Florida Trucking Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency. It works to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. The FMCSA does this through establishing and enforcing a comprehensive set of regulations.
Florida also has laws that are meant to keep commercial motor vehicle operations safe in our state. These laws are enforced by the Florida Highway Patrol Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (OCVE).
Violation of state or federal regulations by a truck driver, motor carrier or associated vendors constitutes negligence. If the violation contributes to a truck accident, then these parties may be held responsible for their negligence.
For many years, attorney Frank M. Eidson, a truck accident lawyer, has stood up for those injured in truck accidents in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. He knows how to identify trucking regulation violations in a case and seek maximum compensation for his clients. To learn how he can help you, simply call Frank M. Eidson, P.A., today by phone or reach us through our online form.
The following are regulations that may apply to your trucking accident:
Size and Weight Restrictions
- Length – Under Florida regulations, there is a 75-foot limit. Federal rules only place limits on certain combination vehicles.
- Overhang – Three feet is the limit for front overhang in Florida. However, certain public sector and waste collection vehicles may have higher overhang limits coupled with further regulations governing speed. There is no federal rule.
- Height – There is a height limit of 13 feet, 6 inches (or 14 feet for automobile transporters) in Florida. No federal limit exists.
- Width – The state and federal limit is 102 inches (or 8 feet, 6 inches). The limit does not include side mirrors and other safety devices. Acceptable widths on side streets may vary.
- Weight – A maximum of 80,000 pounds is allowed on interstate and intrastate highways. The actual legal weight for a specific vehicle may be lower depending on factors such as the number and type of axles.
Note that many regulations have exceptions. Also, certain vehicles may be given special permits to exempt them from requirements.
Federal hours of service rules restrict the number of hours that a truck driver can drive consecutively or in a given time period without rest. Drivers generally must observe an 11-hour daily driving limit if carrying cargo and a 10-hour daily limit if carrying passengers. In Florida, drivers who carry property only may drive for up to 12 hours in a day. Federal and state law also place limitations on the number of hours a driver can be on duty in a 6-to 8-day time span. They require a 34-hour break in order to “reset” the 6-to-8 consecutive day period.
Federal regulations prohibits commercial truck drivers from texting while driving. Additionally, under federal rules, truckers cannot use hand-held cell phones. This means that a trucker cannot use an electronic device to send or read e-mail, access the Web or press more than a single button to talk. Motor carriers are prohibited from requiring or allowing commercial motor vehicle drivers they employ to use hand-held cell phones. In Florida, texting while driving is illegal for all drivers. Florida has no other restrictions on cell phone use behind the wheel.
Alcohol and Drug Testing
By virtue of operating a commercial motor vehicle, a driver consents to being tested for alcohol at any time. Federal and state law both prohibit driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or more. Federal law also prohibits the consumption of alcohol within four hours before driving as well as within eight hours following an accident or until a post-accident BAC test has been performed. No amount of illegal drug in a driver’s system is allowed.
Under federal rules, all commercial motor vehicle drivers or others who perform safety-sensitive functions are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. This includes all full-time, part-time, intermittent, backup and international drivers. A negative test must be obtained before a driver can be employed. An additional test is required after most types of accidents, including those that result in a death. In addition to identifying a BAC of 0.02, tests identify the presence of:
- Opiates – opium and codeine derivatives
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines (meth)
- Phencyclidine – PCP.
Following and Passing
Truck drivers generally must leave at least one second of following distance for every 10 feet of vehicle length when driving below 40 mph. At higher speeds, drivers must add seconds for safety. Under Florida law, a truck driver must leave at least 300 feet between the front of the vehicle and the vehicle ahead – except when passing or within city or town limits.
Convoys and Escort Vehicles
Driving in convoys is not permitted in the state of Florida. However, when vehicles exceed the size and weight restrictions listed above, a special permit may be required, and the truck must be followed by an escort vehicle. This vehicle must follow and/or precede the oversized vehicle at a distance no greater than 300 feet in order to ensure the safety and awareness of other drivers.
Among the many other aspects of commercial vehicle operation that are regulated by federal and/or state law are:
- Driver qualification
- Financial responsibility for motor carriers
- Vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance
- Parts and accessories necessary for safe operation
- Noise emissions
- Transportation of hazardous materials.
Contact an Orlando Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident in Orlando, Winter Park or elsewhere in Florida, you will need the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney who understands the rules and regulations that govern trucking, trucks and truck drivers at the state and federal levels.
Truck accident attorney Frank M. Eidson can use his understanding of these laws to help you pursue full and fair compensation for your losses after you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident. To schedule a free consultation with Frank M. Eidson, P.A., simply call or reach us online today.