The Many Federal Trucking Regulations Guiding Colorado Drivers
Trucking is one of the most regulated industries in the United States. The sheer size and weight of commercial trucks means that during an accident they can easily cause catastrophic injuries. Safety is a major priority for both truckers and their employers.
In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a driver must demonstrate certain skills and knowledge. Most drivers must obtain a CDL through their home state, and it is illegal to be licensed in more than one state. In Colorado, a driver must obtain a CDL instruction permit before getting his license. The permit allows a driver to operate the class of vehicle listed on the permit when accompanied by someone 21 years old or older who holds a valid CDL of the same class or higher.
Truck drivers and their employers are governed by a variety of federal safety regulations in an effort to prevent and reduce commercial truck accidents.
- The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act of 2012 requires truck drivers to use electronic logging devices to record the amount of time they are driving a vehicle. The idea is to keep fatigued truckers off the road and enable the imposition of higher fines on carriers that continue to operate illegally after being shut down for safety violations.
- Federal law requires trucking employers to test drivers for abuse of alcohol and controlled substances.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules prohibit truck drivers from texting, dialing, or holding a cell phone while driving. They may use hands-free devices that require just one press of a button to ring a number.
- In 2013, hours-of-service regulations took effect that limit truck drivers to 70 hours per week, a reduction from the previous limit of 82 hours per week. In August 2019, the FMCSA proposed reforms to these regulations that the agency says will enhance safety while giving truckers more flexibility.
- In 2014, a National Registry rule took effect that requires all medical examiners who conduct physical examinations and issue medical certifications for commercial truck drivers to complete certain training, pass a certification test, and continue to demonstrate competence.
- In 2019, an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulation took effect that requires truckers to use certified ELDs to record hours of service.
In 2019, the FMCSA’s Our Roads, Our Safety partnership launched a “Voices of Safety” campaign to teach road users how to share the road safely with large commercial trucks and buses.
According to a 2019 survey of people working in the trucking industry conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, the top concerns of respondents include driver shortages, hours-of-service rules, distracted driving, and training standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted driving was involved in more than 3,100 fatalities in 2017. The FMCSA has yet to fully implement its Entry Level Driving Training Rule, which seeks to enhance trucking safety by instituting minimum standards for driver training schools and qualifications for new instructors.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Colorado Truck Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, contact Colorado personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.