Understanding the Impact of DOT Changes on Truckers

The DOT driving rules that control truck drivers are receiving a lot of media attention as the supply chain issue makes it more challenging for families to purchase necessities. A slowdown in the intricate logistical networks responsible for transporting goods around the globe has made it difficult to purchase things that were even just a few months ago always in stock throughout the continental United States and beyond.

The regulations that the US Department of Transportation has in place to control vehicles, as well as container ship captains and other freight workers, are beginning to draw criticism from a large number of consumers, media outlets, and government officials. Prior to recent slowdowns, industry professionals were content to ignore the mysterious systems and regulations governing the flow of global supplies. However, people are now being forced to learn about the Department of Transportation (DOT) and, in particular, how the DOT Driving Regulations impact truck drivers.

What Are DOT Driving Regulations and How Do They Affect Truckers?

While the great majority of people only have a few simple interactions with the Department of Transportation, comprehending the paperwork and regulations is a critical component of long-distance truck drivers' businesses. The network of compliance that governs transportation is made up of numerous laws and regulations, including those pertaining to weigh stations, rig maintenance charges, and carbon emissions.

Continue reading to learn more about the main DOT driving requirements, how they affect truck drivers, and what truckers should be sure they know before getting behind the wheel.

What Entities Need a USDOT Number?

The estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the US are governed by the US Department of Transportation, the most majority of whom are registered using a USDOT number. Although the requirements are somewhat complicated and many prospective drivers are confused of whether they must register for a USDOT number, in most cases the employer will be in charge of this need, and if you're an owner-operator, that burden falls on you.

You may be sure that you'll need a USDOT number if you want to drive trucks over state lines. Even if they are hauling hazardous commodities, drivers who are making shorter runs within their state can still be needed to register for a USDOT number. If you are unsure of where you fall under the requirements, it is highly worth checking with your state's transportation authority. Some states are more liberal about who needs a USDOT number.

Time Behind the Wheel Regulations under the DOT

The majority of truckers believe that the most onerous DOT driving regulation for long-haul trucking has to do with how much time a trucker can spend driving. This regulation is widely discussed on blogs, radio shows, and newspapers. The government has tight regulations on how long you can drive before you must pull over and take a rest because a weary motorist is a dangerous driver.

The majority of trucking businesses either have a strict internal policy that they will walk you through during training or will either monitor this remotely and communicate with you even if the rules seem simple but can be tricky when you're crossing time zones. In general, drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of nonstop driving. The regulations are extremely complicated and are subject to change with new law. They are only permitted to drive for a certain number of hours in a day before taking a longer break. Remember that a driver might spend their non-driving break sleeping, doing paperwork, or being on duty but not driving.

DOT Specifications: Weighing and Ongoing maintenance

Even though this is yet another state-by-state regulation, most areas of the United States normally demand that truckers weigh their trailers at each weigh station they pass. In this instance, this regulation applies to any truck or commercial vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 lb. Many people who do not drive are intrigued as to what actually occurs at a weigh station. The weigh stations give the US Department of Transportation the chance to inspect the rig in addition to weighing the combined gross weight of the truck and trailer. Six levels of checks range from a quick visual inspection to a more thorough and technically complex level six assessment.

Truckers with plenty of expertise will tell you that stopping at a weigh station is straightforward and won't result in lengthy delays. Many of the employees at weigh stations were once truckers themselves, so they work swiftly and are aware of the challenges of traveling and the necessity of returning to the route as soon as possible. Your weighing stop should be short and simple if all of your paperwork is in order, your truck is in good condition, and you are following the fuel restrictions.