computer keyboard with federal law vs state law keysCommercial trucks can do significantly more damage than passenger vehicles when a crash occurs. Accordingly, the United States government and the Commonwealth of Kentucky have specific regulations for trucks and truckers. These rules and regulations are meant to prevent truck accidents, but they aren’t always followed.

If you’ve been hurt in a Kentucky truck accident, our experienced Kentucky truck accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case and determine which federal or state regulations were violated, and we will fight for your fair recovery from all negligent parties.

What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

Kentucky recognizes three classes of commercial vehicles. They are:

  • Class A. Vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more provided that the vehicle(s) being towed weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B. A straight truck with two or more axles and a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more; a vehicle with two or more axles and a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more pulling a vehicle of 10,000 pounds or less; or a single vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers that weighs 26,001 pounds or more.
  • Class C. Any vehicle that weighs less than 26,001 pounds transporting hazardous materials for which placarding is required. or a single vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers that weighs less than 26,001 pounds.

You must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate any of these vehicles. You may also need an additional endorsement if you operate a commercial vehicle with passengers, a double or triple trailer, a tank, or hazardous materials. A special endorsement is also required to drive a school bus.

Different Rules for Interstate Trucking and Intrastate Trucking

Interstate trucking means that the truck is traveling between two or more states, while intrastate trucking means the truck is only traveling within a state. Two things determine whether a trucker is involved in interstate trucking or intrastate trucking. A trucker may be engaged in intrastate trucking if they:

  • Are only traveling within Kentucky’s borders
  • Only carry cargo that originated in Kentucky and will be delivered in Kentucky

Both of these things must be true for intrastate trucking rules to apply. Otherwise, a truck is considered to be involved in interstate trucking.

It’s essential to know whether a truck is involved in interstate or intrastate trucking because trucking companies and truckers involved in interstate trucking are subject to rules and regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). Trucking companies and truckers that only engage in intrastate trucking are subject to the rules and regulations established by the Kentucky Department of Public Safety.

FMCSA Interstate Trucking Rules

A commercial vehicle that engages in interstate commerce must comply with FMCSA regulations. This includes:

  • Vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Vehicles designed or used to transport 9-15 passengers for compensation
  • Vehicles designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers but without compensation
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, used for transportation of hazardous materials as defined by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and which require the vehicle to be placarded.

Common examples of interstate commercial vehicles include tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, and flatbed trucks.

These vehicles, their operators, and their owners must comply with FMCSA regulations, such as:

  • Requiring anyone who possesses a commercial driver’s license to be tested for alcohol and controlled substances
  • Certain driver qualifications, including being at least 21 years of age and submitting to medical exams
  • Limited hours of service that commercial drivers may work
  • Identifying parts and accessories that must be present for safe vehicle operations
  • Requirements for the inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles

Kentucky Intrastate Trucking Rules

Kentucky has its own rules for trucks that travel solely within its borders. Many Kentucky trucking regulations mirror federal regulations. However, Kentucky has some of its own trucking regulations, which include:

  • Driver age requirements. Interstate commercial drivers must be at least 21 years old. However, intrastate commercial drivers only need to be 18 years old unless they are transporting hazardous materials or driving a school bus, in which case they must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Driver medical waivers. Intrastate truckers may apply for medical waivers if they don’t meet federal medical guidelines.
  • Hours of service. Generally, Kentucky follows the FMCSA hours of service regulations. However, there are two exceptions. Utility companies engaging only in intrastate work are exempt from hours of service regulations during emergencies that require restoring service. Additionally, intrastate drivers transporting farm supplies or agricultural goods are exempt from hours of service regulations if the transportation is limited to a 100-air-mile radius from the source of the commodities to their distribution point.
  • Parts and accessories. Kentucky regulations are essentially the same as FMCSA parts and accessories regulations. However, an exception exists for private intrastate farm-to-market agricultural carriers. These carriers do not need to comply with lighting device requirements during daylight hours.

These rules apply to any applicable intrastate commercial vehicle, including, but not limited to, agricultural vehicles, tow trucks, garbage trucks, and dump trucks.

Protect Your Recovery After an Interstate or Intrastate Truck Accident

While different rules apply to cross-state and in-state trucks, all truck accidents share some commonalities. For example, truck accidents often:

  • Are complicated
  • Have multiple defendants
  • Result in severe injuries

For these reasons, it’s essential to work with an experienced Kentucky truck accident lawyer. Our legal team will thoroughly investigate your case, determine if any federal or state regulations were violated, and fight for your fair recovery.

You deserve compensation for all of your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, and emotional suffering.

We invite you to learn more about your rights and possible recovery by contacting us to schedule a free consultation and downloading a free copy of our book, Truck Accidents in Kentucky: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Injury Case.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law