Ask The Law – February 2022

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Questions about Sleeper Berth Rules, ELDs, Yard Moves & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials

Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.  These interpretations were made on January 20, 2022.

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Q: During an onsite audit by PUC of Ohio, I was informed and fined for using the sleeper berth provision in a 4-door pickup because my trucks do not have a qualifying sleeper.  Then, I had a driver pulled over in Texas for a random inspection.  The trooper told my driver that he must use the sleeper berth provision and gave us a violation for not using it.  The trooper said it is a gray area, but still gave us a violation.  Which one is right?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: The requirements for a sleeper berth are found in Part 393.76.  I would study the dimensions and get a measuring device and see if the back seat of your pickup meets those requirements.  When I was working, I had several drivers claim sleeper berth when resting in the back seat of a pickup.  I would get out my measuring tape and the regulations book to show them that their back seat did not meet the requirements.  I told the drivers that there is nothing in the provision that prevents a driver from showing off duty while resting in the back seat of the pickup.  The auditor from the Ohio PUC was correct in telling you the back seat does not qualify for being used as sleeper berth.  My suggestion to you is to get the roadside inspection paperwork that was given to your driver.  It will have a truck unit number and list of violations found.  Make sure you have that same pickup truck, measure the back seat dimensions, and notate the measurements.  Then, compare them to Part 393.76.  If the dimensions do not meet sleeper berth requirements, submit a DataQ challenge explaining that the violation noted was in error and give your dimensions for the back seat.

Q: The log system my company uses says that on an 8+2 or 7+3 split break the 2 or 3 hours do not stop the 14-hour clock.  Is this correct?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: When a driver uses the split sleeper berth, the short break does not stop the 14-hour duty clock.  Therefore, drivers need to count driving time to the left and right of the long break to make sure they do not exceed 11 hours driving before taking the short break.  The same applies to the short break.  Drivers need to count driving hours to the left and right of the short break to make sure they do not exceed 11 hours.  Drivers also need to count all hours (on duty, off duty and sleeper berth) on each side of the short break to make sure total time does not exceed 14 hours before stopping and taking the long break.  That is how the split sleeper berth provision works.

Q: When I pull a load of large paper rolls, do I need friction paper under every paper roll or is it required under only the last roll put on the back of the trailer?  Also, what is the requirement for blocking and straps?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: The answer to your question can be found in Part 393.122.  It covers all the load securement requirements for transporting rolls of paper.  To answer your specific question, Part 393.122(c) states: Securement of split loads of paper rolls transported with eyes vertical in a sided vehicle.  (1) If a paper roll in a split load is not prevented from forward movement by vehicle structure or other cargo, it must be prevented from forward movement by filling the open space, or by blocking, bracing, tiedowns, friction mats or a combination of these.  (2) A friction mat used to provide the principal securement for a paper roll must protrude from beneath the roll in the direction in which it is providing that securement.  Refer to Part 393.122 for a complete list of the proper load securement requirements.

Q: Is a yard move legal inside a truck stop?  For example, fueling and then moving from the fuel island to the scale, then exiting the truck stop.

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: Yard moves are designed to aid drivers who reach a shipper/receiver/terminal and have to drop one trailer and go find another one.  Yard moves were not designed for a driver to move within a truck stop or from one location to another.

Q: I currently have apportioned plates, all the DOT stuff, etc.  I am rated for 26,000 GVW but I can only haul 21,500 – based on truck and trailer limits – but am never that heavy (my F-350 is 11,500 gross, and I bumper tow an 18-foot flatbed trailer that is 10,000 gross).  I only run Northern, California and Oregon.  If I switch to an F-250 with a 10,000 gross and pull the same trailer, my maximum GVW would be 20,000.  Does that change any of my requirements as far as licensing and such?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: IRP requirements are for single vehicles or combination vehicles where the actual weight or the combined gross vehicle rating is 26,001 pounds or more, or if you have a single vehicle that has three or more axles.  If your actual weight or GVW never exceeds 26,000 pounds, apportioned registration is not required.  However, I recommend that you contact the California and Oregon DMV offices, just to make sure.

Q: Can I use the Ag Exemption when hauling bulk herbicide in a tanker trailer from the manufacturing plant to various distribution centers?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: If the herbicide you are hauling is considered an Ag product, then you would be entitled to use the Ag Exemption.  Here’s how that would work.  Once you get within the 150 air-mile radius of the source (where you are going to load), you turn your ELD off and you keep it turned off until you leave the 150 air-mile radius.  At that time, you stop and turn the ELD on and complete the required information.  Leave it on until you get within 150 air-miles of your delivery location.  That is when you turn the ELD off again.  Keep it off until you leave the 150 air-mile radius from the delivery location.

~ The “Ask The Law” program is an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA and commercial law enforcement agencies.  Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers.  Ask the Law is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA.  This column is copyrighted by Ol’ Blue, USA.  Warning: The information contained within this column is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The content contains general information and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue.  Be aware that the material in the column may not reflect current legal developments or information, as laws and regulations are subject to change at any time without notice.  Always check with the most recent statutes, rules, and regulations to see if changes have been made.

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