Interstate vs. Local Trucking: What You Need to Cross State Lines
CDL drivers who land truck driving jobs—especially interstate trucking and long-haul trucking jobs—shouldn't be caught off guard when asked to cross state lines. Even trucking companies advertising local truck driving jobs regularly ask drivers to cross state lines, particularly in the Northeast, where the geographic area of states is relatively small.
CDL truckers are not required to obtain a federal commercial driver's license to cross state lines. In fact, there isn't a federal driver's license to date. But, there are laws and regulations all drivers—regardless of the state in which they attain their CDL license—must be aware of when crossing state lines in a truck.
Knowledge of interstate rules and regulations are not part of the CDL test in most states. If a driver has a CDL, they can cross state lines. However, if a driver crosses state lines, they must know the rules and regulations of interstate travel. Otherwise, CDL drivers who've never crossed state lines before can have a difficult time.
What You Need to Know to Cross State Lines
If your trucking job necessitates crossing state lines, there are four primary regulations you must know or you risk being fined or having your vehicle impounded.
1. US DOT Number
While there is no such thing as a federal commercial driver's license, commercial motor vehicles (CMV) must have federal registration. If you cross state lines in a commercial vehicle that does not have a US DOT Number, you and the company you work for may both be fined and there is a possibility the vehicle will be impounded.
Even CMVs that are "non-freight carrying CMVs, such as repair and service vehicles, mobile cranes, as well as all freight-hauling vehicles," must have a US DOT Number.
2. Interstate Operating Authority (MC Number)
In addition to a US DOT Number, trucking companies that transport passengers or federally regulated commodities in interstate commerce must have interstate Operating Authority. This means they must secure an MC Number.
The type of Operating Authority a company obtains will dictate its cargo carrying and delivery capabilities and will also impact the level of insurance a trucking business may require.
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3. Hours of Service Regulations
Federal law puts restrictions on the number of hours a driver can operate a CMV consecutively. This includes the amount of rest time between extended periods of operation as well as how many hours a truck driver can operate a CMV in a seven- or eight-day period.
For example, property-carrying drivers have an 11-hour driving limit (after 10 consecutive hours off duty) and cannot operate a CMV after the 14th hour they've been on duty. "On duty" is defined as reporting to work, regardless of whether a particular truck driver is operating their vehicle or not.
Passenger-carrying drivers have slightly different restrictions, which include a 10-hour driving limit after eight hours off duty. They also cannot operate a CMV after having been on duty for 15 hours.
Both passenger- and property-carrying drivers must adhere to the “60/70-Hour Limit” which means they are barred from driving if they have spent 60 hours on duty over the course of a seven-day period or 70 hours on duty over the course of eight consecutive days.
These rules are particularly important for people crossing state lines because drive times are reported between checkpoints.
4. 21 Years of Age or Older
While adults under the age of 21 can attain a CDL and operate a CMV in many states, it is a federal driving offense for a CDL driver under the age of 21 to cross state lines under any circumstances. There are no exceptions.
While these are not the only federal regulations, failing to obey these four can be costly. For more information about crossing lines in a commercial motor vehicle, visit the Federal Department of Transportation website.
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