Given the size and weight of 18-wheelers, the catastrophic consequences an accident can have, and the hazardous cargo they may carry, truck drivers are subject to more laws and strict regulations compared to passenger vehicle drivers. Some actions or behaviors that you engage in as a passenger vehicle driver are actually illegal if you drive a commercial truck. If a truck driver breaks any of these laws or regulations they could face serious penalties such as fines or even a license suspension.
Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is a very risky behavior for both passenger car drivers and truck drivers. Most states have banned texting and driving, and drivers can incur fines and other penalties if they break these laws. States such as Arizona and Florida don’t have statewide bans on texting while driving; however, commercial truck drivers could still face serious consequences if they are found texting and driving, even if there aren’t any state laws against it. The FMCSA published new rules that restrict the use of hand-held devices by commercial truck drivers. Using a handheld device includes sending text messages, reading, or sending an e-mail, visiting a webpage, and other activities on a mobile device that are distracting. A truck driver could face serious penalties for texting and driving such as fines of up to $2,750 and $11,000 for the employer. If a driver has multiple violations, he or she could also face disqualification for up to 120 days. Texting and driving can have serious repercussions on a trucker’s career and put their lives in danger.
Using Radar Detectors
Some passenger car drivers have radar detectors to alert them if a radar, such as those used by police officers to detect driving speed, is being operated near them. Although controversial, drivers are allowed to use these devices, however, it is illegal for a commercial truck driver to use a radar detector. The logic behind this rule is that if truck drivers are allowed to use radar detectors they may be more inclined to speed, and speeding in an 18-wheeler could result in a serious truck accident with severe or even fatal injuries for those involved.
Giving a Ride to Someone
Most commercial drivers need their company’s authorization before having a passenger – such as a friend, spouse, or family member, ride in the truck with them. This rule is in place by most companies to protect their driver and any merchandise they may be carrying. Even if the truck is empty and the extra passenger is someone the driver trusts, if the truck is in an accident, then the passenger may try to hold the company liable for any injuries or damages suffered. An unplanned passenger could distract a driver, pose a risk for the merchandise, or become a liability for the trucking company.
Driving Tired or Drowsy
There’s not a specific law in place that doesn’t allow truck drivers to drive tired, but there are rules in place that limit the number of hours they can work consecutively to avoid this from happening. These rules are called the Hours of Service Regulations and they set strict guidelines on how many hours a truck driver can work and how many breaks they need to take. Failure to obey these regulations can result in fines and other penalties.