August 22, 2014

Chances are that you see commercial vehicles every time you take to the road. In Pennsylvania, medium and heavy trucks, buses and school buses operate daily throughout the Commonwealth. These are the package delivery trucks that deliver your online purchases, the chartered buses that shuttle gawking tourists through Amish country and even the bread trucks that deliver doughnuts to your favorite coffee shop. The sheer number of this commercial fleet and their frequency on the roads ensures that there are always a fair number of accidents caused by their use.

The good news is that Pennsylvania has specific regulations that govern these vehicles and attempt to limit commercial vehicle accidents. Here are a few examples of those rules taken from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s “Subchapter F”:

— Steering wheels of commercial vehicles must have a minimum outside diameter of 13 inches.

— Commercial vehicles are prohibited from using radial ply tires on the same axle with tires having a bias or belted design.

— Any commercial vehicle in which the driver’s view from the rearview mirror is obstructed must have two outside rearview mirrors, with one on each side of the vehicle. For vehicles under 10,001 pounds, the reflective surface of these mirrors must be 19.5 square inches. For vehicles over 10,000 pounds, the required reflective surface must be at least 50 square inches.

— The fenders and flaps of commercial vehicles must provide at least as much coverage of the wheel as the equipment installed by the original manufacturer.

— Safety belts used on commercial vehicles must be anchored to the frame area structure of the vehicle and if they are anchored to sheet-metal, they must also incorporate backing plates to ensure proper anchorage.

— During inspections, commercial vehicles can be rejected if the scores along their drum brakes exceed a depth of .060 inch.

As you can see, Pennsylvania provides exacting standards for commercial vehicles, which are intended to reduce accidents. Unfortunately, many commercial drivers and the companies they work for don’t always adhere to the rules. If you have been injured through no fault of your own in a commercial vehicle accident, there is a likelihood that the responsible vehicle was in violation of equipment standards. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if it can be established that those equipment standard violations contributed to your harm.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, “Subchapter F Medium and Heavy Trucks, Buses and School Buses” Aug. 20, 2014