Trucking Analysis, Consultation & Expert Testimony


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Michael K. Napier, Sr. is a uniquely qualified expert with more than 40 years of total industry related experience.

Federal Resources

This is a listing of the most applicable portions of the 49 CFR. We hope you can use the following as a sort of quick reference guide to the complex maze of Federal Transport Regulation.

Click on one of the parts below to view the summary of that part:

49 CFR 350: Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program

49 CFR 382: Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing

49 CFR 383: Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties

49 CFR 391: Qualifications of Drivers

Compliance with the following regulations is required if a driver operates a tractor-trailer or other commercial motor vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, carries 16 or more passengers, or transports an amount of hazardous materials that requires the vehicle to be placarded.

In 49 CFR 391 the minimum qualifications for drivers of commercial motor vehicles are established. The minimum duties of motor carriers with respect to the qualifications of their drivers are also established.

Truck drivers for commercial motor carriers operating in interstate commerce must be 21 years old, speak English, be physically able to safely operate a truck, have a valid CDL, and must not have ever been disqualified for driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of drugs, committing a felony, leaving the scene of an accident, refusing to take an alcohol test, or any other reason. The driver and the truck company must keep records of the driver’s violations. The truck driver must also have a physical exam every 2 years and should not have diabetes requiring insulin, high blood pressure, poor vision, poor hearing, current diagnosis of being an alcoholic, or use dangerous substances including some over-the-counter and prescription medication. The specifics of when a person’s medical condition prohibit him from driving are complicated and dependant upon a doctor’s examination.


A driver can be disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle if he drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more, drives under the influence of drugs, commits a felony involving a commercial motor vehicle, leaves the scene of an accident while driving a commercial motor vehicle, transports, possesses, or unlawfully uses drugs, refuses to undergo alcohol testing, or fails to notify his employer of a suspended, revoked, or withdrawn permit or privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle before the end of the business day post-revocation.


When an individual applies for a job involving the operation of a commercial motor vehicle, the application must contain the following information:

  • employer name and address,
  • driver’s name, address, date of birth, and social security number,
  • driver’s previous addresses for the past three years,
  • date of the application,
  • state, number, and expiration date of driver’s license,
  • list of all motor vehicle accidents and violations for the last three years,
  • any driver’s license suspensions or revocations,
  • list of all employers for the last three years
  • any driver’s license suspensions or revocations,
  • list of all past employers for the last three years, or an additional seven years if the motor vehicle the driver will operate weighs 26,001 pounds or more, will carry more than 15 passengers, or will carry an amount of hazardous materials that requires the vehicle to be placarded, and
  • driver’s permission to contact previous employers.


Every year employers are required to review a driver’s driving record to determine whether or not the driver meets the minimum requirements for safe driving. The employers must consider all violations, including but not limited to reckless driving, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and showing a blatant disregard for public safety.

Employers are required to check a driver’s record for the past three years and the responses of each state agency. The employer must also check and record in writing the driver’s previous employment record for the last 3 years.


Every 12 months a driver must fill out a form listing any violations of which he has been convicted. Even if no violations have occurred, the driver still must complete the form and indicate as much. A driver must inform his employer within 30 days of any violation or conviction.

49 CFR §391.31: ROAD TEST

All drivers must pass a road test while driving the same type of motor vehicle they will be driving under their employment. The road test must include a pre-trip inspection, coupling and uncoupling (if applicable), driving the vehicle using the controls and emergency equipment, passing other vehicles, turning, braking, and slowing by means other than braking, backing, and parking.

It is acceptable for an employer to require a road test even if the driver produces a valid driver’s license or certificate issued by another carrier within the last three years. However, this doesn’t apply if the driver will be operating a commercial vehicle that requires a doubles/triples endorsement or a cargo tanker.


In order to drive a commercial motor vehicle a driver must have a physical exam at least every 24 months and carry a card documenting the exam at all times. If a driver has lost a limb or digit and its absence interferes with his ability to drive, has diabetes controlled by insulin, has heart disease, breathing problems, high blood pressure or any sickness which might interfere with driving, has mental problems, poor vision, poor hearing, a drug problem or a current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism he is prohibited from driving a commercial motor vehicle.


An employer must keep a driver’s qualification files throughout the entirety of the driver’s employment and an extra 3 years. This is with the exception of materials that need to be reviewed and updated. There are limited exemptions for drivers who were regularly employed before January 1, 1971 under 391.61.


If a driver is used by multiple carriers in a period of 7 consecutive days he is referred to as an intermittent, casual, or occasional driver. Such a driver’s must keep his medical certificate, road test, driver’s name and social security number and identification number in his driver qualification file. This information must be kept by the motor carrier for 3 years after the end of the driver’s employment.

A driver regularly employed by one motor carrier may be used by another carrier without following the driver qualification file requirements if he has a signed and dated certificate that displays his name and signature and indicates regular employment and driver qualification. It must also have the expiration date of both his medical exam and the certificate itself on it, and the driver must assume responsibility for the accuracy of the certificate. There are a few exceptions under §393.67 for drivers who operate farm equipment.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 391 in its entirety.

49 CFR 392: Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles

In order to operate a tractor-trailer, straight truck, tanker, and other commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate travel, the truck driver, his company, and all others responsible for the management, maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles or the hiring, supervision, training, assigning or dispatching of drivers must follow federal regulations. A driver must not drive while ill or fatigued. The driver may not use drugs illegally, but may take medication under the advice of a doctor if it doesn’t affect his ability to drive. Drivers must obey the speed limit, load cargo safely and perform periodic inspections, must drive with extreme caution in hazardous situations, use seat belts, and warn the public when a truck is stopped on the shoulder of the road. Drivers must also be able to stop before reaching a railroad track, and must stop when carrying a trailer or hazardous materials. Drivers must not shift when crossing tracks.


If a driver is ill or fatigued to a degree that it may cause him to be a danger to others on the road he must not drive. If the driver is already on the road when he realizes this he may continue to drive to the nearest safe place.


A driver may take prescribed medication if it doesn’t have side effects that might result in unsafe driving, but may not take any drugs that might render him unable to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.


Drivers are prohibited from drinking, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol while on duty, and are prohibited from drinking or being under the influence of alcohol within 4 hours of going on duty. In the event that a driver has used alcohol within 4 hours of going on duty, his employer must neither require nor permit him to drive, and the driver must immediately be placed out-of-service for 24 hours. Also, the driver must report the incident to the state where he holds a driver’s license within 30 days.


Drivers may not speed in order to keep a schedule.


Before operating a vehicle, drivers are responsible for ensuring that all brakes, the steering mechanism, the lights and reflectors, tires, horn, windshield wipers, mirrors, coupling devices, and all emergency equipment are in good working order.


At the beginning of a trip, after the initial 25 miles traveled, and, depending on which comes first, every 3 hours or 150 miles of each change of duty status cargo must be inspected to make sure it is properly distributed and secured.

Bus drivers need to be sure all passengers are behind the standee line, and that baggage is stored and secured in a safe manner that prevents any restriction of movement by both the driver and passengers.

The rules in this section don’t apply if the cargo is sealed, impractical to inspect, or if the driver was ordered not to inspect it.


Drivers requiring a hearing aid to pass a physical must wear it at all times while driving and carry a spare battery with them.

49 CFR §392.10-§392.11: DRIVING OF VEHICLES

When approaching railroad crossings, all commercial motor vehicles must slow down enough so that if they had to they could stop before reaching the first rail. Certain railroad crossings are exempt.

Commercial motor vehicles carrying hazardous materials or with tank trailers must come to a full stop before the tracks at railroad crossings, and may not shift while driving over tracks.


When operating in hazardous conditions like snow, fog, sleet, mist, rain, dust, or smoke drivers are to use extreme caution, and drive to the nearest safe place and only resume driving when the hazardous conditions clear.


If the vehicle is equipped with seat belts, drivers are required to wear them.


Hazard warning lights must be on and warning devices placed in the appropriate locations within 10 minutes if a commercial motor vehicle is stopped on any part of the highway. A warning device should be placed on the traffic side about 10 feet from the vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic; another should be placed about 100 feet from the vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder where the vehicle is stopped, and another should be placed beside the one about 100 feet from the vehicle, but in the direction facing away from approaching traffic. If the vehicle is stopped within 500 feet of a curve, hill, or anything else that might obstruct a driver’s view, a warning device should also be placed in the direction of the obstruction about 100-500 feet from the vehicle. In the event that the vehicle is stopped on the travel portion of the shoulder of a divided or one way highway, one warning device should be placed at a distance of 200 feet and another at a distance of 100 feet in the direction toward approaching traffic in the center of the lane or shoulder occupied by the vehicle. An additional warning device should be placed within 10 feet of the rear of the vehicle on the traffic side.


No lamps or reflectors should be covered by any part of the load, and all should be clean.


When fueling, drivers must turn off the engine and must not smoke. They are forbidden from carrying extra fuel in gas cans. Buses can’t put fuel in their vehicle in a closed building or with passengers aboard.

49 CFR §392.60-§392.71: PROHIBITED PRACTICES

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are restricted from using radar detectors or open flames for any reason while in motion. Drivers cannot drive if they’ve been affected by carbon monoxide poisoning, and they cannot transport anyone apart from fellow employees, accident victims, or livestock attendants without the written permission of their employer. Drivers also cannot allow anyone else to ride in their trailer unless there is an accessible exit from the inside.


No driver shall engage in texting while driving and no motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to text while driving. Additionally, no driver shall use a hand-held mobile phone while driving and no motor carrier shall allow or require their drivers to use hand-held mobile phones. The use of hands-free mobile telephones is permissible when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officals or other emergency services.

Click here to read the text of 49 CFR 392 in its entirety.

49 CFR 393: Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation

The primary concern of this section of the federal regulations is to ensure that no employer or employee of a commercial motor vehicle company drives a vehicle or causes or permits one to be driven unless the motor vehicle is in accordance with the with the requirements and specifications of this part. According to 49 CFR 393.3, additional equipment and accessories may be used as long as they don’t decrease the safety and operation of the vehicles on which they are used.


To view a table demonstrating some examples of required lighting, click here .

49 CFR §393.40: BRAKES

Trucks, buses, tractor-trailers, and combination vehicles must have a service break system that applies and releases the brakes when the brake pedal is used during normal driving; a parking brake system that applies and releases the parking brakes when the parking brake control is used, and an emergency brake system that uses parts of the service and parking brake systems to stop the vehicle if there is a brake system failure. Refer to 49 CFR 393.41-393.52 for parts and specific application of brake systems.


Click here to view the vehicle brake performance table. Refer to 49 CFR 393.52 for testing criteria.

49 CFR §393.75: TIRES

Any commercial motor vehicle wearing a tire that has exposed material through the tread or sidewall, has tread or sidewall separation, is flat or has an audible leak, or has less than 2/32 tread depth (except for front tires which must have 4/32 tread depth) must not be driven. Buses must not be driven if their front tires have been regrooved, recapped, or retreaded.


All buses, trucks, tractor-trailers, and combination vehicles must carry a fire extinguisher, at least one spare fuse for each kind unless they are the reset type, and either three liquid-burning emergency flares, three emergency reflectors, or three emergency triangles. However, any commercial motor vehicle used for the transportation of flammable liquids, compressed gas, or Class A or B explosives isn’t allowed to carry flame producing devices even if the trailer is empty.


When transporting cargo, all trucks, tractors, tractor-trailers, combination vehicles, full trailers and pole trailers must be loaded and equipped to prevent it from shifting or falling.


This part of the federal regulations requires various securement systems to meet particular standards of strength. For example, tiedown assemblies must have the total static breaking strength of the tiedown assemblies used to secure any article against movement in any direction and must be at least ½ times the weight of the article. For load binders and hardware, the strength and hardware must be equal to or greater than the minimum specified for the tiedown assembly. A hook, bolt, weld, or other tiedown assembly of the vehicle and the mounting place and the means of mounting the connector must be at least as strong as the tiedown assembly when that connector is loaded in any direction where the tiedown assembly may load it. The anchorages of winches or other fasteners mounted to a vehicle must have a combined tensile strength equal to or greater than the strength of the tiedown assembly. It is imperative that all of these devices are designed, constructed and maintained so that the driver is able to tighten them in transit.


All cargo must be protected from both lateral and longitudinal movement. It must either be securely blocked or braced against the sides, sideboards, or stakes of the vehicle if it is not already secured by devices that meet the requirements in 49 CFR §393.100 to protect it from lateral movement; for protection against longitudinal movement, cargo must be secured so that when the vehicle decelerates at the rate of 20 feet per second the cargo will remain on the vehicle and will not penetrate the vehicle’s front-end structure.


With the exception of a few vehicles manufactured before the January of 1974, all commercial motor vehicles carrying cargo must have a headboard to prevent load shifting, penetration, or the crushing of the driver’s compartment.

49 CFR §393.201: FRAMES

The frames on buses, trucks, and tractor-trailers cannot be cracked, loose, sagging, broken, or have loose, broken, or missing bolts or brackets securing the cab or body of the vehicle to the frame. They cannot have frame rail flanges between the axles that are bent, cut or notched, or holes drilled in the top or bottom rail flanges (except as specified by the manufacturer.)

49 CFR §393.203

The doors on all commercial motor vehicles must not be missing, broken, or sag to a degree that they cannot be opened or closed properly. Bolts and brackets securing the cab shouldn’t be loose, broken or missing, and the hood and seats should all be secured. The front bumper should not be loose or protruding.

49 CFR §393.205: WHEELS

The wheels on all commercial motor vehicles including the axles, leaf springs, coil springs and torsion bars must not be cracked, broken, loose, or out of position. The air suspension must be level with minimal leakage.


The steering on all commercial motor vehicles must be secured and without cracked or missing spokes, and the steering column itself must be securely fastened. The steering gear box shouldn’t have any cracks or loose or missing mounting bolts. The pitman arm on the steering gear output must not be loose, and the steering wheel should turn freely through the limit of travel in both directions. The power steering must be in operational condition without loose or broken parts-belts shouldn’t be frayed, cracks, or slipping and the system should have enough fluid and shouldn’t leak.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 393 in its entirety.

49 CFR 395: Hours of Service of Drivers

The regulations in this part apply to all drivers of commercial motor vehicles and motor carriers. However, there are a few notable exceptions stated under 49 CFR 395.1 including drivers operating vehicles that carry more than 15 people, weigh more than 10,000 pounds, or transport an amount of hazardous material that requires placards.

From the time a driver begins to work extending until the driver is relieved from all responsibility for being involved with the work is known as “on-duty” time. On-duty time includes:

  • all time spent at a loading or unloading facility, terminal, or on any public or private property waiting to be dispatched,
  • all time involving the inspection process,
  • driving time,
  • all other non-driving time (except time spent resting in the sleeper) spent in a commercial vehicle,
  • all time repairing the vehicle or obtaining assistance to repair the vehicle,
  • miscellaneous time spent such as travel time for taking a drug and alcohol test,
  • time performing any work in the service or employment of a common or private motor carrier, and
  • all time spent performing any compensated work for any non-motor carrier business.


If a driver on a run is confronted by hazardous weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, or any one of other unusual road and traffic conditions the driver can drive up to 2 hours longer than the regulations allow only if he normally could have completed the run in no longer than 11 hours of driving, and provided that dispatch was unaware of the adverse driving conditions at the time of dispatch. However, drivers are prohibited from driving more than 13 hours after 10 consecutive hours off, or if the driver has been on duty for 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off. If emergency condition occurs, a driver is allowed to finish his run without being in violation of this regulation if the run could have been completed in a reasonable amount of time sans the emergency condition.

100 air-mile radius drivers are not required to fill out a log if they drive within a 100 air-mile radius of the place where they report to work, return to the place they reported for work within 12 consecutive hours, have had 10 consecutive hours off duty in between each 12 hours on duty, if they don’t drive more than 11 hours following 10 hours off duty, and if their employer keeps time records for 6 months showing the time the driver reports for duty and the time he is released, the total of hours on duty from day to day, and the total time on duty for the past 7 days if the driver is used for the first time or intermittently. There are a few special provisions under these rules for the deliveries of driver-salespeople, oil field operations and retail stores.

Drivers may use their sleeper berths to accumulate the required 10 consecutive hours off-duty time, and may use two separate time periods that total 10 hours. Neither period may be less than 2 hours.

Under §395.1 there are special duty status provisions for drivers from Alaska and Hawaii, drivers of agricultural operations, ground water well drilling operations, drivers who transport constructions materials and equipment, and utility service vehicles.


A driver is forbidden to drive more than 11 hours following 10 straight hours off duty or for any period after having been on duty 14 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty. A motor carrier cannot require or even permit a driver, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, to drive for any period after having been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier doesn’t operate during the week. A driver is also prohibited from driving if he has been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates motor vehicles every day of the week. Any period of 7 consecutive days and any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.

Rest Breaks: After June 30, 2013, driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes.

Through June 30, 2013 any period of 7 or 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of an off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours. (34 hour restart) After June 30, 2013, the 34 hour restart break must include two periods from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Also, after June 30, 2013, a driver may not take the 34 hour restart break but once every 7 days.


This segment of the federal regulations states that a driver must either submit or forward by mail the original driver’s record of duty status to the regular employing motor carrier within 13 days following the completion of the form, and must retain a copy of each record of duty status for the previous 7 consecutive days and keep them available in his possession for inspection while on duty.


Each motor carrier is required to maintain their records of duty status and all supporting documents for 6 months.

Click here if you wish to view an example of how a driver would log a journey.


A driver will be considered “out of service” if he has neglected to keep up his duty status. An “out of service” driver is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle until he has had 8 consecutive hours off duty. A copy documenting this must be sent to the employer within 15 days.


A driver must have records of duty status for the previous seven days at all times. This part of the federal regulations indicates that it is permissible for drivers of commercial motor vehicles to use on-board recording devices in place of a log book, but the information must be retrievable and instructions on the recording system must be kept inside of the vehicle. In the event that the recording device isn’t working for some reason the record of duty status for the current day and any of the past 7 days that the driver is missing records for must be handwritten until the recording device is once again in working order.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 395 in its entirety.

49 CFR 396: Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance

The driver of a commercial motor vehicle that carries more than 15 people, weighs over 10,000 pounds, or transports enough hazardous materials to require a placard, as well as all motor carriers, their officers, agents, representatives, and employees directly concerned with the inspection or maintenance of the motor vehicles are required to follow this part of the federal regulations.


If a motor vehicle is in poor condition and likely to breakdown or cause an accident, a driver is forbidden to operate it.


If a vehicle has been placed out of service a driver must not drive it until all of the needed repairs are completed.


All drivers of commercial motor vehicles must inspect their vehicle at the beginning and end of each day, and report any defects. The next driver of the vehicle is required to review the prior driver’s post-trip inspection report, and if the report shows anything likely to affect the safety of the vehicle, the driver must sign the report indicating that the employer certified the problems were fixed. If the employer has not certified this, the driver must not sign the report. At the end of each day of work when drivers complete and sign a written vehicle inspection report on each vehicle they operated on that particular day they must be sure to document their inspection of all brakes, the steering mechanism, all lighting devices and reflectors, tires, the horn, the windshield wipers, rear vision mirrors, coupling devices, wheels and rims, and all emergency equipment.


When the driver inspects his motor vehicle he must carefully review the last driver’s vehicle inspection report. If any defects on the vehicle were observed, the driver must sign the report only if the problems were corrected. A driver must always be completely confident that the motor vehicle he has inspected is in safe operating condition.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 396 in its entirety.

49 CFR 397: Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving and Parking Rules

This part of the federal regulations applies to all drivers of commercial motor vehicles transporting hazardous materials that must be marked or placarded in accordance with §177.823 of this title, to all motor carriers who are involved with the transportation of hazardous materials, and to each employee of the motor carrier who performs supervisory duties related to the transportation of hazardous materials. All concerned must know and obey these regulations. If the hazardous materials must be marked or placarded, the driver of these materials must follow the regulations found in parts 390-397.


If the driver of a commercial motor vehicle is hauling explosives he cannot leave his vehicle unattended unless it is parked on either company property, the shipper or receiver’s property, a safe haven*, or, if the truck is loaded with less than 50 pounds of explosives, it can remain on a survey or construction site. A driver must be certain that the recipient of the explosives knows what they are and what to do in the event of an emergency. If the truck is left unattended, it must always remain in clear view of the driver. A vehicle that carries hazardous materials apart from Class A or B explosives and is located on a public street or highway must always be attended by the driver unless the driver is forced to leave the vehicle in order to perform duties necessary to resume driving.

*a safe haven is anywhere approved by local, state, or U.S. Government officials where commercial motor vehicles can be parked and left unattended.

49 CFR §397.7: PARKING

Drivers carrying explosives cannot park on or within 5 feet of any roadway, on private property without permission, within 300 feet of a bridge, tunnel, house, or any place where people congregate unless it is impossible to park the vehicle elsewhere. If the driver is carrying any kind of hazardous material he must stop at least 5 feet from the traveled part of the highway except for short periods when the vehicle must be parked and it is impossible to park anywhere else.

49 CFR §397.11: FIRES

When transporting hazardous materials, a driver must not park within 300 feet of a fire or drive anywhere near an open fire unless precautions are taken to ensure a safe passage.

49 CFR §397.13: SMOKING

No one is allowed to smoke within 25 feet of a motor vehicle containing explosives, oxidizing or flammable materials, or an empty trailer that has transported placarded flammable liquids in the past.

49 CFR §397.15: FUELING

The engine of a commercial motor vehicle must be turned off and someone must always be in attendance when the vehicle is being refueled.

49 CFR §397.17: TIRES

All tires must be inspected at the beginning of a trip, whenever the vehicle is parked, and either every two hours or 100 miles, whichever comes first. Overheated tires must be removed and taken away from the vehicle to cool, and the driver must not drive the vehicle again until the cause of the overheating is discovered and corrected.


Any driver carrying Class A or Class B explosives needs to know what type of explosives he is transporting, and also what emergency steps would need to be taken if an emergency such as a fire, accident or leak were to occur. The driver is required to carry a copy of the rules in part 397 of the federal regulations along with a document instructing him on what to do in the event of an accident or delay.


A driver must plan all routes carefully and avoid heavily populated areas like places where crowds gather, tunnels, or alleys when transporting non-radioactive hazardous materials. A driver transporting Class 1, Division 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 explosives must have a written route plan before leaving the terminal, but if the trip doesn’t begin at the terminal the driver can produce a handwritten route plan.

Click here to view the text of 49 CFR §397 in its entirety.

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