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).
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