Articles Tagged with Cmv Driver Regulations

Overview

The Georgia Commercial Driver’s License Manual (GCDLM) is an excellent reference. The GCDLM is a Georgia-specific version of the FMCSA-approved Commercial Driver’s License Manual published by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and used in states throughout the country. It is available for download free of charge from the Georgia Department of Driver Services website. The GCDLM deals with selected areas of the FMCSRs and the Georgia Rules of the Road. It provides practical, user-friendly analysis of CMV operation and includes many tables and illustrations that lend themselves for use as demonstrative aids at trial. The book is aimed at those who operate or, more importantly, want to learn to operate, a CMV. Therefore, it is written with an emphasis on explaining what a driver needs to know in a down-to-earth fashion free of legalese.

Oftentimes in depositions, counsel will attempt to cross-examine a CMV driver about his knowledge of the intricacies of the FMCSRs. Rarely, if ever, is the Manual used to address an act or omission of the driver. This is a mistake. For example, the Manual provides sample “Test Your Knowledge” questions at the end of each section. These can serve as built-in deposition questions. The driver’s answers will help educate you and your expert on his knowledge and ability to safely operate a CMV. A driver is far more likely to have reviewed the GCDLM (or a similar version used in his state of licensing), rather than the FMCSRs, when learning to drive and training to obtain his CDL.

Turn and Stop Signals

The Georgia Rules of the Road require one turning, changing lanes, or stopping to give an “appropriate and timely signal” signal of their intention to do so. Likewise, a driver may only turn at an intersection or change lanes when properly positioned to do so, and when the movement can be accomplished with “reasonable safety.” Signals for turning may not be used to indicate “do pass” to following vehicles. Note that hand/arm signals or signal lights may be used, except when certain vehicle dimensions exceed a stated limit. It is therefore highly unlikely that hand signals by a CMV driver will comply with the Rules of the Road. Note that the code prohibits a vehicle from entering a center turning lane more than 300 feet from the point at which a left turn across one or more lanes of oncoming traffic is planned to occur.

These rules may have particular resonance for accidents involving CMVs. Lane change accidents are frequent in the trucking industry. In their defense, it may be said that, to a significant portion of the driving public, a CMV signal represents a “green flag” to pass the CMV before it can change lanes. Not surprisingly, the Court of Appeals has held that the purpose of the signal statutes is to make other drivers aware of lane changes and turns in order to prevent accidents. However, it has also been held that a left turn signal is not required of a vehicle in a left-turn-only lane. Violation of turning laws may constitute negligence per se.

Stopping, Standing, or Parking

Stopping, standing or parking a vehicle is prohibited except at the certain locations specified within the statute, except “when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic-control device.  For example, stopping standing or parking is prohibited on a sidewalk or crosswalk, within an intersection, on a controlled-access highway.  The statute lists numerous other areas where stopping is prohibited, restricted, or time-limited. Reference to its specific language is necessary whenever addressing a fact pattern which includes a stopped vehicle. The statute has been held to past constitutional muster and not void for vagueness.  Stopping in a prohibited location may constitute negligence per se.

Approaching and Entering Intersections

Maximum Driving Time: Overview

The regulations concerning maximum driving time constitute the heart of the HOS rules promulgated by the FMCSA. The rules provide the time a driver may drive, be on-duty, and the period of rest necessary to “reset” driving or on-duty time. These rules must be understood in order to prosecute a claim that a driver or motor carrier drove or was on-duty too long, or had insufficient rest such that driver fatigue occurred contributed to a wreck. Note that the rules pertaining to operation of property-carrying vehicles differ from those for passenger carrying vehicles. §§ 395.3, 393.5. Also, keep in mind these rules remain subject to the various exceptions of regulation, which were described in the previous chapter.

Maximum Driving Time for Property-Carrying CMVs

Discovery and Retention of Drug and Alcohol Records: Overview

The regulations erect hurdles to production of drug and alcohol testing records and privileges which may prevent the motor carrier from disclosing results even when it would like to do so. Note that a subpoena will not suffice and may be met by a Motion for Protective Order. The regulations describe the procedure to obtain these records. Motor carriers are required to maintain such documents, but they may not be part of the DQ file. Knowledge of the regulations regarding retention will assist you in framing requests, preparing an appropriate motion and knowing what to request so that you do not waste time and energy in a motions battle.

Discovery and Retention of Testing Records

Georgia CMV trucking regultionsObservations

The specific requirements for an alcohol or controlled substance test are carefully described in the regulations. A written record describing these “contemporaneous, articulatable observations” must be prepared before the test results are reported. If reasonable suspicion testing occurred on the subject driver, review not only the results, but the document describing the basis for requiring the test. If a driver acts or appears to have consumed alcohol or used drugs but tests negative, this could mean the driver has a medical issue. Further, the documentation could provide a basis for arguing the driver should have been subject to more frequent than annual review. (See subsection I.A.6).

The reasonable suspicion subsection requires that the decision to order testing be made by a supervisor or company official who has been trained as required by § 382.607. In the right case, probe this aspect of the motor carrier’s operations: Who has been trained? Have they ordered any driver to be tested? How often did the subject driver interact with a supervisor who was trained? Did the motor carrier create interaction points between the driver and trained supervisor on any kind of a reoccurring or systematic basis? Does the motor carrier require that a supervisor with training be at each location/terminal and on duty at all times while the terminal is operating? If the motor carrier has not made certain it has trained supervisors at logical contact points, and you have an intoxicated driver accident, you may have an argument of individual negligence on the part of the motor carrier for failing to make certain someone was monitoring for reasonable suspicion purposes.

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