Questions about Roadside Inspections, Seatbelts and More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of August 2016)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on July 14, 2016.
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WE HOPE TO SEE YOU AT GATS IN DALLAS
Please join our Ol’ Blue, USA “Safety Center”® at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS) in Dallas, Texas on August 25, 26 and 27 in booth 23080 and 23084. We are pleased to announce that Lt. Monty Kea and his team from the Texas Highway Patrol will be joining us in Dallas again this year. We hope you will come by and ask a question.
NEW SEATBELT RULE FOR CMV OCCUPANTS
FMCSA is publishing a Final Rule and it becomes effective August 8th, that all occupants of a CMV are required to wear seatbelts. Currently, under DOT regulations, only the driver is required to wear a seatbelt. Most states have state laws that cover all the other occupants. But, with this Final Rule being issued, it will now be a DOT violation if all occupants are not belted in.
THREE INSPECTIONS WITHIN EIGHT DAYS
Q: I was recently inspected three times in eight days. The first one was in Tennessee, and the other two were in Texas, within about 15 hours and 11 miles of each other! The first two inspections were performed by DOT officers and no violations were found. Texas Highway Patrol performed the third one, and he stated that he had to have probable cause to pull me over, which he said was because he didn’t think I had a muffler (which I did). I told him that I had just been inspected the night before and showed him the report stating no violations. He said he had to write me for something since he pulled me over. He wrote me for 393.60E (obstructed view through windshield) because of my visor. Can you be inspected twice in the same state within 24 hours if no violation was found on the first inspection? Thanks – James in Virginia
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: I would hope that DOT Certified Troopers would honor other Troopers’ Roadside Inspections, especially if they are performing the same level of inspection. I know that’s what CVSA strives to accomplish, but it doesn’t always happen that way. I know from time to time, Troopers will do a higher level of inspection (i.e. you had a Level 3 and they are doing a Level 2 or you had a Level 2 and they are doing a Level 1). In that instance, they will do another inspection. You would also expect Troopers within the same state to be on the same page when it comes to DOT violations. That, too, doesn’t always happen. My suggestions would be to read Part 393.60(e) and any interpretations for that subsection and, if after reading it, you feel that the violation did not exist, then you can submit a DATAQ. The motor carrier is the one who needs to file the DATAQ. Now, if you are the driver and the motor carrier, then you can file it. Go to dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov to file your challenge. Be sure and be specific as to why you are challenging the violation. Submit pictures from inside the cab looking outward and from the outside looking inward when filling the DATAQ.
SPREAD-AXLES AND WEIGHT LIMITS IN CA
Q: I own a 53’ tri-axle drop deck. The axles have a spread of 72 inches. When I lift the rear axle, the kingpin to the (now) last axle is 40 feet. Now that I am within the legal limit, is a spread of 72 inches legal in California? Also, what is the weight limit on this spread if legal? Thank you – Robert in Canada
A: Provided by Officer Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: In California, Vehicle Code Section 35551 prescribes the weight limits on axle groups of a vehicle. Based on the description you provided, a set of two axles in tandem, with a center-to-center measurement of eight feet or less, provides a maximum weight capacity of 34,000 pounds. By lifting the third axle off the ground, you have maintained a 40-foot kingpin to rear axle measurement, which allows for legal operation of that trailer in California.
RUNNING ON “HOURS COMING BACK”
Q: I am confused. I hear other drivers, not at my company, who talk about getting dispatched each day on “hours coming back” to them, after each complete workday in a 24-hour timeline. Our company runs on a strict 70-hour rule. When our hours are done for the week, we’re done. How can dispatchers keep drivers running for weeks? I’m concerned about my friends. Thank you all for your help – C.J. in Washington
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: I’ve queried the phrase “time coming back” on several of my favorite search engines and through other enforcement personnel and I cannot get any response via the Internet or law enforcement personnel. None of us OGs (Old Guys) are familiar with that phrase. Sounds like a little MSU (making stuff up). As far as we’re concerned, the only way a driver obtains hours is the old fashioned way – either the hours from seven or eight days back are dropped or the driver takes a 34-Hour Restart. Otherwise, a CMV may be driven as a personal conveyance in accordance with 49 CFR, 395.8, recorded as off-duty, provided the CMV is operated un-laden (bobtail). Refer to question/guidance #26 of 395.8 for more details.
~ 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 July 14, 2016.