FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is a thing all truckers know really well. Truckers get to know what the FMCSA stands for, as well as its role in the industry, as early as trucking school.
Being aware of the agency that dictates all regulations about what you do for a living is always a good idea. An even better idea is to know what the FMCSCA regulations are, and of course, to follow them.
At the end of the day, it is these regulations that make the difference between getting a huge fine, losing your CDL license, or, in a worst-case scenario, getting injured or losing your life, and, well, nothing of the above.
Jump to Section
What Is the FMCSA?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency that regulates the trucking industry in the U.S.
The primary responsibility of the FMCSA is to reduce the number of truck and bus-related crashes, injuries, fatalities, and general damage.
More than 1,000 people in all 50 states and D.C. work within the FMCSA. Its headquarters are located in Washington D.C.
What Are the FMCSA Offices
The FMCSA is divided into 8 different offices, including:
- MC-A: Office of the Administrator
- MC-M: Office of Administration
- MC-C: Office of Chief Counsel
- MC-B: Office of Chief Financial Officer
- MC-E: Office of Enforcement
- MC-P: Office of Policy
- MC-R: Office of Research and Information Technology
- MC-F: Field Operations
Additionally, the FMCSA has field organizations, the role of which is to deliver program services to FMCSA partners and customers. They include Field Operations, Service Center, and State-level motor carrier division offices.
Is FMCSA a Part of the DOT?
The FMCSA, as an agency, functions from within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). It was established on Jan 1, 2000, following the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (49 U.S.C. 113).
Who Is Subject to FMCSA Regulations?
The FMCSA regulates commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce, including any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating (whichever is greater) of 10,001 lbs. (4,537 kg) or more. Multiple weigh combinations apply, including:
- GVWR – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating,
- GCWR – Gross Combination Weight Rating,
- GVW – Gross Vehicle Weight,
- GCW – Gross Combination Weight.
Who Is Exempt from FMCSA Regulations?
Although FMCSA regulations are mandatory for persons that are subject to the CDL requirements, there are a few exceptions. This includes:
- Drivers who operate within a 100-mile air radius (150-air mile radius for vehicles not requiring CDL license);
- Alongside the above, drivers who drive no longer than 12 hours each day are exempt from FMCSA regulations;
- Vehicles that are older than the model year 2000;
- Drivers who are required to complete RODS (Driver’s Records of Duty and Supporting Documentation) for eight days or fewer in a 30-day period.
The FMCSA Regulations
The FMCSA regulations are published in the Federal Register and compiled in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This is why each FMCSA regulation has the CFR in its name.
When it comes to distinctions, the FMCSA regulations are divided into the following groups:
- FMCSA Regulations and Interpretations – 49 CFR Parts 300-399
- HM Regulations – 49 CFR Parts 100-177
- HM Regulations – 49 CFR Parts 178-180
FMCSA Regulations and Interpretations – 49 CFR Parts 300-399
The 49 CFR Parts 300-399 group covers road safety, Hours-of-Service, vehicle inspections, and drug testing, to name but a few.
Below are all 49 CFR Parts 300-399 regulations by name, as well as a link to the respective regulation directly to the FMCSA site:
HM Regulations – 49 CFR Parts 100-177
The 49 CFR Parts 100-177 regulations cover the transport of hazardous material by rail, aircraft, vessel, and public highways.
Below are all 49 CFR Parts 100-177 regulations by name, as well as a link to the respective regulation directly to the FMCSA site:
|105||105.5 to 105.55||HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PROGRAM DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL PROCEDURES|
|106||106.5 to 106.130||RULEMAKING PROCEDURES|
|107||107.1 to 107.809||HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PROGRAM PROCEDURES|
|109||109.1 to 109.103||DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAZARDOUS MATERIAL PROCEDURAL REGULATIONS|
|110||110.1 to 110.130||HAZARDOUS MATERIALS PUBLIC SECTOR TRAINING AND PLANNING GRANTS|
|SUBCHAPTER B—OIL TRANSPORTATION|
|130||130.1 to 130.155||OIL SPILL PREVENTION AND RESPONSE PLANS|
|SUBCHAPTER C—HAZARDOUS MATERIALS REGULATIONS|
|171||171.1 to 171.26||GENERAL INFORMATION, REGULATIONS, AND DEFINITIONS|
|172||172.1 to 172.822||HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TABLE, SPECIAL PROVISIONS, HAZARDOUS MATERIALS COMMUNICATIONS, EMERGENCY RESPONSE INFORMATION, TRAINING REQUIREMENTS, AND SECURITY PLANS|
|173||173.1 to 173.477||SHIPPERS—GENERAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SHIPMENTS AND PACKAGINGS|
|174||174.1 to 174.750||CARRIAGE BY RAIL|
|175||175.1 to 175.900||CARRIAGE BY AIRCRAFT|
|176||176.1 to 176.907||CARRIAGE BY VESSEL|
|177||177.800 to 177.870||CARRIAGE BY PUBLIC HIGHWAY|
HM Regulations – 49 CFR Parts 178-180
The 49 CFR Parts 178-180 regulations expand the regulations governing the transport of hazardous material by rail, aircraft, vessel, and public highways.
Below are all 49 CFR Parts 178-180 regulations by name, as well as a link to the respective regulation directly to the FMCSA site:
|178||178.1 to 178.1070||SPECIFICATIONS FOR PACKAGINGS|
|179||179.1 to 179.500-18||SPECIFICATIONS FOR TANK CARS|
|180||180.1 to 180.605||CONTINUING QUALIFICATION AND MAINTENANCE OF PACKAGINGS|
|SUBCHAPTER D—PIPELINE SAFETY|
|190||190.1 to 190.411||PIPELINE SAFETY ENFORCEMENT AND REGULATORY PROCEDURES|
|191||191.1 to 191.29||TRANSPORTATION OF NATURAL AND OTHER GAS BY PIPELINE; ANNUAL REPORTS, INCIDENT REPORTS, AND SAFETY-RELATED CONDITION REPORTS|
|192||192.1 to 192.1015||TRANSPORTATION OF NATURAL AND OTHER GAS BY PIPELINE: MINIMUM FEDERAL SAFETY STANDARDS|
|193||193.2001 to 193.2917||LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS FACILITIES: FEDERAL SAFETY STANDARDS|
|194||194.1 to 194.121||RESPONSE PLANS FOR ONSHORE OIL PIPELINES|
|195||195.0 to 195.591||TRANSPORTATION OF HAZARDOUS LIQUIDS BY PIPELINE|
|196||196.1 to 196.211||PROTECTION OF UNDERGROUND PIPELINES FROM EXCAVATION ACTIVITY|
|198||198.1 to 198.63||REGULATIONS FOR GRANTS TO AID STATE PIPELINE SAFETY PROGRAMS|
|199||199.1 to 199.245||DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING|
Most Notable FMCSA Regulations
Although pretty much everything is covered by the above regulations, there are some more notable regulations that need specific attention because they impact your work the most.
They are as follows:
- Hours-of-Service Regulations
- Logbooks and ELDs
- Drug and Alcohol Testing
Hours-of-Service (HOS) Regulations
Perhaps one of the most crucial FMCSA regulations, the Hours-of-Service regulations’ main concern is safety on the road. It governs rules that limit commercial motor vehicle drivers hours of work.
The HOS regulations dictate the limits for when and how long a truck driver can legally drive. The goal is to ensure the driver has maximum awareness and alertness while driving.
Since the Hours-of-Service regulations govern the working hours of truckers, they cover the following:
- How long a truck driver is allowed to drive by limiting the time they drive their truck, and
- How many total hours a truck driver can work before they are no longer permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
Three maximum daily limits must be followed when Federal Hours-of-Service regulation applies, and those are:
- The 14-hour driving window limit,
- The 11-hour driving limit,
- The 60-hour/7-day limit, and
- The 70-hour/8-day limit.
More on Hours-of-Service can be found in our post “HOS Rules:How Many Hours Can a Truck Driver Drive?”
Logbooks and ELDs
The DOT truck driver logbooks and ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) contain information about the hours the CMV driver worked.
Logbooks are filled in manually by the truck driver, and ELDs are keeping track on how long the engine has been running and the vehicle moving automatically.
Both logbooks and ELDs contain the following information:
- Truck Number
- Name of Carrier
- Amount of miles driven in a 24hr period
Logbooks can contain additional information filled in by the driver, including:
- Starting time and point of origination
- Shipment documents (Carrier name, type of cargo)
- Names of co-drivers
The driver fills in the logbook via progress input. They log every activity they do on an hourly basis by inputting the progress in the graphic grid of the form for each hour of the day.
More on truck driver logbooks can be found in our post “Truck Driver Logbook 101”.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
The truck driver drug tests are a strictly regulated test that each driver must pass if they are to keep their CDL license.
All DOT drug tests are performed in laboratory conditions. The test checks for the following classes of drugs:
- Opiates such as opium and codeine derivatives,
- Methamphetamines and amphetamines,
- PCP (Phencyclidine).
When it comes to the testing itself, there are four types of truck driver drug tests:
- Truck driving school drug test,
- Pre-employment drug test,
- Random drug test, and,
- Post-accident drug test.
Additional Circumstances for a Drug Test
As an addition to the four types, there are certain circumstances under which the driver can be asked to do a drug test, including when:
- There is a reasonable suspicion the driver is under the influence. If this is the case, the driver can be tested immediately;
- A driver returns-to-duty after they have been positive on a drug test refused a drug test, or broke the prohibitions of Subpart B of 49 CFR Part 382;
- When a driver returns-to-duty after completing the process for return-to-duty with a substance abuse professional vetted by the DOT, they will be tested again, and they must be negative to start driving again;
- Follow-up tests for drivers who were positive on a drug test – this applies to all drivers who went through the return-to-duty procedure, and the follow-ups are mandatory for six tests in 12 months. Still, they can be extended to up to four additional years of follow-up tests;
- A company-requested drug test beyond the established regulations.
Lastly, it should be mentioned that all positive drug tests enter the driver’s DAC report, meaning they will be in your permanent driver’s record, which is accessible to every employer.
More about truck driver drug and alcohol tests can be found in our post “Truck Driver Drug and Alcohol Test – When, How, Why?”
The HOS Emergency Exemption due to COVID-19
Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, the FMCSA announced that they will be introducing an exemption from CFC Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Safety Regulations.
This exemption was intended to provide relief for CMV drivers who transport essential supplies during the time of the pandemic, as well as essential equipment and persons.
The HOS Emergency exemption was expanded multiple times throughout 2020, including:
- FMSCA Extends the HOS Waiver Throughout August
- FMCSA Extends & Modifies the HOS Exemption to Last Through Sept. 14
- FMCSA: HOS Emergency Waiver Extended Until End of 2020
- FMCSA Expands HOS Rules to Cover Transport of COVID-19 Vaccine
Although the FMCSA is considered a villain among truckers, that is far from the truth. The agency is on the forefront between the safety of the truckers and others, and total anarchy.
So, follow the regulations, fill in your logbook, don’t do drugs or drunk driving, and you will be fine in your career as a trucker.