DOT Rules & Regulations: FMCSA Compliance for Truck Drivers

The DOT rules and regulations are an integral set of government requirements that determine the way that truck drivers can operate in the United States.

Although staying ahead of DOT regulations and updates can be a challenge, it’s crucial not only to remain compliant to these standards as a company, but to ensure the well-being and consistent performance of all drivers through a number of procedures, including medical testing and effective management.

But what are the DOT regulations for truck drivers? And how can you stay in DOT compliance?

Let’s answer all the essential questions about DOT rules below to ensure that you and your drivers stay compliant.

What Are DOT Rules and Regulations?

DOT and FMCSA regulations are a set of rules that help ensure the safety of truck drivers – these rules must be followed at all times, so you must ensure that your drivers know and understand them thoroughly to guarantee their enforcement.

But what types of rules do the DOT requirements set out? Let’s explore some of the most notable examples below.

One of the key areas of DOT rules and regulations is the general hours of service, which define how long a driver may drive or be on duty during a specific time period.

For instance, according to DOT laws, drivers must take a 30-minute break on the eighth hour of coming on duty to ensure that they don’t become too tired and suffer an accident on the road.

Another example is the rule that prohibits drivers from exceeding the drive time of 11 hours in a single workday (although certain exceptions allow extending this time by a few hours in situations where it’s required to complete the run safely).

Even though drivers have a 60-hour work limit per week, this can be reset with 34 consecutive hours off-duty once every 168 hours.

These are just a few rules that paint a picture of what the DOT rules and regulations mean in practice, but keep in mind that there are dozens of other regulations that need to be adhered to in order to avoid penalties when operating in the trucking industry as a business. An overview of all the guidelines can be found at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/

Keep in mind that some regulations are found on the federal level, but that each state DOT will have their own restrictions as well. All DOT websites for each state are listed here: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/about/webstate.cfm

Driver Qualifications

Any truck driver that wants to drive in the U.S. must first meet the qualifications and requirements that are set out by the DOT Rules and Regulations in the state that they operate in.

For one thing, all drivers must have a state-issued driver’s license, which is the bare minimum, with many trucking companies having stricter requirements as their internal policy.

Drivers that want to drive large trucks that weigh over 26,000 pounds will need a special Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to operate.

Besides having the right license, another vital factor is meeting the health requirements that ensure safe participation in traffic when operating a large vehicle. For example, the driver must have 20/40 vision or proper lenses, as well as have good hearing ability.

To pass the DOT compliance training, drivers must also have sufficient command of the English language, which will be required when filling out reports and documents, reading various signs on the road, and communicating with officers or workers.

Finally, individuals who have been convicted of a felony related to drugs, alcohol, or a motor vehicle, cannot obtain a CDL license.  

The DOT Compliance Procedure

Now that we’ve understood what the DOT rules are and how they apply to drivers, it’s essential to go through the compliance procedure that you should follow to ensure that you adhere to the DOT regulations for truck drivers and transportation companies, providing a secure working environment and promoting safety on the road.

The first step of the process is a thorough analysis of the regulations for commercial carriers and drivers so that you can stay on top of the rules and their changes and know what you need to implement or change.

Then, you should continually go through the DOT regulations so that you are aware of any changes and continue meeting these requirements.

A Quick DOT Rules and Regulations Checklist

To make following the regulations easier, we’ve compiled a quick DOT compliance checklist that you can use as a reminder of what you need to follow.

  •       Have a printed copy of the current DOT and FMCSA rules in the office for quick review. Provide a copy to each driver to memorize and have with him/her as well.
  •       Implement a vehicle maintenance program to avoid surprise breakdowns.
  •       Have thorough inspections of vehicles before and after each trip.
  •       Track all incidents and work to avoid them in the future.
  •       Maintain records about driver history and qualifications to track incidents.
  •       Collect the hours on duty information of each driver.
  •       Regularly test your drivers for drugs and alcohol to ensure compliance and avoid tragic accidents. Also conduct tests on supervisors, according to the DOT regulations.


Staying on top of the complex rules and regulations of the Department of Justice can be a challenge, especially when you also need to know the intricacies of your own state’s laws.

Tenstreet’s compliance services can help you stay on top of any compliance changes and provide assistance in implementing various safety and regulations measures. We also provide DOT verifications.

Take the first step and set up a conversation with Tenstreet to learn more about how we can help you with DOT compliance!

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