Federal Trucking Regulations You Should Know

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is charged with enforcing federal trucking regulations for motor carriers. The purpose for many of the safety regulations is to protect those involved in commercial trucking as well as the general public who shares the road with these large vehicles. Some of the regulations of which you should be aware are discussed below.

Federal Trucking Regulations for Hours of Service

Some accidents are the result of truck drivers who are over-worked, fatigued and/or sleep deprived. To address the risk of accidents from exhausted transport drivers, the FMCSA established federal trucking regulations for service hours.

Federal regulations limit a truck driver’s workable hours to 14 per day. A maximum of 11 of those workable hours can be spent behind the wheel. Additionally, truck drivers are limited to 60 or 70 total hours of work time in any seven- or eight-day period, respectively.

Any time that a driver logs work hours reaching the maximum hours in seven- or eight-day period, he or she must also take and record a resting period of a minimum of 34 hours, including at least two nights between the hours of 1 am and 5 pm.

This rule mandates drivers rest and sleep during the hours when the body physically needs it the most. In addition, a break period of at least 30 minutes is required for drivers within the first eight hours of any shift.

Drivers are required by law to maintain detailed logs.

  • hours worked.
  • breaks taken.
  • and, driving times.


If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial motor carrier, you will need to request the log books of the driver to determine whether that driver was operating within the federal guidelines for hours worked and driven. Any discrepancy could indicate negligence on the part of the driver and/or trucking company.

Trucking companies must maintain the records for a period of six months, after which they may destroy them. So it's important that if you were in an accident you send a spoliation letter to the company to prevent the destruction.

Federal Trucking Regulations for Cargo Securement and Transport

Other hazards that the FMCSA strives to prevent on the nation’s roadways are cargo spills and overloading of trucks. Proper tie-down and securement of loads reduces the likelihood that an accident will occur from a spill or truck that loses control because of improper loading.

Truck drivers are responsible for inspection of their loads for compliant tie-down procedures and weight distribution as they are placed on the truck. In addition, drivers must inspect the security of their loads at regular intervals throughout their trips.

Weight limits are also strictly enforced for motor carriers, and you will notice weigh stations in place on major highways that allow highway patrol to conduct inspections and take weights of trucks. Fines are issued and trucks can be stopped from proceeding on their trips if they do not meet federal regulatory guidelines for weight and cargo securement.

This is an important federal trucking regulation to understand if injured because a truck lost control as attributed to being over its weight limit. The same is true if you’ve been involved in an accident involving a cargo spill.

What to Do if Affected by Truck Accident

If you need help with a trucking accident claim in the Redmond, Washington area and need legal representation, Max Meyers Law can review if there are any violations of federal trucking regulations and evaluate negligence in the case. Call us today at 425-399-7000.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.