Regulations

check list

Start-Up Checklist For Owner Operators

check list

If you’re looking at launching a career in trucking you may want a detailed startup checklist for truck owner-operators to help you start your trucking company on the right foot and set it up to succeed long-term.

Becoming an owner-operator can be overwhelming if you don’t have sound guidance. You must complete lots of paperwork and go through various tests to gather the required documents and meet the safety standards for owner-operator trucking businesses.

Without the required documentation, licenses, and proof of compliance with various federal and state regulations, you’ll sabotage your trucking business before it begins.

What is an Owner-Operator

An owner-operator is a trucker who both owns their rig and manages their own trucking business. They handle client acquisition, route planning, freight transportation, and truck maintenance, while also bearing the risks and expenses of running the business, such as fuel costs and permits.

This contrasts with company truckers, who work for trucking companies and aren’t responsible for business operations.

Owner-Operator Startup & Compliance Checklist

Here’s our step-by-step owner-operator startup checklist you can use as a roadmap to get your own trucking business up and running smoothly.

Determine your business type and create your business plan

To run a successful trucking business, determine your business type and create a business plan first. There are two types of owner-operator trucking businesses.

  • Leased Owner operator. A leased owner-operator operates their truck under the trucking authority of another company. If you choose this route, you won’t have to get some of the legal documents discussed below.
  • Owner-operator with own authority. Operating under your own authority means you’re a fully independent trucking business.

Ideally, your business plan should include your trucking business niche, target market, and overall business goals. You also want to evaluate your finances during this step to ensure you have enough budget to begin and run your business well before the profit starts rolling in.

driver license

Obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

You’ll need to get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and relevant endorsements, depending on the type of trucking business you want to start.

There are three main classes of CDL licenses in the trucking industry:

Class A CDL. A class A commercial driver’s license is necessary to operate large commercial vehicles, including combination vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more. These are the most popular types of trucks used by trucking companies – from tractor-trailers and big rigs to 18-wheelers.

Class B CDL. With a Class B CDL, you can only operate single vehicles weighing 26,001 and above. Or, combination vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds, such as delivery trucks, dump trucks, and buses.

Class C CDL. A Class C CDL allows you to operate hazmat vehicles and vehicles designed to carry sixteen or more passengers (the driver included).

Besides your commercial driver’s license, you might require special endorsement for specific types of equipment and cargo.

We recommend getting a Class A CDL because it allows you to operate all types of commercial trucks. Check out our quick guide on obtaining your CDL to learn how to get your commercial driver’s license.

Register Your Business

With your business plan and CDL ready, it’s time to register the venture officially with the state, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Doing this allows you to get the official business info you require for obtaining licenses and other crucial documents before you begin your operations.

Your location and the business structure you select will determine the process you’ll follow to register your trucking company. There are four types of business structures you can work with in the trucking industry: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC).

Each business structure is regulated differently. There are tax obligations and various liabilities you’ll be responsible for. So, be keen to choose a structure that will work best for you.

buy a truck

Buy or Lease Your Equipment

To get the best trucking equipment, first, decide whether you want to buy or lease your truck. Purchasing your equipment might seem expensive when starting, but it’s the best option if you plan to commit to your business long-term. Leasing is cheaper in the short term, but you’ll likely pay more in the long run.

If you decide to purchase your truck, you’ll have two options – to buy a new or used semi-truck.

Whichever option you choose, partner with an established truck financing institution to ease the financial burden of purchasing your commercial truck.

Consider working with Mission Financial Services to get financial help tailored to your situation. We have suitable loans for first-time buyers of commercial vehicles and can customize our packages further, even if you have bad credit.

Get your MC Number and Trucking Authority

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all truck companies involved in interstate commerce to have a Motor Carrier (MC) number. This step is crucial if you plan to operate independently under your own authority and haul freight across states.

You’ll also have to get insurance coverage as part of your operating authority application process.

If you plan to operate as a leased owner-operator, you can skip this step. You won’t need your own Motor Carrier number because you’ll be working under the MC number and trucking authority of the company you lease under.

Also, skip this step if you have no plans for operating commercial vehicles across state lines. Owner-operators operating within their state don’t require a Motor Carrier number.

File a BOC-3 Form with the FMCSA

Filing a BOC-3 Form is another mandatory Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requirement. It shows you have a designated process agent in the states you operate in. A process agent is an individual or business capable of receiving legal documents on your behalf if people file complaints against you.

The process agent stays on top of all legal communication, helping you avoid unnecessary fines. You can have one process agent representing you in all the regions you operate in to make your work easier.

owner operator

Obtain Your USDOT Number, IFTA License & HVUT Certificate

Other essential licenses and certificates you require to conduct your operations include:

USDOT Number. Like the MC number, a USDOT number is specific for owner-operators planning to haul goods across state lines. The Department of Transportation will use this number to confirm your trucking business’s registration status, compliance reviews, safety records, ratings, and inspections. Visit FMCSA’s registration portal to get your USDOT and MC number.

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) License. An IFTA license is mandatory if you operate in multiple states and transport taxable fuel. It allows you to report and pay fuel taxes to one state, simplifying your business processes. To obtain this license, apply through your state’s Department of Revenue.

Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) Certificate. If your commercial vehicles weigh 55,000 pounds or more and operate on public highways, you must have an up-to-date HVUT certificate. It shows you pay the IRS’s annual tax for such commercial vehicles. Visit the IRS website to apply for this certificate.

Owner-Operator Compliance Checklist

To ensure owner-operators comply with all FMCSA regulations, the Department of Transportation conducts unannounced audits periodically. There are four primary types of DOT audits you should anticipate:

  • New entrant audits. DOT conducts new entrant safety audits to ensure you’re within the safety guidelines as you get your commercial trucking business operations off the ground. Expect these within a year after filing and getting your DOT number.
  • Security audits. These examine your company’s driver training and safety plan and your security measures.
  • Hazardous materials audits. When performing a hazardous materials audit, the DOT checks your hazardous material labeling, training, plus shipping documentation.
  • Compliance review. Commonly known as a targeted DOT audit, this review happens when there’s an indication of poor performance. An indicator could be anything from increased crash rates to citizen complaints. However, FMCSA can also perform random compliance reviews without any cause.

The best practice to ensure you pass all DOT audits and remain in business is to stay on top of your DOT compliance requirements. Some key areas you should focus on being on the safe side include:

  • Adherence to hours of service regulations
  • Vehicle maintenance and inspections
  • Driver qualification and licensing documentation
  • Hazardous materials compliance requirements
  • Participating in DOT’s drug and alcohol testing program

Final Thoughts

Running a profitable trucking company as an owner-operator can be rewarding. There’s no cap to how much you make as you enjoy autonomy over your trucking business operations. However, you must set it up correctly for this to be true.

Our owner-operator checklist above is well-organized to ensure your business gets off the ground fast. If you follow it keenly, you’ll legally operate your commercial trucking business in many states and avoid the hefty fines that result from non-compliance.

Remember, you can always reach out to us if you need help purchasing your truck to get started. We’ll work to ensure our flexible commercial loans fit your budget and business goals so you can start your truck company on stable grounds financially.

apportioned plates

Understanding Apportioned License Plates

apportioned plates

If you’re a commercial truck driver who regularly crosses state borders, then you might need to get apportioned license plates. It’s also important that you understand IFTA and IRP registration.

This might sound like a lot of admin, but it can make your life a lot easier with managing your vehicle and tax reports. Registration is also a straightforward process. Plus, if your vehicle qualifies for these registrations, it is a legal requirement.

Still confused about what this all means and how it might affect you? We’ll answer everything you need to know about apportioned registration in the guide below.

Apportioned Registration and IRP Registration

Apportioned registration and IRP (International Registration Plan) registration cover what are called “apportioned plates.” Apportioned really just means divided or distributed – which applies to the area where the vehicle is registered.

When you see a semi-truck driver using apportioned plates, it means the owner has registered the truck to operate in multiple jurisdictions, making interstate or international travel a lot easier.

Apportioned plates allow commercial vehicles, like trucks and buses, to travel between different states. These plates distribute the registration fees among whatever jurisdictions the vehicle operates, based on the percentage of miles traveled in each area.

This system simplifies registration for vehicles that often cross state lines.

What is the Difference Between IFTA and IRP?

The main difference between IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) and IRP (International Registration Plan) is what they cover. In the most simple terms, IFTA deals with fuel taxes, and IRP deals with registration for vehicles traveling across different jurisdictions.

IFTA is an agreement between the lower 48 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces, used to report and distribute fuel taxes paid by interstate motor carriers.

IRP is an agreement between U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Canadian provinces. It allows commercial vehicles to register in their base jurisdiction and travel across state or provincial lines.

Commercial vehicles that frequently cross these borders will have both registration credentials to make travel a lot easier.

fuel

What is the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA)?

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is an agreement between the lower 48 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces. It simplifies the reporting and distribution of fuel taxes paid by interstate motor carriers.

Under IFTA, carriers file quarterly fuel tax reports. These reports indicate the amount of fuel purchased and the number of miles traveled in each jurisdiction. Based on this, tax authorities can distribute taxes to the right jurisdictions.

This agreement makes it a lot easier to comply with fuel tax obligations. It also streamlines the tax reporting process for any motor carriers operating in two or more jurisdictions.

Who Must Register Under IRP and IFTA?

Not all trucks that cross state lines need to register under the IRP and IFTA. So, before taking the steps to get an apportioned license plate, make sure that your vehicle first qualifies for the registration reciprocity agreement.

Under the IRP, any commercial vehicle that crosses state lines and has a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds, or has three or more axles, must register.

The IFTA requires registration for any motor carrier that operates qualifying vehicles in more than one jurisdiction.

If your vehicle falls under these categories, you must register under IRP and IFTA to operate legally across different states or provinces.

What’s the Difference Between Apportioned Plates and Commercial Plates?

The main difference between apportioned plates and commercial plates is where the vehicle can operate.

Apportioned plates are for vehicles, typically trucks or buses, that travel across state lines. Commercial plates are for vehicles that operate only within a single state. They do not have the design for interstate travel.

In simple terms, apportioned plates allow vehicles to operate across different states or provinces legally, while commercial plates are for vehicles that operate solely within one state.

If you’re a motor carrier, you need to have commercial plates, but you don’t necessarily need apportioned registration. Apportioned registration is also always commercial.

application

How Do I Get Apportioned Plates?

Follow these steps if you think your vehicle needs to apply for an apportioned license plate.

Confirm Your Eligibility

Before starting the registration process, ensure your vehicle qualifies for apportioned plates.

Vehicles that travel across state lines and meet certain weight or axle requirements are eligible.Typically, you can confirm this through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Register with IRP

If your vehicle needs apportioned plates, the first step in getting them is registering your vehicle with the IRP.  You can do this through your state’s DMV.

Fill out the apportioned plate application form provided by your state’s DMV. You’ll need to provide detailed information about your vehicle, including its weight, type, and other relevant details.

This information helps determine the proper allocation of registration fees among the states where your vehicle operates.

Submit Supporting Documents

Along with the application forms, you’ll also need to submit a few documents. This includes your proof of insurance, vehicle registration documents, and other required paperwork.

Double-check the specific requirements of your state or province, as the exact documents needed can differ.

Pay Your Fees

Once you’ve got all the documentation in place, you’ll need to pay the required registration fees.

The amount you need to pay will vary depending on your vehicle’s weight, type, and the states in which you will be operating. Be prepared to cover the costs associated with the apportioned plates.

Wait for Approval

After submitting your application and documents, you’ll need to wait for approval.

The approval process can take some time, so it’s essential to submit everything correctly and be patient.

Once your application is approved, and all fees are paid, you’ll receive your apportioned plates. Make sure you install the plates properly on your vehicle according to the regulations of your state or province.

Final Thoughts

A big part of operating any kind of trucking business is making sure that your vehicle complies with all regulations in any state it travels. Getting apportioned registration is actually a really easy way to stay on top of this.

Properly registering your vehicle ensures that you are operating legally across borders and makes any kind of reporting you need to do a lot more streamlined.

Are you considering purchasing a new commercial vehicle? Then you’ll need to get the right financing partner on board. At Mission Financial Services, we make this process easy by helping all truck drivers get financing for their perfect vehicle. Access your simple credit application today.

safety

Safety Tips For Commercial Truck Drivers

safety
There’s a lot that could go wrong on the road as a commercial truck driver. So being properly prepared, and understanding all potential safety concerns, is so important.

Taking the right approach to truck driving safety will help you avoid accidents, and truck stop safety incidents, and keep your truck working properly. In this guide, we’ll break down all the different safety elements you need to be aware of as a truck driver.

Driving Safety Tips

It’s essential that truck drivers are always doing what they can to stay safe on the roads. As a truck driver, here are some of the most important truck driving safety tips to keep in mind.

Defensive Driving

Understanding defensive driving is essential for truck driver safety. This is when you maintain a proactive mindset by anticipating hazards and prioritizing safety on the roads.

Regularly assess your surroundings and other vehicles, predict and prevent potential risks, and adapt to changing conditions. Keep a safety cushion, use communication tools, and stay calm under pressure.

Maintain Proper Following Distance

Keep a safe following distance to allow for enough reaction time. Many truck drivers agree to maintain a minimum of one truck length for every 10 mph you’re traveling.

reduce speed

Use Mirrors Effectively

It’s essential for truck and bus drivers to check their mirrors regularly and to be aware of their surroundings. Adjust them properly before starting your journey and consistently monitor blind spots.

Anticipate Potential Hazards

Stay alert and anticipate potential hazards on the road. Look ahead for brake lights, traffic signs, and changes in traffic flow to respond proactively to any challenges. Of course, always wear your seat belt.

Practice Speed Management

Always stick to speed limits and adjust your speed based on road and weather. Avoid aggressive driving and maintain a speed that allows for safe stopping distances.

Avoid Distractions

Eliminate distractions inside the cab, such as mobile phones, and focus on the road. Distracted driving significantly increases the risk of accidents in the trucking industry.

Be Mindful of Blind Spots

Truck drivers deal with larger blind spots than smaller vehicles. Be aware of these blind spots and make necessary adjustments, such as signaling well in advance before changing lanes.

Participate in Ongoing Training

Stay up to date with industry best practices and regulations through continuous training. Ongoing education can enhance your defensive driving techniques and keep you informed about the latest safety technologies and truck driving tips.

Safety At Truck Stops

Truck drivers also need to stay safe when their commercial motor vehicles are parked at truck stops. Here are a few essential tips to keep in mind about this.

truck stop

Choose Well-Lit Areas

Park in well-lit sections of the truck stop to enhance visibility and deter potential security threats.

Lock Your Vehicle

Always lock your truck when leaving, even if it’s just for a quick break. This may sound simple, but it’s essential to deter theft and unauthorized access.

Be Mindful of Personal Belongings

Keep valuable items out of sight and secure personal belongings to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

Stay Vigilant During Rest Breaks

When resting, stay aware of your surroundings. Be cautious of unfamiliar individuals and report any suspicious activity to authorities.

Use Designated Parking Areas

Park in designated truck parking areas to ensure you have enough space and avoid obstructing traffic flow.

Follow Truck Stop Rules

Always stick to any posted rules and regulations at truck stops. This includes speed limits, no-smoking zones, and other safety guidelines.

Fuel Up Wisely

Choose well-lit and reputable fuel stations. Be cautious when using your credit card and monitor for any suspicious activity at the fuel pump.

Truck Safety Checks

Beyond safety tips for driving or road conditions, keeping your truck well-maintained is vital for your safety. As a truck driver, here are a few necessary truck safety checks to keep in mind.

Vehicle Maintenance

Prioritize regular, comprehensive maintenance checks for your truck. This includes inspecting your brakes, tires, shocks, fuel filter, lights, fluids, starter, and any other critical components.

A well-maintained vehicle is fundamental for safe and efficient transportation.

truck maintenance

Brake System Inspection

Regularly check and test your truck’s brake system, including brake pads, drums, and air pressure. Properly functioning brakes are essential for effective stopping and overall road safety.

Tire Care and Inspection

Inspect your tires for proper inflation, tread depth, and signs of wear. Ensure that all tires, including the spare, meet safety standards. Well-maintained tires enhance traction and reduce the risk of blowouts.

Lighting and Visibility

Regularly inspect all lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. Proper lighting is crucial for visibility, especially during low-light conditions. This is a major factor in road safety.

Fluid Levels Check

Monitor and maintain proper levels of essential fluids such as oil, transmission fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid. Adequate fluid levels keep your truck running smoothly and prevent mechanical issues.

Steering System Inspection

Ensure your steering system is functioning correctly by checking for any unusual noises, fluid leaks, or difficulty in turning. A responsive steering system is crucial for maintaining control on the road.

Suspension System Check

Inspect your suspension system for signs of wear, including worn-out bushings or uneven tire wear. A well-maintained suspension system is necessary for a smoother ride and better handling.

Safety Tips for Weather

Preparing for the weather is a major part of truck driver safety. Here are a few tips to help you with this.

wet roads

Monitor Weather Forecasts

Stay informed about upcoming weather conditions along your route. Regularly check weather forecasts for potential challenges and plan accordingly.

Adjust Driving Speed

Reduce speed during adverse weather, such as rain, snow, or fog. Slowing down allows for better control, and increased reaction time, and minimizes the risk of accidents.

Increase Following Distance

Extend your following distance in dangerous weather. Wet or icy roads require more time and space to stop safely.

Avoid Cruise Control

Disable cruise control in slippery conditions. Maintaining direct control over acceleration and deceleration is crucial for safe driving in tricky weather.

Brake with Caution

Apply brakes gently to avoid skidding on wet or icy surfaces. Practice controlled braking to maintain stability.

Stay Informed About Road Conditions

Check for real-time road condition updates, especially in winter. Be aware of closures, detours, or areas prone to ice patches.

Secure Cargo in Windy Conditions

In windy conditions, ensure that cargo is properly secured to prevent shifting, which can affect the stability of the truck.

It’s a good idea to stay in contact with your dispatcher or fellow drivers to share information about weather and road challenges. Collaboration enhances overall safety.

route planning

Safety Tips For Women Truckers

Female truck drivers often face many unique safety challenges while on the road. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind.

Choose Well-Lit Rest Areas

When stopping for breaks or rest, opt for well-lit, busy areas. This enhances visibility, which can help with security.

Maintain Regular Communication

Stay connected with family, friends, or fellow truckers. Regular check-ins can provide a sense of security and allow for swift responses in case of emergencies.

Secure Restroom and Shower Facilities

Utilize truck stops or rest areas with secure and well-maintained restroom and shower facilities. Be aware of your surroundings and report any concerns.

Know Your Route

Familiarize yourself with the route and plan your stops in advance. This minimizes uncertainty and allows you to make more informed decisions about where to rest or refuel.

Carry Personal Safety Devices

Keep personal safety devices, such as a whistle, pepper spray, or a personal alarm, easily accessible. These tools can provide an added layer of protection in emergencies.

Invest in Self-Defense Training

Consider enrolling in self-defense classes to build confidence and learn techniques that can help you in emergency scenarios.

Establish Boundaries

Clearly communicate and assert personal boundaries with colleagues, fellow truckers, or anyone encountered during the journey. Trust your instincts and prioritize your comfort and well-being.

woman truck driver

Secure Cab Access

Ensure that your truck’s cab is properly secured when parked, especially during rest stops. Lock your doors and windows to prevent unauthorized access.

Network with Other Women Truckers

Connect with other women truckers through industry groups or forums. Sharing experiences and advice fosters a supportive community and provides valuable insights into navigating the profession.

Report Security Concerns Promptly

If you encounter any suspicious activity or feel uneasy about a situation, report it straight away to authorities or your company’s security team.

Trust Your Intuition

Always trust your instincts. If something feels off or uncomfortable, take action to prioritize your safety, whether that means changing your route or seeking assistance.

Final Thoughts

Truck drivers can face all kinds of dangers on the roads. However, by being properly prepared for them and proactively focusing on your safety, you should be able to avoid these issues.

Make sure you take care of your vehicle, follow the right driving safety precautions, and understand how to stay safe in your surroundings. This will make your life as a truck driver far easier and more enjoyable.

Looking to purchase a new semi-truck? Then get in touch with us at Mission Financial Services, where we make gaining truck financing easy for everyone.

truck driver log

How Long Can Semi Truck Drivers Drive

truck driver log

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits how long semi-truck drivers can drive in the U.S. to minimize the number of trucking accidents caused by exhausted truckers.

Understanding these limits is crucial if you’re looking to start your career as a truck driver. Violating these laws comes with penalties that might end your career before it kicks off.

Here’s everything you need to know about the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations to help you get started on the right foot.

What Are the Hours of Service Rules?

Hours of service regulations are guidelines FMCSA puts in place to ensure commercial truck drivers are not overworked. They outline how long a semi-truck driver can:

  • Drive at a time without stopping to take a break
  • Be on duty – this includes participating in non-driving work
  • Be off duty before starting their next shift
  • Work within a given period

Since truck drivers don’t follow conventional office work hours, the hours of service rules are based on the total number of hours worked instead of specific daytime hours.

8-Hour Rule

Truck drivers can drive for eight consecutive hours before taking a mandatory 30-minute break to rest and recharge. It’s critical to note that any non-driving period or interruption of at least 30 minutes straight satisfies this rule. A break includes having lunch, resting in the sleeper berth, or on duty but not behind the wheel.

work hours

11-Hour Rule

As a truck driver, you can only drive for 11 hours maximum within a 14-hour window. Once you reach 11 driving hours, you must spend a minimum of 10 consecutive hours off duty before you start another 11-hour shift.

Remember, you cannot drive for these 11 hours consecutively due to the 8-hour rule. You’d have to take a 30-minute break after traveling for 8 hours without a 30-minute-long interruption.

14-Hour Rule

The 14-hour rule specifies that truck drivers can only work a maximum of 14 hours per day or duty period. After 14 hours, the driver has to rest for ten consecutive hours, even if they haven’t exhausted their 11 hours of maximum driving time.

That means, if you want to maximize the 11 hours of driving time per shift, you’ll have to do it within 14 hours from the moment you start work. Starting your shift at 6 a.m. means you have until 8.00 p.m. (14 hours later) to end it.

Within this 14-hour window, you can only drive for 11 hours (following the 11-hour rule above). The remaining 3 hours are for performing other non-driving tasks like having meals, unloading the truck, fueling, handling repairs, etc.

60/70-Hour Limit

The 60/70-hour limit governs truck drivers’ weekly driving hours, calculated over a rolling schedule. Drivers can work up to 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days. Resetting requires 34 consecutive hours off duty.

It’s worth mentioning that all these regulations apply specifically to property-carrying truckers.

Passenger-carrying drivers, for instance, have a 10-hour driving limit and a 15-hour limit on their work day. Their resting period after every shift is less – 8 consecutive hours instead of 10.

weather

Exceptions to Hours of Service Regulations

It is important to note that there are some exceptions to the hours of service regulations.
Sleeper Berth Provision
This provision lets you split the ten consecutive hours of rest you need after every 14-hour on-duty period into two periods, as long as:

One off-duty period lasts at least 2 hours
The other involves spending a minimum of 7 consecutive hours in your sleeper berth

All sleeper berth pairings should add up to the required 10-hour off-duty period for property-carrying truckers and 8 hours for passenger-carrying drivers.

Adverse Driving Conditions

FMCSA allows you to extend your daily driving time by 2 hours if you experience adverse driving conditions. But, you must still follow the 14-hour and 30-minute break HOS regulations.

These include any challenging road conditions you were unaware of before you started your journey. They may have led to slower driving, causing unexpected delays. Some examples of such conditions are bad weather, road construction, and heavy traffic due to an accident.

Short-Haul Exception

Under this exception, qualifying drivers can extend the 14-hour workday limit by 2 hours to 16 hours.

You are eligible for this exception if you only drive within a short 150-air mile radius from your typical workplace and often return to this place after every shift. Most times, such drivers are exempt from keeping their daily logs.

sleeper berth

What Are Daily Driver’s Logs?

Drivers’ logs are records about how semi-truck drivers spend their hours on the road. Truckers manually fill in how they spend their non-driving time, whereas electronic logs automatically capture their driving time. Doing this ensures all drivers comply with the required hours of service regulations.

A typical daily truck driver’s log contains four categories of info:

  • Driving information—time spent operating the truck behind the wheel
  • On duty (not driving)—time spent conducting non-driving duties, like loading and unloading the truck, carrying out inspections, etc.
  • Sleeper berth—hours spent resting inside the sleeper berth
  • Off duty—time spent away from all kinds of trucking work

Who Must Comply With These Regulations?

All drivers who drive commercial motor vehicles across state lines must comply with the HOS regulations set by FMCSA. A commercial motor vehicle refers to any truck or trailer that:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds and above
  • Has a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Transports hazardous material in large quantities, requiring placards

Penalties for Breaking HOS Rules

A few penalties that kick in if you break the HOS rules include:

  • Being placed out-of-service until you get enough off-duty time to stay in compliance
  • FMCSA imposes a fine of $1,000 to $11,000, depending on how severe the violation was
  • State and local law enforcement agencies can also charge additional hefty fines
  • The safety ratings of trucking companies decrease after repeated violations
  • You, the trucking company you work for, or both may face criminal charges

Final Thoughts

Following the hours of service rules is critical for your safety and the safety of other road users. It also ensures you have a successful truck driving career on the right side of the law.

We’ve provided a general overview of legal driving hours for truckers, but state regulations may vary slightly. Always verify the specific requirements in your state to ensure compliance.

If you’re looking to launch your trucking career, check out our resources on the different jobs commercial truck drivers do and what to expect from the position to prepare yourself adequately.

We also offer various commercial vehicle loans and can help you purchase your first truck with ease if you want to start as an independent trucker. Reach out to us to learn more about this.

How To Handle A Fatal Semi-Truck Accident

How To Handle A Fatal Semi-Truck Accident


Handling a fatal semi-truck accident is more complex than handling an accident involving regular cars.

Semi-trucks are subject to strict regulations that may not apply to regular cars. You must comply with all the FMCSA semi-truck accident regulations to be safe.

Additionally, more than one party can be liable for the crash. You need to handle the truck accident in a way that protects your rights to compensation for all injuries and damages incurred.

There are nine steps you should take to abide by the law and optimize your chances of maximum compensation. This will help you deal with the aftermath and get back on track sooner.

Handling a Fatal Semi-Truck Accident: 9 Steps

Some truck accidents lead to severe injuries or fatalities. It can be terrifying, but you must stay at the accident scene and avoid panicking.

If you leave the accident scene before following due process, you risk losing your truck driving license or having criminal charges filed against you. Doing this also reduces your chances of getting compensated for any damages. Here’s how to handle a fatal semi-truck accident correctly.

At The Accident Scene

Step 1: Confirm That Everyone is Safe

In a fatal truck accident, your safety and that of your passengers should be your top priority. If you’re injured, stay still until help arrives. If you’re uninjured and can move, check on other occupants of your truck and occupants of other vehicles involved.

Avoid moving any injured victims, as it may make their condition worse.

Step 2: Call Emergency Services

Call 911 to get first responders dispatched to the accident scene as soon as possible. In most states, calling the police to the scene and filing a report is mandatory if the crash led to severe injuries, multiple fatalities, or extensive damage to vehicles.

When dealing with the authorities and any other party approaching you, words matter. Be careful not to admit fault to anyone in any way when giving an account of what happened. Anything you say throughout the investigation can work as evidence against your claim.

Step 3: Collect Evidence

Start building your case by documenting the accident scene. Take pictures of the damage incurred to use as evidence when proving your claim to insurers or the court should your case get to trial. Specifically, take photos of the following:

  • Your semi-truck and the damage sustained
  • The other vehicles involved in the crash
  • Skid marks, shattered glass, and other physical evidence on the ground, such as car parts
  • Landmarks and street signs to show the location of the truck crash

Often, fatal truck accidents cause a traffic build-up and are newsworthy. You might get tempted to share photos of the scene on your social media pages, but don’t do it. Your online post could weaken your claim and reduce the settlement amount.

Step 4: Get Information on Those Involved

It’s also critical for you to get the details of everyone involved in the crash. In an accident including another semi, pickup, and a cab, the following info may come in handy:

  • Drivers’ names and addresses
  • License number of the other semi-truck driver plus the trucking company they work for
  • The plate number of the semi and further identifying details like the make or model
  • Insurance company info, including policy number
  • Eye witnesses’ names, phone numbers, or addresses
  • Generally, the more information you get, the easier it is for you to file a personal injury claim correctly if you were not the at-fault party.

After The Accident

Step 5: Seek Medical Evaluation and Document Treatment

Seek medical evaluation even if you feel fine. Keep all medical records, including your expenses, safely. You may need these to submit with your claim.

As a company truck driver, you must take post-accident alcohol and drug tests following applicable federal alcohol testing requirements. Your employer is required by law to ensure this happens.

Step 6: Get The Vehicle Appraised

If you’re an independent truck driver or owner-operator, get your semi-truck appraised to evaluate the damage and estimate the repair cost. Ensure you follow the vehicle appraisal guidelines your insurer requires so they don’t refuse to settle your claim.

For those with towing add-on coverage, you can have your vehicle towed. However, request the mechanic not to repair any damage until you clear the vehicle with your insurer.

Step 7: Contact a Commercial Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer

Consult a qualified semi-truck accident attorney before reaching out to your insurance company. The lawyer will help you identify the legal routes you can take and how much in settlement you deserve. Your legal team can also help you handle multiple insurers and deal with any lawsuits you may face.

Step 8: Alert Your Insurance Company

Once you know your legal stand, alert your insurance company and file a claim. Ensure you do this within the time frame specified by your insurer to avoid denial of coverage.

You may also want to file settlement claims with the insurers of all the parties responsible for the accident if you were not at fault. These may include your trucking company, vehicle manufacturers, repair companies, government entities, etc. It’s best to let your lawyer handle this so you can get maximum compensation from each party.

Step 9: Complete Repairs or Get a New Semi

The last step is to get your truck repaired to get back on track. You can also opt to purchase a new semi if the one you have is irreparable. Mission Financial Services can help finance your commercial vehicle loan repairs or new semi-truck purchase. Here’s a step-by-step guide on financing a semi-truck you can follow to get the help you need.

Conclusion

It’s worth emphasizing that you should avoid talking to the representatives of insurance providers (including your own) before consulting your lawyer.

Insurers almost always put their interests first, and they’ll offer less than you deserve. This will happen from when the accident occurs until a fair settlement is reached, so you must stay vigilant throughout.

For more information on financing your truck’s repairs or buying a new one after a truck accident, contact us at Mission Financial Services. We are always ready to help you get your life back on course and can customize our financing options to your specific situation.

accident 3rd party

What to Do in an Accident With Semi Truck

As a truck driver, you’ll need to know precisely how to deal with a semi-truck accident if one happens.

While it’s essential to know how to avoid accidents in the first place, accidents still happen all the time. Nearly 388,000 truck accidents happen annually across the U.S.

If you can’t prevent the accident from taking place, the best thing you can do is to deal with the accident as efficiently as possible. Each accident is different and will come with its challenges. However, the same general process can be followed after an accident occurs.

Here are the steps you should follow if you’ve experienced a semi-truck accident.

What to Do in an Accident With Semi Truck: Steps to Follow

Check for Injuries

First and foremost, check yourself and others involved for any injuries. While there’s much to consider during a truck accident, safety should always be your priority.

If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately to request immediate medical attention. Even minor injuries should be reported, as a complete medical evaluation may reveal the injuries to be more severe than suspected.

Identifying possible injuries will also help you understand how best to deal with the truck accident in terms of moving vehicles and clearing up any wreckage.

Once emergency services have been notified about any injuries, you can move on to dealing with the semi-truck accident.

call law enforcement
Move to Safety

If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a safe location to avoid further accidents. Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers.

This isn’t possible for some truck accidents, and it’s not a good idea to try to move any vehicles if they’re in hazardous situations. However, if your vehicle is alright and you can clear the road without causing any harm, then try to do this.

Before moving the vehicle, though, you’ll want to take pictures of the car accident. This is important for the truck accident investigation – more on this later.

Call Law Enforcement

Once the scene is as safe as possible, the next step is to alert the authorities about the truck accident.

Contact the police to report the accident, even if it’s minor. Having an official report can be valuable for insurance claims and legal purposes. If you’re a truck driver who crosses state boundaries, it’s wise to know which local law enforcement numbers to call for each state you travel through.

Exchange Information

You’ll need information to contact the other driver’s insurance company. Make sure you exchange this information before departing the scene of the accident.

Exchange contact, insurance, and driver’s license information with the other driver. Include their company name, contact number, and any relevant details. Semi-truck accidents can sometimes be tricky to report and follow through with insurance, but having the other driver’s contact details will help the process.

Gather Evidence

An essential part of dealing with a semi-truck accident is gathering enough evidence to report the accident to your insurance company.

If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene, the positions of the vehicles, any damage sustained, and road or weather conditions. Taking videos with your mobile phone will also be useful.
The more detailed your documentation is, the better, as this will all help make the insurance claims process go faster. So, take your time carefully documenting the scene of the accident.

Obtain Witnesses

If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them for their contact information. Their statements can provide valuable support for your case.

While this isn’t always possible or necessary, having an extra witness statement is always helpful to help with any legal claims or police reports.

Limit Communication

While exchanging information with the involved parties is essential, avoid discussing fault or assigning blame at the scene. Stick to the facts when talking to the police, other drivers, and witnesses.

Always try to keep a cool head and focus purely on the accident and how best to deal with it. While your emotional condition can be difficult after a semi-truck accident, staying calm and collected will make the process easier to manage.

Contact Your Insurance Company

As soon as you’ve dealt with the accident, notify your insurance company about what happened. They will guide you on the necessary steps for filing a claim and getting compensation.

Having reliable insurance is one of the most essential parts of starting a trucking company. Once you’ve found the right commercial truck insurance provider, ensure you know how to reach them in an emergency.


Seek Medical Attention

Even if you don’t feel seriously injured, seeking medical attention after an accident is always advisable. Some injuries might not be immediately apparent and could become more significant as time passes.

Avoid Settlement Agreements

While this differs from case to case, it’s generally best to avoid settlement agreements immediately.

Do not sign any settlement agreements or release forms from the trucking company or their insurance representatives without consulting your legal counsel. Make sure you deal with a lawyer when going through settlement negotiations. This will help you get the best deal and compensation for your situation.

You must consult an attorney if the accident resulted in significant injuries, damages, or disputes. Try to consult with a personal injury attorney specializing in commercial vehicle accidents. They often offer a free consultation – so make use of these.

Conclusion

Semi-truck accidents may be the last thing you’ll ever want to deal with. However, they sometimes cannot be avoided.

Knowing how to deal with these accidents will help you get through the accident faster and safer. Following the proper steps will also make it easier to get an appropriate settlement after the accident.

If you need to purchase a new semi-truck, you may need to find the right financing solution to make it happen. Get in touch with us at Mission Financial Services, where we help all kinds of commercial truck drivers access the financing they need to purchase a semi-truck.

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