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FMCSA Regulations to Know

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry. As a commercial driver, you will need to be aware of and follow all guidelines from this organization. Your motor carrier should keep you informed about relevant FMCSA regulations and assist you in staying compliant.

Some regulations truckers need to know:

Drug and Alcohol Testing

You must pass a drug test before you can start driving a commercial vehicle. You will also need to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and there are other circumstances when the FMCSA requires tests as well.

Failing or refusing a drug test will result in you being immediately removed from safety-sensitive duties.

Hours of Service (HOS)

Hours of service (HOS) regulations govern how long truckers can drive at a time before they must rest. These guidelines help prevent truck driver fatigue.

Key HOS rules to remember:

  • The maximum driving time is 11 hours before you must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty. If there are unforeseeable adverse driving conditions that make it impossible for you to park for your 10-hour break, you may extend your maximum driving time to 13 hours.
  • There is a maximum on-duty time of 14 hours before you must take your 10-hour break. Driving time occurs within this window.
  • After 8 consecutive hours of driving, you need to take a 30-minute break.
  • There is a maximum driving time of 60 hours in a seven-day timeframe or a maximum of 70 hours in an eight-day timeframe. A 34-hour break resets this.

Keep in mind that these are the most basic guidelines, and there are other rules you will need to know. It’s important to plan your trips with HOS regulations in mind.

The FMCSA has an educational tool on its website that can help you better understand how HOS works. Keep in mind that this is not meant to screen for compliance.


The FMCSA requires drivers to check that their vehicles are in good working order before driving. To do this, you must complete a pre-trip inspection each day before you hit the road. This is to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. If there are any issues, you need to let your dispatcher know and address them promptly.

You may also be stopped for a Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection during your trip. Completing pre-trip inspections helps ensure that every part of your truck is functional in case you are subject to one of these inspections.

Understanding FMCSA Regulations

It’s important to keep in mind that the regulations in this article are just a brief overview of what you should know as a trucker. If there is anything you are not sure about, you should ask your supervisor. Your motor carrier’s compliance team should support you in understanding and following all trucking rules and regulations.

Become an Over-the-Road or Regional Driver

At DSW, we strive to work as hard for our drivers as they work for us. We currently have openings for over-the-road (OTR) and regional routes.

To learn more about driving with DSW, contact us today.