Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) such as 18-wheelers, dump trucks, bucket trucks, tractor-trailers and buses are defined by purpose and capacity; they are used for business, or designed to carry a heavy load or a certain number of passengers. Central to the United States’ economy, CMVs are the primary way of shipping cargo. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 report, over 70% of domestic goods are transported by trucks. This gives rise to an industry of laborers and labor practices so extensive that it is difficult to monitor. There are an estimated three million CMV drivers in the United States.
While much of this commerce proceeds as part of the country’s functioning infrastructure, it also accounts for staggeringly high numbers of traffic injuries and fatalities. In 2014, there were an estimated 438,000 truck crashes leading to approximately 110,000 injuries and 3903 deaths. More people are killed in CMV accidents annually than have died in commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years. In the state of Texas over 34,000 crashes in 2016 involved commercial motor vehicles. These crashes are tremendously costly and often cause catastrophic personal injury.
In a case of personal injury involving a CMV, it is important to determine whether the vehicle was regulated by federal law (participating in interstate commerce) or state law (participating in intrastate commerce, or commerce that operated within state lines).