Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations


As part of the Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was established on January 1, 2000, to improve safety on the road, reduce collisions, injuries, and fatalities where large trucks and buses are involved.

To achieve this lofty objective, the FMCSA creates and enforces regulations that balance safety and efficiency when it comes to truck and bus enterprises. They gather safety information focusing on carriers that represent higher risks, convey educational messages to the public and commercial drivers in particular, and have partnered with both state and local enforcement agencies, organized labor, public safety groups, and the motor carrier industry to put in place efforts to reduce accidents involving buses and trucks.

Who is subject to FMCSA regulations?

Any commercial motor vehicle that drives across state lines, such as big rig trucks, must follow and obey all federal motor carrier safety regulations unless they are exempt from doing so. If the large vehicle only operates within the limits of a single state, it must abide by motor carrier safety regulations imposed by the state.

FMCSA regulations apply not only to the drivers themselves but also to their hiring managers, supervisors, trainers, dispatchers, and anybody else who plays a role that may have an impact on commercial motor vehicles and their operation.

FMCSA Safety Regulations

Improving safety on the road means that FMCSA has established rules and procedures to ensure drivers are sober while behind the wheel. Among these rules, some specify procedures for testing for substance abuse, the frequency of the tests, and the types of substances drivers would be tested for.

These rules apply to:

  • Anyone that has a commercial driver’s license to drive a commercial motor vehicle on public roads as well as the people who employ them.
  • Interstate and intrastate motor carriers.
  • Civic organizations such as disabled veteran transports, transports for boy and girl scouts, and faith-based organizations.
  • Federal, state, and local governments.

FMCSA Hours of Service Regulations

FMCSA Hours of Service regulations specify the maximum number of hours that a driver is permitted to be on duty at any given time. They also include guidelines on the number and length of rest periods for drivers to stay alert and awake.

Some of these regulations are:

  • For drivers that carry passengers: They may drive a maximum of 10 hours after being off duty for eight consecutive hours.
  • For drivers that carry property: They may drive a maximum of 11 hours after which they need to have 10 consecutive hours in which they are off duty.

FMCSA’s Consumer Protection Initiatives

To encourage both drivers and passengers to always look for safety on the road, several consumer protection initiatives have been enacted. Among them, the “Look Before you Book” campaign is aimed at encouraging anyone who is planning a trip to have safety in mind when hiring or booking a bus company or driver. Their SaferBus app has data available on each bus company under their jurisdiction.

The “Protect Your Move” initiative aims to protect users from moving fraud when they are moving household goods across state lines.

Have you been injured in an accident due to a safety violation of FMCSA regulations?

Although FMCSA has established minimum standards for those involved in operating commercial vehicles through interstate roads, there is no guarantee that all accidents will be prevented. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident and are dealing with injuries and property loss, the team of truck accident lawyers at the Eslinger Law Firm is ready to take your case. We work on a contingency basis and there is no out-of-pocket cost to you. Make an appointment today.