damages you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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