Transportation Safety

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Reference Materials

Posted 04/16/18 12:58 PM
Posted 10/02/17 03:32 PM

Frequently Asked Questions

Definitions

There are two different definitions of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Which definition applies depends on which regulations are being referenced.

The general definition of a CMV is found in §390.5 and refers to a vehicle used in interstate commerce. According to this definition, a CMV is a vehicle that:

  • has a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more;
  • is designed to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • is designed to transport more than 16 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

The regulations in Parts 390 through 396 apply to drivers of vehicles meeting this definition. These regulations include driver qualification, hours of service, and inspection and maintenance requirements.

A different definition of a CMV is used in Parts 382 and 383, the regulations dealing with the commercial driver’s license and drug and alcohol testing. This CMV definition refers to vehicles used in interstate or intrastate commerce. According to this definition, a CMV is a vehicle that:

  • has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more inclusive of a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds.
  • has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more;
  • is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or
  • is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

Drivers must have a CDL and undergo drug and alcohol testing if they drive vehicles meeting the definition stated above. This same definition, applicable only to interstate commerce, places a driver under entry-level driver training requirements found in Part 380.

Private carriage exists when:

  1. Property is transported by a person engaged in a business other than transportation; and
  2. The transportation is within the scope of and furthers a primary business (other than transportation) of the person.

The Federal Bridge Formula limits the weight on groups of axles in order to reduce the risk of damage to highways and bridges. Allowable weight depends on the number of axles a vehicle has and the distance between those axles.

Interstate commerce is the movement of a shipment or service across state or international borders, or the intent to continue a movement within a state that originated from another state or country. In practical terms, you could still be considered interstate commerce even if you never cross the state line, depending upon the origin and destination of the shipment or service.

Intrastate commerce is the movement that originates in a single state, moves in that state only and delivers in that originating state.

49 CFR §390.5 defines these terms.

Driver Qualification

A driver qualification file must include the following:

  • the driver’s employment application;
  • a written record of each state agency that was contacted during the carrier’s investigation of the driver;
  • the certificate of the driver’s road test or a copy of the license or certificate the carrier accepted as equivalent to a road test;
  • the response of each state agency to the annual driver record inquiry;
  • a note relating to the annual review of the driver’s driving record;
  • a list or certificate relating to violations of motor vehicle laws and ordinances;
  • the medical examiner’s certificate of the driver’s physical qualifications or a photocopy of the certificate; and
  • a letter granting a waiver of a physical disqualification if a waiver was issued under §391.49.

For drivers hired prior to the October 30, 2004 Safety Performance History inquiry, the general employment verification in the earlier version of §391.23 must be retained in the DQ file in accordance with the old rules.

The file must contain all records related to the investigation into the safety performance history of new or prospective drivers. The file must be maintained in a secure location with controlled access. At a minimum, the file must include the following: a copy of the driver's written authorization for the employer to seek information about the driver's drug/alcohol history; a copy of the response(s) received from each previous employer, in writing, including the previous employer's name and address, the date of contact, and the information received about the driver; and documentation of failures to contact a previous employer, or the employer's failure to provide the required information.

Any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce must have a medical exam and certificate per 49 CFR §391.43. A commercial motor vehicle, for this purpose, is defined as a vehicle that:

  • has a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more;
  • is designed to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • is designed to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

Motor carriers that have drivers operating in intrastate commerce only should check with their states to see what the state’s requirements are for medical exams and certificates.

No. The DOT physical form is not listed in 49 CFR §391.51 as a required DQ file item. The medical examiner's certificate is a requirement, however. The medical examiner is required to keep the long-form original on file at his/her office. If a carrier obtains a copy, they are not required to retain it in the DQ file. Employers need to retain the long-form physical in accordance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The form cannot be kept in the DQ file or other personnel-type of file. It must be in a separate, confidential medical file that is secured with controlled access.

Drugs/Alcohol

No, employers are allowed to, but are not required to, conduct pre-employment tests for alcohol. If you do choose to conduct such tests, you must comply with 49 CFR §382.301(d).

Possibly, depending on the type of license the driver has. As of September 30, 2002, if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are convicted of being under the influence of alcohol while operating any type of vehicle, including a personal vehicle, or if you refuse to be tested, you may be disqualified from operating a CMV. However, a conviction in a non-CMV is not a DOT alcohol violation under Parts 40 and 382. It does not require a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation and treatment.

If you do not have a CDL and you are convicted of drunken driving in a personal vehicle, you would not be disqualified from operating a CMV. However, if the drunken driving conviction led to suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, you obviously would not be allowed to continue driving any vehicle until the license was reinstated.

If a carrier is pre-employment testing a newly hired driver, the company must receive negative test results before allowing the driver to drive. Not waiting for negative test results has led to fines for many companies.

A driver who has taken a random or post-accident drug test may continue to drive while test results are being processed. A carrier would only have to remove the driver from safety-sensitive functions if and when a confirmed positive result was received.

According to 49 CFR §382.401(a), records related to a company’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program must be kept in a secure location with controlled access.

A designated employer representative (DER) is a company employee who has been chosen to receive communications and test results as part of a company’s DOT drug and alcohol testing program. The DER can take immediate action to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties and to make required decisions in the testing and evaluation processes.

Logs/DVIR

Yes, for property-carrying drivers. Property-carrying drivers must stop driving and take a minimum 30-minute off-duty break if it has been eight hours since their last break of 30 minutes or more. There are exceptions that allow short-haul drivers operating under the 100 and 150 air-mile exceptions and live stock hauls to not take the break when loaded with live stock. There are also exceptions that allow drivers transporting certain explosive, radioactive, and munition shipments to log the break as on-duty time. Passenger-carrying drivers have no such requirement.

The requirements for logging are contained in the hours of service regulations. Any driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce is subject to the hours of service regulations. A commercial motor vehicle, for this purpose, is defined as a vehicle that:

  • has a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more;
  • is designed to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • is designed to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring the vehicle to be placarded.

Within the hours of service regulations are logging exemptions for drivers that meet the criteria of either the 100 air-mile radius exemption or the non-CDL short-haul exemption (§ 395.1(e)). For drivers who come under one of these exemptions, a time record may be filled out in lieu of a log.

Drivers operating in intrastate commerce should check with their state about what the requirements and exemptions are for logging.

Yes, the driver can do non-driving work beyond the limit and not be in violation, but those hours must be added to the total.

Yes, hours spent doing any compensated work for any nonmotor carrier must be counted as on-duty time.

To log a meal break or other non-work related stop off-duty, the driver must be relieved of all responsibility and be free to pursue activities of his/her choosing. If the driver must remain in attendance of the vehicle or has any responsibility to the vehicle, cargo, passengers, or company, then the time cannot be logged as off-duty time and must be logged as on-duty time.

Although a driver must account for each day of the month, it is permissible to show consecutive days off on a single duty status record sheet. An entire vacation can be shown on one sheet by drawing a line through the "off-duty" category of the graph and noting in the "Remarks" portion the inclusive dates, i.e., "Vacation March 13 through March 26."

Yes! Federal statutes say that you must abide by state laws and regulations.

No. Although often the 15/14 hours of service rule is thought to be such a limitation, a driver can be on duty continuously for 24 hours or any number of hours in a row, BUT after 15/14 hours of duty he/she must have 8/10 consecutive hours off duty before he/she can again drive a vehicle.

Yes. If the carrier operates every day of the week, some drivers can be assigned to work on an 8-day basis and some on a 7-day basis.

No. 49 CFR §395.1(e) does not require a driver to carry anything documenting that he/she qualifies for the exemption.

No. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations used to require that a copy of the driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) be kept in the vehicle, but that requirement was removed several years ago. However, if you travel in Canada, Canadian provinces require the DVIR in the vehicle.

Registration

The International Registration Plan (IRP) requires the licensee to preserve the records on which their apportioned registration application is based for the current application year, plus the three preceding mileage years.

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) requires the records used for the quarterly tax return to be retained for four years from the return due date or filing date, whichever is later, plus any time period included as a result of waivers or jeopardy assessments. If a licensee fails to provide the required records for audit, the four-year retention requirement is extended until the required records are provided.

Not in all cases. Interstate vehicles 26,000 pounds or less may apportion under the IRP if they wish, but are not required to do so. Vehicles choosing not to apportion are subject to individual jurisdiction registration laws. Some states allow these non-apportioned vehicles to travel interstate in their jurisdictions but require a trip permit before operating intrastate; some require vehicles of 26,000 pounds or less to obtain trip permits before operating interstate or intrastate. Carriers should consult the states of travel to determine what permits may be needed.

A process agent receives legal service of documents in any proceeding brought against a motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder. Every motor carrier, broker, or forwarder registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must file a Form BOC-3 listing the name and address of an agent for each state in which they will operate. Brokers are required to list process agents in each state in which they have an office and in which they write contracts.