What Are the DOT Regulations for Trucks?

U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for trucks include maximum driving time per driver, limits on truck sizes and weights, and cargo securement rules, according to the DOT. All DOT requirements apply to motor carriers operating on interstate highways. Many DOT truck requirements also apply to operation on state highways.

DOT drive-time regulations apply to operation on interstate and state highways. They mandate drivers have a minimum of 10 hours of rest before starting a shift, drive no longer than 14 hours without a 10-hour break, drive no more than 11 hours within a 14-hour period, and drive no more than eight consecutive hours without a 30-minute rest, the DOT explains. Motor carriers also must limit their drivers to 70 hours of driving per week (60 hours for carriers operating less than seven days per week).

National weight standards apply to the interstate system only; individual states set their own standards for state highways. Federal weight limits are 20,000 pounds per single axle, 34,000 pounds per tandem axle and a gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds, the DOT notes. The DOT uses a formula to calculate individual weight limits for bridges.

The DOT explains that cargo must be firmly immobilized and secured. Truck drivers must ensure compliance with general requirements for all cargo, such as load limits for cargo securement devices and requirements for tie downs. Some types of cargo have additional, cargo-specific securement requirements.