Overview

DOT Regulations & Requirements

Approximate read time: 10 minutes

DOT regulations & requirements

Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations are designed to help save lives by enforcing safety standards on the road. They can also help you make your fleet much more efficient. 

Between its several sub agencies including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is plenty for fleet safety managers to keep track of, and it can be a challenge to navigate these DOT laws successfully.

This guide is designed to teach you the most important information to help ensure your fleet meets DOT compliance standards.

DOT rules and regulations

Just knowing about DOT regulations for truck drivers is not enough: your drivers must be adequately informed of these guidelines and able to follow them accordingly. Violations carry costly fines and penalties that can hamper your operations.

Most federal DOT regulations apply universally to all carriers across the U.S. However, some states have their own interpretations of certain DOT regulations.

More about DOT regulations

2020 DOT Hours of Service Exemptions: What You Need to KnowHow to Survive a DOT Roadside Inspection

Recent DOT emergency declarations

The DOT regularly releases updates, or new DOT regulations, to adapt to current situations that commercial fleets are facing. Examples may include responses to natural disasters such as hurricanes or fires, the most recent update being changes to hours of service (HOS) relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This recent declaration allowed drivers transporting eligible goods—such as personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, food, and healthcare personnel— to be exempt from certain hours of service rules.  As with most emergency declarations, they are subject to expiration dates or modifications, such as the COVID-19 pandemic recently experienced. For more information, please visit the FMCSA website.

Read next:

Hours of Service Relief: Latest COVID-19 Updates

Qualifications for drivers

Any driver operating a vehicle with a weight capacity of 10,001 pounds or more, a vehicle transporting 8 or more personnel (including the driver), or a vehicle transporting hazardous material that requires placarding is required to have a driver qualification (DQ) file. This necessary qualification is separate from commercial driver's license (CDL), and the application for each is therefore slightly different.

When a driver qualification is required, applicants must include employment history for the previous three years, indicating whether they were subject to any DOT testing. The applicant's safety performance history for the past three years will also be evaluated, along with the applicant's health. Drivers must be medically qualified through a DOT medical examination at least once every 24 months, and new applicants must provide valid and up-to-date medical certification.

Finally, applicants must also provide a valid and current driver's license. If the driver has a valid CDL, that suffices, otherwise the applicant must also successfully complete a road test in the type of vehicle being operated.

HOS regulations

Drivers must adhere to proper hours of service (HOS) regulations for safety and optimal performance, as per DOT regulations for trucks. 

Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are issued and govern the working hours of anyone operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. These regulations apply to truck drivers, commercial and city bus drivers, and school bus drivers who operate CMVs. These rules limit the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and working, and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts.

For intrastate commerce, the respective state's regulations apply. The HOS's main purpose is to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. This is accomplished by limiting the number of driving hours per day, and the number of driving and working hours per week.

Hours violation penalties

Hours of service rules are strictly implemented because they can lead to the safety of drivers and others on the road. It's the reason why any violations involve hefty fines and penalties.

At the minimum, officers will ask drivers to park roadside until they have completed enough off-duty hours to be able to drive again.

More severe violations will involve fees. Depending on the severity, the DOT can fine both the driver and carrier anywhere from $1,000 up to a maximum of $11,000. A carrier’s safety rating can also be affected.

Criminal charges can even be brought against both the driver and carrier if there is an intention to violate HOS rules.

Continuing to protect drivers and save lives

With the recent medical crisis, moving essential goods and health equipment is now more crucial than ever for fleet operators. 

Trucking carriers have the responsibility of guaranteeing fleet safety for their drivers so they can continually support the frontliners in fighting the pandemic. Lytx Compliance Services help fleets achieve this much more efficiently.

Lytx is the trusted  provider of….carriers across the nation when it comes to driver safety and compliance with DOT commercial vehicle regulations. If you’re interested in learning more about our solutions and how we can help you better manage your operations, contact us today for a free consultation