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Being the supervisor of the Women In Trucking Association, Inc. Facebook Group, a writer, and a truck driver, I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the FMCSA website looking up answers to questions from the group, doing research for articles, and to make sure I am right in doing my job as a driver. Trying to make sense of some of the regulations on the FMCSA website can make one’s eyes cross and mind boggle. Thankfully, on most of the more complex regulations, there is ‘Guidance.’

Guidance is answers to questions sent in to the FMCSA by drivers and companies for clarification on a specific regulation. If you go to a specific regulation, under what the regulation is about, the title, in brown there will be section and guidance next to it. Click on guidance and a world of information opens up. For instance, under Drug and Alcohol Testing it will look like this:

Part 382

After clicking on Guidance, you will see a list of questions and answers.

Question 1: Are intrastate drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)s, who are required to obtain CDLs, required to be alcohol and drug tested by their employer?

Guidance: Yes. The definition of commerce in 382.107 is taken from 49 U.S.C. Section 31301 which encompasses interstate, intrastate and foreign commerce …

The number of questions and answers depends on how many people have emailed and asked a specific question. Some regulations might only have one question; others may have many.

For truck drivers and carriers, knowledge of the interpretation of the regulations can save them not only headaches, but money in fines and downtime. For instance, a driver of a small church bus, less than 16 passenger capacity, needs to know if they need a CDL. The regulation may not say so directly, but the guidance does.

Question 1: Are school and church bus drivers required to obtain a CDL?

Guidance: Yes, if they drive vehicles designed to transport 16 or more people.

One of the common questions asked periodically on the WIT Facebook Group is whether or not, when using a CMV as a Personal Use Vehicle, while going to and from a motel or store, can a driver be in possession of alcohol. According to the regulation, no they may not unless on the manifest. However, in the guidance, it states differently.

Question 3: Does the prohibition against carrying alcoholic beverages in §392.5 apply to a driver who uses a company vehicle, for personal reasons, while off-duty?

Guidance: No. For example, an owner-operator using his/her own vehicle in an off-duty status, or a driver using a company truck or tractor for transportation to a motel, restaurant, or home, would normally be outside the scope of this section.

As you can see, the guidance sections can make navigating the FMCSA website easier than using a GPS to find the answers you might need.

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