Questions about 34-Hour Restarts, Stopping
on Railroad Tracks & More Answered by
Law Enforcement Officials (as of June 2011)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on May 11, 2011.
Brought to you as a public service by Ol’ Blue, USA and 10-4.
Submit your questions to www.askthelaw.org
WE HOPE TO SEE YOU IN LAS VEGAS
Please join our Ol’ Blue, USA “Safety Center”® at the Great West Truck Show in Las Vegas, NV on June 9-11. We are pleased to announce that Trooper Elmer Johnson and his team from the Nevada Highway Patrol will be joining us in Las Vegas to answer your questions again this year. Visit our website at www.safetytour.org for more details.
NUMBER OF DAYS BETWEEN RESTARTS
Q: If a driver takes 34 hours off and then drives 1,500 miles to get home, then takes 24 hours off, how many days can he drive before having to take another 34 hours off? Thanks – Bill in Indiana
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant with Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, Nebraska: 49 CFR 395.3 addresses hours of service of drivers and sets the maximum driving time for property-carrying vehicles. Assuming your company operates every day, you are limited to 70 on-duty hours in an 8-day period and 14 on-duty hours a day. At this rate, you will accumulate 70 on-duty hours in just five days. So, following a 34-hour break, the maximum number of days you can drive is five before you have to take another 34 hours off.
STOPPING ON RAILROAD TRACKS
Q: One of my weekly stops requires me to cross some busy railroad tracks and then immediately come to a stop sign. If I stop at the stop sign my 53’ trailer blocks all the tracks. I’ve had some close calls here, and usually just roll through the stop to avoid a catastrophe. Going another way is not an option. Got any advice? Thanks – Larry in California.
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, California: Your scenario is the subject of catch-22 debates within commercial and law enforcement communities since the mid-1990s. Subsequent to several highly publicized CMV vs train collisions, the FHWA’s Office of Motor Carriers (OMC) conducted a study and each state was supposed to submit diagrams of problematic railroad highway grade crossings. Many towns grew up around railroads and most built dirt stagecoach and wagon roads paralleling the tracks. These dirt roads morphed into current-day paved roads during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Wagons and horses are not nearly as long as CMVs, towing 53’ trailers, and CMVs are much longer today than they were in the mid-1900s. While I cannot condone breaking any law, common sense from both CMV drivers and law enforcement is a mutual solution, for now.
DRIVING WHEN ILL OR FATIGUED
Q: Back in 2001 I received my first CDL while living in California. I remember a section in the handbook about “duty of the driver” stating that a driver must pull them self from duty if the driver feels that they are unfit for duty. I was wondering if this is a nationwide thing or just a California thing, as I have moved to Texas and now have a Texas license. Thanks for your time and God Bless you – Darrel in Texas.
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, Texas: There is a section in the FMCSA rules, which can be found in Part 392.3, that states a driver shall not operate a commercial vehicle if the driver is ill or fatigued.
COLORED LIGHTS ON A CMV
Q: Is the use of green lenses on the back of the cab legal? I always thought that as long as they were not blue, they could be used. Thank you in advance – Ken in California
A: Provided by Officer Amy Bachelor, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, California: Federal Motor Regulations 393 subpart B requires that all lighting equipment meet the installation and performance requirements contained in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #108. FMVSS does not have a provision for any colored lights; therefore green lights are not allowed. In California, Vehicle Code Section 24003 does not allow lighting unless required or permitted.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are 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: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on May 11, 2011.