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Breaking Down Federal Trucking Regulations: Driver Qualifications

Tina Robinson3 years ago

Being involved in an accident involving a semi tractor-trailer can be a frightening experience and can cause serious injuries. If an accident is caused by a bad driver, it is important to know that there are very specific federal regulations about who is allowed to drive commercial vehicles.

Truck drivers must meet certain training requirements, medical requirements, and maintain a good driving record in addition to possessing a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle. It is also the responsibility of the company employing drivers to keep accurate records of various driver qualifications for each truck driver it employs.

The following information is a brief overview of some of the requirements which all commercial motor vehicle drivers must meet. The full break-down of driver qualifications can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website under Part 390.

General Driver Qualifications

The general qualifications of drivers can be found in Part 391.11 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle, driver’s must:

  • Be at least 21-years-old
  • Be able to read and speak English sufficiently enough to converse with the general public, read and read traffic signs and signals, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records
  • Have enough experience or training to properly operate the type of commercial vehicle he/she drives
  • Be physically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle
  • Have a current, valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued only by one State or jurisdiction
  • Furnish a list of violations or certificates to the company employing him/her
  • Not be disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle
  • Have successfully completed a driver’s road test and been issued a certificate of a driver’s road test

Physical Requirements of Truck Drivers

Truck drivers operate dangerous equipment and must be physically and mentally capable of performing basic duties and making split-moment decisions that affect the lives of those around them.

Although exceptions can be granted in certain situations, drivers must typically not have any impairment or loss of hands, arms, feet, and legs. It is equally important that driver’s vision and hearing fall within certain acceptable ranges.

Other medical requirements consider if a driver is at risk of heart failure and other diseases which might interfere with his/her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Regulations also forbid drivers from using drugs, alcohol, and medications unless prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner. Drivers are also disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle if they have a current diagnosis of alcoholism.

The full list of physical requirements for drivers can be found in Section 391.41 of the FMCSRs.

Driver Disqualifications

Once a driver is hired, there are certain things that can result in a driver disqualification. A disqualification can range from a few months to a longer period such as 10 years. Offenses that can cause a driver to become disqualified include:

  • Revocation of a commercial driver’s license
  • Driving under the influence
  • The transportation and possession of illegal substances
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Felony involving the use of a commercial vehicle

Next week, we will look at the training, supervision, and other key areas of regulation involved in the operation of commercial motor vehicles.

Breaking Down Federal Trucking Regulations is a four-part blog series highlighting federal trucking regulations as established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. New installments will appear on the Thomas J. Henry blog every Friday through June 20. Read Part II | Part III

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