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Federal Trucking Regulations
Overview of FMCSA Rules
- Qualifications of drivers – If a driver operates a commercial vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds or transports hazardous materials, he or she must comply with specific provisions set forth in the federal regulations. Drivers must at least be 21 years of age, be able to speak and read English, be physically fit to safely operate their vehicle, possess a valid CDL, and have a driving record free from license suspension or revocation for a DUI, a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, or refusing to take an alcohol test.
- Inspection, repair, and maintenance – It is mandatory for trucking companies to perform frequent, routine inspections and repairs on all truck parts and equipment before taking any long journey. These inspections serve to ensure the truck is in safe, working condition and are an important part of interstate trucking safety.
- Hours of service – According to federal rules, a commercial truck driver may only operate a truck for 11 hours after a 10-hour break. He or she may not also drive beyond a 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty after a 10-hour break. Furthermore, a driver may not work more than 60-70 hours in 7-8 consecutive days.
- Weight limits – A commercial truck may only carry up to a maximum of 20,000 pounds per axle, which is a gross vehicle weight not exceeding 80,000 pounds. Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo often results in difficulties maneuvering and stopping, which can result in a devastating accident.
- Alcohol and drug testing – Periodic testing of drivers for alcohol and controlled substance use is mandatory for those who operate a vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more, including a towed unit or trailer weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
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