Federal Truck Regulations

Federal Trucking Regulations

Due to safety concerns regarding commercial vehicles on the road, the federal government enacted the Motor Carrier Safety (MCS) regulations. These federal trucking regulations set forth basic standards that truckers and trucking companies must abide by. These standards include, among other things, such matters as truck maintenance. Additionally, they have drive times and other regulations that help limit the likelihood of a trucking injury accident.

Unfortunately, some members of this industry often ignore these federal trucking regulations. Failure to observe these rules causes accidents and puts others in harm’s way. Sadly, there are thousands of these truck accidents all over the country. If you were in a commercial vehicle accident, there is a high probability of the trucking company and the driver of the truck ignoring these regulations. If you have been in a truck accident, you need to hire a lawyer experienced in trucking accident claims. You need a lawyer that knows the trucking industry and its regulations. It would help if you had a lawyer that understands truck accident investigations. Walker Texas Lawyer is that attorney. Call Houston’s trucking injury lawyer today if you have been involved in an accident.

What are the Federal Trucking Regulations Requirements?

The federal trucking regulations focus on providing rules in eight areas of driving. The laws regulate alcohol, drugs, truck height and weight, license, maintenance, service hours, hazardous materials, and hiring. Below we will give an overview of the rules.


  • Drivers are not allowed to use alcohol within four hours of operating a commercial vehicle
  • Commercial drivers can be charged if their blood alcohol content exceeds .04.
  • A trucking carrier must implement specific alcohol prevention tactics. This is often done by designating a company official to run the company’s drug and alcohol program. As well as establishing a company drug and alcohol policy, providing educational materials, and various other regulations.
  • Commercial drivers may not possess alcohol while driving unless that is the truck’s cargo and then only as cargo and not in the truck cab.
  • Trucking companies must have individuals screened for alcohol and drug use at certain times, including before hiring and after a fatal truck crash. Truck drivers must also submit to random screenings.

In the instance of an 18-wheeler accident involving alcohol, the question is who is at fault.  While most point to the driver being at fault, the employer or trucking company may be as well.


While drivers are on duty, they are not allowed to possess or be under the influence of drugs. This includes amphetamines, narcotics, or any other type of substance. Often, these make the driver unable to operate the vehicle safely. Although there is significant risk in operating an 80,000-pound vehicle while on drugs, nevertheless, some drivers still use them.

Truck Height and Weight Restrictions

  • The vehicle must not have a gross weight of more than 80,000 pounds
  • Trucks may not be more than 102 inches wide and 14.6 feet tall

Individual state governments have other restrictions on truck heights and weights. Truck height and weight over such conditions can make traveling on roads and passing below overpasses or tunnels difficult. Trucks larger than the restrictions might sheer off the top of the commercial vehicle. Additionally, the larger the car is, the less stable it is, making it prone to severe accidents due to loss of control or rollovers. Also, tire pressure is essential with large vehicles. Trucks with increased weight and height cause more significant stress on tires. Vehicles that do not adhere to rules may cause tire blowouts. Tire blowouts can lead to dangerous trucking injury accidents. This includes rollovers and leaving debris on the road.

Any driver who does not confirm driving a vehicle within the federal weight or size restrictions will face fines based on weight and dimensions.  The most unfortunate part of accidents that occur due to size and weight violations is that these accidents are entirely avoidable.

Truck maintenance and repair

Many federal trucking regulations exist for the various parts of the commercial vehicle. Parts such as brakes, coupling devices, steering systems, tires, and windshields. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations require complete and total compliance for maintenance and repair. These include:

  • Keeping records of truck maintenance, truck inspections, and future scheduled repairs. These records should show that:
    • All vehicle components operate correctly while the vehicle is in use.
    • All vehicles are systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained.

Several parties could be held responsible if an accident occurs due to improper truck maintenance.

  • Trucking companies may be responsible for not properly maintaining trucks. Additionally, they are accountable for failing to provide the proper safety mechanisms.
  • Manufacturers can be held responsible if a defective part caused the accident.
  • Mechanics can be held responsible if repairs to the truck do not properly fix the vehicle.
  • Truck drivers may be held liable if they do not maintain or properly inspect the vehicle before driving.

Hours of Service

  • 11 Hour Driving Limit – May drive a maximum of 11 consecutive hours after ten consecutive hours off duty
  • 14-hour limit – May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty following ten consecutive hours off duty. Extended off duty time does not extend the 14 hours
  • Rest Breaks – May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes
  • 60/70-hour limit – May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. Also, a driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty

While these regulations exist, there are still drivers that ignore these regulations. Often this occurs due to drivers being pushed to finish a job quickly by their employers. However, another factor not mentioned much is that a driver may have sleep apnea. These rules and regulations are in place to provide drivers with adequate rest. Driver fatigue can lead to trucking injury accidents.

Commercial Driver’s License

To drive an 18-wheeler or commercial vehicle, a driver must obtain proper licensing, referred to as a CDL (commercial driving license).  This licensing requirement must be met to operate any commercial vehicle legally. Failure to drive responsibly can lead to a truck accident.  This may result in the repeal or suspension of a CDL.  Drivers must meet specific testing and requirements to obtain a commercial license. An example of such conditions is as follows;

  • Must be 21 years or older
  • Be able to read and speak English sufficiently enough to navigate road signs
  • The driver must have enough skill to operate the commercial vehicle in question
  • A driver must be physically fit. Despite certain exceptions, drivers must not have any physical impairments, including loss of appendages. A driver must also possess good vision and hearing. Other medical factors are considered as well, such as heart disease.
  • Must have completed a road driving test

Hazardous Materials

Due to the nature of hazardous materials, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unique stipulations when transporting Hazardous materials.

  • Drivers transporting hazardous and other unique materials must post adequate signage to notify other drivers of the materials being transported.
  • Certain roads are off-limits to transporter if the material qualifies as a public danger
  • Cargo must be properly loaded and secured.
  • Only certain vehicles are allowed to carry hazardous materials.

Types of Hazardous Cargo

  • Explosive Materials
  • Gasses
  • Flammable Liquid and Combustible Liquid
  • Flammable Solid
  • Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  • Poison
  • Radioactive
  • Corrosive

Hiring Practices

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration also maintains regulations to prevent negligent hiring.  This is because trucking companies must ensure the safety of others on the road. Trucking companies are required to:

Make sure that all potential truck drivers pass a required drug test

  • Ensure that drivers pass a physical examination
  • Complete background driving record and criminal history of each potential driver
  • Ensure that drivers maintain a commercial driving license (CDL)
  • Give proper training.

Preventing Accidents With Trucking Regulations

All these federal trucking regulations protect other drivers that are on our nation’s highways. Drivers, trucking companies, and manufacturers must comply with these regulations. Failure to do so often results in trucking injury accidents. To safeguard, trucking companies need to create and keep records. This backs up their compliance with regulations. These records can help a lawyer prove their case. Whether an individual driver caused a truck accident or the collision was caused by the trucking company’s negligence, a truck maintenance provider, or some other party, documentation of compliance with trucking regulations can help truck accident lawyers discover the facts of the case and assign fault.

Choosing A Houston Trucking Lawyer

Walker Texas Lawyer is an experienced truck accident lawyer.  He has handled many trucking injury accident cases. He knows how to work with insurance companies and the legal system to provide you with your deserved compensation.  At Walker Texas Lawyer, our first concern is for your safety if you are in a trucking accident.  Once you have received medical attention, we will listen to you and your memories and recollections of the accident. We will work to help you with the losses you have suffered. Losses such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.

We will investigate.

Trucking companies are held to high standards of safety. We will perform a full truck accident investigation.  Our goal is to determine if all the rules and trucking regulations were met.  Were the trucking company and/or driver negligent?  Was there a part failure? We will talk with witnesses.  Furthermore, Walker will reconstruct the accident and bring in experts to examine it. Additionally, James Walker will check maintenance logs, driver logs, safety inspections, GPS records, and truck accident reports.

We will handle all insurance claims for you.

The insurance company and trucking company will have lawyers on their side. It would help if you had an experienced 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle accident attorney.  Insurance companies may act like your friend, but they are not in the business of paying out.  That’s why you need an experienced lawyer to represent you in fighting them.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident involving a truck, call Walker Texas Lawyer.  He is Houston’s Truck Accident Lawyer.  Call us today at 713- 552-1117


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