Questions about Hours-of-Service, Emergency Triangles & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of December 2018)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on November 4, 2018.
Brought to you as a public service by Ol’ Blue, USA and 10-4 Magazine. Please submit questions to email@example.com
30-MINUTE BREAK DILEMMA
Q: I was caught in an accident that shut down the interstate. I had planned on getting off three exits past the accident site for my 30-minute break. Not knowing how long it would take to clear the accident and get traffic flowing again, I was afraid to take my 30-minute break while stuck in traffic. I was unable to pull off to the shoulder to take the break. I ran out of time. What would you advise I should have done? Can a driver split the 30-minute break? Could I have started my 30-minute break, and if traffic started flowing again, stopped the break, drove to a safe spot to park, and finish the break? Thanks – Chooch in Maryland
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Brent N. Hoover, Indiana State Police, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Indianapolis, IN: According to FMCSA’s 395.1 (2) Emergency Conditions, in case of any emergency, a driver may complete his/her run without being in violation of the provisions of the regulations in this part, if such run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency. Refer to the regulation’s Guidance Question 5: “How may a driver utilize the adverse driving conditions exception or the emergency conditions exception as found in 395.1(b), to preclude an hours-of-service violation?” The guidance: “An absolute prerequisite for any such claim must be that the trip involved is one which could normally and reasonably have been completed without a violation and that the unforeseen event occurred after the driver began the trip. Drivers who are dispatched after the motor carrier has been notified or should have known of adverse driving conditions are not eligible for the two hours additional driving time provided for under 395.1(b), adverse driving conditions. The term ‘in any emergency’ shall not be construed as encompassing such situations as a driver’s desire to get home, shippers’ demands, market declines, shortage of drivers or mechanical failures.” In this case, you can use the Emergency Exemption in 395.1 (2) Emergency conditions. “In case of any emergency, a driver may complete his/her run without being in violation of the provisions of the regulations in this part, if such run reasonably could have been completed absent the emergency.” So, if you could have made it before in the allotted time, you can still get there violation free. Being stuck in traffic and remaining at the controls make you stuck in an On Duty/Driving status. Make sure to document the accident, where you were and the length of the time you were stopped. Then, document that you traveled to the next safe place and that the required break was taken.
ELD’S AND SHORT-HAUL OPERATIONS
Q: I work for an insulation and gutter company. Its trucks are less than 26,000 pounds GVW. We have always used the company’s time clock and printed work orders to track time and destinations. We stay within the air-miles radius of our base of operations. How does the ELD mandate affect me and my coworkers? Do we need to run an electronic log book? Thank you – Michael in Iowa
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: One of the exceptions to the Hours-of-Service regulations is the FMCSA’s 150 air-mile radius exemption for short-haul operations. It says that if the motor carrier is in full compliance with all requirements of this exemption – including operating within the 150 air-mile radius, not driving through any state that requires a CDL for the type of vehicle being driven and reporting back to the same work location every day – then ELD’s are not required. See FMCSA safety regulation Part 395.1(a).
EMERGENCY REFLECTIVE TRIANGLES
Q: Every time I get dispatched, I am assigned a different tractor. On this one occasion, I forgot to check to see if the tractor had all three warning triangles. I discovered one was missing when I broke down alongside the road and went to place the triangles. I was told by an old-timer that I could be ticketed for not having all the triangles. Is this true? Thank you in advance – Ralph in Minnesota.
A: Provided by Officer David Kelly, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: California Vehicle Code Section 25300 requires that every vehicle 80 inches wide or wider, and every truck tractor regardless of width, if operated during hours of darkness, carry at least three red emergency reflectors maintained in good working condition. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49 393.95(f)(1) requires three bidirectional emergency reflective triangles that conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 125 (49 CFR 571.125). Should an enforcement official identify a violation of failing to maintain, carry or use when necessary, the required number or placement of reflectors, a violation may be issued to the driver during an inspection or roadside contact. I recommend contacting the specific state when operating intrastate only, as alternate local regulations may apply.
~ 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.