In an effort to keep trucking safe, regulations are becoming more stringent and inspections more frequent across the country. The reality of increasing regulations is that truck drivers have to be on top of new information to make sure all requirements are fulfilled. Regulations change yearly, too, making it necessary for truckers to stay connected and on top of new developments.
Knowledge is the best protection against potential fines and loss of wages. Recent changes in regulations and inspections will significantly impact truck drivers, use this guide to be forewarned.
Hours of Service
In the past year, new regulations have slashed the numbers of hours drivers are legally allowed to work. While the goal of these regulations is safety, some drivers feel the rules are too strict. Nevertheless, drivers need to be aware of the following rules to avoid serious penalties.
- Drivers carrying goods can drive a maximum of 11 hours per day.
- The maximum hours can only be driven after 10 hours off duty.
- Drivers carrying goods are required to stop driving once more than 8 hours have elapsed from the time of the last 30 minute break.
- Drivers carrying passengers can drive a maximum of 10 hours per day.
- The maximum hours can only be driven after at least 8 hours off duty.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
A less controversial regulation is the creation of a centralized database, called the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to monitor CDL holders for criminal charges related to drugs and alcohol. The Clearinghouse is almost set to become law and is dependent on a final rule that’s expected to be published this year.
This database will allow the industry to assure safety by making sure that CDL holders are drug-free, and expediting background checks for potential employees.
Without a centralized system, potential employers had to rely on employees to honestly report drug test results and other crucial information. The Clearinghouse will collect data from previous employers, third-party drug testers, and criminal records.
What does this mean for truckers? Fewer incidences of drug and alcohol abuse on the road mean safer work conditions for drivers.
If a driver feels that results in the database are inaccurate, the driver will be able to appeal by sending a request for review. The FMCSA will decide whether the appeal has merit within 60 days.
Recent inspection blitzes have taken a lot of vehicles off the road. In 2014 alone, more than 72,000 vehicles underwent inspection, and 4.8 percent of drivers were forced to go out of service.
The important thing to know about inspection blitzes is that they can occur at any time. Although the dates may be publicized ahead of time, blitzes often start earlier than advertised. The best practice is to be fully prepared for an inspection at any time to avoid being caught unexpectedly.
The top 9 items that inspectors check are:
- Coupling Devices
- Fuel and Exhaust Systems
- Frame, Van, and Open Top Trailers
- Cargo Securement
- Tires, Wheels, Rims, and Hubs
With new regulations rolling out every year, truckers need to be alert. Staying up-to-date on regulations will help drivers avoid lost wages and other difficulties.