The trucking industry serves the American economy by transporting large quantities of raw materials, works in process, and finished goods over land—typically from manufacturing plants to retail distribution centers. Trucks are also used in the construction industry, as dump trucks and portable concrete mixers move the large amounts of rocks, dirt, concrete, and other building materials used in construction. Trucks in America are responsible for the majority of freight movement over land, and are tools in the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing industries.
Large trucks and buses require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate. Obtaining a CDL requires extra education and training dealing with the special knowledge requirements and handling characteristics of such a large vehicle.
Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must adhere to the hours of service, which are regulations governing the driving hours of commercial drivers. These, and all other rules regarding the safety of interstate commercial driving, are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), which governs all transportation-related industries such as trucking, shipping, railroads, and airlines. Some other issues are handled by another branch of the USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Truck drivers are persons employed as the operator of a CMV. CMVs can be of varying shapes and sizes, from 10,000-pound (4,500 kg) pickup trucks assigned to haul specialized or small quantities of freight, all the way up to 80,000-pound (36,000 kg) semi-trailer trucks. Trucks are assigned a class rating based upon the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The facts in this section refer to drivers of “heavy duty” trucks (with a GVWR of at least 26,000 pounds (12,000 kg), which require a commercial driver’s license to operate).