Reading the Federal Regulations

truck convoy

Bit O’ Trucking History

Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act of 1935, which regulated motor carrier transportation under the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) until January 1, 1996, when the ICC was discontinued.

All “Acts” and other federal laws are codified in the Code of Laws of the United States of America, also known as United States Code, U.S. Code, U.S.C., or USC.

One of the first trucking rules the ICC issued in 1937 was No. MC-2, which established the Hours of Service rules. Although the Hours of Service have been modified over the years, such rules are not part of the United States Code, but part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). (See www.ecfr.gov)

How to Read or Cite the CFRs

The CFR is divided into 50 subject matter titles. Title 49 CFR covers Transportation. The titles are further divided into chapters, parts, sections and paragraphs.

49 CFR 395 is read as: Title 49, part 395 (the part for Hours of Service or HOS).

The part number is divided from the section number by a period. The order of the sections is numerical: 395.1, 395.2, 395.3 . . . 395.15, etc.

49 CFR 395.11(c)(1) would be read as “title 49, part 395, section 11, paragraph (c)(1).”

The section symbol, §, may be used to shorten a citation: § 395.11(c)(1). The section symbol always “stands alone.”

The Federal agency in charge of enforcing and occasionally updating the Hours of Service regulations is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA has jurisdiction over any regulated drivers and motor carriers.

Definitions of HOS terms used by the FMCSA are generally found in § 390.5 or § 395.2. For example:

Driver means any person who operates any commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

An automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) is a device that meets the requirements of § 395.15 Automatic on-board recording devices. All AOBRDs  placed into service before December 18, 2017, need to be replaced with ELDs before December 16, 2019.

An electronic logging device (ELD) is a device used to electronically and automatically collect information needed for HOS requirement compliance, replacing (but not totally eliminating) paper log books (also known as the Record of Duty Status or RODS)

Driving time means all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation, per §395.2 Definitions.

Most of the terms in the regulations are defined in the beginning of each section.

How to Flip Between the USC and CFRs?

Sometimes it is necessary to see what the intent of the lawmakers was when they wrote the law by going back to the USC. Some aspects of transportation law (disclaimer I am not an attorney) may not be clearly codified in the CRFs. There is a better way than trying to Goggle what you want to find—the Table of Parallel Authorities (opens in .pdf).

Regulated drivers, safety managers, driver supervisors and company management should be more than familiar with the rules that govern safe highway use. One of the better ways is to keep a copy nearby. Knowing what the regulations say is the great foundation for any safety program.

Get a Copy of the Code of Federal Regulations

There are at least three vendors who sell the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. All motor carriers and drivers should have a current copy (not over a year old).

Thank you for reading this. Please visit our website for more information on how to increase profitability in the surface transportation business.

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John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, Ph. 989-474-9599

 

 

 

 

Brakes or No Brakes—Stay in Control

Dump truck crashes on 2222

The dump lost its brakes, went through the intersection and hit several vehicles before it went off the bridge off of Texas 2222.

Brake Check!

Professional drivers do a brake check before starting the day AND before fully committing to a downgrade.

This can mean daily doing those ‘dumb’ checks required by the CDL test like the Air Brake Leak Down Test and the Stall Test, and fully stroking the brakes by pressing the pedal to the floor—so the automatic slack adjusters (ASAs) stay in adjustment.

           Air-Brake Check Checklist

Chock or Block wheels and start the engine

Build air pressure up to 120 PSI

Turn engine off

Release the parking/trailer brakes (push knob(s) in/down) After air pressure stabilizes wait 1 minute

Air Pressure should drop no more than 3 PSI in a minute Hold the brake pedal down firmly

After pressure stabilizes hold pedal for 1 minute

Listen for audible air leaks

Air pressure should drop no more than 3 PSI in one minute (tractor only) or 4 PSI in 1 minute if combination unit

Turn the ignition switch on (but not the engine)

Pump the brake pedal until the low air warning buzzer sounds at 60 PSI

Continue to pump brake pedal until the red brake button pops out between 20 & 45 PSI

Remove chocks/blocks

If a trailer is attached:

With trailer brakes applied and tractor brakes released, complete 2 firm tug tests to be sure the trailer brakes are properly adjusted and hold against the tug

When the truck is in motion apply the service brakes to be sure they are operational

 

Check the Brakes before a Downgrade, Too . . .

The integrity of the brake system needs to be checked before a downgrade as well. It only takes a second to see if you have some pedal. And be sure to place the vehicle in the proper gear for the grade.

Why Are Daily Brake Checks Necessary?

Daily brake checks are necessary for several reasons:

  • All equipment degrades over time due to wear and tear. Drivers then start to adjust their driving behavior to compensate for the failing performance of the brake system. There have been serious crashes where it was later found that only one of the foundation brakes were properly working and in adjustment.
  • We need to catch things before bigger problems occur
  • Sometimes adjustments are made that compromise the system (slacks are backed off by mistake, or air lines mis-routed during a service—It happens!)
  • Your life and the lives of the public are on the line
  • Brake citations—year after year—are the number one citation during roadside inspections

Stay in Control

A cardinal rule of diving is always keep the vehicle under control—no matter the situation. It is never a good situation when a driver loses control of the vehicle.

Daily brake checks can catch a small problem before it turns into a big problem, help keep the ASAs in proper adjustment, and help the driver to always stay in control.

Thank you for reading this.

Learn more about brake inspections:  Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Inspections