Truck companies and their drivers are integral to the U.S. economy, delivering goods from coast to coast every day. These massive vehicles, often traveling at high speeds, share the roads with much smaller cars and motorcycles, making safety paramount. To ensure this safety, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes certain rules and regulations on truck companies and drivers.
The FMCSA regulations encompass various aspects of trucking, so familiarity with these rules can help you understand why they exist and the responsibilities of truck companies and drivers to adhere to them.
Before a driver can operate a commercial motor vehicle, they must meet specific qualifications. They must be at least 21 years old, proficient in English to communicate with the public and officials and have a commercial driver’s license. They must also pass a physical exam every two years, which checks for conditions like high blood pressure or other diseases that might affect their ability to drive.
Hours of service
To prevent fatigue-related accidents, the FMCSA has established strict guidelines for how long drivers can be on the road. Truck drivers cannot drive for more than 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. In a seven-day period, a driver cannot drive after having been on duty for 60/70 hours.
Truck companies must regularly inspect, repair and maintain all vehicles under their control. These vehicles should be in a condition that ensures safety at all times. Drivers also have a role here, as they must inspect their trucks before each trip and report any defects they find.
The FMCSA provides detailed rules on securing various types of cargo. Proper securement prevents cargo from shifting or falling from the vehicle, which could cause accidents. The rules specify the appropriate use of ties, wedges and other securing devices, depending on the cargo’s nature.
Alcohol and drug prohibitions
Truck drivers must not operate their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are subject to random testing for alcohol and controlled substances. In addition, following any accident involving a fatality, or where the driver receives a citation, testing becomes mandatory.
The FMCSA has these federal rules in place for truck companies and drivers to ensure safety on the roads for everyone.