Questions about Sun Visors, DOT Physicals, Placards & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of June 2017)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on May 15, 2017.
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TEAM MEMBER RECEIVES A PROMOTION
Ol’ Blue, USA and 10-4 Magazine would like to congratulate our longtime contributor to the “Ask The Law” column, Officer Jaime Nunez, on his recent promotion to Sergeant, California Highway Patrol. We wish Sgt. Nunez the very best in his new supervisory role and look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts to promote commercial vehicle safety on our nation’s highways. Congratulations Sgt. Nunez!
SUN VISOR REQUIREMENTS FOR A CMV
Q: Is not having a driver sun visor in a commercial truck illegal or a violation on a Class-B or Class-A licensed truck? Thank you – Michael in Florida
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: Other than construction requirements for sun visors contained in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 571.201 (Occupant Protection), a regulation stating sun visors must remain in any vehicle does not appear to exist in federal regulations. Also, 49 CFR, Part 393 (Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation) is silent concerning sun visors. Interesting information: while no federal violation seems to exist for having something in the window shield (i.e., sun shade, towel) which obstructs a driver’s view, the FMCSA appears to track state violations of obstructed view using non-existent 49 CFR, Part 392.9(a)(3). 49 CFR, Part 393.60(e), “Prohibition on Obstructions to the Driver’s Point of View,” only refers to antennas, transponders or other similar devices and safety stickers. So, whether or not a sun visor is required, or required to be maintained, may be a state law in which you are traveling.
DOT MEDICAL CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS
Q: I am now working for a small company part-time. I take two or three trips a month that are no more than 150 miles a trip. Some months I don’t have any. Do I need a DOT Physical? Thank you – Richard in Pennsylvania.
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: Anytime the driver operates in Interstate Commerce, the driver is required to have a valid DOT Medical Certificate, regardless of the length of the trip. There is an exemption in PA that drivers who operate in Intrastate Commerce can take advantage of, but the driver needs to be regularly employed by the motor carrier as of 9/23/1995. With you only working part-time for the motor carrier you would not be eligible to take advantage of that exemption. So, a DOT Medical Certificate would be required to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
SAFETY PLACARDS ON A CMV
Q: I would like to know if there is a fine if a placard gets wet or blows off the trailer and then you go through a scale and an officer sees that one placard is missing? I can’t find information about this. Thank you – Bruce in California
A: Provided by Sergeant Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: If placards are required, you must have placards on all four sides of the vehicle or you will be in violation of Title 49 (part 172.504), regardless of the weather conditions. Bail and fine information is available at individual courts, depending on where the violation occurred.
HOS RULE REGARDING CALLING DISPATCH
Q: Is the time between when a shift ends and waiting for the next start time call considered on-duty not driving? For example, I have to call every night to find out my next start time. It’s supposed to be available by 6:00 pm, but lately it’s been coming out after 7:00 pm. Sometimes I have to start in the 3:00 am hour, yet I don’t find that out until after 7:00 pm. Does the ten hours between shift rule apply? Please advise. Thank you – Charles in California.
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: To answer your second question first, if you are subject to the Federal Hours-of-Service for interstate commerce, then yes, the 10-hour rule applies. But it’s based on having accumulated 11 hours of driving time or having reached your 14th hour after coming on duty. If that is the case, then you must have 10 hours off before you’re eligible to drive again. To help answer your question about your call-in time, refer to 49 CFR 395.2, which provides the definitions of terms used for the hours of service. Accordingly, “on-duty time” means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work; to include all time at a plant, terminal, facility, or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the motor carrier. Also refer to Guidance Question #5 for 49 CFR 395.2 – it states: “Question 5: Do telephone calls to or from the carrier that momentarily interrupt a driver’s rest period constitute a change of the driver’s duty status? Guidance: Telephone calls of this type do not prevent the driver from obtaining adequate rest. Therefore, the FHWA does not consider these brief telephone calls to be a break in the driver’s off duty status.”
~ 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 15, 2017.