Truck drivers and commercial trucking companies must abide by federal trucking laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) creates and implements the regulations, and the laws govern a wide range of truck operations. The purpose of the regulations is to improve roadway safety for truck drivers, car drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Ultimately, the trucking regulations are aimed at protecting the public’s safety on the road.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Any accident involving trucks usually entails a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations. The regulations are published in the Federal Register if you wish to read through the many specific laws that exist to regulate the trucking industry. The full FMCSA regulations are also available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations. Because the FMCSA regulations are detailed and complex, truck accident cases often are more complicated than car accident cases. State code also expands on the federal regulations, and this also makes truck accident cases more difficult to handle than car accident cases. If you can prove that a truck driver or company violated FMCSA regulations, you may be able to prove a negligence claim in court.
The basic FMCSA regulations govern a truck driver’s work hours, rest periods, cargo weight limits, truck maintenance, safety standards, hiring procedure, training requirements and more. This article summarizes some of the most important FMCSA regulations in the trucking industry.
49 CFR §325: NOISE EMISSION STANDARDS
Vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds must be equipped with a warning horn or siren. In addition, the regulations put forth noise requirements aimed at reducing loud noise emitted by trucks.
49 CFR §350: CARRIER SAFETY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
This regulation states the requirements for a federally-funded grant program that provides states with money for safety programs and to reduce the number of car accidents, injuries and fatalities.
49 CFR §355: REQUIREMENTS FOR STATE TRUCKING REGULATIONS
State laws must be compatible with FMCSA regulations.
49 CFR §369: MOTOR CARRIER REPORTS
Carriers have a responsibility to submit quarterly and annual reports with the FMCSA.
49 CFR §380: SPECIAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
This regulation covers the specific topics that drivers must learn in a training course. The topics include “safe operating practices,” which instructs drivers on night driving, speed and space management, hazard perception, driving in extreme weather conditions and cargo weight distribution. Truck drivers must pass a skills and knowledge test. To operate an LCV Double, driver-students shall have a valid Class A CDL, driving experience, no suspensions, no convictions of major offenses defined under §383.51(b) and no convictions under state law for violation of major traffic laws.
49 CFR §382: DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING REQUIREMENTS
This regulation sets forth programs aimed at prevention of alcohol or drug misuse by truck drivers. Employers may provide alcohol or drug tests before, during or after a driver engages in driving. Employers must test drivers for alcohol at least eight hours after accidents involving a death. Employers have the right to perform testing if they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Before an employer hires a new driver, the employer must administer a drug and alcohol test that reveals a negative result.
49 CFR §383: COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE STANDARDS
This regulation establishes notification, licensing and testing requirements for commercial drivers.
49 CFR §390: FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS; GENERAL
- §390.3: Trucking companies must be aware of all trucking regulations and also ensure that drivers and loaders are aware of them.
- §390.5: “Employees” of trucking companies include independent contractors, mechanics, freight handlers and drivers of leased vehicles. A driver may be considered the “employee” of multiple companies so as to increase liability insurance available after a person has died or been seriously injured in a trucking accident.
- §390.15: Trucking companies must maintain an accident register for a minimum of three years after each accident occurring after April 29, 2003.
- §390.42: Operators of trucks with intermodal equipment must make sure that the equipment is in proper working order before each drive.
49 CFR §391: QUALIFICATIONS OF DRIVERS AND DRIVER INSTRUCTIONS
- §391.11: Drivers must be qualified, licensed, at least 21 years old, understand English traffic signals and have successfully completed a driver’s road test.
- §391.15: A driver will have his or her license disqualified if he or she has been found driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the amount of 0.04 percent.
- §391.23: Employers must check references and investigate an operator’s past driving history before hiring him or her.
- §391.25: Employers must review a driver’s record at least once every 12 months.
- §391.27: Drivers must provide an employer with a list of all convictions at least once every 12 months.
49 CFR §392: DRIVING OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES
- §392.3: No driver shall operate a car while fatigued, ill or under any other condition that results in unsafe driving on the road.
- §392.4: No driver shall possess or be under the influence of amphetamines, narcotics or any other derivative drugs.
- §392.7: Trucking companies must complete a pre-trip inspection to ensure that a truck’s service brakes, steering, wipers, tires, horn, mirrors and parking brakes are in working order.
- §392.8: Truck drivers must inspect emergency equipment.
- §392.14: Truck drivers must exert extreme caution when driving in snow, sleet, ice, fog, dust, rain, smoke and other conditions affecting visibility.
- §392.82: No driver shall use a hand-held mobile phone while operating a CMV. Using a hand-held phone is permissible when a driver must communicate with law enforcement and emergency officials.
49 CFR §393: SAFETY PART AND ACCESSORY REQUIREMENTS
These regulations set specific requirements for lights, mirrors, reflectors, warning signals, battery installation, brakes, windows, fuel tanks, towing, windshield wipers, floors and cargo security.
49 CFR §395: HOURS OF SERVICE FOR DRIVERS
These regulations set the hour limits and schedules that drivers must follow.
- §395.5: No driver may driver over 10 hours after 8 hours off duty.
- No driver may drive for any period after he or she has been on duty for 15 hours and has had 8 hours off duty.
- No driver may drive more than 60 hours in a 7-day period.
- No driver may drive more than 70 days in an 8-day period.
- After a 10-hour break, a driver may only drive a maximum of 11 hours.
- After a driver takes 34 hours off, he or she may restart a 7-8 day work week.
- §395.8: Every driver must record his or her duty status for each 24-hour period.
49 CFR §396: INSPECTION, REPAIR & MAINTENANCE
These regulations set forth requirements for continual inspection of trucks.
49 CFR §399: EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND HEALTH STANDARDS
These regulations set forth federal standards to enhance the safety of commercial trucking employees.