Features - Features

At my company they have voice mail boxes for intra-company communications. A couple of weeks ago, a message came through from our safety director. He said if any of us drivers do anything for pay outside of driving, we have to log it. His example was if you built furniture at home while off duty and your spouse took the furniture to a flea market and sold it, and you were compensated, you would have to log the furniture-building time. I hit the little green book!

I called a trucking association that I belong to for interpretation of the regulation and the upshot is--my safety director is correct. This regulation in the FMCSA Safety Regulations book is one little-known regulation that can sneak out and bite you if you don't know about it. You must log any time that you are compensated for as on duty not driving even if it has nothing to do with trucking.

There are other unknown laws, but most should just be common sense. A sleeper has to have adequate bedding, must have a mattress, and if the mattress is foam, it must be a minimum of four-inches thick. Adequate ventilation through vents or other means (non-specified) are required and sleeper compartments must be at least 75" long, 24" wide and 24" high from the top of the mattress. No wonder they were once called coffin boxes! I never did find any regulation concerning our carrying a new white sheet to be used in emergencies. Guess that means that old tale is a myth and it is okay to have pretty green sheets if you want to.

If you have a TV, it is a regulation that it be located behind the driver's seat out of the driver's view and the controls must be located to where the driver has to leave the driver's seat to operate them. No more watching old movies late at night while driving!

No matter how often you run the California wine district, and how bad you would like to take a bottle of fine wine home to celebrate your anniversary, a driver while on duty or in control of a commercial vehicle is not allowed to be in possession of any wine, beer or distilled spirits unless it is part of the load and shown on the manifest.

If hazardous conditions occur that might affect visibility or traction, one MUST slow down and if conditions become sufficiently serious, the commercial vehicle must SHUT DOWN until conditions improve. Tell that to your dispatcher next time he/she tells you how hot the load is and you have to go no matter what!

A lady driver I talked to not long ago was told by her company that her steer axle could weigh 20,000 pounds and they insisted she run that heavy on it. Some states allow this, but according to the Federal regulations, the tire must be rated to carry 20,000 pounds. We checked the markings on her tires and legally she could only carry 12,350 pounds on her steer.

You know that company you had a definite personality conflict with so you left them, quitting clean, but they said bad things about you to your prospective employer? You have the right under the regulations to see the documentation gathered during the application verification process, contact the previous employer requesting a correction of your record, and file a rebuttal statement. The rebuttal would be attached to the bad reference for your prospective employer and would be included in your employment file if you and the previous employer cannot agree on the accuracy of the information.

There are all sorts of little known regulations governing the industry. Finding them is not difficult, but most people don't really read the little green book unless they are looking something up specifically. You can be assured though, that if you get a ticket for one of those little known regulations, the officer HAS read the little green book.

So, the next time you are laying over or sitting waiting to load/unload, pick up the little green book of FMCSA regulations and browse through it. You might be surprised at what you find.

Remember, too, you cannot light the gas BBQ grill inside your bunk to keep warm while reading because heating devices with unenclosed flames are prohibited by regulation.

Stay safe out there!