Not much is required of log truck operators in Georgia. But the one that spilled a load of logs onto a Jeep in Athens Thursday morning managed to violate even those minimum requirements. The log truck, operating without the required identification on the door, overturned and spilled its load as it exited the Athens Perimeter onto Commerce Road. Two occupants of the Jeep were injured. See article.
Large trucks operating in interstate commerce are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Motor carriers operating large trucks in intrastate commerce within Georgia are governed by state Transportation Rules that incorporate safety requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Motor common carriers and motor contract carriers in Georgia are subject to insurance requirements and their insurers may be joined as named defendants in a suit pursuant to the Direct Action Statute. Private carriers basically haul stuff for their own businesses rather than for others. They are subject to safety rules but not the Direct Action Statute. Interstate motor carriers must have at least $750,000 liability coverage. Intrastate motor carriers are required to have liability insurance of at least $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $50,000 for property damage (100/300/50).
However, OCGA Section 46-1-1 specifically exempts vehicles used in agricultural, forestry and granite mining operations from all common carrier, contract carrier and private carrier requirements. Being exempt from carrier status, agricultural, forest products and granite mining trucks are exempt from that requirement. They are only required to have the minimum insurance required of passenger cars — $25,000 per person & $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage.
As for safety requirements, log trucks in Georgia are only subject to the Georgia Forest Products Trucking Rules, copied below.
The good news is that the rules are better than they used to be. The truck owner or operator must be identified on the vehicle now, so it is a violation to operate with no name on the door. Drivers now have to have a CDL (commercial driver’s license), so my 16 year old son couldn’t get a summer job driving a log truck with no training. There are rules on how loads must be secured. Lights and reflectors are required to make the trucks visible, though how effective those may be varies.
But still not much is required in the way of driver qualfications, and the financial responsibiity requirements for huge vehicles with potentially hazardous loads are laughable.
So when you see a log truck coming down the road, stay away.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).