The New CDL Regulations

by Wayne Patterson, South Carolina Traffic Attorney, 864-270-7973

What new CDL regulations? I've been driving a truck for twenty years and just pay a speeding ticket. It is too much trouble to contest a speeding ticket and all that matters is if I still have points on my license. I know how to rig my logbook, bypass the scales, and outwit the speed traps. I have hearda lot of other truckers talking about the new CDL regulations but I don'thave the time to learn about them for myself. I am a safe driver andthat is all I need to know. Nothing has really changed with the new CDL regulations, it is businessas usual." WRONG! If this is your attitude you had better get an adjustment and fast or you will not be driving much longer.

In Texas the traffic court judges recently completed mandatory training. One of the new state guidelines is that there are to beno deals for CDL drivers with a speeding ticket. We are receiving numerous reports,especially from Ohio, of speed traps that are only targetingtruckers. In Philadelphia eight drivers, the dispatcher and thecompany have been criminally indicted on logbook violation charges. South Carolina is using unmarked pickup trucks andExplorers for the DOT officers. Many DOT fines have been doubled the HOS rules are constantly changing as are the multitude of CDL regulations.

States, counties and cities are all facing budget cutbacks. One ofthe easiest ways to raise revenue is to increase the numberof speeding tickets and to raise the amount of the fine. Truckersare an easy target for a speeding ticket since they are usually from out of town andcan not afford to return to contest the traffic ticket. One small town boasted in their local newspaper about the number of tickets written in the last year and that most of the tickets were to out of town drivers. That is not hard to figure out since the townhas a population of 16,000 and issued over 8,000 traffic violations.

Meanwhile, insurance companies are tightening the requirementsfor the drivers they will insure at any price. We recently spokewith an Owner/Operator who has received four speeding tickets in the last three years, all under 10mph violations. He just paid thespeeding tickets since he wasn't concerned about his CDL license being suspended. Now his insurance carrier will not renew and he couldnot afford the quotes he had received. The easy answer is to say he shouldn't have been speeding but in the past a few tickets have justbeen the cost of doing business.

Truck drivers, company owners, brokers and shippers must realizethat the new CDL regulations, traffic ticket enforcement and insurance environments have undergone drastic changes in the past two years. The publicperception, fueled by the media, is that truckersare the killing monsters of the highways. The "Knights of the Road" days are gone. If truckers are to survive they must change to meet the challenges of this new environment. A driver's knowledge of the CDL regulations is becoming as important as his driving skill.

Truck drivers must know what is legal, get legal and then run legal. The part the trucking industry is going to have to figure out is how to run legal and still make a profit. What I do know is that truckers willbe forced out of business by fines and insurance costs if they do not change to comply with all the new CDL regulations.


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For a South Carolina traffic attorney call Wayne Patterson at 864-270-7973. Wayne is a former trucking company owner and is fully familiar with all the DOT regulations.

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