Questions about Logging Inspections, Pickups Towing Doubles & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of December 2014)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on November 10, 2014.
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PRE AND POST TRIP INSPECTIONS
Q: What are the rules involving how and when to log pre-trip and post-trip inspections? I have heard all sorts of crazy things! Thank you for your time – Rick in Nebraska
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: The requirements for a Driver Inspection (called a pre-trip) are found in Part 396.13. It states that before driving a motor vehicle, the driver shall: (1) Be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition; (2) Review the last driver vehicle inspection report; and (3) Sign the report, only if defects or deficiencies were noted by the driver who prepared the report, to acknowledge that the driver has reviewed it and that there is a certification that the required repairs have been performed. The signature requirement does not apply to listed defects on a towed unit, which is no longer part of the vehicle combination. The requirements for a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), or what most drivers call a post-trip inspection, are found in Part 396.11, which lists a minimum of 11 items that are required to be checked on the power unit and towed unit (if applicable) at the end of a day or trip. When asked, I tell drivers that it should take you as long to do the DVIR as it takes a DOT inspector to do a Level 2 (walk-around) inspection – 15 minutes at the very minimum. Anybody that logs less than 15 minutes didn’t do a thorough walk-around. If the pre-trip takes less than 7-1/2 minutes, flag your logbook in the remarks section with the number of minutes along with the city/state, per interpretation/guidance found in Part 395.8 (Question 1), and then at the end of the day/trip log the post-trip as “On-Duty Not Driving” for no less than 15 minutes (check the rules for updates to Part 396.11 because the FMCSA is supposed to change this requirement that a driver is only required to complete a DVIR if defects are found).
PICKUP TRUCK TOWING TWO TRAILERS
Q: Can a pickup truck pull two small trailers in California? Are there any restrictions on the type of hitches or brake requirements? Thank you in advance for your help – Eddy in Connecticut
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: The answer of whether or not a pickup may tow two trailers is dependent upon its weight and/or how it’s registered. Section 21715 of the CVC (California Vehicle Code) provides the following: No passenger vehicle may tow more than one vehicle (passenger vehicle includes SUVs, recreational vehicles, house cars and campers); No vehicle with an unladen weight (660 CVC) of less than 4,000 pounds may tow two vehicles; No vehicle with an unladen weight of less than 4,000 pounds may tow a vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds or more. If the trailers have been manufactured in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (49 CFR, 500 et seq) then the brakes and hitches meet federal requirements and will be honored in California. If the trailers are “homemade” then any trailer made or registered after 1/01/1966 with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or more shall be equipped with brakes on at least two wheels and must meet the California stopping requirements (26302 CVC et seq). The CVC is silent on types of coupling devices which may or may not be used, however, any hitch, coupling device or connection must be securely mounted, be of sufficient strength, and must be a rigid structure (no ropes or chains except to remove a disabled vehicle from a freeway). Safety chains are required for these devices except for 5th wheels which must have a locking device (29000 CVC et seq). Lastly, the driver must possess the appropriate class of driver license issued by the state in which he or she “resides” allowing that person to operate a set of doubles.
NON-EXCEPTED INTERSTATE CDL
Q: I have chosen the “Non-Excepted Interstate” designation on my CDL and was told by my safety supervisor that I have to run under those rules even though my company only runs intrastate and I have not driven out of the state in 30 years. Is this true? Please help! Thanks – Terry in California
A: Provided by Officer Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: Part 383.71(b)(1) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires a person who is applying for a CDL (Commercial Driver License) to select a certification (or designation). By selecting the “Non-Excepted Interstate” designation, the driver will be allowed to operate in both interstate and intrastate commerce.
~ 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 November 10, 2014.