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How California’s Trucking Regulations Impact Safety

Both the state and federal governments have regulations that relate to increasing the safety of larger commercial trucks that operate within the state’s boundaries. These vehicles present incredible safety hazards if they are mismanaged or driven by inexperienced operators. Here, we want to discuss some of the safety regulations that are designed to keep all of us safe.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses

Drivers of large commercial trucks are required to carry a commercial driver’s license, referred to as a CDL. California, and every other state, recognizes the need for drivers of these larger vehicles to have specialized skills. Drivers must obtain a CDL before operating a commercial vehicle in the state of California. There are specific training standards involved with obtaining a CDL, including a knowledge test and a skills test the driver must take before they receive the license. Additionally, there are stricter requirements on penalties for commercial vehicle drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Commercial driver’s licenses are a way for the state and federal government to adequately regulate the training a driver undergoes before hitting the roadways in these larger vehicles. However, a CDL alone does not guarantee safety, and there are other regulations at the state and federal levels you should be aware of.

Hours of Service Regulations

The federal government, through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), closely regulates how many hours a commercial vehicle truck driver can operate during each working day and during a work week. The state of California has adopted the same federal requirements for trucks that operate between states.

The federal hours of service requirements indicate that drivers can operate during a 14-hour window each day, but they can only operate for 11 driving hours during that overall 14-hour window. Additionally, drivers can only start a 14-hour driving window each day after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The federal hours of service also require a person to take a break for 30 minutes if they have driven for eight hours without a 30-minute interruption. Additionally, drivers may only operate for 60 hours during a seven-day work week or 70 hours during an eight-day work week. Work weeks can restart after a driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Inspections and Maintenance

Larger commercial vehicles must receive regular inspections and maintenance. Some of these inspections are daily and take place before the driver operates, and others occur at regular intervals and must be adequately recorded throughout the year. The FMCSA requires that every motor carrier regularly inspect, repair, and maintain all vehicles under their control.

Insurance Requirements

The federal government mandates that all commercial trucks that operate across state lines carry a specific amount of insurance that differs depending on the type of cargo the truck carries. Drivers must carry:

  • $300,000 in liability insurance for a vehicle under 10,000 pounds that is carrying non-hazardous cargo.
  • $750,000 to $5,000,000 for a commercial truck that weighs more than 10,000 pounds (the range of dollar values here signifies a difference of whether or not hazardous or non-hazardous material is on board).
  • $10,000 of insurance per trip for vehicles carrying household goods.
  • $5,000 per truck carrying household goods.

Any individual who has questions about truck regulations in the aftermath of an accident involving a larger commercial vehicle should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled truck accident lawyer can examine the facts of your case and help you determine your next step moving forward.