The Florida legislature established a set of regulations that govern the safe operation of commercial vehicles in Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol’s Officer of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (OCVE) enforces those rules. Florida’s regulations work seamlessly with the regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Two interlocking and complementary regulatory schemes dictate commercial vehicle safety. However, the federal regulations only apply to commercial vehicles traveling in interstate, as opposed to intrastate, commerce. As truck accident attorneys, we are very familiar with the regulatory scheme and use it to our clients’ advantage.
At the outset, it is important to know which vehicles are commercial vehicles subject to the regulations. In Florida, the law defines a commercial vehicle as one that is towed or self-propelled that delivers good or passengers used in business. To fall under the regulations, the vehicle must either have a gross weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more, is designed to transport 15 or more passengers, or carry hazardous materials. It should be noted that the regulations encompass all business vehicles that meet this definition and not just construction trucks.
OCVE makes regular inspections of commercial vehicles at weigh stations. As the name implies, the weight of the vehicle is measured at the weigh station. The Florida Highway Patrol officers make a series of spot safety checks as well. The troopers conducting the safety inspection do not make a random inquiry of the driver and the truck. Rather, the troopers follow a very specific protocol during the safety check. Following the protocol ensures that the troopers inspect every safety element of the commercial vehicle. If the trooper finds any violations, the trooper will immediately notify the driver of the problem. The driver usually has 15 days to return the report proving the driver rectified the problem. The truck cannot go on another run until the problem is resolved.
In addition to roadside checks, the companies themselves must comply with safety regulations and record keeping requirements. Accordingly, the troopers can visit the trucking company and inspect their records at their place of business. The troopers look for compliance with alcohol and drug testing, driver competency records, vehicle maintenance files and the like. The troopers may cite the company for a violation if the records are not in order.
Driver inspection is vital during the stop. Troopers will examine the driver for signs of alcohol or narcotics consumption. The trooper will review the driver’s license to make sure the driver has the proper class designation and endorsements. The officers will look into the driver’s medical certificate and, importantly, the driver’s log book.
After the trooper examines the driver, the officer will move on to inspect the safety of the vehicle itself. The inspector will examine the brakes of the truck, the air pressure, warning devices, and parking brakes. Next, the inspection moves to the fifth wheel and any connections as well as safety devices. The tires, wheels, and fire suppression systems, if any, steering, lights and warning signals are also part of the inspection.
A vital component of the review process is examining the load and whether the driver is hauling a properly secured load. Florida’s commercial vehicle inspection procedure describes load security as critical to the safe operation of the vehicle. The load must be secured to guard against shifting, leaking, spilling, blowing over, or falling from the vehicle.
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South Florida’s Top law firm – as voted by the Miami Herald – Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, knows what to look for and how to use the information contained in safety inspections to your benefit if you were injured in a truck crash. The attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, and & Urbano have over 130 years of combined legal experience at your service. Call the South Florida truck crash attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano – an AV-rated firm by Martindale-Hubbell – today at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 to schedule your free consultation.