Federal Trucking Regulations

Drivers of commercial vehicles have an enormous responsibility. These drivers must safely operate vehicles weighing as much as 80,000 pounds and must account for the complexities of large trucks, such as preventing jackknifing and keeping in mind that trucks have much longer stopping distances.

Because commercial truck drivers have so many challenges in order to operate their vehicles safely, they are subject to tougher licensing regulations. There are also many other requirements imposed on commercial truck drivers under both state and federal law that are designed to protect the drivers and those they share the road with.

In order to better understand the obligations and requirements set forth by trucking regulations, it is advisable to consider the definitions listed within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

The Federal Trucking Carrier Safety Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are found in the United States Code in Title 49 Parts 350-399. These regulations set many important requirements to make sure that trucks are operated safely and that drivers behave in a reasonably prudent manner. For example:

  • Part 391 sets requirements on driver qualifications. Among the requirements are mandates that the driver be at least 21 years of age and that he or she must be properly trained to operate the vehicle.
  • Part 393 regulates truck parts and accessories. This regulation addresses reflective devices and other safety equipment.
  • Part 395 is one of the most important regulations. It relates to hours of service and limits the amount of time that drivers can operate their vehicles without a break.

The following definitions apply to trucking regulations under 49 CFR 395.1 through 49 CFR 395.3:

  • Driving time means all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation.
  • Eight consecutive days means the period of eight consecutive days beginning on any day at the time designated by the motor carrier for a 24-hour period.
  • On-duty time means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work. On-duty time shall include:
    1. All time at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the motor carrier;
    2. All time inspecting, servicing, or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time;
    3. All driving time as defined in the term driving time;
    4. All time, other than driving time, in or upon any commercial motor vehicle except time spent resting in the sleeper berth;
    5. All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle, supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the commercial motor vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded;
    6. All time repairing, obtaining assistance, or remaining in attendance upon a disabled commercial motor vehicle;
    7. All time spent providing a breath sample or urine specimen, including travel time to and from the collection site, in order to comply with the random, reasonable suspicion, post-accident, or follow-up testing required by part 382 of this sub-chapter when directed by a motor carrier;
    8. Performing any other work in the capacity, employ, or service of a motor carrier;
    9. Performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier.
  • Seven consecutive days means the period of seven consecutive days beginning on any day at the time designated by the motor carrier for a 24-hour period.
  • Sleeper berth means a berth conforming to the requirements of § 393.76 of this chapter.
  • Twenty-four-hour period means any 24-consecutive-hour period beginning at the time designated by the motor carrier for the terminal from which the driver is normally dispatched.
  • Driver means any person who operates a commercial motor vehicle. This includes, but is not limited to: Full time, regularly employed drivers; casual, intermittent or occasional drivers; leased drivers and independent owner-operator contractors. (49 CFR 382.107)
  • Employee means an operator of a commercial motor vehicle (including an independent contractor when operating a commercial motor vehicle), a mechanic, a freight handler, or an individual not an employer, who (A) directly affects commercial motor vehicle safety in the course of employment; and (B) is not an employee of the United States Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State acting in the course of the employment by the Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State. (49 U.S.C. § 31132)
  • Employer (A) means a person engaged in a business affecting interstate commerce that owns or leases a commercial motor vehicle in connection with that business, or assigns an employee to operate it; but (B) does not include the Government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State. (49 U.S.C. § 31132)
  • Commercial motor vehicle means a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property, if the vehicle (A) has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater; (B) is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; (C) is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or (D) is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under section 5103 of this title and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under section 5103. (49 U.S.C. § 31132)

49 CFR § 395.3 Maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles.

Subject to the exceptions and exemptions in §395.1:

(a) No motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle:

  1. More than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty;
  2. For any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, except when a property-carrying driver complies with the provisions of §395.1(o) or §395.1(e)(2).

(b) No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, for any period after—

  1. Having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week; or
  2. Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.

(c)

  1. Through June 30, 2013, any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours. After June 30, 2013, any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Through June 30, 2013, any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours. After June 30, 2013, any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours that includes two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

(d) After June 30, 2013, a driver may not take an off-duty period allowed by paragraph (c) of this section to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days until 168 or more consecutive hours have passed since the beginning of the last such off-duty period. When a driver takes more than one off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours within a period of 168 consecutive hours, he or she must indicate in the Remarks section of the record of duty status which such off-duty period is being used to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.

Injured? Call Our Tulsa Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyers Now

With all of the specific and confusing language in these regulations, you want someone who is skilled at interpreting the law that applies specifically to these trucking cases. The Oklahoma truck accident lawyers at the Rode Law Firm have handled truck accident injury claims in Oklahoma for more than a combined 50 years of experience.

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