Federal Requirements for Truck Drivers

Tim Miley
Injury Lawyer, Author, & Owner of The Miley Legal Group

Unlike drivers of motor vehicles, truck drivers have a responsibility that extends beyond traffic laws and the rules of the road. They must adhere to a variety of federal trucking requirements. Some even come into play when a truck driver has been involved in an accident in Clarksburg.

Who regulates truck drivers?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for issuing and enforcing rules and regulations in the trucking industry. The main goal is to improve safety and reduce the number of injuries/fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles (CMV).

This is accomplished by also working with local and state enforcement agencies and others, like the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

What are regulations pertaining to parts/accessories needed for safe operation of a CMV?

Although driver error is many times the cause of a truck accident, it could also happen when the parts of a truck are inoperable, faulty or otherwise unsafe. Therefore, the FMCSA regulates specific types of parts/accessories necessary to safely operate a CMV.

The following are some examples of parts/accessories needed for safe operation of a large truck:

  • lamps;
  • reflectors;
  • service brake system;
  • parking brake system;
  • steering axle brakes;
  • brake warning devices;
  • antilock brake system;
  • coupling devices;
  • cargo securement; and
  • rear end protection.

What are regulations pertaining to inspection, repair and maintenance of a CMV?

Federal regulations mandate that at all times parts and accessories are safe and working properly. This is done by performing regular inspections and making repairs when necessary. Failing to maintain a CMV could also be a cause for an accident.

The trucking company is required to keep records for any truck under its control for 30 consecutive days, including the following:

  • identifying information (company number, make, year, tire size and serial number);
  • due dates for maintenance operations and inspections;
  • date and nature of inspections, repairs and maintenance performed; and
  • tests conducted on emergency doors or push-out windows.

The trucking company is required to keep these records on hand at all times. Once a truck leaves its control, the company must still maintain the records for at least one year and six months.

What are regulations regarding an ill or fatigued truck driver?

FMCSA mandates that any truck driver whose alertness or abilities are impaired because of illness or fatigue must not operate a CMV. This applies to both starting and continuing the operation of a truck. Driving while drowsy or sick could be contributing factors in an accident. So a violation of these regulations may be viewed as negligence.

What are hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for drivers?

Because of the risks associated with fatigue, FMCSA has instituted hours-of-service regulations. These are designed to limit the amount of time a driver spends behind the wheel. Going over the allowable number of hours is a violation. But it could also become an important factor if a Clarksburg driver is in an accident with a large truck.

There are several limits that apply to truck drivers. One is the 14-hour on duty limit, which means a driver can be on duty for 14 consecutive hours after being off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. The limit remains in place even when the driver has taken off-duty time, such as a nap or dinner break.

The second is the 11-hour driving limit. During the 14 hours of on-duty time, the driver can drive the CMV up to 11 hours. It doesn’t matter if the 11 hours is driven at one time or in increments: once the total number of hours driven has reached 11, the driver must be off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours.

The 60/70-hour on duty limit also applies. The 60 or 70 hours is the limit for seven- and eight-day periods, respectively.

Is violation of federal trucking requirements to blame for your accident?

Truckers in and around Clarksburg who violate federal trucking regulations may be liable – as well as their employers– for any accidents that result from the violation. If you’re in an accident with a large truck, check out the Miley Legal Group’s free eBook, 7 Biggest Mistakes that Will Wreck Your West Virginia Accident Claim.