Large commercial trucks can cause considerable damage when they are involved in accidents. In order to keep the nation’s roadways safe, the federal government—specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration within the United States Department of Transportation—developed and enforces rules to reduce the likelihood of truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

If you suffered an injury in a collision with a truck, an experienced tractor trailer attorney who is knowledgeable of federal trucking regulations could help you recover damages if the driver or trucking company violated these guidelines.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations govern everything from training and records to maintenance and safety rules. Among a variety of other things, the safety regulations cover aspects of trucking such as testing for alcohol and drugs, Safety Fitness Procedures, and maximum service hours for drivers.

What is the Purpose of Federal Truck Regulations?

The purpose of Code of Federal Regulations §382.101 is to help reduce the likelihood of crashes caused by the misuse of alcohol or use of controlled substances by commercial motor vehicle drivers. These regulations prohibit drivers from reporting for or remaining on duty requiring the performance of safety-sensitive functions if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater. In addition, drivers may not use alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions or perform safety-sensitive functions within four hours of using alcohol.

Expected Requirements to be a Truck Driver

Drivers are also required to undergo testing for controlled substances prior to the first time he or she performs safety-sensitive functions unless exempted by law. Thereafter, drivers cannot report for or remain on duty requiring the performance of safety-sensitive functions if they use any substance specified in 21 CFR §1308.11 as a Schedule 1 drug, or any substance identified in other schedules unless it is used pursuant to orders by a licensed medical practitioner.

Employers may not allow a driver to operate a commercial truck if he or she determines that the driver is not in compliance with federal trucking regulations. Employers must conduct a certain number of random tests for alcohol and controlled substances annually, as well as when he or she has reasonable suspicion to believe a driver has violated the regulation’s prohibitions.

Safety Fitness Procedures

Part 385 of the Code of Federal Regulations outlines Safety Fitness Procedures to determine the safety fitness of trucks, assign safety ratings, require remedial action if necessary, and ban trucks from operating if he or she has a safety rating of unsatisfactory.

To receive a satisfactory safety rating, a trucking company must demonstrate adequate safety management controls to ensure compliance with applicable safety requirements. When determining a rating, a number of factors may be considered in addition to the safety management controls in place, including the frequency and severity of regulatory violations.

A motor carrier can request an administrative review if it believes there was an error in assigning its safety rating. Any carrier who received a conditional or unsatisfactory rating may undertake corrective actions and then request a rating change.

What are the Hour Expectations of Truck Operators?

Hours-of-service regulations, found in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, limits when and how long truckers may operate his or her vehicles to ensure he or she stays alert. There are three maximum duty limits: the 14-Hour Window, the 11-Hour Limit, and 60 Hour/7-Day and 70-Hour/8-Day Limits.

Truckers are allowed to drive for a period of 14 consecutive hours maximum after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. During the 14-hour window, a trucker can only drive for up to 11 total hours. Once a driver has driven a total of 11 hours, he or she must be off duty for another 10 consecutive hours.

In total, a truck driver may work a maximum of 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. These limits are often thought of as weekly limits, even though the limits are based on a rolling period rather than a set calendar week. In addition, federal trucking regulations require that if more than eight consecutive hours have passed since the last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes, a driver must take a break of at least 30 minutes before driving.

Trust an Experienced Attorney to Know About Federal Trucking Rules

The federal trucking regulations in the United States were developed to protect the public by ensuring the safe operation of commercial vehicles on public roads. The rules are complex and generally very strict, so if a violation by a trucker or trucking company caused you to suffer injuries in a crash, you may want an experienced lawyer on your side who could help you establish a claim. Call today to discuss your case.