Changing the world one wheel at a time

Rules and Regulations for Race Vehicles

Part 3 – Company (Motor Carrier) Requirements

All employers of drivers for teams and technical support companies fall into the motor carrier description and thus must abide by the following rules to employ drivers:

  1. Each motor carrier must inquire into the driver’s driving record for the previous three years from every state in which the driver has held a motor vehicle operating license. This inquiry must be made within thirty days of hiring driver. Each motor carrier is then required to make annual inquiries.
  2. Each motor carrier must investigate the driver’s employment record for the previous three years within thirty days of highering the driver.
  3. Each motor carrier, at least once every twelve months, must review the driver’s ability to meet minimum requirements for safe driving of commercial motor vehicles.
  4. A copy of the responses from the State agencies and past employers must be maintained in a drivers’ qualification file along with copies of the drivers’ log files. Copies of the log files must be kept for 6 months.

Additional Road Restrictions and Requirements

Fuel Tax Permit
Most teams and companies will not have to deal with this as they are not using “qualified vehicles”. A “Qualified Vehicle” is one used to transport people or property and has three or more axles or has a gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. (11,797 kilograms), or when used in combination has a combined gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. “Used in Combination” refers to a vehicle pulling or coupled to another vehicle like a trailer. If you need information on fuel tax permits or want some dry reading, check out http://www.iftach.org or check with the highway patrol for the states you will be traveling in.

Road Restrictions
There are additional road access rules for larger STAA vehicles. STAA vehicles are those with two trailers (doubles) with 28.5 foot trailers or singles with 48 foot trailer and widths up to 102 inches. These trucks are limited to NN roads and TA and SA roads where posted.
NN roads are national network or federal roads, typically known out west as freeways. TA are terminal access roads that accommodate STAA trucks, allowing STAA trucks to travel between NN routes, reach a truck’s operating facility or reach a facility where freight originates, terminates or is handled in the transportation process. TA routes have truck signs with a T posted in advance of the ramp or intersection to an authorized TA route.
SA are service access roads that only allow STAA trucks to get fuel, food, lodging or repair. Travel on an SA road is limited to within one mile of the NN. SA routes have truck signs with an S posted in advance of the ramp or intersection of an authorized SA route.

Weigh Stations and Ports of Entry
A commercial motor vehicle must stop for weighing and vehicle inspection where an official highway sign indicates that a weigh station is in operation. The vehicle is not required to stop at inspection and weigh stations that are indicated as closed. Once at a weigh station obey the arrows or other directions provided. Green arrows show the way to go while red arrows show directions that are not allowed. There are various types of scales and each requires a different method for weighing the vehicle. Watch for signs and officials providing directions.
Some scales now have weigh systems set up just prior to the exit. Watch as many of these systems now have signs which mention whether you need to exit.

PREPASS
Another system is Prepass which is an automatic vehicle identification program which allows trucks with special transponders to bypass certain weigh stations. It sounds great and the benefits are obvious but it may cost your company or team more than the benefits recoup. The cost of the service is $15 per month yet you save the time taken to stop at weigh stations and the gas required to increase speed after stopping. More information can be found at www.prepass.com.

California weigh stations have signs which mention that pickup trucks are not required to stop. Be aware that this refers to single vehicle pickup trucks and not combined vehicles. Any combined vehicle where the pulling vehicle is a pickup and the combination fits a commercial or DOT designation must still stop.
Drivers should also turn off their head lights when driving onto the scale as well as removing sunglasses and turning off the radio and other communication devices. This will allow the officers at the scale to get a better view of the license plate and make sure you are paying attention.

Trip Permits
Some states, such as Arizona and New Mexico, require trips permits for commercial vehicles to use their highways. These can be acquired from the state prior to the trip or from state representatives at weigh stations as you enter the state. Other states, such as Oregon and Utah, require trip permits for vehicles over certain weights. Be sure to check signs as you enter each state and weigh station.

Driving into Canada
Periodically a race vehicle must attend an event in Canada and thus the driver will have to deal with customs. To avoid difficulties at the border when entering Canada or returning to the States, make sure to bring a filled out US Department of Treasury form 4455. A copy is included at the back of this packet or you can fill one in on the web (http://forms.cbp.gov/pdf/CBP_Form_4455.pdf). This form asks for a list of goods being taken into Canada, the value of each item, where it was produced and its purpose in Canada. It is also a good idea to staple a separate sheet to this form showing which items will return and which items will not return with the reason they are staying behind.
The recommendation for drivers is to park their vehicle in the designated truck parking lot prior to the border and walk to the customs building at the border. Show these documents to the customs agent and ask them to stamp and sign each form, including all papers stapled to the form. This will reduce the amount of time it takes to clear customs when returning to the states. Failure to properly prepare paperwork will lead to delays at the border, a possible search of the vehicle and may include fines.
Larger companies and those who travel over the border more regularly should look into a broker to take care of this for the driver.
Some provinces, like British Columbia, also require trip permits. Check with the weight stations within the province or call the province highway patrols.

Alcohol (Beer)
Do not carry any sort of alcohol in a commercial vehicle or vehicle being towed by a commercial vehicle. Many states allow alcohol to be carried or stored within personal vehicles as long as the bottles and containers are not open. DOT rules do not allow any alcohol or alcoholic beverages to be carried or stored.

Penalties

The driver must understand that, even though the vehicle may be owned by the team or company, it is the driver who is ultimately responsible for making sure the vehicle meets the federal guidelines and that the driver has the correct license before operating the vehicle. It is also the driver’s responsibility to perform within the restricted timeframe. Failure to abide by the rules will lead to penalties and injunctions of which most or all may be imposed upon the drive. Even if the company or team pays for the penalties, the evidence of the infraction will also be placed up the drivers record.
For example, a driver or carrier who violates the hours-of-service rules will face these penalties:

  • Drivers may be placed out-of-service (shut down) at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance;
  • State and local enforcement officials may assess fines;
  • FMCSA may levy civil penalties on the driver or carrier, ranging from $550 to $11,000 per violation depending on severity;
  • The carrier’s safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations; and
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require hours-of-service violations.

Penalties for infractions like driving with the wrong license could lead to fines and disqualification of the drivers operating ability of a periodof one year.