FMCSA Regulations: Your Trucking Compliance Guide

Are you wondering what might happen if you violate any of the rules and fmcsa regulations? This must be giving you sleepless nights already. If you are new to the trucking industry, getting your head around these requirements and regulations is going to be a lot more taxing than you thought. 

But remember, you are not alone in this. And this should give you a sense of surety and decrease your anxiety a little bit as well. There are numerous other trucking companies in this industry that want to stay updated constantly on FMCSA regulations and the rules laid down by the Department of Transportation. This is the only way to maintain compliance and stay functional throughout the year. So without further delay, let’s understand what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is and what its numerous rules and regulations mean for your business.

Understanding The FMCSA

It is important to know what the federal body does and what it stands for. The FMCSA is a federal government agency and it is responsible for regulating the transport sector. It also provides safety guidelines and provisions for commercial motor vehicles and complete oversight to keep them compliant with the various rules and regulations laid down by the Department of Transportation. It includes more than 500,000 trucking companies and the number is increasing as we speak. There are more than 4,000 interstate bus companies under the FMCSA and well over 4 million commercial driver license holders at the moment.

But The Question Remains. What Does The FMCSA Do

To put it in the simplest words, FMCSA protects lives. It ensures the safety of everyone using the country’s highway systems and affects those in the trucking and logistics industry, whether directly or indirectly. A few responsibilities that are on the shoulders of the Federal body include:

  • Developing and enforcing data-driven regulations to ensure the safety and efficiency of motor carriers, trucks, bus companies, and everyone involved
  • Focusing on higher-risk carriers and developing safety information systems to maintain a constant flow of data and prevent accidents as well
  • Disseminating educational messages to commercial drivers, motor carriers, and the general public to maintain their safety
  • Associating with state, federal, and local enforcement agencies in addition to safety groups, motor carrier industry leaders, organized labor agencies, and other entities to reduce truck-related accidents and commercial vehicle crashes

Now in the following section, we are going to delve into the various FMCSA Regulations in as much detail as possible

Getting Your US DOT Number

You must have heard about the DOT number several times ever since you entered the trucking industry. It is essential for you to obtain your US DOT number. Also, You will have to apply to the United Carrier Registration system. You will have to make sure that every truck in your fleet has a DOT sticker on it. You can only start hauling loads if you have a US DOT number on your vehicle.

FMCSA Compliance, Safety, And Accountability

The FMCSA talks about compliance which you should maintain throughout the year. It is also going to carry out roadside inspections for which you have to be prepared always. This is where the FMCSA compliance, safety, and accountability program comes in. This program by the federal body uses a safety measurement system to decide whether a particular motor carrier should be reviewed or not. 

The data is sourced from roadside inspections and several company audits that take place throughout the year. Using that data, the FMCSA determines which company should be allowed to continue operations and which should be shut down. The agent of the federal body looks into several factors to determine whether the company is safe enough to operate or not.

Driver Safety Program

The driver safety program is absolutely essential if you want to uphold the highest level of safety standards in your company. Driving a large truck is the work of a highly skilled driver only. This is where the Department of Transportation steps in. It lays down several rules and guidelines that you should follow to maintain the safety of all your commercial drivers. Numerous federal regulations mandate full compliance for all your drivers. It is important for you to check the last 3 years of your driver’s employment history because if the FMCSA discovers that any of your drivers are unqualified for the job, you may have to face several legal complications.

Driver Alertness And Fitness

This brings us to another FMCSA regulations. The federal body is extremely strict when it comes to the hours of service regulation that it has laid down for every driver to follow. A professional truck driver must log in to the electronic logging device, which they should install in an easily accessible location.

A commercial motor vehicle driver can operate a vehicle for a maximum of 11 consecutive hours. This strictness is important to maintain the health of the driver and his overall alertness and fitness. Remember, the latest changes to the Americans With Disabilities Act have raised the fitness standards significantly for truck drivers. As a truck driver, you cannot use marijuana, even if your doctor prescribes it.

Controlled Substances And Alcohol Regulations

This brings us to another related point which is the regulation concerning the use of alcohol and controlled substances. As an employer or trucking company, you are required to administer drug tests and alcohol screening for all your employees and drivers. The occasional random testing is critical and mandated by the FMCSA. If you have a reasonable suspicion that any of your drivers or supervisors or any safety-sensitive position holder is under the influence of a drug, alcohol, or any other controlled substance, you need to take appropriate action right away.

At The End Of The Day

This piece of information was only to make you understand what the FMCSA is and how important it is for your trucking business to follow its various rules and regulations. The only intimidating part about this is that this is just the crust or the surface. There are multiple other fmcsa regulations that you must be aware of if you want to be successful in the trucking industry. 

The long and short of it is that by doing so, you will be ensuring that your company is always compliant and that all your drivers, supervisors, and safety-sensitive position holders follow the necessary guidelines laid down by the federal body and the government. It increases the productivity of your business and enhances your reputation in the market.

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