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In 2021, there were 57,598 recorded traffic crashes that occurred in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KSDOT). Of the 90,045 vehicles involved in these collisions, approximately 20% were trucks and pickup trucks.

It is also not uncommon for vehicles to run over animals in the state. It is the second highest reason for crashes, whether the animal in question is wild or domestic. During autumn, and especially around the middle of November, wildlife vehicular collisions occur more frequently — a result of shorter days and animals more actively searching for both mating partners and sources of food. In addition, KSDOT has recorded that general inattention is the number one contributing circumstance to crashes at about 18.1%. 

To address road safety concerns, Kansas has implemented the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which aims to achieve Vision: Drive to Zero--no life lost and no one injured in a traffic accident. The state government has put in place initiatives that tackle issues with or make improvements to signage and lighting, police traffic services, pavement marking, and occupant protection.

One of the state's initiatives involves $1.28 million in new money for one of its grant programs called The Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) for the third district. Representative Sharice Davids supports the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law initiative, which redesigns roads and streets to reduce the number of collisions and fatalities.

Kansas Commercial Truck Weight Regulations

Commercial vehicles in Kansas that are operating without a special permit have to follow the weight limits as described below:

Single Axle

20,000 lbs.

Tandem Axle

34,000 lbs.

Tridem Axle

42,000 lbs. with a spacing of between 8 and 9 feet, no more and no less.
42,500 lbs. with a spacing of between 9 and 10 feet, no more and no less.
43,500 lbs. at 10ft. spacing.

Gross Weight

80,000 lbs. on Interstate highways
85,500 lbs. on non-interstate highways

A tandem axle is any pair of axles that are not less than 40 inches from each other and not more than 96 inches apart. A tridem axle is defined as three or more consecutive axles that are not more than 96 inches apart and not more than 120 inches apart. It would also be good to note that there is a limit of 10,000 lbs. per wheel.

However, there is a provision under Federal Law (23 CFR Part 658, Appendix C) that states that some vehicles are allowed to operate with a higher weight limit of up to 22,000 lbs on a single axle, with an overall gross vehicular weight (GVW) of 120,000 lbs on some parts of the Interstate system, specifically the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA). These are called the grandfathered routes, which include:

  • I-35 KTA from OK to KTA Exit 127

  • I-70 KTA from KTA Exit 182 to KTA Exit 233

  • I-335 KTA from KTA Exit 127 to KTA Exit 177

  • I-470 KTA from KTA Exit 177 to Exit 182

Trucks that do not follow weight laws are operated by drivers who take great risks while on the road. Overloaded trucks are more difficult to control and may have damaged brake and steering systems. To help implement these laws, there are various weight inspection stations that truck drivers can find on signs. Law enforcement can require a driver to stop for weighing if it reasonably believes the vehicle is overloaded.

Kansas Truck Inspection Regulations

An important factor to consider is how well the truck and its parts are working. The brake and fuel systems, steering mechanism, suspension, and safe loading must be thoroughly checked before letting a truck head out onto the road.

By law, the motor carrier must carry out a vehicular inspection and complete a report for any safety defects before a truck is allowed to operate. Motor carriers must also require the drivers to perform an inspection at the end of each day.

These are some of the maintenance records that must be kept for each commercial motor vehicle:

  • Vehicle identification containing the company number, the make and model, serial number, and the year and tire size.

  • Various inspections completed; type and date of each inspection

  • Repair and maintenance records and their dates

  • Lubrication record

  • Conducted tests on pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door-marking lights on buses

Kansas Truck Driver Hours of Service Regulations

One of the common causes of truck driver accidents in Kansas is fatigue. Sometimes, drivers skip taking breaks for meals and rest. They may also fail to get enough sleep to reach their destination on time, even if it is required by law. Additionally, some drivers may be taking medications to address illnesses that may cause them to feel lethargic or debilitated. 

To combat this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed hours-of-service regulations, which can help guide truck drivers on how they are legally allowed to operate.

Property-Carrying Drivers

  • 11-hour driving limit - Drivers coming off of a 10-hour consecutive off-duty time.

  • 14-hour driving limit - Drivers are not allowed to go beyond the 14th driving hour after coming from a 10-hour time off.

  • 30-minute break - Mandatory half-hour break for drivers who have just finished eight hours of cumulative driving non-stop. 

  • 60/70 Rule - Drivers must not go back to work after 60/70 hours of duty in seven or eight consecutive days. They may restart the count after 34 hours or more of consecutive off-duty hours.

Passenger-Carrying Drivers

  • 10-hour driving limit - Drivers can go a full but a maximum of 10 hours of driving after eight consecutive hours off duty.

  • 15-hour driving limit - Drivers are not allowed to go beyond 15 hours of work following eight consecutive hours off duty.

Sleeper berth provisions and adverse driving condition rules enable drivers to split their off-duty periods and extend their maximum driving time.

Property-Carrying Drivers

Passenger-Carrying Drivers

Sleeper Berth Provisions - Drivers can split their mandatory 10-hour off-duty period as long as one period is at least two hours long and the other is at least seven hours long spent in the sleeper berth.

Sleeper Berth Provisions - Drivers are required to spend at least eight hours in the sleeper berth. They have the option to split this into two as long as neither pairing is less than two hours.

Adverse Driving Conditions - Drivers are allowed to extend their maximum driving limit by up to two hours if the weather conditions are horrible.

Adverse Driving Conditions - Drivers are allowed to extend their maximum driving limit by up to two hours if the weather conditions are horrible.

Kansas Truck Driver Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulations

Driving long distances alone for an extended period of time can take a toll on one’s mental and physical health. To cope with the demands and stresses of the job, some truck drivers resort to unhealthy means, from binge drinking and using marijuana to using cocaine or amphetamine to stay alert and awake. These actions produce side effects that cause drivers to become reckless or unaware that they are excessively speeding. Additionally, drivers who drink become incapacitated and unable to make good judgment when it comes to obeying traffic laws.

This is why truck drivers, or any driver with a Commercial Driver’s License, are mandated by law to undergo routine drug and alcohol testing. Under FMCSA regulations, they are required to go through testing during pre-employment, after an accident, when returning to duty, if suspected of drug use, or on a random basis.

Kansas Speeding Regulations

There are speed limitations imposed upon all motorists, including truck drivers, that travel down the roads of Kansas:

75 mph maximum and 40 mph minimum

When traveling on rural segments of the freeway

75 mph maximum and 40 mph minimum

When on the Kansas Turnpike, unless otherwise stated

70 mph

When in rural areas with improved highways

65 mph

When on improved two-lane highways

55 mph

When on two-lane paved highways unless otherwise stated

30 mph

In all residential areas unless otherwise stated

Kansas Commercial Trucking Insurance Requirements

Vehicles in Kansas, including commercial vehicles, are mandated to have a minimum amount of auto liability insurance coverage. 

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person

  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident

  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

In Kansas, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is required. It is an add-on that can help with medical payments after a vehicular accident.

  • $4,500 per person for medical expenses

  • $4,500 for rehabilitation

  • $2,000 for the funeral, and cremation or burial expenses

  • $900 per month for one year for loss of income and disability

  • $25 for any in-home services

Truck drivers also have the option to add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for more protection.

  • $25,000 per person

  • $50,000 per accident

These are general insurance coverages that are available to motorists of all kinds. There are truck-specific policies that cater to owner-operators, motor carriers, and private carriers. The prices of these policies will be dependent on the cargo, coverage requirements, driving history, operating radius, and USDOT authority, but may range from $700 to $1,120. Some of these insurance lines include:

  • Non-trucking Liability

  • Rental Reimbursement with Downtime

  • Trailer Interchange

  • Motor Truck Cargo

  • Motor Truck General Liability

Some truck drivers may be eligible and apply for discounts. They can ask the insurance company for any of the following below to see if they can save on their quote:

  • Business Insurance Discount - For those who have been in the industry for more than three years

  • Commercial Driver’s License Discount (CDL) - For those who have had the CDL for a minimum of two years

  • Paid in Full - Truck drivers can get up to a 15% discount for paying their insurance in one lump sum.

  • Snapshot Proview - Provides businesses that have three or more trucks access to fleet management tools with a 5% discount on their policy.

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Truck Accident in Kansas?

The final value of a trucking accident case will have to consider various factors, such as whether or not the truck driver or the trucking company is at fault; the company showing high violation rates by DOT, as well as receiving regular safety alerts; or the truck driver going over the maximum driving hours. Other aspects like the severity of victims' injuries, the accumulated medical bills, and the trucking company's negligence in implementing safety training programs may also affect the value of the case.

Kansas Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents

In Kansas, a victim of a trucking accident has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal bodily injury, wrongful death, and damaged property. Missing this deadline may mean the claimant will have his or her case dismissed. A common mistake is thinking that two years is a very long time when, in reality, the attorney is going to need a lot of time to build a strong case that supports the injured in being awarded a high settlement amount that should cover all of their damages.

Kansas Is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

Individuals who find themselves in a trucking accident can file a claim with their own insurance company first to trigger their Personal Injury Protection coverage. If the coverage gets exhausted or they suffer any serious injuries, such as the permanent loss of a body function or disfigurement, they can then seek compensation from the other driver.

Kansas Is a Modified Comparative Fault State for Trucking Accident Lawsuits

Kansas implements modified comparative fault laws, which means that even a truck driver who was partially at fault can still receive some compensation as long as their degree of responsibility does not go over 50%. Additionally, the total amount they end up receiving will be diminished by their percentage of fault.

For example, a truck driver who was found to be 30% guilty will only receive $70,000 instead of the original amount of $100,000.

A partially at-fault driver found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident will not receive compensation. 

Average Settlement for Kansas Trucking Accident Lawsuits

As previously mentioned, there are many factors that must be considered when attorneys evaluate a case’s value. However, on average, a tractor-trailer settlement can reach up to $47,777, while heavy or commercial truck settlements can reach up to $35,412. 

There is, however, a cap placed on the non-economic damages that a truck accident victim can receive. Cases that happened on or after July 1, 2018 and before July 1, 2022 have a $325,000 cap, while those that happened after July 1, 2022 get a $350,000 cap. There is also a cap of $200,000 on wrongful death claims.

Legal Resources for Kansas Trucking Accident Victims

Kansas State Bar Lawyer Referral Service

The Kansas Bar Association (KBA) site can help injured car accident victims find an attorney. While there is no charge for a referral, the attorney who reaches out may charge a consultation fee. The KBA currently has more than 5,000 members, which include judges, attorneys, law students, and paralegals.

Kansas Legal Service

Kansas Legal Service is a non-profit corporation that provides aid to vulnerable Kansans coming from low- or moderate-income households. The attorneys affiliated with KLS can also help with matters concerning driver’s licenses, Medicare and Medicaid, and various public benefits such as disability assistance. They can be reached at 1-800-723-6953.

Kansas Trucking Insurance Requirements

You can find various information on some of the requirements here for truck drivers who either want to start in the industry or simply update their knowledge of road safety regulations by attending seminars.

Motor Vehicle Records

Here, you can sign up to become a Kansas Department of Revenue subscriber to have access to the Motor Vehicle Records. 

Kansas Highway Patrol Accident Report

Motorists who wish to retrieve a copy of their accident report can access the link, where they will be asked to create a account if they do not already have one. 

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