Commercial Traffic Laws in California

Commercial vehicle drivers have tremendous responsibilities on the roadway. They are in charge of operating very large vehicles on the highways and streets of California, and there are laws specific to commercial truck drivers that must be obeyed in order to ensure safety. Here, we want to discuss commercial traffic laws that you need to be aware of in California.

Hours of Service Requirements

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for setting specific guidelines for how long commercial drivers are allowed to operate during each day and during a workweek. The state of California also has its own requirements, but they generally defer to federal guidelines in these cases. The hours of service requirements apply to commercial drivers who carry passengers as well as those who carry cargo. Any individual who operates a commercial motor vehicle weighing more than 10,001 pounds must adhere to the hours of service requirements.

These rules are put in place to ensure that drivers do not operate while fatigued behind the wheel. Unfortunately, without these laws, many commercial drivers and commercial truck and passenger companies would push the limits.

Speed Limitations

Commercial vehicles that operate too fast are much more likely to be involved in accidents. In order to reduce these risks, the law has clearly defined speed limits for commercial vehicles. It is not uncommon to see the speed limit for a commercial vehicle in California 10 miles less than the normal speed limit for a roadway. In some cases, commercial vehicles are limited to 55 mph on highways.

Play speed limits are commonly imposed on semi-trucks, school buses, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, and farm labor vehicles carrying passengers.

Lane Rule

Individuals operating commercial vehicles, including larger trucks, buses, or vehicles with a second component in towing, are required to stay in the right-hand lane of the roadway or in the lane specifically designated for slower moving vehicles. Commercial drivers operating on a road with four more lanes must stay in the two right-hand lanes.

Cargo Rules

In the state of California, it is required for truck drivers and trucking companies to ensure the following:

  • That any cargo is properly loaded and tide down
  • That the cargo or property is thoroughly inspected
  • That the cargo’s weight is properly distributed and secured on the truck

Proper Licensing

In order to legally operate a commercial motor vehicle in California, drivers must obtain their commercial driver’s license. If the commercial truck driver will only be operating within the state limits of California, they must be at least 18 years old period any commercial truck driver crossing state lines, meaning trips between more than one state, must be at least 21 years of age.

To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a driver must first obtain their commercial learner’s permit and hold it for at least 14 days. In order to get this permit, the driver must already have a regular California driver’s license. The individual will have to complete an online application and then take a written knowledge test, medical exam, and vision test through the department of motor vehicles (DMV). The individual will have to get their fingerprints scanned, have their photograph taken, and pay an application fee.

After holding the commercial learner’s permit for the required amount of time, a driver can apply for the full CDL. Typically, drivers will have to take a skills test at the DMV to obtain the CDL.