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Breaking Down Federal Trucking Regulations: Driving Commercial Motor Vehicles

Tina Robinson2 years ago

Last week’s blog about federal trucking regulations looked at driver qualifications. This week, we will look at some of the more specific rules about operating commercial motor vehicles.

Even if a driver meets all the qualifications to operate a commercial motor vehicle, it is important that driver continues to act in a safe manner when behind the wheel. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations has extensive rules about driving commercial motor vehicles that are geared toward keeping drivers and those around them safe. A full list of all the rules can be found under Section 392 of the FMCSRs. 

Ill or Fatigued Drivers

Drivers who are sick or tired can put many lives at risk because their ability to make decisions and stay alert is impaired. The only time ill or fatigued drivers are allowed to continue driving a commercial motor vehicle is in cases of grave emergency when compliance would increase the danger. Even then, the driver must immediately stop as soon as a safe destination is reached.

Drugs and Alcohol

Much like normal passenger vehicles, drivers of commercial vehicles are prohibited from driving while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and other substances that would impair their ability to function normally. This includes:

  • Schedule I substances
  • Amphetamine
  • Narcotics and narcotic-derivatives

In most states, the legal blood alcohol content is .08. However, commercial drivers must not have any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol.

Schedules to Conform with Speed Limits

Truck drivers are often under intense pressure to maintain schedules. In order to prevent drivers from operating at unsafe speeds, schedules must not be so demanding that it would necessitate a driver to speed in order to get between points.

Equipment and Safety Equipment

Because of the size and weight of most commercial vehicles, it’s vital that all equipment and safety equipment are properly working. Drivers must complete a thorough inspection of all equipment before hitting the roads and be satisfied that everything is in good working condition.

Cell Phone Use

In recent years, the dangers of distracted driving have become a topic of public concern. Studies have repeatedly shown the dangers of cell phone use while driving. In response, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has banned all hand-held device use for commercial drivers. This includes talking on a hand-held device or texting. The only exception is if a driver needs to communicate with law enforcement or emergency services.

Next week will look at the rules regarding hours of service that dictate when and how long a driver must rest between trips.

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 I | Part III

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