Each state has its own requirements to license a driver with a commercial driver’s license, but they must comply with the federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. In Texas, a driver must have a CDL if the weight of his vehicle is above 26,0001 pounds, he transports hazardous materials, or he transports 16 ore more passengers.
The requirements in Texas are as follows:
- Must apply in person
- Must verify identity
- Must verify Texas residency and social security number
- Must certify medical status
- Must present registration and insurance
- Must pass vision, knowledge, and skills test
Hours of Service Regulations
Federal regulations are in place to reduce fatigue related accidents as much as possible. The FMCSA has instated hours of service regulations that all truck drivers must comply with. There are three maximum duty limits that must be followed at all times:
- A driver may be on-duty for 14 consecutive hours if he has been off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. Naps or breaks count towards the 14 consecutive hours.
- During the 14 consecutive hours that a driver can be on-duty, a driver is only allowed to be driving for 11 total hours.
- There are also limits on how many hours a driver can be on-duty in a 7 or 8-day period. A driver can not drive after being on duty for 60 hours in 7 consecutive days, and 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
These regulations exist to help ensure that truck drivers are not pushed to work hours that are unsafe. Often it is a trucker’s employer that will push him to finish just a few more deliveries, but just as often it is the trucker himself that will want to work longer hours, unconcerned that he is fatigued. Fatigue impairs a driver’s performance, and we all depend upon a truck driver’s performance to keep us safe on the roads. Even a well-rested driver will feel lulls at certain times of the day. Our bodies are programmed in this way. But a fatigued driver will experience these lulls so strongly that they are almost impossible to resist.
Height and Weight Limits
The FMCSA regulates the height and weight limits of 18 wheelers to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents. Despite the regulations however, 30% of trucks exceed these limitations. Not only do these overloaded trucks pose a hazard to other cars on the road, but they also damage the roads themselves.
In addition, trucks that are overweight are more likely to rollover during accidents, and take longer to come safely to a stop. Weigh stations are checkpoints along the highway that law enforcement uses to check weight and to check for other violations. Paperwork regarding freight and deliveries may also be checked. Checking these logbooks can lead to a reduction in accidents caused by fatigue.