Questions about Retreaded Steer Tires, Cell Phone Use & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of October 2018)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on September 4, 2018.
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RUNNING RETREADED STEER TIRES
Q: My understanding is that steer axle applications are the most stressful of any wheel position on a commercial vehicle because of the high lateral forces they are subjected to. With this in mind, is it legal to use retreaded tires on the steer axle? Thank you in advance for your time – Darnell in Oklahoma
A: Provided by Officer David Kelly, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 13 Section 1087 (c) states that recapped or retreaded tires shall not be used on the front wheels of a bus or farm labor vehicle. They are also prohibited from use on truck tractors or motor trucks listed in California Vehicle Code Section 35400 unless they comply with specified requirements under T13 CCR 1087. Compliant retreaded tires may be used on a steer axle in California. Code of Federal Regulations Title 49 393.75(d) only prohibits the use of retreaded or recapped tires on the front wheels of buses and is silent on their use for trucks. I recommend contacting the specific state when operating intrastate only, as alternate local regulations may apply.
MOBILE CELL PHONE USE IN A CMV
Q: Is it illegal for a CDL driver to use a mobile cell phone while behind the wheel of a CMV if he or she uses a headset or ear buds? Thank you for your service – Abe in Maine
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: That is a “stump the officer” compound question that requires a multifaceted answer. The federal regulation concerning “cell phones” can be found in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR), Part 392.82, Using a hand-held mobile telephone, which says: (a)(1) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV. (2) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV. (b) Definitions. For the purpose of this section only, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary. (c) Emergency exception. Using a hand-held mobile telephone is permissible by CMV drivers when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Mobile Phone Restrictions Fact Sheet, available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov (then search for the Mobile Phone Fact Sheet), provides for specified operations of a “cell phone” while “driving” a CMV. The guidance is silent concerning mounting a cell phone, which suggests the phone could lay on the dash, center console, etc., provided the phone is easily reached by a driver properly restrained by a seatbelt. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) appear silent concerning headsets and ear buds, too. However, many states regulate whether or not “any” driver may wear a headset or ear buds. Many states laws/regulations allow a headset to cover only one ear and/or allow the use of an ear bud in only one ear. So, if a CDL driver operating a CMV can leave the cell phone where it is laying or mounted, push a button and ask Siri, Alexa or whomever, to call your dispatcher, spouse, etc., and end the call with a push of a button he/she would be in compliance with FMCSR. If not, pull into a safe parking space to use a cell phone to place a call or text.
SWITCHING TO PERSONAL CONVEYANCE
Q: Can I go off-duty and switch to personal conveyance and continue looking for a safe location to park? Thanks – Edward in New York
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: The new interpretation for use of a CMV for personal conveyance has not changed when it comes to a driver running out of hours, except if you are at a shipper/receiver and they will not let you remain on their property. Once you are out of driving hours, you cannot switch over to personal conveyance and then continue to drive, even if you are only looking for a suitable location to stop and rest.
~ The “Ask The Law” program is 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: The information contained within this column is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content contains general information and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue. Be aware that the material in the column may not reflect current legal developments or information, as laws and regulations are subject to change at any time without notice. Always check with the most recent statutes, rules and regulations to see if any changes have been made.