Regulations for Truck Drivers hauling Hazardous Materials

Hours of Service Rules
Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules
Inspection, Repair and Maintenance
Drug and Alcohol Regulations
Hours of Service of Drivers

Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules regulate the work and sleep schedules for commercial truck drivers. The current rules, revised in August 2005, outline how much time commercial drivers can operate trucks or tractor trailers before they are required to take a break.truck accident attorneys

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) had driver and health safety experts review more than 1,000 health and fatigue related articles and studies, as we all thousands of comments from drivers, truck companies, safety advocates and researchers before creating the new safety provisions. The new HOS rules stipulate:

Truckers are prohibited from driving more than 11 hours in a row, working longer than 14 hours in a shift and driving more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period.
Truckers must rest for at least 10 hours between shifts, and have a 34-hour period to recover from cumulative fatigue.
Short-haul operators are not required to hold a commercial drivers license if they work within a 150 air-mile radius of their work location. In addition:
They may drive a maximum of 11 hours after coming on duty following 10 or more consecutive hours off duty.
They are not required to keep records-of-duty status (RODS).
They may not drive after the 14th hour after coming on duty 5 days a week or after the 16th hour after coming on duty 2 days a week.

Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a rule in 2003 requiring background checks on commercial drivers certified to transport hazardous items. The FMCSA’s companion rule prohibits states from issuing, renewing, transferring or upgrading a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a Hazmat endorsement, unless the TSA has first conducted a background records check of the applicant and determined that the applicant does not pose a security risk. The rule does not apply to applicants for CDLs without a Hazmat endorsement.

The background records check includes a review of criminal, immigration and FBI records. Any applicant with a conviction (military or civilian) for certain violent felonies over the past seven years, or who has been found mentally incompetent, will not be permitted to obtain or renew the Hazmat endorsement. The checks also will verify that the driver is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident as required by the Patriot Act.

The rules also state that each truck transporting hazardous materials must be marked or placarded, and all truckers are required to undergo training in emergency response, packaging and transportation safety.

Inspection, Repair and Maintenance

The rules regarding inspection, repair and maintenance of trucks essentially require systematic safety checks of vehicles. The motor carrier must either inspect, repair, maintain, and keep suitable records for all vehicles subject to its control for 30 consecutive days or more, or cause another party to perform such activities. The motor carrier is solely responsible for ensuring that the vehicles under its control are in safe operating condition and that defects have been corrected.

A Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) must be turned in each day by a driver dispatched on a trip of more than one day’s duration. Required records – which must be retained with other company records – include:

The vehicle identification number.
An indication as to the nature and due date of the various inspection and maintenance operations to be performed.
A record of inspection, repairs and maintenance indicating their date and nature.

Drug and Alcohol Regulations

The FMCSA has developed drug and alcohol rules to ensure a controlled substance and alcohol-free workforce. The rules apply to all “safety sensitive” employees, for example:

All drivers who are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Anyone who owns or leases commercial motor vehicles.
Anyone who assigns drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles.
Federal, state, and local governments.
For-hire motor carriers.
Private motor carriers.
Civic organizations (disabled veteran transport, Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts, etc.).
Employers are required to keep detailed records of their alcohol and drug misuse prevention programs. The FMCSA conducts inspections or audits of employers’ programs. To make sure they stay in compliance, the FMCSA also will randomly select employers to prepare annual calendar year summary reports about their enforcement, as well as provide data on the extent of alcohol misuse and the need for any future program and regulatory changes.

These same drivers are also subject to DOT rules, which include procedures for urine drug testing and breath alcohol testing. Random drug and alcohol tests can be performed at any time.

For truck drivers, refusing to submit to an alcohol test or using alcohol within eight hours after an accident or until is prohibited.

Tests for drugs are performed using urine tests. All urine specimens are analyzed for the following drugs:

Marijuana (THC metabolite)
Opiates (including heroin)
Phencyclidine (PCP)
Drivers testing positive for drugs and/or alcohol must be removed from their jobs, and cannot return until he/she has been evaluated by a substance abuse professional, has complied with recommended rehabilitation, and has a negative result on a return-to-duty drug test.