Federal Rules and Safety Regulations for the Trucking Industry

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal government agency who is responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles. The FMCSA is also the U.S. government agency whose mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. Click here if you would like to know more about the FMCSA.

Listed below are a few of the regulations that can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49. These regulations are of particular importance when investigating the safety records of both the driver of the semi truck in a trucking accident, and the trucking company or carrier who is responsible for ownership of the tractor and/or the trailer.

Title 49 CFR §385.5   Safety fitness standard.

The satisfactory safety rating is based on the degree of compliance with the safety fitness standard for motor carriers... To meet the safety fitness standard, the motor carrier must demonstrate it has adequate safety management controls in place, which function effectively to ensure acceptable compliance with applicable safety requirements to reduce the risk associated with:

(a) Commercial driver's license standard violations (part 383 of this chapter),

(b) Inadequate levels of financial responsibility [insurance] (part 387 of this chapter),

(c) The use of unqualified drivers (part 391 of this chapter),

(d) Improper use and driving of motor vehicles (part 392 of this chapter),

(e) Unsafe vehicles operating on the highways (part 393 of this chapter),

(f) Failure to maintain accident registers and copies of accident reports (part 390 of this chapter),

(g) The use of fatigued drivers (part 395 of this chapter),

(h) Inadequate inspection, repair, and maintenance of vehicles (part 396 of this chapter),

(i) Transportation of hazardous materials, driving and parking rule violations (part 397 of this chapter),

(j) Violation of hazardous materials regulations (parts 170-177 of this title), and

(k) Motor vehicle accidents and hazardous materials incidents.

49 CFR §383.1   Purpose and scope [of Commercial Driver License CDL requirement].

(a) The purpose of this part is to help reduce or prevent truck and bus accidents, fatalities, and injuries by requiring drivers to have a single commercial motor vehicle driver's license and by disqualifying drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles in an unsafe manner.

(b) This part:

(1) Prohibits a commercial motor vehicle driver from having more than one commercial motor vehicle driver's license;

(2) Requires a driver to notify the driver's current employer and the driver's State of domicile of certain convictions;

(3) Requires that a driver provide previous employment information when applying for employment as an operator of a commercial motor vehicle;

(4) Prohibits an employer from allowing a person with a suspended license to operate a commercial motor vehicle;

(5) Establishes periods of disqualification and penalties for those persons convicted of certain criminal and other offenses and serious traffic violations, or subject to any suspensions, revocations, or cancellations of certain driving privileges;

(6) Establishes testing and licensing requirements for commercial motor vehicle operators;

(7) Requires States to give knowledge and skills tests to all qualified applicants for commercial drivers' licenses which meet the Federal standard;

(8) Sets forth commercial motor vehicle groups and endorsements;

(9) Sets forth the knowledge and skills test requirements for the motor vehicle groups and endorsements;

(10) Sets forth the Federal standards for procedures, methods, and minimum passing scores for States and others to use in testing and licensing commercial motor vehicle operators; and

(11) Establishes requirements for the State issued commercial license documentation.

49 CFR §395.3   Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in §395.1, no motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements:

(1) Start of work shift. A driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty;

(2) 14-hour period. A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

(3) Driving time and rest breaks. (i) Driving time. A driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14-hour period specified in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(ii) Rest breaks. Except for drivers who qualify for either of the short-haul exceptions in §395.1(e)(1) or (2), driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver's last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

(b) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, for any period after—

(1) Having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or

(2) Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.

(c)(1) Any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

(2) Any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

(d) A driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period. When a driver takes more than one off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours within a period of 168 consecutive hours, he or she must indicate in the Remarks section of the record of duty status which such off-duty period is being used to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.

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