Most traffic laws exist at a state or local level. State lawmakers and local urban planners determine what restrictions they impose on motorists. However, there are some traffic laws that are actually federal rules. These laws apply to drivers who operate commercial vehicles.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) helps enforce numerous statutes enacted to protect people from semi-trucks and similar large vehicles. The rules that apply to these large vehicles are different than the standard traffic laws in most states. The following are some of the unique traffic rules that apply to semi-trucks but not passenger vehicles.
Hours of Service rules
Research clearly shows a connection between fatigue and diminished driving ability. Drivers who are physically or mentally exhausted may have a hard time making the right choice while driving. They may have longer reaction times and are more prone to falling asleep at the wheel. Those risks are a major concern when someone is in control of a commercial vehicle. The FMCSA imposes specific limits on how long someone can drive a semi-truck or bus on any given day and also how many hours they can drive every week. Violations of those rules can lead to large fines for the driver or the company that employs them.
Federal no-text rules
Distracted driving ordinances are state statutes. When someone crosses the line into a new state, a different law applies. Confusion about those laws might lead to infractions that endanger people. To keep the rules as consistent as possible, there is a federal statute that applies to those operating commercial vehicles. They may not manually use a mobile device while actively driving. The rules prohibit reading or sending text messages and even manually dialing the phone while in traffic.
Stricter drunk driving rules
Technically, limits on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exist on a state level. However, the FMCSA has a stricter rule for those operating commercial vehicles that all states enforce. Those driving passenger vehicles could get arrested for a BAC of 0.08% or higher. When someone drives a commercial vehicle, a BAC of 0.04% is enough to warrant an arrest and criminal charges.
Stricter rules help encourage better conduct from commercial drivers. They can also pave the way for compensation claims brought by people injured in collisions caused by semi-trucks. As such, learning more about unique commercial traffic rules may benefit those hoping to seek justice after an 18-wheeler causes a crash.