Commercial driving can take interstate drivers across the country as they transport materials. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces nationwide regulations, states can also impose specific rules on commercial vehicles traveling within their borders. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to legal consequences and monetary fines. Keep yourself out of trouble by following Commercial Truck Trader’s five tips for driving across state lines.
1. Make Sure You Have the Necessary Documentation
Before you hit the road, make sure you have all the necessary documentation you need to travel across state lines. As a driver, you should always have your CDL and the federal registration for your vehicle on hand.
You should also be sure to have the USDOT Number. This is a unique identifier used to collect and monitor your cargo company’s safety information. Apart from federal regulations, a USDOT Number is required for interstate drivers in every state except: Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.
2. Know the Age Requirements
Forty-nine states, along with Washington D.C., grant commercial driver licenses to people under age 21. Current federal regulations prohibit those under 21 from driving semi trucks across state lines.
However, a new program looks to change that law. The FMCSA established the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program that will allow drivers 18 to 20, with an interstate commercial driver’s license, to operate across state lines under specific conditions. The FMCSA proposed the idea in September 2020, but the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act officially created the anticipated program.
3. Follow Shift Regulations
While some states have specific hours of service rules (HOS), drivers transporting interstate cargo should abide by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) consecutive HOS regulations.
According to the FMCSA, property-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Commercial drivers are also required to take a 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.
4. Comply with Speed Limits
When you’re driving on the road for long periods of time, it can be easy to not take notice of the speed limit when you cross into another state. Speed limits are established by the city, county, or state legislature, so it’s not uncommon for the limits to change when you enter a different state.
Since commercial vehicles are much larger than passenger vehicles, it’s always a safe bet for a driver to travel under the legal limit, especially in unsafe weather, poor road visibility and traffic.
5. Understand the Insurance Minimums
While every state has varying coverage for minimum liability insurance, the FMCSA enforces federal minimums that interstate-cargo haulers should be aware of. Minimum liability coverage for freight ranges from $750,000 to $5,000,000, depending on the commodities transported. Passenger motor carriers require at least $5,000,000; $1,500,000 for registrants operating vehicles with seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers, such as passenger vans.
It’s incredibly important for interstate drivers, as well as their fleet managers, to be aware of any state-specific traveling guidelines. Some states, such as California, do have more strict laws regarding commercial driving than others, so following these five tips and knowing how these regulations vary can help you avoid any trouble.
If you’re looking to add to your fleet of interstate vehicles, browse the nationwide inventory of new and used commercial trucks and vans on CommercialTruckTrader.com.