Understanding Federal Trucking Safety Regulations


Federal trucking safety regulations are created and maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and apply to all commercial trucking throughout the United States. Along with trucking, the FMCSA also writes the rules of the road for buses and almost any other vehicle that carries passengers along American roads. Before you get behind the wheel of a big rig, it is a good idea to become more familiar with the safety regulations the FMCSA has in place.

The Basics

The FMCSA believes that a strong understanding of safety basics makes truck drivers safer on the road. That is why there is plenty of information on buckling up whenever you are behind the wheel, making sure you mind the number of hours you drive, and making sure your truck is properly maintained. The FMCSA also warns drivers to be careful on unfamiliar roads and avoid following traffic too closely. It takes a truck longer to respond to a stop, which can make for dangerous situations if you are following too closely.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is rapidly becoming more of a road hazard than drunk driving, and that applies to the commercial vehicle arena as well. The FMCSA has enacted laws that make it illegal to text or use hand-held cellular phones of any kind while driving interstate routes. The biggest distraction for truckers is texting while driving, and the FMCSA has made a point of cracking down on truckers who text while on the road.

Overhead Dangers

Each year it seems like we get more and more reports of trucks that misjudge the clearance on a bridge and slam into the bottom of the bridge. This is called a bridge strike, and there has been more emphasis on preventing them in recent years. The FMCSA has been putting regulations in place for more prominent signs regarding upcoming bridges, and recommending that truckers use updated GPS information to determine when a bridge with a low overhead is coming up.


A more focused safety issue in recent years has been the increase in rollover accidents involving tanker trucks. The FMCSA has determined that 78 percent of rollovers are the result of some sort of driver error. Through a program of increased training and heightened awareness as to the causes of rollover accidents, the FMCSA hopes to significantly decrease these types of accidents in the future.

Trucking safety is important not just for truckers, but for all vehicles that share the road with commercial trucks. The FMCSA has put a spotlight on safety in recent years that is designed to make the roads safer for everyone. By working with drivers to reduce driver error and helping drivers to better identify dangerous situations, the FMCSA is doing its part to make sure that cargo and the trucker get to their destination safely.