Truck Accidents: DOT Regulations

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Because of the significant size and weight of 18-wheeler trucks, stringent federal and state trucking regulations are in place to govern their use. The primary goal of these laws is to ensure the safety of both the drivers of the large trucks and the people in the other vehicles on the road around them.

Federal Regulations
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) trucking regulations apply to trucks and truck drivers in every state. Here are a few of the most important federal regulations:

• All tractor-trailer rig drivers must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL). To qualify for a CDL, a driver must be 21, complete special training and pass CDL exams.

• For drivers who haul hazardous materials, there are additional requirements and a special class of CDL required.
• “Hours of Service” regulations are also in place, which mandate how many consecutive hours a truck driver can be on the road, and how many hours between driving stretches are needed as a break. This is to prevent unrealistic truck driver schedules and driver fatigue. Drivers are required to keep a log of their driving time to verify these hours.
• Commercial trucks and trucking companies must carry adequate levels of insurance coverage, depending on their cargo.
• Federal regulations also govern the behavior of truck drivers on the road. For instance, a driver cannot possess alcohol or drugs while driving or performing inspections.

State Regulations
Each state has its own trucking laws, which are additional regulations that must be followed while a truck is being driven in that state. State regulations can be stricter than federal laws in some cases.

• For example, in Maryland, the state’s DOT requires drivers of vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 lbs. to have a DOT medical card, indicating the drivers have passed a physician’s examination.
• In Virginia, the state DOT has additional local restrictions on the lengths of 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks driven on state highways.
• The District of Columbia, like many metro areas, requires special permits to be displayed for oversized loads and mandates that escort vehicles be used in some cases.
• Many states also have specific preventative maintenance standards for commercial trucks that are above and beyond what is required at the federal level.

More Info from the Author:

If you are interested in finding out more about commercial trucking regulations, or would like to discuss a truck accident you or a family member was involved in, please visit the informative website of the truck accident specialists at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel P.C., serving clients in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas.

If you would like to discuss a truck accident you or a family member was involved in, please visit the website of the truck accident specialists at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel P.C., serving clients in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas.

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