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What Type of Regulations Do Truck Drivers Face?

Truck drivers play a crucial role in the supply chain, keeping the economy chugging along. While their work is essential, there's no denying that trucks can cause serious damage, injuries, or even death, when accidents occur. 

That's why state and federal governments are invested in regulating this industry to help prevent tragedy and maintain efficiency on the roads. In this article, we'll look into some of the common rules and guidelines faced by truck drivers. Read on! 

“The various trucking regulations are in place for the safety of the truckers and the motorists around them,” says Attorney James G. Onder of OnderLaw. Adherence to these regulations is crucial to protection driver attention and safety on the roadways.

Weight and Cargo Regulations

Regulating trucks’ weight and cargo is one of the major regulations the government has set forth to prevent overloaded vehicles from causing accidents or damaging roads. For example, gross vehicle weight limits are set at 80,000 pounds, distributed over a series of axles. However, individual states may have specific or additional requirements.

As a truck driver, you must adhere to these weight restrictions and ensure your cargo is properly secured. This includes using appropriate tie-downs and load binders that meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards. By following these rules, you contribute to safer highways while avoiding hefty fines or penalties for non-compliance.

Hours of Service Regulations

Hours of service regulations limit the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive to prevent fatigue. As per FMCSA regulations, truck drivers have up to 11 hours of driving and a maximum of 14 on-duty hours which must be followed by 10 consecutive off-duty hours. The agency requires that truckers take a 30-minute break after every 8 hours of driving. Additionally, truckers have to take a break after driving for 60-70 hours over a 7-8-day period. 

They can take another 60-70 hour shift only after being off-duty for 34 consecutive hours. Virginia law allows up to 12 hours of driving after 10 hours off duty and no more than 16 hours after 10 hours off duty. It also prevents driving after 70 hours on duty over 7 days or 80 on duty hours over 8 days. Truck drivers can also extend their 11 and 14-hour driving windows by up to 2 hours during adverse weather conditions.

Truck Driver Requirements

All truck drivers are subject to several federal requirements to weed out potentially unsafe drivers. They must first obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Once they are hired, their employers will be required to maintain the following documents for the trucker;

  • A Road Test Certificate
  • A safety performance history request 
  • A Virginia DMV inquiry for their past 3-year driving record
  • An inquiry into the past 3 years of alcohol and drug tests or refusals
  • An employment inquiry for the past 3 years
  • An annual copy of their driving record from the DMV
  • An annual report on all convicted violations of traffic laws
  • A physical exam certificate every two years

Suspension of a Commercial Driver’s License

Many things that can cause suspension of a truck driver's license. For instance, trucking while under the influence of alcohol will lead to a one-year CDL suspension. 

Also, truck drivers who don’t stop at the scene of an accident, refuse to take an alcohol test, lie on their CDL applications, or use trucks to commit felonies are also subject to a one-year license suspension.

Truckers who commit these infractions while transporting hazardous items receive an extra two years’ suspension. Furthermore, transporting illegal drugs will result in a lifetime suspension. Traffic infractions such as tailgating and speeding can also lead to a suspended CDL. 

Failing to adhere to truck driving regulations often results in fines and even jail time, not to mention catastrophic injury and property damage to other motorists.

For this reason, it is important for truckers to check with their employers as well as any applicable government regulations to better understand their safety responsibilities.

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