Questions about Weight Ratings, Overnight Parking & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of May 2015)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on April 14, 2015.
Brought to you as a public service by Ol’ Blue, USA and 10-4.
Submit your questions to www.askthelaw.org
QUESTIONS ABOUT GCWR AND GVWR
Q: I have a Ford F-450 flatbed with which I pull a goose-neck trailer. The Ford specs say that the maximum loaded trailer weight I can pull is 20,900 lbs. with a GCWR of 30,000 lbs. The trucks’ empty weight is 10,000 lbs. The trailer I am pulling has a manufacturer’s rating of 22,000 lbs. and the trailer is registered for 22,000 lbs. If I do not haul more than 20,000 lbs., is there any law prohibiting my truck from pulling a trailer that is rated and registered for a higher weight than I will haul? Thanks – Brian in Texas
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: When a truck or trailer manufacturer builds a vehicle, they establish a weight rating based on the vehicle’s specs. The reason for building a vehicle to these specs is for the user/consumer to know what they can anticipate if they operate the vehicle within the manufacturer’s guidelines. The manufacturer will establish a GVWR and/or a GCWR, and if the user operates the vehicle(s) within these established weights, the manufacturer will warrantee the vehicle(s). What a DOT inspector/trooper looks for is if the vehicle(s) are properly registered for the weight the vehicle(s) are carrying. Next, they will look at the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) or actual weight to determine if the vehicle(s) and/or driver are subject to DOT/state regulations. So, based on the information you provided, as long as you do not exceed the GVWR of the truck and/or trailer, and they are registered for their actual weight, the vehicle(s) meet the standards.
PARKING YOUR RIG AT A WEIGH STATION
Q: I was out of hours and couldn’t find a place in the nearby truck stops. I was extremely tired and parked at the Mississippi scale on US 78. All around the curbs were signs saying “No Parking” so I pulled into the middle of the lot, into spaces marked for trucks. A DOT man woke me up five hours later and then wrote me and two other trucks tickets and made us leave, even though we had no hours. Is this legal? I thought the signs meant no parking along the curbs. Please help if you can! Thanks – Donna in Arkansas
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: While I was able to contact someone I know from MS DPS, Highway Patrol Division, I have yet to receive a return call from the MS DOT (MDOT), as both of these agencies were attending a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conference in Florida. MDOT is the agency which operates commercial enforcement scales in that state. So, another answer could be in the works – however, I have a deadline for this response. While on a cross-country road trip a couple of summers ago, I drove US 78 from Memphis, TN through MS to AL before taking an interstate southbound. If I remember correctly, US 78 is a rural 4-lane divided highway and, looking at satellite views, MDOT’s weigh stations, located near Fulton and near Olive Branch, are small. This puts both commercial drivers and enforcement personnel between a rock and a hard place, as drivers need their mandated rest periods, and enforcement personnel need parking spaces within their facilities to perform their tasks. I surmise the “No Parking” signs displayed on the curbs apply to the whole facility/parking lot. While searching the internet for pertinent information regarding your question, I found many websites which aim to provide commercial drivers with scale locations and parking availability. Walmart also has a page on their website which identifies their locations which do not allow overnight truck parking (most locations do allow it, and some sites require a driver to actually register and sign in). Google Play also offers an app called “Truck Stop & Overnight Parking” which might be helpful, as well. If and when I hear back from the MSDOT with a specific answer to your question, we will print that answer in a future column.
REEFER LEFT RUNNING IN LAS VEGAS
Q: Can you tell me if it is legal to let a reefer trailer run within the city limits of Las Vegas, Nevada? Thank you in advance – Mike in Indiana
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: Yes, a reefer may be operated in the city of Las Vegas. According to the Compliance and Enforcement Manager with the Clark County Department of Air Quality, a diesel engine operating a refrigeration unit used to maintain the temperature inside a refrigerated semi-trailer is not subject to the air quality regulations.
~ 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 April 14, 2015.