What are the Trucking Laws in Washington State?

Trucking laws in Washington State are comprehensive and meticulously designed to cover various aspects of commercial vehicle operation. These regulations ensure that the trucking industry operates safely, efficiently, and in compliance with both state and federal standards.

Driver Requirements

Firstly, there are specific requirements for drivers.

  • Licensing: Commercial vehicle drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), which is categorized into different classes (A, B, C) based on the vehicle’s weight, type, and cargo being transported. Additional endorsements may be required for specific operations, such as carrying hazardous materials (HazMat), passengers, or operating double/triple trailers.
  • Age Restrictions: Drivers must be at least 18 to operate commercial vehicles within Washington State and at least 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines or transport hazardous materials.
  • Medical Certification: Drivers must pass a medical examination conducted by a certified medical examiner and carry a Medical Examiner’s Certificate to ensure they are physically qualified to operate a commercial vehicle.

Vehicle Requirements

All trucks must adhere to weight limits, including:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): Regulations specify maximum weight limits for commercial vehicles, including the total weight of the vehicle, cargo, and passengers.
  • Axle Weight: Limits are also set for the weight distributed over each axle.
  • Bridge Formula: Weight limits are calculated using the bridge formula to protect infrastructure.

Commercial vehicles have size limits in addition to weight limits. They must adhere to prescribed width, height, and length dimensions. Special permits are needed for oversize vehicles that exceed these dimensions.

Vehicles also must be equipped with safety devices such as adequate braking systems, lighting, mirrors, reflectors, and other necessary equipment. Specific standards apply depending on the vehicle type and its usage.

Insurance Requirements

Commercial vehicles must carry minimum liability insurance coverage to protect against damages or injuries resulting from accidents. The required coverage varies based on the type of cargo and whether the transport is interstate or intrastate.

Operation Regulations

Drivers must adhere to Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, limiting driving time and requiring rest breaks to prevent fatigue. Trucks must follow posted speed limits, which may be lower than those for passenger vehicles. Certain roads, especially in urban areas, may restrict truck traffic. Special permits may be required to transport oversized or hazardous loads.

Other Regulations

As well as the above requirements, other regulations govern the trucking industry in Washington.

Cargo Regulations

Regulations mandate that cargo must be properly secured to prevent shifting or falling during transit. Different types of cargo have specific securement requirements. Transporting hazardous materials requires strict compliance with federal and state regulations, including proper labeling, packaging, and documentation to ensure safety.

Safety Inspections

Drivers must conduct thorough pre-trip inspections to ensure the vehicle is operating safely. These inspections cover brakes, lights, tires, and other critical components. Law enforcement conducts roadside inspections to check compliance with safety regulations. Vehicles and drivers must be prepared for these inspections at any time. Carriers must maintain detailed vehicle maintenance records and inspections to ensure ongoing compliance with safety standards.

Permits and Taxes

Trucking companies must pay fuel taxes based on the amount of fuel used. The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) simplifies the reporting of fuel use by carriers operating in multiple states.

Environmental Regulations

Trucks must meet emissions standards set by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Some regulations may limit truck idling to reduce emissions and conserve fuel.

Fines and Penalties

Non-compliance with trucking laws can result in fines, penalties, and, in severe cases, suspension of operating authority. If you’ve run afoul of Washington’s Trucking Laws or have been injured in a truck collision, contact Brumley Law Firm today at (833) 832-2727 or via our online form to discuss your case and find out how our truck accident lawyers in Kent can help.