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Articles Tagged with Cmv Regulations

The Trip Lease Exemption: OverviewCMV regulations

Motor carriers routinely swap out leased equipment. This is an economical way to keep loaded trucks on the road and therefore on a faster track for delivery. For example, an O/O may be under lease to motor carrier A, which does not have a load for him to take home after he finishes his delivery for it. The O/O may learn that motor carrier B has a load it needs to be delivered in the direction the O/O will be traveling to return home from dropping off the load for A. With the permission of A, the O/O may be able to temporarily lease its power unit to B, and a “trip lease” is born. But suppose the O/O causes a crash while pulling B’s load? Arguably, this situation is addressed by the regulations.

The Trip Lease (a/k/a The Sublease)

Recordkeeping: Overview

Part 390 contains a set of requirements for recordkeeping that may provide a roadmap to potential discovery, as well as a spoliation argument should the motor carrier be found to have destroyed the records. The recordkeeping requirements apply to the entire subchapter, which encompasses all the FMCSRs.

Recordkeeping

Introduction

All motor carriers are subject to explicit requirements for the inspection, maintenance, and repair (“IMR”) of CMVs. Detailed record-keeping, including records of the qualifications of mechanics that perform the inspections of vehicles and brake IMR, is required. The inspections required include those applicable to the fleet as a whole as well as the specific individual vehicles within the fleet. In addition, a motor vehicle is subject to inspection by FMCSA personnel, daily inspections by drivers, and “periodic,” or “annual,” inspections under the Regulations.

All of these IMR requirements are accompanied by record-keeping requirements, which may be used to form a detailed and date-specific picture of a CMV’s IMR history. That is, if the records are created and kept as required. The Regulations provide different periods of time for which a motor carrier is required to maintain different types of documents.

Stopping a CMV: Overview

While state “rules of the road” may address stopping of any motor vehicle, the dangers created by the stopping of a large truck were sufficient to motivate the authors of the FMCSR to implement detailed and specific requirements to warn oncoming traffic. In considering these requirements, the reasons for a stop must also be analyzed. State law may prohibit stopping in the “emergency” lane for any but specified reasons. If the driver has stopped to study a map or take a nap, he may be in violation of not only the FMCSR but state law as well.

Stopping

Cargo Securement: Overview

The duties incumbent upon the driver of a CMV relative to cargo are strict, and frequently ignored in practice. These rules are critical to the prosecution of a claim involving cargo which falls off a truck, shifts causing the vehicle to wreck or otherwise interferes with operation causing an accident.

Cargo Securement Rules

Operation of the Commercial Motor Vehicle: Introduction

Having properly qualified its drivers, dealt with controlled substance and alcohol testing issues, and confirming they each hold the proper CDL, the motor carrier must thereafter ensure they comply with the regulations governing the actual operation of its CMVs. These regulations include some of the most critical aspects of CMV operation. In a number of instances, the rules impose duties on drivers, and hence the motor carriers that employ them, beyond that of a non-CMV driver. The FMCSA has specifically stated that the FMCSRs may impose a higher degree of care than State law, and further provide that the FMCSRs prevail when there is any conflict between the two.

The CMV operation rules are found in part 392. This part is applicable to “[e]very motor carrier, its officers, agents, representatives, and employees responsible for the management, maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles, or the hiring, supervising, training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers.” 49 C.F.R. § 392.1 (“Scope of the rules in this part”). The FMCSA requires that all such persons “shall be instructed in and comply with the rules in this part.” The implications of the broad application of Part 392 and the duty to instruct are both apparent and enormous

Post-Accident Alcohol and Drug Testing: Overview

Post-accident testing is a critical part of any investigation into a wreck involving a commercial motor vehicle.  Despite the specific rules regarding when a test is required, it is not at all uncommon for a motor carrier to fail to perform a post-accident test.  Under certain clearly-defined circumstances, an employer of a CMV driver must ensure an alcohol and drug test is administered to a driver (or drivers) within a prescribed period of time following an accident.  While the regulations state when the testing must occur, they do not prohibit an employer from conducting post-accident testing even when it is not otherwise required.  The regulations also provide instructions regarding post-accident alcohol (but not controlled substance) use by a driver.

Post-Accident Testing:

CMV Overview

While a great deal of the FMCSRs concern the motor carrier itself, the rules governing driver qualification, monitoring, and testing are also extensive. These regulations come into play before the driver candidate ever takes the wheel. At the employment application stage, a driver candidate must assist his prospective motor carrier employer with the information-gathering involved in the screening process, consent to the disclosure of drug and alcohol testing records, and otherwise prove themselves to be “road-worthy.”

Even after successfully gaining employment, the job description of a commercial motor vehicle (“CMV”) driver imposes yet more duties. Many of these duties must be fulfilled jointly by both the driver and the motor carrier. For example, drivers are required to carefully document their hours spent operating a CMV, and their employing motor carriers must monitor and enforce such “hours of service” rules. The regulations also impose other operational duties on drivers, such as required vehicle inspections, which, when not followed, can lead to tragedy. Unfortunately, history shows that all too often drivers and motor carriers fail to comply with the regulations to the letter, and tragedy is indeed an all too frequent result.