Every driver has to follow traffic laws, although the exact rules of the road are different in every state. The only drivers who typically have to worry about federal traffic laws are those with commercial licenses.
Someone who drives a commercial truck or a bus has to abide by much stricter rules regarding everything from their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to how long they can stay at the wheel. The special rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) aim to reduce collisions caused by commercial vehicles, which can often prove devastating for anyone in a smaller vehicle. These are the top three federal traffic rules that apply to commercial vehicles and not to people in standard passenger vehicles.
1. The federal no-text rule
While most texting-while-driving rules are state laws, the federal no-text rule applies to anyone in control of a commercial vehicle. Texting or otherwise manually operating any kind of phone or digital device while driving a commercial vehicle is a violation of federal traffic regulations.
As a result, regardless of the state wherein the infraction occurs, a driver who texts while operating a commercial vehicle will very likely face a citation if they get caught or cause a crash.
2. The Hours of Service rules
Fatigue is a known risk factor that increases the likelihood of a commercial crash occurring, so the federal government imposes limits on how long someone can drive during a single shift and how long they can drive in a seven or eight-day period.
Commercial drivers found to be in violation of those Hours of Service limits could end up blamed for a crash or cited for driving when they should be off duty.
3. A doubly-strict alcohol limit
Most drivers will face impaired driving charges if they get pulled over or cause a crash if they show signs of intoxication. There are also technical infractions that can result from someone failing a chemical test.
The standard imposed for most adults is a BAC of 0.08%. Anyone at or over that limit could face arrest and drunk driving charges. For someone in control of a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is only 0.04%. A commercial vehicle operator may feel no signs of impairment but could still technically have violated the law.
Drivers in passenger vehicles will need to research their circumstances carefully to determine whether they might have grounds to hold a truck driver or the company that employs them responsible for their crash costs. Taking appropriate action after a commercial vehicle collision can make a big difference for people who have been negatively affected by a crash.