Commercial Vehicles: FAQs

Hours of Service

QWhat are the new hours of Service Regulations?

This information is available on the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) website.


Surge Brakes on Trailers

QAre recreational trailers, such as personally owned boat trailers, allowed to have surge brakes on them?

Yes, as long as they are not used for commercial purposes.

If a trailer is being delivered to a customer (drive away / tow away operation) then the surge brakes are still legal.

However, if a dealership transports anything on the trailer, such as other trailers stacked on top of it, then the bottom trailer is transporting other items and can not have surge brakes.

QWhat laws relate to the use of surge brakes on commercial motor vehicles?

Commercial motor vehicles are governed under Title 49 Code of Federal Regulation. Section 393.48 prohibits surge brakes for commercial operations. There are two interpretations dealing with this subject:

For additional information on this subject, visit the Federal Regulations Section of the FMCSA website.


HAZMAT

QHow much hazardous material may I transport before I need to placard my vehicle?

The amount of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) one may transport commercially before being required to display placards on the transport vehicle varies with the class of HAZMAT being shipped. According to Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 172.504, except for cargo tanks and bulk packages, materials that are contained in:

QDoes the package weight figure into the total weight for placarding purposes?

Yes, the total amount of HAZMAT for placarding purposes includes the weight of the material and the weight of the container it is shipped in.

QDo I need to supply shipping papers when I transport a 55-gallon (total capacity) drum of a material classed as combustible?

No, materials classed as combustible are not subject to the hazardous material regulations until the total quantity in a single container exceeds 119 gallons.

QHow much hazardous materials can I carry on my vehicle to do my work everyday?

Refer to the Materials of Trade regulations at http://www.myregs.com/dotrspa/.


Accidents and Drug Testing

QDo I have to participate in a random drug testing program? If so, how do I comply?

Refer to rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Contact may be established via their website www.fmcsa.dot.gov by contacting the Albany office of FMCSA at (518)-4239.

QWhen do I have to have my driver tested after an accident?

As soon as practicable. After an incident involving a commercial motor vehicle operated on a public road in commerce, each employer must test for alcohol and controlled substances, each surviving driver:

  1. Who was performing safety-sensitive functions with respect to the vehicle, if the accident involved loss of life.
  2. Who receives a citation under State or local law for a moving traffic violation arising from the accident, if the accident involved:
    • Bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately received medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or
    • One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

QDo the police have to provide me a post-accident alcohol and drug test?

No. Your employer is responsible for post-accident alcohol and drug testing.


Heights and Weights

QWhat is the maximum weight allowed for registration of my Commercial Motor Vehicle with the NYS DMV?

A motorist may register a single vehicle or combination of vehicles having three or more axles, no more than 34,000 pounds, plus 1,000 pounds for each foot and major fraction of a foot of the distance from the center of the foremost axle to the center of the rearmost axle.

QWhat is the maximum allowable weight for a single axle?

The weight on any one axle of a single vehicle or a combination of vehicles, equipped with pneumatic tires, cannot exceed 22,400 pounds.

QWhat is the maximum allowable weight on tandem axles?

The weight on any two consecutive axles of a single vehicle or a combination of vehicles, equipped with pneumatic tires, when axles are spaced less than eight feet from center to center, cannot exceed 36,000 pounds.

QWhat is the maximum allowable length of my single vehicle?

The maximum allowable length for a single vehicle is40 feet, including bumpers and load.

QWhat is the maximum allowable length of my combination vehicle?

The maximum allowable length for a combination vehicle is 65 feet, including bumpers and load, except:

QWhat is the maximum allowable height and width of my vehicle?

The maximum allowable height is 13 feet 6 inches. The maximum allowable width is:

QCan I tow a 53-foot trailer in New York State?

A 53-foot trailer may be tow on qualifying or designated access NYS highways listed on the NYS Department of Transportation web site.

QWhat if my vehicle is larger than any of the weights and dimensions allowed in New York State?

Visit the NYS Department of Transportation website or call 1-888-783-1685 to obtain a permit.

QDo I need a NYS HUT permit if I have an IFTA?

Yes. If your vehicles gross weight is in excess of 18,000 pounds. For more information go to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website or call 518-457-3649.


House Coach (RV’s)

QHow long can my house coach be?

45 feet, provided that its wall-to-wall turning diameter does not exceed 90 feet 3 inches and it has a data plate permanently affixed to the front passenger side door jamb indicating the following

QDo I need a special license to drive a 45-foot house coach?

No – Class D with a personal use endorsement.

Q.  What license do I need if my house coach is over 26,000 pounds GVWR?

Class D with a personal use endorsement.

Q.  How wide can my house coach be?

96 inches on all highways in NY or 102 inches on qualifying or access highway in NY plus an awning as follows:

Q.  Do these width requirements apply to a RV fifth wheel trailer?

Yes provided as follows:


Licensing

QHow do I determine what class license do I need to drive my truck?

License class is determined by the following criteria:

Which ever is greater.


Registration

QWhat does GVWR mean?

GVWR is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This is the weight of an empty vehicle plus the maximum carrying capacity of the vehicle recommended by the manufacturer.

QWhat does GCWR mean?

GCWR is the Gross Combination Weight Rating. This is used for combination vehicles, combining the GVWR of the power unit plus the GVWR of each vehicle in the combination.

QHow much weight should I register my trailer for?

Register for the maximum gross weight of the trailer. Maximum gross weight is the weight of the empty trailer plus the maximum load to be carried in the trailer.

QHow much weight should I register my truck for?

Register for the maximum gross weight of the truck. Maximum gross weight is the weight of the empty truck plus the maximum load to be carried by the truck.

Q. How much weight should I register my tractor (tractor/trailer) for?

Register for the maximum gross weight of the tractor. Maximum gross weight of a tractor is the weight of the tractor plus the weight of an empty semi-trailer plus the maximum load to be carried on the tractor and semi-trailer combination.


Cargo Securement

QWhere can I find the new Cargo Securement regulations?

Refer to http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetyprogs/cs.htm.