Truck drivers must display a higher duty of care than passenger vehicles on the road. They are commercial carriers and must drive responsibly to avoid all accidents. Semi-truck drivers must adhere to many federal trucking regulations for their safety and the safety of others.
Trucking fatalities are at their highest level in 29 years, according to NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis.
Rules & Regulations Applying to Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets forth rules and regulations that semi-truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to. Here are some of the top highlights from the list.
Truck drivers must have a specific license to operate semi-trucks. The only way to obtain this license, issued by the driver’s home state, is by completing a set of rigorous skills test.
To pass skills test, truck drivers must have special training which includes driving a semi-truck with a qualified instructor. During this hands-on training, the learn how to operate the truck, how to park, how to use the truck’s controls and more.
Truck drivers must have a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam every two years to keep their CDL license. During this exam, drivers undergo testing to ensure their blood pressure is under a certain level, they have no cardiac issues or sleep apnea, that their vision is over a certain threshold, and more.
Drug and Alcohol Testing:
Truck Drivers cannot report to work with a blood- alcohol level of 0.02 or more. They cannot carry any alcoholic substances in their truck unless it’s their cargo. In the eight hours prior to their shift, they cannot ingest any alcohol or other substances that may affect their driving ability.
According to the FMCSA, fatigue, drinking alcohol and speeding are the top factors in semi-truck accidents.
Hours of Service:
One of the most important FMCSA regulations covers hours of service. Truck drivers carrying cargo must adhere to an 11-hour driving limit, which means they can drive for 11 hours only after 10 consecutive hours off-duty. The workday limit for a truck driver is 14 hours of work time, they must stop.
Rules & Regulations Applying to Semi Trucks
Beyond the specific regulations pertaining to the truck drivers, there are specific regulations for the trucks themselves.
As part of the hours-of-service regulations, trucks must have an electric logging device synchronized to the truck’s engine to record driving time for more accurate hours of service recording.
Trucking companies must display traffic markings on each truck including their USDOT number and company name. The text must be in contrast to the semi’s color and easily readable in daylight.
Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions About Semi Trucks
Can semis be in the fast lane or left lane?
In Minnesota, all vehicles (including semi-trucks) must drive in the right lane when driving slower than normal, except to pass, turn left or when a specific lane is designated.
How much hands-on training do semi-truck drivers get?
There’s currently no minimum number of hours a driver in training must receive to take the skills test. But they all must undergo skills training and behind-the-wheel training to prepare for the tests. Drivers must score at least 80% on he assessment to receive their license.
Can semis park on highway exit and entrance ramps?
These regulations differ depending on the state and jurisdiction the driver is in. In most cases, semi drivers can only use these areas to park during an emergency.
Safety Tips for Driving Close to a Big Rig
According to a new report by the Department of Public Safety’s annual crash report, Minnesota traffic fatalities are up 6% aster trending downward for over a five-year period. To avoid serious accidents, Follow these safety tips when driving close to big rigs.
- Avoid blind spots. Semis have many blind spots. Avoid driving directly behind the truck and directly in front of the truck.
- Give the semi-truck space. These massive trucks need more space to maneuver on the road. For example, when making a wide turn, the truck may need two lanes. Drive at least three-to-four car lengths behind the truck when possible.
- Stay distraction-free. If a semi-truck makes a quick movement into your lane or stops abruptly, you’ll need to react quickly.
- Pass mindfully. Don’t pass a semi-truck on a hill and always pass on the trucks left side. Before you merge back, be sure you can see the truck fully in your mirror.
- Use your turn signals. If you plan on truning while a semi is behind you, signal early to give the truck time to react. As you pass, use your signal until the pass is complete.
The Schmidt Salita Law Team Handles a Wide Variety of Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims.
The Schmidt Salita Law Team handles cases involving car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian car accidents, and bicycle accidents. It has many years’ experience in workers compensation , products liability and medical malpractice cases.
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The firm offers contingent fee agreements (You don’t pay lawyers fees until you collect and then only as a percentage of the settlement). It also offers home and hospital visits to clients whose injuries present difficulty in coming to the office.
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