18-Wheeler Rules and Regulations

In the trucking industry, there are numerous regulations put in place in order to protect individuals from harmful and potentially deadly crashes. However, at times these regulations are not followed and can lead to death or serious injury if a person is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler and/or commercial vehicle. Below are some of the highlights of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations. A complete list of regulations can be viewed on the FMCSA’s website.


Every motor carrier is required to maintain a driver qualification file for each driver that it employs containing the following information:

• Driver’s application for employment

• Inquiry to previous employers – driving record for last 3 years

• Annual inquiry and review of driving record

• Annual driver’s certification of violations and annual review

• Driver’s road test and certificate, or the equivalent to the road test

• Medical examiner’s certificate

• If granted, a waiver of physical disqualification for a person with a loss or impairment of limbs.


• Drivers may not operate a commercial vehicle while ill or fatigued.

• Drivers may not possess, be under the influence of, use drugs while operating a commercial vehicle.

• Alcohol use by drivers is prohibited.

• Motor carriers cannot schedule a run between two points which would necessitate drivers to operate vehicles at speeds higher than posted speed limits.


The list of parts and accessories required for safe operation is extensive and varies depending on the type of vehicle being operated. Some of the parts required include: lamps, lighting devices and reflectors, brake systems, windshield, fuel system, coupling devices, sleeper berths, rear end protection, seat belts, emergency equipment, and fire extinguisher.


For property carriers:

• 11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

• 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

• Rest Breaks: May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes. Does not apply to drivers using either of the short-haul exceptions in 395.1(e).

• 60/70-Hour Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. Must include two periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time, and may only be used once per week, or 168 hours, measured from the beginning of the previous restart.

• Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers using the sleeper berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus a separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.

For Passenger Carriers:

• 10-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off duty.

• 15-Hour Driving Limit: May not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours, following 8 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time is not included in the 15-hour period.

• 60/70-Hour Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.

• Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers using a sleeper berth must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth, and may split the sleeper berth time into two periods provided neither is less than 2 hours.


Regular inspections, repairs, and maintenance of all commercial motor vehicles is required of all motor carriers. Motor carriers must maintain records of inspections, repairs, and maintenance.

If you or someone you know has been injured by an 18-wheeler or some other type of commercial vehicle, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.