DOT Regulations Every Truck Driver Needs to Know

Semi-Truck Damage Insurance

While everyone should be familiar with the rules of the road, individuals who make driving their career should be highly knowledgeable about the DOT regulations that impact their work. Violating these regulations can put a swift stop to your career, even if you violated them out of naiveté. Before heading out on the road, read this blog to learn about DOT regulations regarding CDLs, road tests, semi-truck damage insurance, and more.

Is a CDL Required?

CDLs are not required for all types of commercial driving. Rather, they are required based on the size and weight of the vehicle itself. The following types of vehicles require the driver to hold a CDL to operate:

  • Vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is 10,000 pounds or higher for the vehicle being towed.
  • Commercial vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (driver included)
  • Vehicles required to have a placard while transporting hazardous materials

For example, most box trucks can be driven without a CDL, which is why your average driver can easily rent and operate a standard-sized moving truck on their own. However, semi-trucks exceed the specified GCWR outlined above, which means they would require the drive to have a CDL.

Who Can Receive a CDL?

To qualify to apply for a CDL, a driver must meet the following criteria:

  • 21 years of age or older
  • Clean DOT record
  • Clean criminal record
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Able to read, write, and speak English

After receiving your CDL, you must remain DOT-compliant by holding a valid commercial driver’s license with endorsements corresponding to the DOT’s driving classifications. Make sure you have adequate licensing and endorsements before heading out on any haul.

What Courses Are Required?

If you meet the qualifications to apply for a CDL, you must complete a certain number of hours of driving and go through specific courses to receive your license. All new drivers need to complete Basic Operator Certification, which includes 80 hours of sponsored instruction and driving under the supervision of a valid CDL holder. DOT regulations state that your 80 hours must be spread out over several days, and you cannot drive more than 8 hours daily. Additionally, new drivers need to complete Supplements for Windswept Debris, Tractor-Propelled Windshield Debris, and Snow & Sleet Water Courses within 30 days of employment.

During the training and education period, you can be disqualified from receiving a CDL for several reasons, including the following:

  • Being involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle
  • Incurring DOT safety violation fines that total $2,000 or more within 120 days
  • Excessive speeding violations or driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Being convicted of a DUI

Receive a DOT citation while operating a noncommercial vehicle. You won’t be eligible to operate a commercial vehicle again until you pay the DOT fine, complete an approved defensive driving program, and are given permission from the DOT.

Is a Background Check Required?

Yes. As we stated earlier, one of the requirements to receive a CDL is that you have a clean criminal record. This does not only apply to new drivers but current drivers as well. To remain DOT compliant, CDL drivers must undergo a DOT background check every 12 months.

Is a Drug Test Required?

The DOT takes driving under the influence of any drugs or alcohol very seriously, especially when operating a commercial vehicle. So, yes, truck drivers are given a drug and alcohol test as part of the qualification process for a CDL.

Is a Medical Exam Required?

While being a truck driver doesn’t require you to perform a physical fitness test, you are required to undergo a medical examination. This exam aims to verify that you are medically capable of performing your duties as a driver. A DOT physician, DOT-registered PA, or a DOT-registered nurse practitioner must perform this exam. For example, an individual with a seizure disorder would not pass a DOT physical exam since their medical condition makes them a serious danger behind the wheel of a semi-truck.

Truck drivers must maintain current medical certification by receiving physicals every 12 months or every 24 months if they’re under the age of 60 and have permission from the DOT to do so.

Is a Road Test Required?

Naturally, a driver must prove their abilities in handling a commercial vehicle to receive a CDL. New drivers and drivers who wish to transfer their CDLs from one state to another are required to take a road test. The road test will cover the following topics:

  • Coupling and uncoupling units
  • Proper use of the truck’s controls and emergency equipment
  • Safely operating the truck in traffic
  • Safely passing other vehicles
  • Turning the commercial vehicle
  • Braking, as well as slowing the truck by means other than the brakes, should those fail
  • Backing and parking

Is Insurance Required?

Yes, truck drivers must hold current DOT-approved insurance to operate their trucks on public roads. DOT regulations require drivers to carry a minimum of $750,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, plus another $1 million for every truck the driver operates. If you are the owner-operator, you are responsible for obtaining your own insurance. Shipping companies should provide commercial liability statements in the driver’s contract upon hiring.

At Arrow Truck Sales, we offer insurance plans for semi-truck drivers and owner-operators like you, so we can help you to stay in compliance with DOT regulations. If you’d like to learn more about our insurance products, or if you’re looking to add semi-trucks to your fleet, contact the location nearest you today. Call or stop by today! We are a highly trusted and reputable semi-truck dealer with locations throughout the country, and our friendly associates will be happy to answer any questions you might have.