At Hark & Hark, New Jersey trucking accident victims can receive a consultation with a New Jersey trucking attorney who focuses on motor carrier law. Hark & Hark serves injured residents of New Jersey and those who were involved in an accident in New Jersey. When you speak with our trucking attorney Jeffrey S. Hark, you will speak with an experienced trail attorney whose practice has been focused on recovering compensation for people injured in trucking accidents.
Interstate motor carriers include interstate and intrastate carriers:
- Interstate carriers that provide transportation services across state borders. They are required to register with the Secretary of Transportation.
- Intrastate carriers have their operations entirely within one state and do not affect interstate commerce.
Under the Commerce Clause power, the federal government regulates interstate commerce. Therefore, federal regulations governing motor carriers are only applicable to interstate carriers, and intrastate carriers only have to comply with state laws governing commercial motor vehicles.
Before a motor carrier can start interstate operations, it must register with the FMCSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, obtain a USDOT number and operating authority from the FMCSA. The motor carrier then must file a MCS-150 identification report with the FMCSA and mark each commercial motor vehicle with the name of the motor carrier and the USDOT number. The motor carrier must comply with the regulations of the Secretary of Transportation and the Surface Transportation Board; any safety regulations, duties of employers and employees and safety fitness requirements imposed by the Secretary; and the minimum financial responsibility requirements
In 2005, Uniform Carrier Registration System (“UCRS”) was adopted. Under the UCRS, the motor carrier’s base state is the state where it maintains its principal place of business. The motor carrier registers with the UCR through its base state and must pay a standard fee to the UCR as set out by the UCR agreement rather than being subject to the fees and registration outlined by individual states. If the motor carrier is registered as an interstate carrier, a State cannot require the motor carrier to obtain intrastate authority or require the motor carrier to make any insurance filings.
As part of the federal registration scheme, each motor carrier must designate a registered agent for service of process in each state that the carrier operates. A registered agent may be substituted by another agent. In addition, all carriers of hazardous materials must be registered according to a safety permit program which applies to intrastate and interstate carriers. A safety permit will not be issued to any carrier that is in the top 30% of the national crash average in the Motor Carrier Management Information System. Intrastate carriers of hazardous materials must apply for a USDOT number and be subject to a compliance review but are not subject to additional federal safety regulations. Intrastate carriers of hazardous materials, like interstate carriers, must also file a motor carrier identification report and mark their vehicles with the motor carrier’s name and USDOT number.
All interstate motor carriers are required to meet minimum safety fitness standards. Meeting the standard requires a motor carrier to have in place adequate safety management controls to eliminate the risks involving the following:
- commercial driver’s license standard violations,
- inadequate levels of financial responsibility,
- the use of unqualified drivers,
- improper use and driving of motor vehicles,
- unsafe vehicles operating on the highways,
- failure to maintain accident registers and copies of accident reports,
- the use of fatigued drivers,
- inadequate inspection, repair and maintenance of vehicles,
- improper transportation of hazardous materials, and
- motor vehicle accidents and hazardous materials incidents.
Every year, the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) performs a compliance review on all motor carriers and assigns them a safety rating. A carrier’s safety rating depends on the adequacy of safety management controls, frequency and severity of regulatory violations, frequency and severity of regulatory violations identified in roadside inspections, the number and frequency of out-of-service driver and vehicle violations, frequency of accidents, and the number and severity of violations of state safety rules.
Each carrier is given notice of its safety rating and a list of deficiencies that need to be corrected. The main safety fitness ratings are:
Satisfactory: a satisfactory rating means that the motor carrier has in place adequate safety management controls to meet the safety fitness standards.
Unsatisfactory or conditional: an unsatisfactory rating means a motor carrier has not implemented adequate safety management controls. A carrier rated unsatisfactory is prohibited from operating commercial vehicles. A carrier must correct the problems and defects in its operations.
If you have been injured in a truck crash, have questions about interstate motor carrier claims or are seeking representation of an experienced truck collision attorney, contact Jeffery S. Hark, New Jersey truck crash lawyer now for a free consultation. We can help you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.