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Texas Trucking Laws & Regulations

The trucking industry plays a vital role in the transportation of goods across Texas. To ensure the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and truck drivers alike, the state of Texas has implemented a comprehensive set of regulations governing various aspects of commercial truck operations.

Hours of Service Regulations

One of the fundamental regulations governing commercial trucking in Texas is the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, which align with the federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations govern the maximum amount of time a driver can spend operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and include provisions for rest breaks and off-duty periods to prevent driver fatigue and promote road safety.

Key components of the Texas HOS regulations include:

  • 11-Hour Driving Limit: CMV drivers in Texas are generally limited to 11 hours of consecutive driving time following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • 14-Hour Duty Limit: Drivers are not permitted to operate a CMV after being on duty for 14 consecutive hours, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Rest Breaks: CMV drivers must take a 30-minute rest break after 8 hours of consecutive driving.
  • 60/70-Hour Limit: Drivers may not operate a CMV if they have been on duty for 60 hours in a 7-day period or 70 hours in an 8-day period. This limit can be restarted after a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Sleeper Berth Provision: Drivers utilizing a sleeper berth have the option to divide their mandatory 10-hour off-duty period, provided that one segment, whether inside or outside the sleeper berth, lasts a minimum of 2 hours, and the other entails at least 7 consecutive hours spent in the sleeper berth. It’s essential that the combined duration of rest in the sleeper berth totals at least 10 hours. When utilized in combination, neither period affects the maximum 14-hour driving window.

These regulations are designed to prevent fatigue-related accidents and promote safer roadways for all motorists.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

Texas, like all other states, mandates the use of ELDs to accurately record a driver’s HOS, replacing paper logbooks. ELDs help ensure compliance with HOS regulations and improve accuracy in tracking driver hours.

Weight and Size Limits

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles imposes strict weight and size limits on commercial trucks to ensure they do not exceed the capacity of the state’s infrastructure and to mitigate the risk of accidents.

  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): The maximum allowable weight for commercial vehicles is 80,000 pounds. Other stipulations include:
    • Single axles: 20,000 pounds
    • Tandem axle group: 34,000 pounds
    • Triple axle group: 42,000 pounds
    • Quad axle group: 50,000 pounds
  • Maximum Height: CMVs have a maximum height limit of 14’ so they can safely pass under bridges and through tunnels.
  • Maximum Length: The maximum length for CMVs varies by the vehicle type. For example:
    • Truck-tractors: No length restrictions
    • Semitrailer, of two-vehicle combination: 59 feet
    • Each trailer or semitrailer of a twin-trailer combination: 28.5 feet
    • Truck towing a trailer transporting boats: 65 feet
      • Front overhang: 3 feet
    • Rear overhang: 4 feet
  • Maximum Width: 8’6” is the limit on the width of commercial vehicles to ensure they can safely navigate narrow roads and intersections without encroaching on adjacent lanes or posing risks to pedestrians and cyclists.

Oversized or overweight trucks can cause damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, posing safety hazards and requiring costly repairs.

Licensing Requirements

Truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if their vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 lbs or more or must be placarded for transportation of hazardous materials. They must also meet specific requirements for obtaining it. For example, previous driving violations or a history of substance abuse can disqualify an individual from obtaining a license.

Maintenance Requirements

Trucking companies and drivers must perform regular inspection, repair, and maintenance to ensure the safe operation of all parts, accessories, and systems on the vehicle.

Operating Requirements

Many regulations dictate what a driver can and cannot do on the road, regarding the legal limit of continuous driving hours, keeping an up-to-date log in the vehicle at all times, and tighter drug and alcohol limits.

Financial Requirements

Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than drivers of passenger vehicles.

Have You Been Involved in a Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, our truck accident attorneys in Waco can help you navigate the claims process and determine whether Texas trucking regulations were violated. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.