Trucking Laws in Indiana
Indiana plays a significant role in the trucking industry, and with this comes the responsibility to adhere to the state’s trucking laws, which are in place to ensure the safety of all motorists on the roads.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the critical trucking laws in Indiana that truck drivers need to be aware of, including size and weight limits, hours of service, required safety equipment, speed limits, and insurance requirements.
Size and Weight Limits
Size and weight limits are critical regulations in the trucking industry that are designed to promote safety on Indiana’s roads. The state has established specific size and weight limits for commercial vehicles operating on its highways.
These limits are intended to prevent damage to the roads and bridges and to ensure that trucks do not pose a threat to public safety. It’s important to be aware of these regulations, because violations of size and weight limits can result in fines, and repeat offenders may face more severe penalties.
According to the Indiana government, maximum weight limits are:
- Max gross weight: 80,000 lbs.
- Max single axle weight: 20,000 lbs.
- Max tandem axle weight: 34,000 lbs.
- Max tri-axle weight: 50,000 lbs.
- Max wheel weight: 800 lbs. per inch of tire width.
However, certain types of vehicles are subject to lower weight limits. For example, buses, recreational vehicles, and motor homes are limited to 20,000 pounds per axle. Moreover, the state’s weight limit may be reduced for a specific road or bridge due to safety concerns, as determined by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
In addition to weight limits, Indiana has established specific size limits for commercial vehicles, which are limited to a width of 8.5 feet, a height of 13.5 feet, and a length of 45 feet for single vehicles and 60 feet for combination vehicles. However, some vehicles, such as tow trucks and buses, are allowed to exceed these limits with proper permits. Truck drivers need to adhere to these size and weight limits to prevent damage to the roadways and avoid accidents on the highways.
Hours of Service
In Indiana, hours of service regulations are enforced by the Indiana State Police and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The purpose is to prevent fatigue-related accidents by ensuring that drivers have adequate rest before getting back behind the wheel.
Under the federal Hours of Service regulations, commercial truck drivers are limited to a maximum of 11 hours of driving time in a 14-hour period. Additionally, drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. After reaching the maximum driving time limit, drivers must take a mandatory 10-hour break before driving again.
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious consequences, including fines and license suspensions.
It’s important to note that these regulations only apply to commercial drivers who transport goods or passengers across state lines or within Indiana as part of interstate commerce. Intrastate trucking operations are regulated by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). However, many Indiana-based carriers choose to follow federal regulations to maintain consistency in their operations.
Required Safety Equipment
To ensure the safety of all drivers and passengers on Indiana’s roads, commercial trucks are required to have certain safety equipment installed and properly maintained. These requirements are also established by the Indiana Department of Transportation and failure to comply can result in penalties.
The following is a list of some of the required safety equipment for commercial trucks in Indiana:
- Brakes: As we mentioned before, commercial trucks must be equipped with service brakes, parking brakes, and an emergency brake system.
- Lights and reflectors: Trucks must have headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and reflectors that meet specific standards outlined in Indiana law.
- Mirrors: All commercial trucks must have mirrors that provide the driver with a view of the road and the area around the vehicle.
- Windshield wipers: Trucks must have functioning windshield wipers to ensure the driver has a clear view of the road in all weather conditions.
- Horn: A horn that can be heard from at least 200 feet away is required on all commercial trucks.
- Load securement devices: Commercial trucks must-have devices to secure their loads, such as tie-downs, chains, and straps.
The speed limits for commercial vehicles in Indiana are generally the same as those for passenger vehicles. On interstate highways, the maximum speed limit for all vehicles is 70 mph, while on other highways, the maximum speed limit is 60 mph. However, commercial vehicles are subject to lower speed limits in certain situations, such as when driving through work zones or in adverse weather conditions.
It is important to note that trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds are required to have speed limiters installed. The speed limiter is set to the maximum speed limit allowed by law and prevents the vehicle from exceeding that speed. This regulation is intended to promote safety on the highways and prevent accidents caused by excessive speed, as it’s one of the main causes of accidents on our roads.
In addition to speed limits, Indiana law also prohibits certain types of driving behavior that can contribute to accidents. Drivers must also adjust their speed to accommodate curves, hills, and other hazards. These regulations apply to all drivers, including those operating commercial vehicles.
Commercial trucking is a high-risk industry that involves substantial property damage and personal injury risks. As a result, commercial truck drivers need to carry adequate insurance coverage to protect themselves and other drivers on the road.
According to the Indiana Department of Revenue, all commercial vehicles are required to carry liability insurance coverage that meets certain minimum requirements, including:
- $750,000 in coverage for general freight
- $1,000,000 in coverage for hazardous materials
- $5,000,000 in coverage for certain hazardous materials
In addition to liability insurance, commercial vehicle operators must also carry the following types of coverage:
- Physical damage insurance to cover damage to the vehicle itself
- Cargo insurance to cover any damage to the cargo being transported
- Workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees who are injured on the job
- Proof of insurance must be carried in the vehicle at all times and must be presented upon request by law enforcement.
It’s important for commercial vehicle operators to make sure they have adequate insurance coverage to protect themselves and others in the event of an accident. The cost of insurance can vary based on a variety of factors, including the type of cargo being transported, the driving record of the operator, and the size and weight of the vehicle.
Distracted Driving Laws
In Indiana, it is illegal for drivers to use a handheld electronic device while driving. This includes texting, emailing, and using social media. Drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth, to make and receive phone calls, but these devices must be operated with voice commands or a single touch.
Additionally, Indiana has established a law that bans drivers under the age of 18 from using any type of electronic device while driving, including hands-free devices. This is known as a “no tolerance” policy and is designed to prevent distracted driving among young, inexperienced drivers who are at a higher risk of accidents.
Have You Experienced a Truck Accident in Indiana?
Truck accidents can be particularly devastating due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, which can cause catastrophic injuries or even fatalities in the event of a collision.
In Indiana, there are specific laws and regulations governing the operation of commercial trucks, and it’s important to have a personal injury attorney who understands these laws and can help you navigate the legal process if you suffered an accident.
Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, an award winning Indianapolis truck accident lawyer, can help you navigate the legal process needed to claim your rights. Contact us today to get a free consultation.