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[2012; R-2017 | Keywords: Regulatory Compliance, Trucking Regulations]

Are your trucks in compliance with state and federal laws? It might be worth your time and effort to do a quick review of your equipment to make sure they are.

With the 2010 introduction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), more and more attention is being given to commercial motor vehicles and roadside inspections.

As companies, we often focus our attention to the obvious issues of our trucks – such as maintenance, load securement, signage and lighting. But we could be overlooking some important requirements that have previously flown under the radar with enforcement personnel.

This article is devoted to helping ensure your trucks will pass a roadside inspection in the event that you or your drivers are pulled over for an inspection.

The first issue to address is maintenance. Federal regulations require that companies operating commercial motor vehicles must “systematically inspect, repair and maintain all motor vehicles subject to its control.” Parts and accessories that affect the safe operation of the truck must be in safe and proper operating condition at all times.

Trucks must be inspected by the driver prior to operation of the truck and at the completion of the day, in accordance with Part 391.11 and 393.13 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. In addition, commercial motor vehicles must be periodically inspected at least once per year by the company. The original copy of the inspection must be maintained at the company’s principle place of business and either a copy of the inspection report or a sticker in lieu of the inspection report must be maintained in or on the truck.

Proper Lighting and Warning Equipment
The next issue of importance is having proper lighting and warning equipment when transporting over-dimensional equipment. Both Iowa and Nebraska has exceptions on width and height restrictions for farm equipment dealers. However, be certain to read the fine print to insure these units are properly equipped with signage, lighting and flags.

In Nebraska, dealers have exceptions from width requirements during daylight hours when hauling driving, delivering or picking up farm equipment. Yet it is still suggested that carriers adhere to the Federal requirements for the use of banners, an amber flashing light at the rear of the trailer and flags at the widest part of the load.

In Iowa, dealers have exceptions from the normal width restrictions during daylight hours. It’s important to note, though, that the truck must be equipped with an amber slashing light on the rear of the truck or the rear of the equipment being transported if it obstructs the view of the amber flashing light on the truck. Iowa also requires red flags on the portion of the equipment that protrudes into oncoming traffic.

Extendable Mirrors
An issue that has come to light recently is that of extendable mirrors. Both the Nebraska Statutes and the Iowa Cod require vehicles to be equipped with mirrors that extend beyond the vehicle or load an adequate distance in order to have a clear view of at least 200 feet of the roadway behind the vehicle. This is often a problem with stationary mounted truck mirrors. In talking with both states, enforcement personnel are beginning to write citations to companies if the mirrors on the vehicle do not extend out far enough to meet this requirement.

Load Securement
The last issue to discuss is load securement. Most states have adopted the federal regulations on cargo securement. Again, with the introduction of the FMCSA’s CSA program, cargo securement is receiving much more attention.

The regulations state that cargo must be secured so that it does not “leak, spill, blow off the vehicle, fall from the vehicle, fall through the vehicle, shift upon or within the vehicle or otherwise become dislodged.” Securement devices such as chains, straps, binders, etc. must have a capacity to hold at least 50 percent of the weight of the item or items being secured.

Most violations in load securement either have to do with not having the minimum amount of chains holding the equipment or defective chains, binders or straps.

Many of these issues can be easily addressed through a team effort of managers and drivers. Spending a little time now can save you a lot of time, trouble and money later.