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Laws & Regulations for Truck Drivers in Texas

Like most states, Texas outlines specific rules and regulations for truckers driving within its borders. Texas trucking laws promote safety, reduce accidents, and uphold industry standards. Accidents can happen when trucking companies fail to abide by them. If you are injured in a truck accident because someone failed to follow these laws and regulations, our knowledgeable team at Shamieh Law can use these rules to prove your case and fight for justice.

Despite laws and regulations designed to reduce truck accidents, they still happen. Often, these accidents happen because truckers and trucking companies fail to follow the rules. In such cases, you may be able to hold truckers and commercial motor vehicle carriers accountable for your injuries and losses if you can establish that they failed to comply with these laws.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, the Dallas truck accident lawyers at Shamieh Law can investigate and determine if anyone violated any laws and contributed to your accident. We’ve helped countless Texas residents navigate their accident cases and can do the same for you.

What Are DOT Regulations in Texas?

The Texas Department of Transportation oversees transportation within the state. It’s responsible for everything from maintaining the state’s intricate network of road infrastructure to setting safety and efficiency standards for commercial vehicle operations.

Texas’ driving laws impose strict standards on truck drivers to promote safety, uphold industry standards, and reduce accidents. Texas DOT regulations for truck drivers cover a wide range of subjects, from preventing unsafe industry practices to imposing restrictions on vehicle emissions.

DOT Rules & Regulations for Truck Drivers in Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation’s rules and regulations for truck drivers are ever-evolving to accommodate industry changes, new standards, and other variables. Currently, dozens of regulations cover driver qualifications for commercial trucks, speed limits on Texas roadways, and other areas of concern.

Driver Qualifications for Commercial Trucks

Drivers operating commercial motor vehicles, or CMVs, in Texas must meet specific qualifications and possess a current commercial driver’s license or CDL. Though requirements vary for interstate versus intrastate truckers, truck drivers must successfully complete a driver’s road test and satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be at least 21 years old for an interstate CDL or 18 years old for an intrastate CDL.
  • Can read and speak English well enough to communicate with the general public, understand highway traffic signs and signals, respond to inquiries, and make entries on reports and records.
  • Can safely operate the type of commercial vehicle they drive.
  • Be physically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle.
  • Possess a current commercial motor vehicle operator’s license.

Texas CDL restrictions include the following types of licenses:

  • L: The licensee may only operate a commercial vehicle without air brakes.
  • K: The licensee may only operate a commercial motor vehicle in CDL intrastate commerce.
  • P: The licensee may only operate a commercial motor vehicle per their driver’s license restriction.
  • Y: The licensee requires a valid Texas vision or limb waiver.
  • Z: The licensee may not operate a full-air-brake-equipped commercial motor vehicle.

Drivers may be disqualified from driving a commercial truck for various offenses, including the following:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, disqualifying drug, or other controlled substance
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more
  • Two serious traffic violations within a three-year timeframe
  • Refusing to submit to a test designed to determine alcohol concentration or the presence of a controlled substance
  • Driving a commercial vehicle with a revoked, suspended, canceled, or disqualified CDL
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving a commercial motor vehicle
  • Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony
  • Violation of laws that regulate motor vehicle operation at a railroad-grade crossing
  • Causing another person’s death by negligently or criminally operating a commercial vehicle

Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance Requirements

Texas DOT regulations require commercial motor carriers to follow specific inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements for any CMVs they own or control. Under these regulations, carriers must thoroughly inspect every vehicle and component every 12 months.

For each vehicle in its control for 30 days or more, a carrier must keep the following information on file:

  • Inspection, maintenance, repair, and testing service records
  • Identification details, such as truck make, model, and serial number
  • Routine inspection schedules, including the types and dates of each inspection

Carriers must keep these inspection, repair, and maintenance records for at least six months after parting with the vehicle.

After finishing each day of driving, Texas truck drivers must complete a written post-trip inspection that covers various components, including the following:

  • Horns
  • Wheels, rims, and tires
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Windshield wipers
  • Service brakes
  • Trailer brake connections
  • Coupling mechanisms
  • Parking or hand brakes
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Emergency devices and equipment

If drivers undergo a roadside inspection, they must provide the inspection reports to their carriers. Upon receiving a report, the carrier must review and address points of concern in the report, including defects and violations. Carriers must sign the completed report within 15 days of receipt to confirm they addressed all noted concerns.

Size and Weight Limits for Commercial Vehicles

Commercial vehicles must keep within specific size and weight limits, although oversized and overweight vehicles are allowed with special permits and route inspections.

Size Limits

All commercial motor vehicles on Texas roadways can’t exceed 8 feet, 6 inches wide, and 14 feet tall. Single motor vehicles can be no more than 45 feet long, while semi-trailers cannot exceed 59 feet. Each trailer or semi-trailer of a twin-trailer combination cannot exceed 28.5 feet. Two-vehicle and three-vehicle combinations, other than truck-tractor combinations, can’t exceed 65 feet in length.

Weight Limits

Weight limits vary based on the number of axles, but the gross weight can’t exceed 80,000 pounds. A single axle can hold up to 20,000 pounds, while a tandem group axle may carry up to 34,000 pounds. Triple axle groups may carry up to 42,000 pounds, while quad axle groups can carry up to 50,000 pounds.

Exceptions to Size and Weight Limits

Notable exceptions apply to weight limits for vehicles carrying special commodities, including ready-mixed concrete, milk, and recyclable materials.

Vehicles exceeding the weight and size limits may travel through Texas, but a special permit is necessary. However, these permits still cap the weights and sizes of commercial vehicles traversing the state’s roadways. For example, the maximum permit weight for an axle or axle group is 650 pounds per inch of tire width.

Any vehicle and load with an axle, axle group, or gross weight that exceeds the permit limits may be eligible for a Super Heavy permit.

Hours of Service Rules

Fatigue plays a dangerous role in numerous Texas accidents every year. To reduce the risk of a fatigue-associated accident, the DOT outlines specific hours of service truck drivers must follow.

For interstate drivers, the core restrictions include the following:

  • Drivers may drive for 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Drivers must take a 30-minute rest break after eight or more hours of driving following their last off-duty period.
  • Motor carriers can’t permit or require drivers to drive beyond the 14th hour on duty except if they’re property-carrying drivers compliant with specific provisions.
  • Motor carriers can’t permit or require drivers to operate after driving for 60 total duty hours in seven consecutive days. The total increases to 70 total duty hours in any consecutive eight-day period if the carrier doesn’t operate every day of the week.

Intrastate drivers have similar restrictions, including:

  • Drivers may drive up to 12 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.
  • Motor carriers can’t require or permit drivers to drive after 15 hours on duty following eight consecutive off-duty hours.
  • Motor carriers can’t permit or require drivers to drive after having been on duty 70 total hours in seven days.

Exceptions to these rules apply in specific cases. For example, if poor road conditions at the end of a 14-hour driving period prevent the driver from safely stopping, they may continue driving for up to two hours to find a safe place to stop.

Speed Limits for Trucks in Texas

Some states set a maximum state-wide speed limit for commercial trucks. However, Texas has no such law. Most Texas roadways have a maximum speed limit of 70 miles per hour, although some stretches of specific interstates have higher speed limits of up to 85 miles per hour.

Holding Negligent Truckers and Trucking Companies Accountable

Due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved, commercial truck accidents can be deadly. If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, seek legal guidance.

Your lawyer can investigate, sift through your accident details to establish negligence, determine your legal options, and fight for justice on your behalf. If the truck driver or trucking company violated any laws or regulations, your lawyer can use this to establish they were negligent or reckless.

At Shamieh Law, we’re dedicated to helping people like you hold truckers and trucking companies accountable for their actions.

Whether you live in Dallas, Austin, or somewhere else in Texas, we can help. Contact us today and get started with a free consultation by calling our office nearest you or completing our online form. Contact our personal injury lawyers in Dallas at (469) 225-3119 or our team in Austin at (512) 888-3333.

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