Commercial driving is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the world. There’s a good reason for these driving regulations, as truckers are operating vehicles that, when fully loaded, weigh an average of 80,000 pounds. As we all know, there is a massive need for safety and responsibility in the trucking industry. For better or worse, this means government regulations are a major factor in the daily operations of trucking companies.
Most trucking regulations are enforced through the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, the FMCSA, which is a branch of the Department of Transportation. The regulations created and enforced by the FMCSA vary in scope, detail, and specifics, but they all share a common goal: increased safety on the road.
Whether you have a small trucking team or a large fleet of semis, you need to understand the regulations and stay informed on all upcoming changes. It takes diligence, patience and communication, but you and your trucking company can remain ahead of all regulations for years to come.
While the FMCSA has numerous regulations, there are also CDL regulations imposed by state, county, and municipal governments that you need to be aware of. These laws can affect where your drivers can go, how fast they can travel, and what roads are off limits to commercial trucks. It’s your job as the company leader to understand not just federal regulations, but local regulations as well.
No matter where you live, you’ll have to be aware of all FMCSA regulations. Although there are too many laws and mandates to review in detail in one article, we’ll try to give you an overview of the general types of regulations that are released by the FMCSA.
There are regulations that address driver qualifications and responsibilities. These can include training, testing, and medical standards. The FMCSA mandates drug and alcohol testing upon hiring a driver, as well as after an accident. They also regulate the amount of time that drivers can spend behind the wheel. As part of the drive-time regulations, truckers are also required to log their hours. Other driver responsibilities mandated by the FMCSA include inspecting trucks and abiding general traffic laws. Traffic laws are often the same but the penalties for commercial drivers can be more severe.
There are laws and regulations that address the vehicle. Intended to promote stability and overall safety, these regulation focus on the following:
All of these regulations will have an impact on your business. While it might be the driver’s responsibility to ensure proper safety measures, your company could be held liable if an accident occurs.
It’s not just a wise business practice; staying up-to-date on all driving regulations is the right thing for your company, your community and the nation.
As the shipping industry changes, compliance with federal, state, and local regulations will become increasingly important. As you read this, there are regulations being proposed, drafted, debated and finalized. You can’t afford to sit still. Making sure your company is in compliance starts with knowledge, and there are a few convenient ways to gain this information.
To stay informed on FMCSA regulations, subscribe to their emails through the organization’s website. You’ll find emails sections that address rules and regulations, rule-making, safety and more. This is a great opportunity to have the information you need sent straight to your inbox.
The U.S. Department of Transportation also maintains a blog that discusses transportation issues. While this blog, called Fastlane, has information related to all forms of transportation, it also has content for commercial truckers.
This could very well be the most important step. If you are going to stay up-to-date on all regulations, it’s imperative that you communicate these regulations to your team. Drivers should be informed, well in advance, of any changes to their protocol that might be looming on the horizon. Dispatchers, technicians, and anyone else on your team should understand the importance of maintaining compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
By ensuring your team is informed, you will keep your trucking company on solid footing for years to come.
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