Virginia Trucking Laws & Regulations
The sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles mean they can cause devastating, even fatal, injuries if they collide with another vehicle or road user. That’s why state and federal governments heavily regulate the trucking industry. Both drivers and the companies they work for must adhere to an array of rules with the goal of reducing the frequency and severity of mishaps. When trucking professionals violate those rules and cause an accident, they can be liable for the consequences.
Were you hurt in a truck accident in Prince William County? Do you suspect that it happened because someone broke the rules? Then contact D. Michael Mullori, Jr., Attorney at Law immediately. A Prince William County truck accident lawyer can review your case for free and explain your options for seeking the compensation you deserve.
Virginia Truck Speed Limits
Article 8, § 46.2-870 of the Virginia Code establishes that the maximum speed limit in the state is 70 miles per hour (mph). Unless otherwise stated, the maximum Virginia truck speed limit is 55 mph on interstates, primary state highways, other limited-access highways with divided roadways, and non-limited-access highways with at least four lanes. However, while the same 55 mph speed limit applies to most vehicles traveling on other highways, tractor-trailers are limited to 45 mph on these roadways.
Additionally, vehicles may travel no faster than 25 mph in business and residential areas and 35 mph on unpaved roads, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
Virginia Truck Weight Limits
Virginia Code §46.2-1122 establishes the truck weight limit for tractor-trailers in the state as 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, no single axle can bear more than 20,000 pounds of weight. VDOT further specifies the following limits:
- Tandem axles with between 40 and 96 inches of spacing: 34,000 pounds
- Single unit, two axles: 40,000 pounds
- Single unit, three axles: 54,000 pounds
- Tractor-trailer, three axles: 60,000 pounds
- Tractor-trailer, four axles: 74,0000 pounds
Virginia Height, Width, and Length Rules for Trucks
In Virginia, the maximum height of motor vehicles is 13 feet, 6 inches, while the maximum width is 8 feet, 6 inches, not counting the mirrors. The following are the maximum lengths of trucks on interstates and designated highways:
- Trucks: 40 feet, not counting the load
- Semi-trailers: 48 to 53 feet, depending on the specifics, including the load
- Twin trailers: 28 feet, 6 inches each, including the load
On other highways, the maximum lengths are as follows:
- Trucks: 40 feet, not counting the load
- Semi-trailers: 53 feet
- Twin trailers: Not allowed
Trucks may exceed these limits under certain circumstances, but they must be specially permitted before they can be operated.
Virginia CDL Requirements
Virginia requires drivers to carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before operating vehicles like semi-trucks, cargo vans, and buses. Prospective drivers must meet the following conditions to be licensed:
- Age Requirement – Drivers must be at least 18 years old for an intrastate (operating only within Virginia) CDL and 21 years old for an interstate CDL.
- Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) – Applicants must hold a CLP for at least 14 days and complete Entry Level Driver Training. A CLP costs $3 and allows the holder to operate a commercial vehicle with a licensed driver present.
- Testing Requirements – Applicants must pass a series of CDL skills tests, which may include a vision screening, CDL knowledge exams, and a CDL road skills test.
- Identification and Residency Requirements – Applicants must present a valid Virginia license or ID along with one federally required document, such as a passport, birth certificate, or certificate of citizenship. If the driver is new to Virginia, they must present additional proofs of identity, legal presence, Social Security number, Virginia residency, and proof of name change, if relevant.
- Medical Certification Requirements – All CDL and CLP applicants must undergo and pass a medical examination and meet one of the four certifications: excepted intrastate, excepted interstate, non-excepted intrastate, or non-excepted interstate.
- Driver Training Requirements – Those who have not previously held a CDL must pass a state-approved Entry Level Driver Training Program and hold a CLP for at least 14 days.
- Costs – A standard CDL with no endorsements costs $64 and is valid for eight years. Endorsements cost an additional $1 per year.
- HAZMAT Endorsement – To get a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME), drivers must complete the Entry Level Driver Training Program, pass the HAZMAT knowledge exam, and undergo a background check. The HME is valid for five years and costs $83. A Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) reduces the fee to $41.
Virginia Load Securement Rules for Trucks
Virginia Code § 46.2-1156 states that all vehicles must be built, maintained, and loaded in a way that keeps their contents from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping when moving on any highway. There are exceptions for vehicles used exclusively for agriculture or transporting forest products, poultry, or livestock.
Furthermore, § 46.2-1156 B requires trucks, trailers, and semi-trailers carrying gravel, sand, coal, or other non-agricultural and non-forestry products on any maintained roads to have their loads either secured to the vehicle or properly covered. This rule doesn’t apply to public service company vehicles, pickup trucks, or emergency snow removal equipment during snow removal operations.
Virginia Snow Tire and Chain Requirements
Virginia allows trucks to operate with snow tires and chains when snow, ice, or other hazardous road conditions necessitate their use. However, they are only legal from October 15 to April 15.
Virginia Truck Parking Information
Virginia Code § 46.2-1224 allows certain counties and towns to pass ordinances prohibiting truck drivers from parking their vehicles in residential areas or along certain highways zoned for commercial or industrial purposes. However, these rules are set locally and vary from county to county and from municipality to municipality. Truck drivers should familiarize themselves with the relevant local laws before parking their vehicles.
Understanding Federal Trucking Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets national regulations for the interstate trucking industry. Here are some of the most important rules set by the agency:
- Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations – These rules control the working hours of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. They dictate how many hours a driver can be on duty and how many hours they must rest. For example, truck drivers are generally permitted to drive for up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty; are prohibited from driving after the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty; and cannot drive more than 70 hours in a seven-day period or 80 hours in an eight-day period, depending on their carrier’s operating schedule.
- Driver Qualifications – CMV drivers must be at least 21 years old, be able to read and speak English well enough to communicate effectively, and possess a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). They also must pass a physical examination every two years.
- Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection – Trucks must be regularly maintained and inspected to ensure they are safe to operate. Drivers are required to conduct pre-trip inspections and report any defects or issues that could affect the safety or operability of the vehicle.
- Cargo Securement Rules – Cargo must be securely fastened to prevent it from shifting or falling off the vehicle. The specific securement rules vary depending on the type and size of the cargo.
- Drug and Alcohol Regulations – These rules are designed to free the roads of impaired drivers. Truck drivers are subject to drug and alcohol testing in several scenarios, including pre-employment, post-accident, random testing, and when there is reasonable suspicion of use. They may not operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.04 percent.
Remember, these rules apply only to truck drivers who operate across state lines. That said, Virginia has many similar trucking regulations for drivers who work strictly within the state.
Requirements for Truck Owners and Fleet Managers
Trucking companies must ensure they and their drivers comply with state and federal regulations. To that end, they need to:
- Verify that their drivers have the appropriate licenses and endorsements
- Inspect and maintain their vehicles regularly
- Monitor drivers to confirm they are adhering to HOS rules
- Load and secure cargo properly
- Maintain required insurance on their vehicles
- Conduct drug and alcohol tests on their drivers
- Report any accidents involving their vehicles to the relevant authorities
- Keep accurate records of their operations
How a Prince William County Trucking Accident Attorney Can Help with Your Case
If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, you need a lawyer who:
- Understands the Rules – As you can see, there are many rules about trucking in Virginia and nationally. A good attorney knows these rules and Virginia trucking laws well and can use them to help your case.
- Can Investigate the Accident Thoroughly – An experienced attorney knows what evidence could confirm a rule violation and, just as importantly, how to recover it in time.
- Knows How to Calculate Losses – Accidents can cause severe injuries and cost a lot of money. Your lawyer should be able to add up your medical bills and lost wages and assess your other intangible losses to know what fair compensation entails.
- Will Stand Up to Big Trucking Companies – These companies have a lot of money and lawyers to help them pay as little as they can to the people they hurt. Your attorney shouldn’t be afraid to fight hard for what you deserve.
Don’t face this challenging time alone. Reach out to Mike Mullori, and he will fight for your rights following a Virginia truck accident.
Contact a Trucking Accident Lawyer in Prince William County Today
State and federal truck regulations exist for a reason: to reduce the number of preventable accidents on the roads. When truck drivers and carriers violate these rules, they put innocent people at risk of serious injury – and they should be held accountable for their careless or even reckless behavior.
Were you or a loved one hurt in a truck accident someone else caused? Then let Mike Mullori stand up for you and demand the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation with a trucking accident lawyer in Prince Williams County.