In Illinois, interstate commerce is essential to support the economy. Commercial trucks are key to transporting goods across state lines.
Commercial truck drivers must adhere to both federal and state regulations to ensure the safety of themselves and other motorists. The truck accident attorneys at Malman Law would like to provide you with an overview of what laws and regulations truck drivers must follow.
Commercial vehicles operating in interstate commerce must adhere to federal regulations, which helps avoid truck accidents. These laws restrict how many consecutive hours a truck driver can travel, the weight and length of a commercial truck, and how much liability insurance must be purchased.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) places a cap on how many hours a commercial vehicle driver can be behind the wheel, known as the hours of service (HOS) regulations.
Commercial truck drivers must maintain a logbook that documents their driving time and rest periods. By tracking their hours, drivers are documenting when they are “off-duty,” “on-duty” but not driving, when they are driving, and when they are sleeping (known as the “sleeper berth” in the log book). “On-duty” time would include any secondary tasks that the driver has completed that are not driving time.
The number of allowable hours will depend on whether the truck driver is transporting passengers or cargo. Property-carrying drivers will need to follow the 11-hour rule, only permitting them to drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.
Additionally, drivers must adhere to the 14-hour rule, which prohibits them from driving more than 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty. Weekly limits are also enforced. Drivers are not allowed to drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days.
While truck drivers used to keep manual logbooks, commercial trucks now have electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track their driving and rest time. An ELD is a computerized device that attaches to a vehicle that records when the engine is running, driving hours, and miles traveled.
As of December 2017, drivers who are required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) must use an ELD. Some exceptions do exist, notably if the truck was manufactured prior to the year 2000 and drivers use paper RODS no more than eight days out of the month.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has established size regulations for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). In 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act (FAHA), which authorized 41,000 miles of interstate highways to be built in a 13-year time frame. The act also established federal regulations for truck drivers participating in interstate commerce.
In 1982, Congress enacted the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), which allowed larger and heavier trucks to use federal highways.
STAA made the following revisions for commercial trucks:
The STAA extended these commercial truck provisions from interstate highways to the national network of highways.
Finally, in 1991, the federal government passed the Intermodal Service Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). This act established that a semi-trailer carrying two trailers must not be longer than 65 feet when one trailer is longer than 28.5 feet.
A CMV must carry the following liability insurance:
These regulations depend on the weight of the truck and what type of cargo it is transporting.
Every state has its own laws and regulations in relation to driving a commercial vehicle. Illinois law sets restrictions on the dimensions and weight of commercial trucks and requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Different classes of trucks will have different requirements pertaining to weight and dimensions. Weight limits in Illinois are determined by using the Federal Bridge Formula.
The Federal Bridge Formula permits the following weight and dimensions for a CMV:
Anyone operating a CMV is required to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). A CMV is classified as any vehicle that:
In Illinois, you must be 18 years old to apply for a CDL. However, you will only be able to operate your vehicle intrastate, only carrying cargo. Drivers who are 21 years old will be able to partake in interstate commerce and transport passengers.
The CDL test will consist of three sections: a Pre-trip inspection, a Basic Controls Test, and an On-Road Driving Test. If you fail three times, you will have to wait 30 days before you can retake the test.
The CDL test is not meant to stress out prospective drivers but rather serves to assess what the test taker would do in challenging conditions.
Given the stringency of trucking laws, you may think that truck accidents have declined in recent years. This could not be further from the truth. In a recent year, Illinois had over 12,000 collisions involving tractor-trailers.
Although regulations may not prevent accidents, if a truck driver violates FMCSA regulations or Illinois law, this may indicate the truck driver’s liability. You probably won’t know what laws a truck driver violated; that’s why we work with specialized experts who understand trucking regulations.
If a truck driver violated HOS regulations, it is likely that the driver was fatigued, causing the accident. If we discover that the truck driver did not follow FMCSA regulations or did not receive adequate training, we may also seek compensation from the trucking company.
Truck accidents are more complicated than car accidents. There are far more pieces to the puzzle. Trucking regulations are confusing, and it may be difficult to determine if a truck driver broke the law. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident, we are here to assist you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023