WHAT ARE THE RULES TO OPERATING A COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE THAT EVERYONE MUST FOLLOW?
The FMCSR contains certain operational requirements a driver must adhere to when he or she is driving a CMV. These requirements address topics such as speeding, seat belts, railroad crossings, hazardous driving conditions, stopping on the road or shoulder, passengers, glasses and hearing aids, radar detectors, lamps/reflective materials, and emergency equipment.
The rules are as follows:
Drivers are prohibited from exceeding any speed limits and employer motor carriers are prohibited from allowing speeding or putting the driver in a situation where he or she must speed to make a deadline.
Drivers must wear a seatbelt at all times while driving.
Certain CMVs (buses transporting passengers, certain cargo tanks, and certain vehicles hauling hazardous materials) must stop between 15 to 50 feet of all railroad crossings to make sure the tracks are clear (all other CMV drivers must slow down enough to be able to stop before the tracks if the driver sees the tracks are not clear).
Drivers are required to slow down and use extreme caution in hazardous conditions. If the conditions get bad enough, the driver must stop until conditions have gotten better.
If a driver stops on the shoulder or traveled part of the roadway, he or she needs to stop as far out of the way of traffic as possible, immediately turn on the vehicle’s warning flashers, and place emergency warning devices within 10 minutes.
Drivers must have written authorization from the employer motor carrier to transport a person (other than a bus).
Drivers who need corrective lenses and/or hearing aids to meet the physical requirements must wear them while driving.
Radar detectors are prohibited.
Drivers may not drive if any of the vehicle’s lamps or reflective materials are obscured.
Drivers are required to use emergency equipment when needed.
WHO HAS TO COMPLY WITH THE REQUIRED EQUIPMENT REGULATIONS?
The required equipment regulations are outlined in the FMCSRs and identify various parts and accessories that must be included on a properly equipped CMV being operated in interstate commerce. These equipment regulations apply to all CMVs and the employers and employees operating then.
The regulations state that “every motor carrier and its employees must be knowledgeable of and comply with the requirements and specifications of this part.” According to the FMCSRs, a CMV is defined as any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a public roadway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:
Has weight ratings of 10,0001 pounds or more
Designed to transport 9 or more passengers for compensation of 16 or more passengers not for compensation or
Is used to transport hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding.
The FMCSRs specifies exceptions to the required equipment specifications. These exceptions include:
All school bus operations
Transportation performed by the federal government or a state or local government
Occasional transportation of personal property by individuals not for compensation
Transportation of sick, injured, or deceased
Fire truck and rescue vehicle operation during an emergency
Transportation between 9-15 passengers not for compensation
Vehicle drivers used to respond to pipeline emergency or transportation of propane winter heating fuel.