Driving an 80,000-pound truck comes with incredible risks, so it makes sense that there are a few crucial guidelines that truck drivers are required to follow. Here are a series of rules to follow and assessments to pass in order to ensure people who transport our important cargo are traveling safely.
Becoming a Truck Driver
When deciding to become a commercial truck driver, you must first earn a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most commercial truck employers require their employees to have a GED or high school diploma along with the completion of a truck driving community college credit course or private truck driving school.
The truck driving school period can last several months and will prepare students for the Commercial Driver’s License exam as well as learn more about driving large vehicles. It is also required that truck driving students must pass the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation exam which will test each individual eye sight, hearing and knowledge of traffic laws.
After passing both exams, employers will often times require truck drivers to complete a few weeks of training with their company often referred to as ‘Driver Finishing Program.’ Before you hit the road as a commercial truck driver, most employers will ask that you have a year or two of experience of driving a similarly sized vehicle. In driving school, drivers will learn all of the important laws to follow to be a safe driver on the road.
Laws for Truck Drivers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers are permitted to drive 11 hours only after 10 consecutive hours of duty. Also, the driver may not drive longer than the 14th consecutive hour after beginning a shift that follows 10 consecutive hours off duty. Finally, the truck driver is permitted to drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the driver’s most recent off-duty time period (of at least 30 minutes).
If a truck driver is embarking on a long-haul journey, the driver must use the sleeper berth for 8 consecutive hours in addition to two consecutive hours in the sleeper berth or off duty. This is to ensure drivers get enough rest before enduring a long-haul expedition.
Additionally, a 60/70- hour limit rule is enforced where a driver may not operate their truck after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 days in a row. A truck driver may resume their 7/8 consecutive duties only after being off duty for 34 or more hours. All of these rules are designed to ensure drivers are getting proper rest to negate fatigue and/or falling asleep at the wheel. Nobody is safe to drive if they aren’t rested.
In 2016, a law passed that stated truck drivers are required to log their hours and breaks electronically to keep track of their commitment to safety with their trucking company. Before this, truck drivers were told to keep handwritten paper logs to record their hours of driving and rest but there were too many issues found in this way of reporting.
Phone Use and Driving
In January 2012, The Department of Transportation passed a law that fines commercial truck drivers who use their phone while driving. Any driver who is caught using their cellphone while operating their truck will face a fine of $2,750 and companies who do not punish drivers for using their phone or allow this behavior could be fined up to $11,000. This law is designed to crack down on distracted driving due to the rate of crashes and fatalities connected to reckless driving.
Drugs & Alcohol
Truck drivers are not permitted to drink alcohol four hours before operating their vehicles. They must also abide by the BAC level of 0.04 which is half of the traditional approved BAC level for car drivers. At any time, truck drivers can be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards expresses that truck companies are required by law to record and keep all records of inspection, maintenance and repairs on trucks for one year and the six months following the trucks service. These records are incredibly helpful and can be pulled if there was a maintenance issue that caused a truck accident.
We create laws for truck drivers to follow to ensure our drivers are all safe on the road. Unfortunately, not all laws are followed which can cause serious damage and injuries. If you believe you’ve been hit by a negligent truck driver, do not wait to contact a trusted truck accident lawyer to investigate the accident and fight for your rights.