| Read Time: 4 minutes | Truck Accidents

Being involved in a truck accident in Texas can be a stressful and traumatic experience.

Between recovery and the claims process, you may become overwhelmed with the complexity of commercial vehicle regulations and how they affect your case.

At Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C., our Texas truck accident attorneys know the information you need to help build your case.

This includes the different types of motor carriers that may be involved and the laws that apply to them.

Interstate Carrier vs. Intrastate Carrier

If you decide to file a claim for your truck accident, you must determine if the company responsible is an interstate carrier or an intrastate carrier.

Different carriers follow different rules and regulations, so it’s important to know the difference between these two categories.

What Is an Interstate Carrier?

An interstate motor carrier is any company that transports cargo across state lines and country borders.

Essentially, this means that the carrier commercially transports goods outside of their state of operation.

This even includes carriers that transport goods within their state if the destination of those goods is outside of the state.

What Is an Intrastate Carrier?

An intrastate motor carrier is a company that operates and delivers goods only within the boundaries of the state.

This means that the commercial vehicle never travels across state lines and the goods have a final destination within the state.

Safety Regulations That Affect Your Claim

When it comes to Texas truck accidents, the differences between an interstate carrier vs. an intrastate carrier may have an impact on your case.

These two carrier types follow different rules and regulations, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to many truck accident claims.

Interstate carriers must follow federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)O, while intrastate carriers need to follow rules made by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

For this post, we’ll stick to the FMCSA regulations that apply to interstate motor carriers in Texas.

FMCSA Rules for Interstate Motor Carriers

The FMCSA has regulations for all interstate carriers, whether they operate in Texas or another state. This includes minimum insurance requirements, driver qualifications, and hours of service rules.

Insurance Coverage

The amount of insurance required by the FMCSA depends on the type of cargo transported by the carrier and the type of vehicle they use to move that cargo.

Under 49 CFR § 387.9, interstate motor carriers must have bodily injury coverage in the amount of:

  • $750,000 for trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds and transporting non-hazardous goods;
  • $1,000,000 for trucks carrying oil and certain types of hazardous wastes; or
  • $5,000,000 for trucks transporting hazardous substances in bulk, such as acids, gases, flammable liquids, corrosives, etc.

The CFR includes a list of all the materials considered hazardous, which you can find in section 172.101.

However, this table contains hundreds of items under different classes, so it’s best to consult with an experienced Texas truck accident attorney if your crash involves these hazardous commodities.

Driver Qualifications

Truck drivers must meet certain qualifications to work for an interstate motor carrier. Under 49 CFR § 391.11, a person is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if they:

  • Are at least 21 years old,
  • Can read and speak English proficiently,
  • Can safely operate a commercial motor vehicle,
  • Are physically capable of driving a commercial motor vehicle,
  • Have a currently valid CMV license in only one state,
  • Have successfully completed a road test and been issued a certificate.

Generally, a person may not drive a commercial motor vehicle if they have previous DUI/DWI or drug offenses. For first-time offenders, the disqualification lasts 6 to12 months.

However, repeat offenders are disqualified for three years after the date of conviction.

Hours of Service

For truck drivers, the FMCSA also publishes hours of service regulations on their website. These regulations differ depending on whether the driver transports property or passengers.

For property-carrying drivers, the rules are as follows:

  • A driver may be on duty for only 14 hours after 10 consecutive hours off;
  • Within their 14-hour window, a driver may operate their vehicle for only 11 consecutive hours;
  • For every eight consecutive hours driving, a driver must take one thirty-minute break;
  • A driver cannot be on duty for more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or more than 70 hours in eight consecutive days; and
  • After reaching the 60/70 hour limit, a driver must take 34 or more consecutive hours off.

There are only a few exceptions to these rules. The first exception applies when the driver faces adverse road conditions.

In this case, the driver may extend their 14-hour window and their 11-hour driving limit by two hours. 

The second exception applies to drivers with a sleeper berth in their vehicle.

If a driver needs to split their breaks to align their delivery with hours of service rules, they may spend seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, two hours off-duty, and one extra hour for either. 

Something to keep in mind is the difference between time spent driving and on-duty. Truck drivers aren’t always driving when on-duty and have other tasks, such as inspecting, washing, fueling, loading, and unloading the truck.

For this reason, it’s important to take the full scope of the driver’s on-duty responsibilities into consideration when determining if an hours-of-service violation took place.

Have More Questions About Your Truck Accident Claim?

If you want to know more about the differences between an interstate carrier vs. an intrastate carrier or need help with your claim, contact Tawney, Acosta & Chaparro P.C.

Our truck accident attorneys in Texas understand the burden that serious injuries have on individuals and families.

We’ll fight for the compensation you need to recover and provide a personalized experience every step of the way.

Call us at 915-308-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Author Photo

James Tawney

James Tawney is a native of the Southwest dedicated to serving his community. He was born and raised in Arizona where he attended Northern Arizona University where he received his undergraduate degree. James then went on to attend Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. In 2016, he, along with fellow plaintiff’s attorney Alejandro Acosta, founded Flores, Tawney & Acosta, P.C. with offices located in Las Cruces and Carlsbad, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.