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What are the responsibilities of a truck driver? (And why that matters to you)

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2024 | Truck Accidents |

Driving is a big responsibility – even more so if you operate semi-trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. To ensure everyone’s safety on the highway, truck drivers follow a strict set of rules and regulations:

They need to meet specific qualifications

All truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before they can hit the road. This means they must be 18 to drive within the state and at least 21 to transport hazardous materials across state lines.

There are different types of CDLs, depending on the type of vehicle they want to drive:

  • Class A: For towing units over 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: For single vehicles over 26,000 pounds.
  • Class C: For vehicles under 26 pounds. Additional endorsements are needed for vehicles that carry hazardous materials.

Truck drivers might also need a Medical Examiner’s Certificate from the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure they can handle the job’s physical demands.

Trucks must meet specific standards

Drivers are responsible for making sure their trucks are properly maintained and meet all safety requirements. They need to constantly check that all the parts and accessories are working correctly. Parts like the frame, suspension, axles, wheels, and steering wheel are particularly crucial since these directly affect how the truck drives. Drivers must also keep detailed records showing recent inspections, repairs, and regular maintenance tasks.

They are allowed to drive for only a few hours

Truck drivers follow strict Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which are crucial for preventing fatigue and ensuring they get enough rest. While the hours can change depending on the type of cargo and vehicle they drive, most property-carrying drivers can operate their trucks for 11 hours only after taking a 10-hour break. They are also not allowed to work more than 14 consecutive hours after starting their shift.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Short-haul drivers – who only operate within a 150-mile radius from their starting point – can work up to 14 hours a day without following all the usual restrictions. When weather or road conditions are bad, drivers can extend their driving time by 2 hours to find a safe place to stop.

Why do these rules matter?

Your safety is the first reason why these rules matter. Accountability is the second. For those who might find themselves in a truck accident, this knowledge might be the first step in getting the justice you deserve.


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