The federal government has many rules and regulations governing the driving of 18-wheeler trucks on the road. All states also have their own laws and regulations regarding these trucks. These large trucks are essential for businesses and transport, but due to their size, they can cause a great deal of harm and injury in an accident. Trucking accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks often result in fatalities, burn injuries, head injuries, and other serious and permanent injuries. All drivers and motor carriers who own such trucks must abide by state and federal laws. These laws include provisions such as:
1) Licensing requirements put in place by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). All drivers who operate a tractor-trailer rig need a special license, known as the commercial driver’s license (CDL). To qualify for this license, a driver must demonstrate his or her ability to drive a large truck. To do this, the driver must pass CDL examinations and complete training as a truck driver. A driver must be 21 years of age to qualify for a CDL. If a driver will be transporting hazardous materials, he or she needs to pass additional testing and must get additional training, as a special CDL license is required.
2) Federal laws dictate that trucking companies, motor carriers, trucks, and drivers must have specific levels of insurance. Often, this insurance is based on the cargo being transported. In many cases, if a driver is an employee of a trucking company, the company will arrange all insurance needed.
3) DOT regulations also impose “Hours of Service” restrictions on truck drivers. This means that the number of consecutive hours a driver can drive is strictly regulated. These rules also regulate how often a driver must stop to take a rest. Drivers are required to maintain a written record of stops, hours, and distance traveled to ensure that they are following these regulations. These regulations are in place to ensure that drivers are not overly fatigued and therefore dangerous on the road.
4) Federal regulations also impose certain restrictions on cargos and weights of trucks. For example, some hazardous materials are not permitted to be transported along specific public roads. As well, all loads must be secured according to regulations and correctly itemized and labeled.
5) DOT regulations dictate some driver behaviors on the road. For example, all truck drivers must follow road signs and must follow the rules of the road. Drivers are not permitted to drink and drive or possess controlled drugs.