Federal Regulations Governing the Trucking Industry

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Truck drivers bear a considerable responsibility, literally. Tractor-trailers are roughly 80 feet long, and the weight is dependent on what kind of load they carry. Suffice it to say, trying to traverse roads with that large of a vehicle takes a certain type of driver.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, is responsible for overseeing the trucking industry. It sets rules by which drivers and companies operate. When something goes amiss, and a truck crash occurs, the FMCSA wants to know who was responsible. When it comes to guidelines for truckers, vehicle drivers will want to know that there is some oversight watching over their safety. Take some time to know a few of the many rules truckers must follow.

The Number of Hours a Driver Can Work

One of the hottest issues in the trucking industry is the hours of service rule established by the FMCSA in the 1930s. It sets the time a trucker can drive before having to stop for rest. The goal of the practice was to prevent drivers from attempting to haul a load with little to no sleep. When the rule was set, technology was not where it is now, and drivers kept handwritten logs. Since such a record could be manipulated, crashes due to fatigue still occurred.

Many trucks now have an electronic log in the engine, which makes it easier to track the number of hours a driver is on the road. Crashes due to fatigue have gone down systematically over the last decade. Even so, the debate over the benefits of the rule versus its negative impact on driver income has been raging for decades. Truckers want some changes to the rule, and currently, it appears that some of those changes will occur. Only time will tell if these changes start increasing the number of accidents.

Special License Required

The FMCSA also sets out the requirements a person needs to meet to become a truck driver. One of these is a commercial driver’s license or CDL. This license is in addition to a regular motor vehicle license. An applicant for a CDL needs to meet physical requirements, undergo training on how to operate a large truck, and pass a test before getting the license. Issuance of a CDL also subjects the driver to stricter driving regulations, such as the use of alcohol or drugs while behind the wheel of a semi.

Truck drivers are a vital part of the American economy, and those who choose to partake in this career understand the rules beforehand. If you find yourself the victim of a crash involving one of these big rigs, an auto accident lawyer in Memphis, TN may be your best resource and ally.


Thanks to Patterson Bray, for their insight into personal injury claims and federal regulations for trucks.