Tag Archives: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Welcome To The Trucking Industry

Here at QuickTSI, we want to take a long term look at the basics of the trucking industry, how it is regulated, what sort of qualifications you must meet, and the various terms that you must understand if you want to get into the industry. This is going to be a long term project and we are going to bring it to you right here.

We are going to provide you with a wealth of information, all laid out in a blog series; short training snippets that are easy to digest and quick reads. As we go through every aspect of the trucking industry, you will learn everything you need to know about it. We will lay it out in understandable, actionable terms.

Are you ready? Here we go.

What is Trucking?

We all know one thing: Without trucking, commerce wouldn’t exist. Trucks deliver everything, from raw materials to completed products. They haul freight to and from warehouses, retailers and even your home. Whether it is crude oil or olive oil, chances are at some point in time it is moved on a truck or in a trailer.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in 2013 9.7 billion tons of freight was transported by a truck. It’s a whopping number, and it represents over two-thirds of shipped domestic tonnage.

And it’s not only shipping that trucking has a major impact on. It’s also employment. In 2012, seven million people worked in jobs relating to the trucking industry. Over three million of them were employed as truck drivers. So when you ask what trucking is, we can tell you. It’s the heartbeat of commerce.

Types of Trucking

There are two main types of trucking. Motor carriers can run operations in interstate commerce, intrastate commerce, or both. While it may seem trivial, in light of specific compliance regulations, it is important to understand what each term means.

Interstate Commerce: If you are driving freight from state-to-state, from overseas, or across U.S. borders in a commercial motor vehicle, you are hauling interstate commerce. The same applies if you are hauling interstate cargo within a state.

Intrastate Commerce: If you are driving freight in a commercial motor vehicle and it never crosses state lines, you are participating in intrastate commerce. The cargo’s trip must begin and end within the same state and cannot cross a state line in any form, whether it be by truck, rail, ship or air.

No matter what type of trucking you embark on, you have to understand that this is a highly regulated industry. It is also important to remember that different states regulate their industries differently, so you need to know a state’s specific regulations before operating within its borders.

Rules and Regulations

The trucking industry is governed by governmental regulation. This is intended to ensure safety and create an umbrella for fleets to work under – where regulation is concerned. So if you want to be a professional truck driver or operations, you need to know how your industry is regulated.

The trucking Industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA issues and enforces most of the regulations that interstate fleets and truck drivers must follow. These regulations are called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs were created to establish basic safety rules and measureable standards for fleets, truck drivers, or employers of motor drivers. The FMCSRs cover everything from driver qualifications and disqualifications, how long they are on the road, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards, how drug and alcohol testing is carried out, and how vehicles are inspected and what type of condition they should be in.

Join us next time when we finish out this section with an explanation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). Then we will get into the details of CDL licensing. Are you ready for trucking? Well then join us in our next installment, because trucking is ready for you.

Texting and Mobile Phone Restrictions for Commercial Vehicle Drivers

Most commercial motor vehicle drivers rely heavily on their cell phones for communication with family, dispatchers and everyone else. Most drivers know that talking on the phone while driving is illegal unless you have a hands-free device. It’s also important to note that CMV drivers are prohibited from texting while they are behind the wheel. Truck drivers who talk or text while holding their handsets face serious financial consequences, and some companies even fire drivers immediately if they are caught talking on their phone or sending text messages. Many companies don’t even allow their drivers to talk on their phone using a hands-free device, so make sure you understand your company’s policy as well as the laws regarding mobile phone use.

The Rules

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration worked with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to generate and publish a set of rules that specifically prohibit bus drivers and truck drivers who haul hazardous materials in placarded quantities from using hand-held cell phones to talk or text while driving. These rules are in addition to other measures taken by the United States Department of Transportation in an effort to eliminate distracted driving. Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who violate the rules will be subject to hefty fines and may have their license suspended. The violation will also affect both the company’s and the driver’s results in the federal Safety Measurement System.


Most CMV drivers are aware that sending a text message qualifies, but may not be aware that entering information into their mobile phone while driving is also a violation. Reading a text on the cell phone is a violation too. Pressing a single button on the phone to begin or end a call is allowed as long as the driver doesn’t hold the phone in their hand while they are talking on it. Email, looking at websites, SMS and instant messaging is not allowed.

Cell Phone Use

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from holding their mobile phone while they are communicating by voice. They are also not allowed to reach for their phone while they are driving. Drivers who need to make a call while they are driving are permitted to use a hands-free device if it is close to them. Most drivers choose handsets that stay on their ear so that they can easily make a call without taking their eyes off the road or reaching unsafely. Company drivers should ask their supervisor or read their company policy is regard to cell phone use, as many companies only approve certain hands-free devices.

How Can Drivers Use Their Phone Without Breaking the Rules?

Drivers should place their phone in a holder either on their person or close to them in the truck so that they can easily reach it while they are wearing their seat belt properly. Utilizing the speaker function on the phone is permissible, as is using an earpiece that fits securely over the ear. Most phones are equipped with voice-activated dialing options or one-button calling options that drivers should use to answer, initiate or terminate a phone call.

Consequences of Using a Phone Improperly While Driving

Heavy sanctions will be imposed on drivers who are caught breaking these rules. They include a monetary fine of up to $2,750 and possible drivers license disqualification. The laws also prohibit carriers from allowing or encouraging their drivers to use their cell phones improperly while driving. Companies who violate the rules face fines of up to $11,000.

The Risks

The penalties that drivers and companies face for violating cell phone restrictions are very strict because studies have shown that truck drivers who text while they are driving are approximately 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or other critically unsafe event than drivers who don’t text while they drive. Drivers who were tested in the studies stopped looking at the road for about 4.5 seconds, which is about the distance across a football field at 55 miles per hour. In addition, drivers who dial their phone while they are driving and hold their phone while talking are about six times more likely to be involved in a critically unsafe event. Losing a few minutes by pulling over is well worth the risk of losing your license, facing hefty fines or possibly dying in a preventable crash.