Ask The Law – August 2018

Questions about Medical Exams, 30-Minute Rest Breaks & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of August 2018)

Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on July 15, 2018.

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NECK SIZE AND CDL PHYSICALS

Q: I recently went to get my CDL Medical Examiner’s Certificate renewed. This was the first time an examiner has measured the circumference of my neck. When I asked him why, he told me the FMCSA now requires this, because a driver with a large neck must take a sleep apnea test. Is this true? Thank you for your help in advance – Larry in Colorado.

A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: There is a lot of confusion about this subject. Look up “neck size and sleep apnea” in your favorite browser and you come up with pages and pages of information. Most prominent medical organizations talk about neck size and body mass index (BMI) combined. While the Medical Review Board (MRB) and the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) both advise FMCSA to require drivers with a neck measurement size of 17 inches or larger to complete a sleep apnea test, these are essentially advisories. FMCSA cannot mandate without going through the rule-making process. The FMCSA’s Evaluation of Safety Sensitive for Moderate-to-Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea was withdrawn from the rule-making process on August 8, 2017.

LATE WITH A 30-MINUTE REST BREAK

Q: I waited to the last minute for my required 30-minute rest break after 8 hours on-duty time, but then I couldn’t find a safe place to park. I had to drive for 15 minutes until I found a safe place. Does this affect my hours of service or my CSA score? Thank you – Steve in Alabama.

A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: If you are stopped while operating a CMV on the same day prior to taking your 10-hour rest break, you could be issued a citation and put out of service for violation of the 30-minute break within the first 8 hours of being on duty. If you are stopped any time after the current day, you can be issued a warning. By this, I mean a violation could be written-up during a roadside inspection. Drivers do not have a CSA score. CSA scores affect motor carriers, including owner operators, by identifying those with safety problems to prioritize them for interventions, such as warning letters and investigations. Drivers do have a list of violations that will show up in the FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). This program is intended to help carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to a commercial driver’s 5-year crash and 3-year inspection history. None of the violations found in the PSP will cause the driver to lose his/her CDL. A list of violations that will get a CDL driver disqualified can be found in FMCSA safety regulation Part 383.51.

LOAD SECUREMENT AND TIE-DOWNS

Q: I’m helping a friend who operates a small flatbed fleet by driving one of his rigs. Up to this point, my trucking experience has been with dry vans only. I understand that every tie-down must be attached and secured so that it does not come loose or unfastened during transit. My question is, are the tie-downs supposed to go within the rub rails or on the outside of them? Also, when must edge protection be used with a tie-down? Thank you for your help and service – Rick in Kansas.

A: Provided by Senior Trooper Brent N. Hoover, Indiana State Police, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Indianapolis, IN: Federal regulations for the U.S. do not stipulate inside or outside. There is reference in a load securement guide that suggests drivers locate the straps on the inside to avoid issues. The over use of edge protection will never get a driver a violation. So, when in doubt, protect it. If there is any chance of the strap or chain becoming damaged, then it’s best to use it.

~ The “Ask The Law” program is an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA and commercial law enforcement agencies.  Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers.  Ask the Law is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA.  This column is copyrighted by Ol’ Blue, USA.  Warning: The information contained within this column is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The content contains general information and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue.  Be aware that the material in the column may not reflect current legal developments or information, as laws and regulations are subject to change at any time without notice.  Always check with the most recent statutes, rules and regulations to see if any changes have been made.

About Ol' Blue, USA TM

Ol’ Blue, USATM is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. The Ask The LawTM programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA and commercial law enforcement agencies. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted by Ol’ Blue, USA.