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New California DOT Regulations

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Published on Dec. 11, 2023, 5 p.m.


New California DOT Regulations

Written below is crucial information about the most critical and new California DOT regulations. Keep these regulations in mind whenever you drive in the state. If you have questions about these state policies, do not hesitate to call our organization.

Ending of the COVID HOS Waiver

On October 15, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officially ended an exemption and associated regulatory relief that had been in place for nearly two and a half years. This allowed truckers hauling relief loads to be exempt from some of the hours-of-service regulations as outlined in 49 CFR § 390.25.

As the exemption comes to a close, it is essential for all those involved to review their operations and ensure they are compliant with applicable laws and regulations. Truckers should become familiar with the new requirements and take the necessary steps to ensure they remain compliant in the future. Failing to do so could lead to fines or other penalties.

Virtual SAP Regulation Changes

On April 4, 2020, the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) gave Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) the option to perform remote evaluations of an employee who has violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations. This temporary policy will remain in effect until December 31, 2022. Whether or not this becomes a permanent option remains to be seen.

SAPs can now take advantage of this convenient option for their evaluation needs. Remote face-to-face” evaluations allow SAPs to assess employees from different locations while still meeting all necessary requirements for a successful evaluation.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Regulation Changes

Beginning January 6, 2023, the (FMCSA Clearinghouse will be the only way for employers to confirm if a prospective driver has any drug or alcohol violations. In the past, motor carriers must request past employment information related to drug testing and query the Clearinghouse database to verify this information. Must visit the link.

This helps save time, but employers are still legally required to obtain additional DQ file details as outlined in DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 391.23. Therefore, companies must familiarize themselves with these new regulations now to remain compliant when the changes come into effect.

California Safety Requirements: Alcohol & Drugs

Drivers operating commercial vehicles that require a class A, B, or C license with a hazardous materials endorsement are subject to controlled substances and alcohol testing (CSAT) according to federal regulations. Companies must implement their own CSAT program, including pre-employment assessment, post-accident testing, random tests, and reasonable suspicion tests. This is to ensure the safety of both drivers and other road users within the traffic operation landscape.

These safety requirements are paramount for legal truck access on public roads. Additionally, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited, and those caught doing so may face serious consequences.

What Are the Weight Limits of California Commercial Trucks?

The trucking industry must adhere to strict regulations regarding weight limits. California's vehicle code mandates that no vehicle may exceed 80,000 pounds and no axle may hold more than 20,000. These rules are in place for the safety of everyone on the road - too much weight can cause damage to roads and bridges and put drivers at risk.

In addition, interstate highways have limitations for what they can carry; if a truck exceeds these limits, it could lead to costly repairs over time. All drivers must comply with these regulations to protect our infrastructure and promote safe driving habits. Also, visit the link.

The weight of a semi-truck must be managed carefully for the safety of everyone on the road. Exceeding the manufacturer's recommended load limit can have serious consequences—it takes more time for these heavy vehicles to come to a full stop, and their ability to maneuver downhill and around tight corners is diminished. To ensure everyone remains safe, truck drivers must abide by the limits set out by their manufacturers.

Who Enforces California Highway Weight Limits?

Adherence to weight limits is critical for commercial vehicles traveling on California roads. The California Highway Patrol has set up weigh stations at various locations throughout the state, (including large-population areas such as Orange County) to enforce these limits. When you see signs indicating it's necessary to stop at one of these weigh stations, be sure to do so. Failure to comply with weight regulations may result in hefty fines.

Are There Exceptions to California Weight Limits?

If a transport is too large to be moved within California's weight limits, the shipper can acquire a limited-use permit for a heavy haul, oversize, or superload. Escort cars often advertise these shipments as “oversized loads” since they typically involve wind turbine blades and pre-manufactured homes. With an appropriate permit, trucking companies can move these outsized goods safely and securely.

Here is an example. If your load is oversized in the Los Angeles area, it may require an escort. To avoid rush hour traffic, these types of bags are restricted from driving between 6 am and 9 am and 3 pm and 6 pm. The restriction is even more severe for heavy hauls, oversized loads, and superloads: they cannot be driven at night. It is essential to plan ahead when transporting larger items so you can arrive at your intended destination on time and without any delays.

What Are the New Hours of Service Regulations in California?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) establishes most regulations for truckers. Caltrans also sets rules that are specific to California. According to FMCSA Hours of Service guidelines, many property-carrying drivers have mandated breaks throughout the day for rest and meals and can't be on duty for more than 14 hours straight. Additionally, they must have a 10-hour break before starting another workday.

In California, the regulations for limiting how much time a commercial truck driver can spend behind the wheel are more stringent than those of the FMCSA. The importance of these hours of service rules cannot be understated, due to their critical role in preventing accidents caused by driver fatigue. Adhering to these rules is essential for keeping everyone on the road safe and sound. Also, visit the link.

What Are the Loading Regulations in California?

Before sending it out, shippers must ensure their cargo is properly loaded and secured. An improperly balanced load can cause problems with maneuverability and increase the risk of a jackknife, so they must take steps such as evenly distributing weight and using appropriate securing devices. Doing this will help make sure goods arrive safely at their destination.

What Are the Qualifications for Truck Drivers in California?

In California, individuals who wish to operate a commercial motor vehicle must meet specific requirements. Intrastate commerce — which involves trips that take place in-state only — requires drivers to be at least eighteen years of age. Those intending to make interstate trips (traveling between multiple states) or transport hazardous materials must be no older than 21. However, it is essential to note that different rules may apply if you’re planning on operating a commercial motor vehicle outside of the state of California.

To obtain a CDL in the state of California, drivers must first be of legal age and possess a valid commercial learner's permit (CLP) for at least 14 days. To receive your CLP, you must fill out an application, provide proof of identity and residency, and pass knowledge tests and physical exams. After passing these steps, you can take the road test, giving you a full CDL. Several types of licenses are available based on the type of vehicle or cargo: class A, B, or C. You can find more detailed information about obtaining a CDL in California from the Department of Motor Vehicles’ website.

What Are California’s Regulations for Truck Driver Logs?

This means they need to record where and when they stop and how often they’re taking rest breaks and note any vehicle inspections that occur on their routes. In the past, these logs were required to be handwritten, but now, FMCSA requires most truckers to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). Using ELDs allows for easier tracking of log data and fewer manual errors. Ensuring your fleet complies with all FMCSA regulations is essential in avoiding costly fines.

ELDs are an invaluable tool in helping to improve driver safety on the roads. By giving employers and drivers an accurate, digital record of their working hours and driving behaviors, they can help ensure that no one is taking shortcuts or engaging in dangerous activities like speeding or failing to take mandated breaks. In the event of a personal injury claim related to a trucking incident, ELD data can be used as evidence to demonstrate negligence—making sure those responsible are held accountable for their actions.

What Are the Inspection Requirements in California?

Truck drivers are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are safe to operate. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and California's trucking regulations require regular inspections of semi-trucks to identify any damaged or worn components before they cause a safety issue. With thousands of parts in commercial vehicles, issues must be caught early to reduce the chance of an accident.

By performing careful inspections, truckers can help ensure they're following all required safety standards while also helping protect other motorists on the road. It's important to remember that safety should always come first when operating a vehicle, whether large or small. When done correctly, regular inspections of large commercial trucks will help keep them running safely and efficiently for years. You must visit the website link.

Truck drivers in California must inspect their vehicles before, during, and after each trip. If any issues arise after a trip is completed, the driver should create a written report to document it and ensure that the repair is made before they return to the road. It's essential to retain this report for at least twelve months.

Drivers must ensure that all cargo is securely fastened before they start their journey, performing a check within the first fifty miles. After that, further inspections must be carried out every three hours or 150 miles, whichever comes first. This guarantees that items remain properly stowed as the vehicle moves forward. Furthermore, it's essential to examine brakes, steering systems, lights, and mirrors for optimal safety on the road.

What Are the Size and Weight Limits for Commercial Trucks in California?

California has very specific size and weight limits for commercial vehicles. Single commercial vehicles must remain under 40 feet long, though some buses and trolley coaches may be up to 60 feet long. Regarding combination setups, the total length of the truck and trailer may not exceed 65 feet, with certain exceptions. Additionally, each axle must have a gross weight limit of 20,000 pounds or 20,500 pounds for buses. These regulations are in place to ensure safety on California roads for both drivers and passengers alike.

Do Commercial Vehicles in California Need DOT Numbers?

Yes. All commercial vehicles that travel interstate need to be registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and have a unique identification number. This ID number must be displayed prominently on both sides of the truck. DOT number compliance is essential to ensure safe operations while on the road.

What Are Hazardous Materials Regulations in California?

Truckers in California who wish to transport hazardous materials need to obtain an endorsement for their CDL. To do so, they must go through additional testing and pass a background check conducted by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This process requires them to provide proof of legal residence in the US, register their fingerprints, and pay any applicable fees. With this extra step accomplished, drivers can ensure they meet all the requirements for transporting hazardous materials safely across state lines.

Questions About New California DOT Regulations? Contact Us

Our organization is passionate about helping carriers and drivers stay up-to-date with DOT regulations in every state. So, feel free to contact us today if you have questions about new or longstanding DOT regulations in California. We are ready to provide you with state-of-the-art registration resources to ensure your compliance with the state government, DOT, and FMCSA. Our experts look forward to assisting you!

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