What is FMCSA? How Does it Protect Public Safety?
The FMCSA is responsible for all aspects of trucking. However, in our everyday lives we don’t often think about all the rules and regulations that go into keeping our highways safe. Public safety is something we tend to ignore because safety on our highways is an expectation.
This article provides a look at how FMCSA regulations protect public safety:
- What are FMCSA requirements?
- What is driver fatigue?
- How do cargo, companies, and hazardous material carriers abide by FMCSA?
- What are FMCSA vehicle markings?
- How do these regulations keep drivers safe?
What is FMCSA?
When we’re out on the Florida highways there are always proper safeguards in place to protect us. One of the most crucial safeguards that’s often overlooked is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (or “FMCSA”). This federal agency is responsible for creating, upholding, and enforcing the laws, regulations, and rules that govern motor carriers (trucks, freight, commercial) in the United States.
Regulations for truck drivers?
So, because truck driving falls under federal regulation, drivers must consistently abide by a specific set of rules in order to perform their duties. These rules and regulations range from the number of licenses a truck driver is holding, physical requirements that govern health and safety, and trucking specific training.
What are FMCSA requirements?
Now, the following requirements are just some of the federal regulations in place for truck drivers per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
- Truck drivers are issued (1) one driver’s license in their home state. This license is issue only after they have completed multiple knowledge and skill exams.
- If the driver is a Hazmat employee, it’s a requirement they undergo additional testing before licensing.
Special training requirements:
- It’s a requirement that truck drivers complete and pass specific training every two years. If the requirements do not remain up to date or the driver fails to pass the exam, they may not drive commercially.
- FMCSA regulations require truck drivers to pass a physical exam every (2) two Failing this test can also restrict ability to drive.
- The physical well-being of the driver is important because health problems can lead to fatigue and loss of consciousness. This puts truck drivers and other drivers on the road at risk for an accident.
Alcohol and controlled substance regulations:
- No driver under any circumstances may to report to work with a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher.
- Drivers may not carry any alcohol with them. However, the exception to this is if alcohol is a part of the cargo they’re transporting.
- Alcohol or other substances known to affect driving abilities are prohibited in the (8) eight hours before a shift.
What is driver fatigue?
Truck driver fatigue is real and it is deadly. The number of trucking accidents has been rising in recent years due to truck drivers suffering exhaustion who think they can just go that extra few miles. This is not the case and as a result, ends in preventable fatalities.
Therefore, the FMCSA has implemented “hours of service” laws that apply to truck drivers. The new regulations state in part, that: truck drivers can drive a maximum of (11) eleven hours in one work day. After this, a minimum of (10) ten hours of downtime is a requirement. Also, log books are now required by law to maintain an accurate account of the number of hours drivers spend behind the wheel.
What are symptoms of driver fatigue?
- Lack of sleep. Fatigue itself is exhaustion beyond feeling “tired”.
- Sleep apnea. This is a condition where breathing ceases for several seconds every few minutes during a sleep cycle. This can cause exhaustion while posing other health risks. Sleep apnea fatigue occurs in individuals with this ailment despite a full night’s rest.
- Certain medications. Some medications recommend not driving when beginning them to ensure there are no fatigue side effects.
- Lack of physical activity. Remaining behind the wheel for long hours can become monotonous. Therefore, it can induce levels of fatigue that become dangerous.
What do cargo, companies, and hazardous material carriers have to do with FMCSA?
However, it’s not only the drivers who must abide by federal FMCSA regulations. Their cargo and hazardous material must be safe and secure as well. Thus, in an effort to secure cargo and minimize the chance of it falling off the truck, these rules are in place and include up to date safety regulations. These include regulations for tying down cargo with proper securing devices. These regulations are part of the training truck drivers receive every two years to maintain their license. They cannot drive unless they are proficient in them.
What are FMCSA vehicle markings?
Finally, another important aspect of road safety for truck drivers is a vehicle with proper markings:
- Under this federal regulation, the FMCSA requires all trucks to display markings noting their “USDOT” (United States Depart of Transportation) number, Hazmat (hazardous waste) markings or any other federally recognized service the truck is providing.
How do these regulations keep drivers safe?
The FMCSA is responsible for interstate trucking laws and upholding the regulations for those laws. These laws and regulations are in place to increase safety of large trucks on the road. They assist in reducing truck-involved accidents. Most importantly, FMCSA laws are enforced to protect the public safety of the other vehicles, drivers, and commuters.