Do truckers have a different set of federal traffic regulations on highways than passenger vehicles?

It never seems to fail: you’re on your way home after a long day at work. You’ve gotten past most of the congestion on 66 and your exit is coming up, but you’re stuck behind a truck going 60 mph. You don’t have time to pass him, so you’re forced to slow down and basically crawl the next half mile until you can get off.

Why doesn’t he go faster, or better yet, just get out of your way? No one is next to him, and it’s blatantly clear you’re in a hurry but can’t pass him. You would move over for someone else, so why can’t he?

Federal Highway Regulations for Trucker Safety

Driving a truck is drastically different than driving a smaller passenger vehicle and can be extremely dangerous if not handled correctly. For this reason, truck drivers must complete extensive driver training and adhere to special federally mandated driving regulations, in addition to normal traffic laws. These regulations, which are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the United States Department of Transportation, include:

  • Special licensing: Drivers must complete a commercial driving course and receive a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from heir home state. Possessing more than one CDL is prohibited.
  • Regulated speeds: Truckers should never exceed the maximum highway truck speed limit of 65 mph at any time, nor city speed limit maximums (25 to 45 mph, depending on the jurisdiction).
  • Unless passing or in emergency situations, truckers must try to stay in the right lane at all times.
  • Trucks must use only designated truck lanes or toll lanes.
  • Truckers are subject to the drug testing plans chosen by their employers.
  • Truckers must follow a strict alcohol prevention and have a lower standard for intoxicated driving.
  • Truckers have limited cell phone and electronic device use while the truck is in motion.
  • Mandated rest periods: To prevent driving fatigue accidents, truckers are not allowed to drive more than 11 hours without rest.

It isn’t easy maneuvering large trucks, especially when the driver has to make sure he’s consistently following traffic rules as well as trucker rules. So, the next time you approach a truck on the highway or pass him on the road, try to give him the benefit of the doubt. You may be annoyed that you’re stuck behind him, or wish that he would just get out of your way, but his actions are what determines not only his safety, but yours as well.

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