Federal Trucking Laws and Trucking Industry Regulations

In the United States, the trucking industry is regulated by the United States Department of Transportation. More specifically, the subdivision of the US Department of Transportation known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the trucking industry in the United States.

Federal trucking laws are closely related with industry standards and regulations because the federal trucking laws set forth by the FMCSA are minimum standards of conduct, so they expect to see the industry standards comply with the federal laws and preferably exceed them. They hope to see the industry standards exceed those. Unfortunately, some trucking companies and/or individual drivers fail to comply with even these minimum requirements, which is why knowledge of federal trucking laws and trucking industry regulations can be crucial to forming a successful civil case against a negligent truck driver or their employer.

FMCSA Rules and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set forth standards of conduct that apply to commercial motor vehicles, their drivers, their owners, and those that place them into service such as brokers. These laws address safety concerns such as the requirement of inspections, what inspections must entail and when they must be performed, maximum hours of service and mandatory rest periods for drivers, and insurance coverage required for carriers.

The FMCSA uses various sources of information, including statistics on accident cases and records of safety violations they have compiled for various trucking companies, in order to develop and enforce data-driven regulation that balances both safety and efficiency. For example, as recently as 2013, the FMCSA wanted to address the growing problem of driver fatigue on the nation’s roadways, so they revised the rules to enforce a maximum amount of time that a driver can drive and set forth standards for how much time they must remain off the road to rest.

What Happens if Trucking Companies Violate Federal Laws?

Unfortunately, the focus in the trucking industry is more on profit rather than safety, so company owners, brokers, and even individual drivers often find creative ways to avoid or bypass these regulations. The burden is on the trucking companies to uphold the FMCSA’s standards, or there can be fines and licenses can be revoked.

Again, the FMCSA’s regulations and laws for the trucking industry are designed to be a minimum standard of conduct with which businesses must comply, so it is not optional to uphold these standards. If they fail to uphold these standards and their failure causes a wreck, they could be held responsible for failing to fulfill their duty of care.

Required Insurance Coverage for Trucking Companies

The insurance coverage which trucking companies must obtain depends in large part on whether they are a federal motor carrier and/or a commercial vehicle, as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. If they are not a federal carrier and do not fit the definition of a commercial vehicle, the insurance requirements set forth by the Regulations do not apply.

Once they establish that the truck is a commercial vehicle, the focus turns to what type of freight is being hauled. For instance, nonhazardous freight hauled in vehicles which weigh under 10,000 pounds necessitates minimum insurance coverage of $300,000, while nonhazardous freight carried in vehicles over 10,000 pounds—like most dump trucks and tractor-trailers—would be required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage.

If they are hauling oil, and it is being moved for hire and being moved by private carriers, they are required to carry $1,000,000 as a minimum insurance coverage. For other hazardous material, they are required to carry $5,000,000 in insurance coverage.

Talk to a Lawyer about Federal Trucking Industry Regulations and Laws

Trucking companies that fail to follow federal law may face significant punishment from the government, but they may also face civil liability for any injuries their negligence causes. For more information about how federal trucking laws and trucking industry regulations may apply to your case, call a dedicated truck accident attorney today.