North Carolina Trucking Laws

In North Carolina, large commercial trucks were involved in more than 15,000 motor vehicle accidents throughout the state in one recent year (what year?), according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). These crashes resulted in thousands of serious or fatal injuries, almost all of which were preventable tragedies.
One of the best ways commercial truck drivers can avoid accidents and make the roads safer for everyone is by adhering to federal and state commercial trucking laws. To help all of our neighbors in North Carolina, Ward Black Law has compiled the following list of relevant laws for
commercial truck drivers.
Call us or contact us online for a free claim case review and learn more about the rules, regulations, and restrictions that apply to commercial drivers in North Carolina.
What Regulations Do Truck Drivers Have to Adhere-to-in North Carolina?
North Carolina is part of the International Registration Plan (IRP), which is an agreement that regulates interstate and international transportation of goods and passengers throughout the continental U.S. and Canada.
Commercial owners with trucks that meet the following criteria are required to register their vehicles with the IRP:
• Any vehicle with two axles and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than
26,000 pounds Any combination of tractors, trailers, or other vehicles with a GVWR of more than
26,000 pounds
• Any vehicle with three or more axles, no matter the GVWR
North Carolina commercial truck owners registered with the IRP are subject to several specific regulations, including:
Maintaining operational records for their fleet Obtaining an active interstate United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number or a Common or Contract Motor Carrier (MC) number from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Carrying insurance that meets minimum commercial liability requirements Providing an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if hiring commercial operators as employees Recording and reporting mileage totals for IRP application renewals
How Many Hours a Day Can Truck Driver Operate Their Vehicle?
Since commercial drivers often operate on behalf of other entities, they bear a lot of responsibility on the road. Also, with their significant size and weight, these large trucks pose a substantial risk to others on the road if they are not handled properly. This brings us to hours of-service regulations.
These regulations make North Carolina and national roadways safer by imposing certain limits on the amount of time commercial drivers can spend behind the wheel without a break. Hours of-service restrictions attempt to prevent driver fatigue and reduce accident rates by mandating limits like:

The 14-hour driving “window” – This regulation allows drivers to operate for up to 14 consecutive hours, during which they may drive for up to 11 hours following 10 or more consecutive hours off-duty. The 14-hour window is typically seen as a daily limit, despite the fact that the window is not based on any specific 24-hour period. The 11-hour driving limit – Commercial operators are forbidden from driving their trucks for more than 11 total hours within any consecutive 14-hour period. When
total of 11 hours on the road, they must take a minimum of 10 hours of off duty time until the 14-hour window resets, and they can drive again. The 30-minute rest break – Drivers must take a 30-minute off-duty rest break after they drive more than eight consecutive hours following their last off-duty period. Meal breaks, sleeper-berth time, and other off-duty time that lasts at least 30 minutes all count as qualified rest breaks. These 30-minute periods do count against the overall 14 hour operating window.
The 60/70-hour duty limit – These limits are based on either seven- or eight-day work weeks, which start at the beginning of carrier-mandated 24-hour scheduling periods. Under these restrictions, drivers who work seven consecutive days are limited to 60 hours of total on-duty time, and drivers who work eight consecutive days are limited to 70 hours. These limits are based on “rolling” periods, in which the oldest day’s hours drop off at the end of each workday.
Hours-of-service regulations also offer an optional “34-hour restart” procedure, which allows drivers to reset their 60- or 70-hour weekly clocks if they take 34 or more consecutive off-duty hours to rest.
Drivers who spend 34 or more consecutive hours off-duty or resting in their sleeper berths are able to reset their “weekly” hours back to zero. These individuals are permitted to perform other work-related duties, such as administrative or cargo loading tasks, so long as they refrain from operating their commercial trucks on public roads.
Who Oversees Trucking Operations in North Carolina?
Throughout the United States, the FMCSA oversees the commercial trucking industry. North Carolina specifically has adopted FMCSA regulations, but also has several other governing bodies that regulate commercial carriers and promote public road safety.
The NCDOT governs all commercial shipping in the state and enforces related rules and regulations. The Department of Public Safety audits commercial trucking companies to confirm compliance and also investigates trucking accidents to develop accident prevention programs.
The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) also has the authority to oversee commercial licensing and establish commercial liability insurance standards. Finally, the state’s police and highway patrol officers have training to help them enforce commercial trucking laws on the road.
What Are the Licensing Requirements for Commercial Truckers in NC?
Any driver who operates a vehicle designed or used to transport passengers or property in North Carolina is required to carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Drivers of recreational vehicles (RVs), military equipment, emergency vehicles, and farming equipment are not required to obtain CDLs.
Federal law requires drivers who wish to obtain a CDL to:
Qualify for and hold a commercial learner permit for at least 14 days, which in turn, requires drivers to possess a valid class A, B, or C driver’s license and pass an applicable
knowledge test
• Verify the type of commercial vehicle they plan to operate
Provide a medical certification to the DMV affirming that they meet the minimum physical condition requirements Submit a completed medical report if there are any questions about the driver’s
physical condition
• Pay associated CDL fees based on license and vehicle type
Complete and pass a skills test, which includes a vehicle inspection, basic control test,
and practical road test
• Provide their own commercial vehicle for the road test
Drivers who meet these requirements may be eligible for the following types of commercia driver’s licenses:
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Commercial Class A licenses, which are for any combination of vehicles with a GVWR that exceeds 26,000 pounds, as long as none of the vehicles included in the combination exceed 10,000 pounds Commercial Class B licenses, which are for single vehicles with a GVWR that exceeds 26,000 pounds, as long as they do not tow any vehicles with a GVWR that exceeds 10,000 pounds
Commercial Class C licenses, which are required for commercial trucks that are not covered by Class A or Class B licenses (These are for vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers or vehicles that transport hazardous materials.)
If commercial drivers haul hazardous materials, transport passengers, operate school buses, tow double trailers, or driver tanker trucks, they are also required to carry other special endorsements per the North Carolina DOT.
What Speed Limits and Routing Laws Apply to Large Commercial Trucks in NC?
Speed and routing restrictions throughout North Carolina vary from county to county and route to route, according to NCDOT. In many areas, commercial trucks that have more than three axles or exceed 26,000 pounds are prohibited from driving in the left-most lanes on the interstate.
In some mountainous regions, trucks that exceed 10,000 pounds are required to stop at truck information stations. These stations offer important information to commercial drivers about steeply graded inclines or declines, commercial speed limits, and any relevant lane restrictions.
In some areas, no through trucks are allowed at all. In others, through trucks that have three or more axles or trailers longer than 48 feet are prohibited.
How Much Insurance Coverage Must a Commercial Truck Carry in NC?
At the federal level, commercial truck drivers are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance if they drive for interstate or foreign commercial purposes, transport non hazardous materials, and have a truck with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more.
North Carolina also imposes the following liability insurance minimums on commercial liability insurance for state commercial drivers:
Coverage of at least $5 million for commercial drivers who haul hazardous substances, portable tanks or hoppers with capacities exceeding 3,500 gallons, poisonous gases, liquefied compressed gases or compressed gases, or “highway route-controlled quantity materials.” At least $1 million for truckers who transport oil, hazardous waste, and other hazardous materials or substances, as defined in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §
171.8. Coverage of $5 million or more for any CDL drivers who carry any quantity of Class A or Class B explosives or any quantity of radioactive materials, as defined in 49 CFR § 173.403.
What is the Maximum Legal Blood Alcohol Level for a Trucker?
For most drivers in North Carolina, the maximum legal blood alcohol level is an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. However, due to the enhanced responsibility and risk inherent to commercial drivers, the legal limit for truckers is 0.04 percent.
Contact a North Carolina Trucking Accident Lawyer
North Carolina has a range of complicated and confusing trucking laws, but experienced truck accident attorneys have the knowledge and skills to help you understand your legal options and fight for the justice you deserve.
If you’ve been injured in a wreck involving a large truck, Ward Black Law is here to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free confidential consultation.