Federal Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers

Understanding the Federal Regulations for Commercial Truck Drivers

Truck driving is a highly regulated field. Tractor-trailers can cause an enormous amount of damage when mishandled, and strict regulations make the roads a safer place for everyone. Furthermore, these regulations put limits on an industry that is regularly understaffed and overworked. Without tough federal requirements, employers are likely to push drivers past their limits and cause burnout.

Learn more about the wide range of restrictions placed on truck drivers and why these regulations exist. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, call Bailey, Javins & Carter at 800-497-0234 to set up a consultation.

CDL Requirements

The Department of Transportation has strict limitations regarding who can apply for a commercial driver’s license. Before obtaining a CDL, a driver must be at least 18 years old if they plan on driving intrastate. They must be 21 if they plan on driving interstate or carrying hazardous materials—many jobs do require interstate travel.

A commercial learner’s permit gives drivers the opportunity to practice on public roads with the help of a CDL holder. With your CLP, you must complete an entry-level driver training program approved by the FMCSA. After having the learner’s permit for at least 14 days and completing a training program, drivers can apply for their CDL.

Hours of Service Regulations

Hours of service regulations are a significant part of the limitations imposed on the trucking industry. Property-carrying drivers are subject to different requirements than passenger-carrying drivers. Those who carry property can drive no more than 11 hours after spending 10 straight hours off-duty. A driver must break again 14 hours after coming on duty. After eight hours of driving, a driver must take a break lasting at least 30 minutes.

There are limitations on a truck driver’s work week. In seven consecutive days, a driver cannot drive more than 60 hours. They cannot drive more than 70 hours in eight days. The seven or eight day stretch restarts after at least 34 hours off-duty.

Adverse driving conditions do affect the hours-of-service regulations. The 11-hour window and 14-hour window can both be extended by up to two hours in unsafe driving conditions. This protects drivers from needing to drive too fast for conditions in order to stay in compliance.

Electronic Logging Devices

The majority of motor carriers and commercial drivers are required to use electronic logging devices. This regulation aims to make driving data easier to log and to keep the roads safer. Approved electronic logging devices record drive time, hours of service data, and engine data. Many electronic logging devices record other data, including location and speed, but these features are not required by the FMCSA. ELDs must be able to transmit data locally or telematically.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

This industry comes down hard on those who use drugs or alcohol while driving. Because of this, there are many regulations covering drug and alcohol testing. All CDL drivers must submit to testing before employment, after an accident, at random, when there is reasonable suspicion of impairment, and upon returning to duty.

If a driver does have issues with impaired driving and sees a substance abuse professional, they may have to take follow-up tests. A positive test, a BAC of 0.04 or higher, or a refusal to test warrants loss of commercial driving privileges. The driver must then see a substance abuse professional to begin the return-to-duty process.

Truck Maintenance Regulations

A poorly-maintained truck can cause serious damage. The FMCSA requires that all parts and accessories be in safe and proper condition at all times. Pushout windows, emergency door marking lights, and emergency doors have to be inspected at least every 90 days. Drivers must perform a daily post-trip inspection report. Any defects or deficiencies found must be repaired or certified that immediate repair isn’t required. An annual inspection is required.

Hurt in a Truck Accident? Call Bailey, Javins & Carter Today

Even with all of these regulations, unsafe trucks and truck drivers still cause truck accidents every day. You may be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured in a truck collision. Call us at 800-497-0234 or send us a message online to discuss your Atlanta truck accident.