One of the most basic questions of new commercial drivers is whether they need to operate under the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The answer to this question depends on whether you or your employer meet certain criteria established by the FMCSA. So – are you subject to FMCSA safety regulations?
Which commercial vehicles must comply with regulations imposed by the FMCSA?
The FMCSA requires motor carriers that meet one or more of these criteria to come under its authority:
- Drive a commercial vehicle that holds between nine and 15 passengers, including the driver, in exchange for direct or indirect compensation. The latter includes any type of non-monetary payment.
- Drive a commercial vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,001 pounds. The FMCSA uses the larger figure to determine if your commercial vehicle surpasses its weight limitation.
- A vehicle of any size used to transport hazardous materials as defined by the FMCSA under its Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. You would meet this requirement if you would normally need to post a placard on your truck designating that it contains hazardous materials inside. This rule applies to both intrastate and interstate drivers whose loads routinely contain hazardous materials.
- Drive a commercial vehicle designed to transport 15 or more passengers, including the driver, without the exchange of direct or indirect compensation.
Except for the transport of hazardous materials, the above criteria apply to interstate transport.
Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations
If you meet at least one of the criteria, the FMCSA also requires that you abide by regulations established by the DOT to ensure driver and public safety. These include:
- Abide by hours of service requirements that limit how many hours you can drive in a day, how many rest periods you must take, how many consecutive days you can work, and the minimum number of hours required between shifts.
- Pass pre-employment and random testing for the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system in amounts great enough to impair your driving.
- Submit to roadside inspections as well as properly maintain and repair your commercial vehicle.
- Obtain all necessary equipment and parts to ensure safe operation of your truck.
- Meet all driver qualifications, including minimum age, experience level, and physical fitness. You may qualify for a variance that allows you to drive with a certain medical condition if you obtain clearance from a medical provider on the FMCSA’s approved list.
It’s up to you and your employer to ensure you understand and abide by these requirements whenever you’re on duty.
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