Are your employees subject to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) requirements for operating commercial vehicles? Well, if you have a business where employees operate vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) over 26,000 lbs (including combined vehicle/trailer weight), then the answer is pretty clear: Yes.

When you enter the realm of selling and servicing medium- and heavy-duty trucks — vehicles with a GVWR or Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) over 10,000 lbs — the water may get a little muddy.

Hopefully by the end of this article you will have a better understanding of exactly to whom these requirements might apply in your shop.

Let’s start at the beginning. Any time an employee operates a vehicle over public roadways for commerce and the GVWR or GCWR is over 10,000 lbs., certain US DOT requirements apply. This applies, for instance, to the service technician test driving a truck during the diagnostic process or resetting the vehicle’s computer. Remember the reason for these employees operating these vehicles is, in the end, to make money, and that’s commerce.

Fortunately, these folks do not need a CDL to operate these vehicles, but certain requirements have to be met:

• Drivers must have a US DOT physical, and if they pass will receive a medical card. The driver must carry the license at all times while operating these types of vehicles. A new physical exam is required every two years.

• The vehicle must be inspected annually.

• The equipment must be in proper working order.

• A driver qualification file must be kept. This file must include the application for hire and the medical card.

• Log books must be kept. However, if the vehicle travels within 150 radius miles of the business, the log book is unnecessary so long as:

_ the employee returns to work within 12 consecutive working hours

_ the employee doesn’t drive more than 11 hours that day

_ the employee has at least ten hours off between consecutive 12 hour shifts

_ the employee is maintaining an accurate time card

If the employee is operating a company owned vehicle:

_ the vehicle must have the company’s markings on it

_ there must be a secured and accessible fire extinguisher aboard

_ maintenance records must be maintained

_ the company must maintain at least $1 million of insurance if vehicles are being hauled

_ if your employee travels over state lines in one of these vehicles, the vehicle must be equipped with the companies US DOT number.

Hopefully this article better clarifies the US DOT requirements for vehicles over 10,000 lbs. Please feel free to contact Daniel Bennett, vice president of government relations, at 800-852-3372 or by email at dbennett@nhada with any questions or concerns.