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:
Do surge brakes comply with §393.48?
Guidance: No. §393.48 requires that brakes be operable at all times. Generally, surge brakes are only operative when the vehicle is moving in the forward direction and as such do not comply with §393.48 (see question number 1 in §393.49).
Does a combination of vehicles using a surge brake to activate the towed vehicle's brakes comply with §393.49?
Guidance: No. The surge brake cannot keep the trailer brakes in an applied position. Therefore, the brakes on the combination of vehicles are not under the control of a single valve as required by §393.49 (see question number 1 in §393.48)
For additional information on this subject, visit the Federal Regulations Section of the FMCSA website.
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:
- Table 1 are required to be placarded in any amount.
- Table 2 and shipped in non-bulk packages are not required to be placarded when the total amount is less than 1,000 pounds.
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 from NY DOT at https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/operating/osss/truck/carrier/materials-of-trade.
Refer to the DOT Flyer at https://hazmatonline.phmsa.dot.gov/services/publication_documents/mots05.pdf
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:
- Who was performing safety-sensitive functions with respect to the vehicle, if the accident involved loss of life.
- 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:
- Vehicles operating on qualifying or access highways.
- Vehicles hauling poles, girders, columns or other similar objects of great length.
- Fire vehicles.
- A disabled vehicle being towed less than 10 miles.
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:
- On any highway, 96 inches (8 feet) including load.
- On any qualifying or access highway, 102 inches (8 feet) including load.
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
- The VIN number
- The wall-to-wall turning diameter
- The wall-to-wall tuning diameter was calculated in accordance with the Society of Automotive Engineers J-695 Standard 06/01/03
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:
- The vehicle is used for non-commercial purposes and
- The awning and support hardware is at least 71/2 feet off the ground and
- The awning and support hardware extends 6” or less from the body on the passenger side and 4” or less from the body on the drivers side
Q. Do these width requirements apply to a RV fifth wheel trailer?
Yes provided as follows:
- The trailer is designed to provide temporary living quarters for recreational camping or travel
- Not to exceed 400 square feet in the set up mode
- Used for non-commercial use.
QHow do I determine what class license do I need to drive my truck?
License class is determined by the following criteria:
- The vehicles GVWR or
- The registered weight of the vehicle or
- The actual weight of the vehicle and load
Which ever is greater.
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.