Large Truck and Bus Traffic Enforcement (TCOLE# 3403)

The goal of this course is to provide law enforcement officers, who have a duty & responsibility to enforce traffic laws, with the knowledge and skills to safely and effectively conduct traffic stops on large trucks and buses after observing illegal and/or unsafe driving behaviors.

This course is not a class to certify officers in Commercial Motor Vehicles  (CMV).

Section 1: Training Objectives and The Problem

Training Objectives

Upon Completion of this Course the student will

1.  Know and recognize the need for increased traffic enforcement encouraging a “culture of enforcement".

2.  Know how to identify the most common unsafe driving violations associated with large truck and bus crashes.

3.  Know what is considered commercial motor vehicle equipment and know what violations  commercial motor vehicles can be stopped for.

4.  Know how to identify safety considerations that apply before, during and after a vehicle stop.

5.  Know how to safely conduct a large truck or bus vehicle stop. 

6.  Detect potential indicators of serious vehicle defects or criminal activity.

7.  Know and apply special considerations when approaching vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

8.  Identify under what circumstances hazardous materials and their transport vehicles may be used in planned attacks of terror.

Video: The Problem

The Problem - Exploring Facts

Large trucks and buses represent:

 5% of the registered vehicles in the U.S.

10% of the vehicle miles traveled

12% of the crashes

13% of the traffic fatalities


Crash Data

In 2014, 3,649 crashes involving a large truck or bus claimed 4,161 lives lost.

701 of those lives lost were large truck or bus occupants.

3,460 of those lives lost were occupants of either a passenger vehicle, rider of a motorcycle or a bicycle or were a pedestrian.

7,486 total vehicles were involved in these crashes 

•3,978 Large trucks or buses 

•91 School buses 

•31 Motor coaches 

•3,182 Passenger vehicles 

•326 Other vehicles, mostly motorcycles 

•77 Bicyclists 

•438 Pedestrians 

•9 Persons on personal conveyances

The Problem

·At least 36% of large truck occupants were not wearing a seatbelt. 

·In 20% of truck crashes with at least one large truck occupant fatality, the truck’s speed was a factor related to the crash. 

· 61% of fatal crashes involving a large truck occur on rural roads. 

· 30% of fatal crashes in work zones involve a large truck. 

·Approximately 50% of large truck and bus fatal crashes occur in 10 states: Texas (#1), California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Indiana and Illinois.

Texas is #1 in the country for the most fatal accidents involving large trucks and buses.  There were 2,346 such accidents in Texas from 2012-2015.

Fatal Crashes in Work Zones

From 2010-2014 the percentage of fatal highway work zone crashes involving at least one large truck went from 22.5% (in 2010), to 30.1% (in 2014).

During the same period, all fatal crashes involving at least one large truck went from 10.8% in 2010, to 11.4% in 2014.  

The Problem - Unsafe Driver Behaviors

 

Unsafe Driver Behaviors

Increase in Crash Likelihood

Failure to Use/Improper Signal

96%

Past Crash

88%

Improper Passing

88%

Improper Turn

84%

Improper or Erratic Lane Change

80%

Improper Lane / Location

68%

Failure to Obey Traffic Sign

68%

Speeding More Than 15 Miles over Speed Limit

67%

Any conviction

65%

Reckless / Careless / Inattentive / Negligent Driving

64%

Unsafe Driver Behaviors

The above percentages show the increase in likelihood of a crash occurring if a driver demonstrates any of the following unsafe driving behaviors consistently in their driving habits.

The Problem

The Key to Increasing Safety Lies in Four Areas:

1.  Proper Registration of Large Trucks and Buses

2.  Inspection of vehicles and drivers by proper regulatory authorities

3.  Compliance through company site visits and interventions

4.  Enforcement of legal action against companies not in compliance

Under #2 - Inspection:  This is where basic traffic enforcement by any peace officer with authority to enforce traffic laws, comes into play. 

Myth:

Only officers certified in commercial motor vehicle enforcement can stop a large truck or bus.

Fact:

Any officer with authority to conduct traffic stops can stop any vehicle committing a traffic violation on the public road.  

For instance:  If a car ran a red light, a police officer could stop the vehicle for the traffic violation.  So why wouldn't the same officer stop a large truck for the same violation?

Officers can stop large trucks and buses for observed violations of the traffic laws.


Again, traffic laws for all vehicles are enforceable by officers who make traffic stops.  

However, it is only an officer certified in commercial motor vehicles that can stop a large truck or bus solely to inspect the vehicle or to check a driver's log books.

How to Have an Impact

Section 2: What is a CMV and what are the CDL Types

What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

Commercial Motor Vehicle Defined:

A vehicle used to transport/deliver goods or passengers for compensation between points on a fixed scheduled route. 

The vehicle: 

1.  Has a gross combination weight or gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, including a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds. 

2.  Has a gross vehicle weight or a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds.

3.  Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or

4. Is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded under 49 C.F.R. part 172, Subpart F.

Source:  Texas DPS Driver Handbook (September 2017)

  • Note: It is also a commercial vehicle if the vehicle Or vehicle combination is participating in Interstate Commerce (across State Lines) and is over 10,000 GVWR .
  • Always go by a vehicle's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

Commercial Motor Vehicle

The load is what determines if the driver is in interstate or intrastate commerce.

Intrastate:  Operated within a state's borders.

Interstate:  Operated across state lines.

A vehicle's "Bill of Laden" will say whether it is intrastate or interstate. 

Examples of Commercial Motor Vehicles

The following are examples of vehicles that are classified as commercial motor vehicles. 

Vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 50,000 lbs.


Truck GVWR = 51,000 lbs.

Trailer GVWR = 72,000 lbs.

GVWR 33,000 LBS TRANSPORTING HAZ-MAT REQUIRING PLACARDS

CMV Examples Continued

Note:

Under Texas Transportation Code (TC) 541.201 (22), "Truck tractor" means a motor vehicle designed and used primarily to draw another vehicle but not constructed to carry a load other than a part of the weight of the other vehicle and its load.

If these types of vehicles above have a GVWR above 26,000 lbs, a type of CDL will be needed by the driver's, but these vehicles are not considered "truck tractors".

Example:  Truck Tractor

This is a truck tractor by definition because part of it's load is resting on the rear.

Example:  Not a "Truck Tractor"

This truck is a commercial vehicle, but not considered a "truck tractor" because it is not carrying part of a towed vehicle on it's rear.

Texas License Class Types

Class A

Class A Driver License A Class A driver license permits a person to drive: 

1.  Any vehicle or combination of vehicles described under a Class B or Class C driver license; and 

2.  A vehicle or combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs. 

A Class A driver license does not permit a person to drive a motorcycle or moped.

Class B

A Class B driver license permits a person to drive: 

1.  Any vehicle included in Class C; 

2.  A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more and any such vehicle towing either a vehicle with a GVWR that does not exceed 10,000 lbs. or a farm trailer with a GVWR that does not exceed 20,000 lbs.

A Class B driver license does not permit a person to drive a motorcycle or moped.

Class C License

1.  A single vehicle or combination of vehicles that are not included in Class A or Class B.

2.  A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 26,001 lbs. towing a trailer not to exceed 10,000 lbs. GVWR or a farm trailer with a GVWR that does not exceed 20,000 lbs. 

3.  An autocycle, defined as a motor vehicle, other than a tractor, that is  designed to not have more than three wheels on the ground when moving.  Equipped with a steering wheel.  Equipped with seats that do not require the operator to straddle or sit astride the seat.  Manufactured and certified to comply with federal safety requirements for a motorcycle 

A Class C driver license does not permit a person to drive a motorcycle or moped.

Class M License 

A Class M driver license permits a person to drive a motorcycle or moped. 

Before applying for a Class M license, a person must pass a motorcycle operator training course approved by DPS.

This type of license is usually seen in combination with one of the other classes of license.    

For Example:  "  Class CM" or "Class AM".




Source:  Texas DPS Driver Handbook (September 2017)



Important Note

There are non-CDL classes of Texas Driver's Licenses.  These are reserved for drivers who operate large vehicles for non-commercial reasons or under special circumstances.   For Example:

1.  A fire-fighting or emergency vehicle necessary for the preservation of life or property or the execution of emergency governmental functions whether operated by an employee of a political subdivision or by a volunteer fire fighter. 

2.  A military vehicle or a commercial motor vehicle when operated for military purposes by military personnel, members of the Reserves and National Guard on active duty including personnel on full-time National Guard duty, personnel on part-time training, and National Guard military technicians. 

3.  A recreational vehicle driven for personal use. 

4.  A vehicle that is owned, leased, or controlled by an air carrier, and is driven or operated exclusively by an employee of the air carrier only on the premises of an airport, on service roads to which the public does not have access. 

5.  A vehicle used exclusively to transport seed cotton modules or cotton burrs. 

6.  A vehicle controlled and operated by a farmer: 

a. Used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm 

b. Not used in the operation of a common or contract motor carrier, or 

c.  Used within 150 miles of the person’s farm.  

Source:  Texas DPS Driver Handbook (September 2017)

Do These Drivers Need a CDL?

No CDL Required

Because the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) for each vehicle is below 26,000 lbs, a commercial driver's license is not needed by the drivers. 

Does this Driver Need a CDL?

Does the following driver need to have a commercial driver's license (CDL)?

TRUCK GVWR = 13,500 LBS / TRAILER GVWR = 24,000

Answer:  Yes!

The pick up truck alone does not require a CDL for the driver.  However, because the combined GVWR of the pickup and the trailer exceeds 26,000 lbs (13,500 + 24,000 = 37,500 lbs) , and the GVWR for the trailer is over 10,000 lbs., a CDL is required by any driver/operator for this vehicle.

Any officer conducting a traffic stop on this type of vehicle could cite the driver for not having a license to operate the vehicle if the driver did not have a proper CDL.

In this case, the driver would need a Class A Driver's License.

Class A

Class A Driver License A Class A driver license permits a person to drive: 

1.  Any vehicle or combination of vehicles described under a Class B or Class C driver license; and 

2.  A vehicle or combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs. 

______________________________________________________________________________

If a driver does not have the proper Class for the type of vehicle they are operating, the officer can:

1.  Have someone with the proper License Class pick up the vehicle.

2.  Provide a short escort to a parking area so someone with a proper license can come pick up the vehicle.

Follow your agency's policy.


Section 3: CMV Equipment Requirements

Equipment Requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles - Lamps

The following examples are equipment requirements commercial motor vehicles must have in order to operate on a public road, and these equipment requirements are specified in the Texas Transportation Code (TC).

In addition to enforcing moving violations, any officer tasked with performing traffic stops can enforce the state laws regarding certain equipment violations on commercial motor vehicles.

For example:  Under TC 547.302 (a) - Duty to Display Lights, commercial motor vehicles are only required to be equipped with certain lights.  

However, if nighttime or reduced visibility, lamps must also be working.


This requirement is found in Texas Transportation Code (TC) 547.3215 and is required under the Code of Federal Regulations - 108 Standard. 

Example 2:  ID Lamps on Front of Truck  

TC 547.3215 - Identification Lamps

Example 1:  ID Lamps - Rear of Vehicle

Example 2:  ID Lamps - Rear of Vehicle


Example 3:  ID Lamps - Rear of Vehicle

Example 4:  ID Lamps - Rear of Vehicle


Example: Clearance Lamps

Example 2:  Clearance Lamps


Example:  Head Lamps


Example:  Turn Signal Lamps - Front


Example: Turn Signal Lamps - Rear

Note:  Truck Tractors (such as the one in this picture), are not required to display a rear license plate.  

There must be a front license plate on the truck tractor.

Any trailer being hauled by the truck tractor must have its assigned license plate displayed on the rear of the trailer.

Example:  Tail Lamps

Note:  Truck Tractors (such as the one in this picture), are not required to display a rear license plate.  

There must be a front license plate on the truck tractor.

Any trailer being hauled by the truck tractor must have its assigned license plate displayed on the rear of the trailer.

Example:  Stop Lamps

Note:  Truck Tractors (such as the one in this picture), are not required to display a rear license plate.  

There must be a front license plate on the truck tractor.

Any trailer being hauled by the truck tractor must have its assigned license plate displayed on the rear of the trailer.

Example:  Backup Lamp

Note:  Truck Tractors (such as the one in this picture), are not required to display a rear license plate.  

There must be a front license plate on the truck tractor.

Any trailer being hauled by the truck tractor must have its assigned license plate displayed on the rear of the trailer.

Example 1:  License Plate Lamp

Example 2:  License Plate Lamp


Important Note!

As long as a vehicle has operational Clearance Lamps, ID Lamps, Side Marker Lamps, Headlamps, and Tail Lamps, any added extra lamps do not have to be operational

Many truck drivers and their companies like to add additional lights for safety and/or to customize their look.  These extra lamps are not necessary and therefore not required to be operational under Texas or U.S. Federal Standards.

Equipment Requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles - Conspicuity Treatment (D.O.T. Tape)

Also Known As "D.O.T. Tape".

Example D.O.T. Tape - Lower


Note:  D.O.T. Tape must be at least 50% along the side.

Note:  This type of trailer attached to a motor vehicle would require the driver to have a commercial drivers license (CDL).  

Though the D.O.T. Tape is not needed on these vehicles, there is nothing wrong with a driver having them on there.


Note:

The truck tractor in this picture has mud flaps, but Texas and Federal law does not require mud flaps to be present on a truck tractor (only on the their trailer).   If the truck tractor does not have mud flaps, the D.O.T. Tape can be placed on the truck itself.

Window Tinting & Windshield Wipers

What Violations Do You See?

Scroll Down...

Answer:  Missing a Rear Reflector


Scroll Down...

Answer:  Upper Reflective Sheeting Not Complete

Even if an officer does not intend to write a citation to the driver for these offenses, stopping the driver will put them on notice they need to fix the problem.  

Additionally, it is probable cause for a stop which can lead to the discovery of criminal activity.


Section 4: Criminal Activity

Video: Stop Leads to Arrest

Officers know traffic stops on passenger vehicles can turn into bigger things.  

The same is true when it comes to stopping large trucks.


Criminal Activity

Criminal Activity

Traffic stops in general have led to many arrests of drivers and other vehicle occupants because criminal activity was discovered by officers after their stop of a vehicle.  

Even traffic stops for simple vehicle equipment violations have led to arrests for drug trafficking, human trafficking, kidnapping, and even arrests for murder. 

Remember officer safety in all contacts!

Stash of drugs found on a traffic stop of a truck tractor

Section 5: Making the Stop

Video:  Making the Stop - Officer Safety

Making the Stop - The Environment

Note:  If the vehicle is not stopping, keep in mind the driver may not know you are behind him or may be looking for a good place to pull over.


Remember Your Situational Awareness


Haz-Mat Notes:  Do Not Approach any Vehicle that is leaking or smoking


Video: Making the Stop - Officer Approach

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Video:  Making the Stop - Driver Contact

Making the Stop - Interacting with the Driver/Operator

Note:  It is a good idea to have the contact information of the CMV certified officers in your area in case you have any questions.

Video - Interacting with the Driver/Operator

Section 6: Examination of the CDL and Suspicious Activity

Video: What to Look for on CDLs

Video: Examination of the CDL

Video:  The Fraudulent CDL

Some Additional Free Training!

Texas Officers wanting to learn more on how to spot a fake driver's license are recommended to take a "FRIDAY" course.  This course covers alcohol and drug trends, but also includes hand-on experience with spotting fake ID's.  

You can find out more information for this training by visiting:   http://www.texasfriday.org


Suspicious Activity

Note the misspelling of the word "Freight".

If this was a truck tractor for interstate commerce, it would also need a US DOT number.

The mere fact that there is a non-CDL passenger is not necessarily suspicious, but officers should consider who the passenger is, and what relation, if any, they are to the driver.  

If something is telling you "something's not right", ask questions.   

Remember, you should already know who are your CMV certified officers to contact if you have questions. 


Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspector = CMV Certified Peace Officer


Section 7: Issuing the Citation, After the Stop, and other Special Considerations

Issuing the Citation

After the Stop

Remember:

Larger vehicles need more room and distance to merge into traffic.


Special Considerations - Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Materials

Hazardous Material is:

 A flammable material, an explosive, a radioactive material, a hazardous waste, a toxic substance, or related material, including a substance defined as a “hazardous substance”, “hazardous material”, “toxic substance”, or “solid waste” …. 

TX Health & Safety Code 775.151

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a hazardous material as: •A substance or material capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, or property when transported in commerce. 

The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials, and materials designated as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101).

D.O.T. Placards

•Located on all four sides of a vehicle transporting hazardous materials 

•May be multiple placards 

•Uses a combination of UN and DOT 

•Recommend officers have a copy of the "Emergency Response Guide Book" to help with identifying the various placards that on located on different commercial vehicles. 





Hazardous materials can be observed through the body in four different ways:  Inhalation, Ingestion, Injection, and Absorption.

How severe hazardous materials can effect a person can depend not only on the hazardous substance, but also any predisposing health factors a person may have.

As mentioned previously, it is imperative officers keep an eye out for any leaking fluids (and gases) from vehicles.  Especially those with hazardous materials placards.

.

Moral of the Story - Use Common Sense

Approach hazardous material transports with caution.

If you see any leaks of fluids or gas clouds, stay away!

Stay upwind and on high ground.

Keep others out of the area.

Notify the dispatcher to contact the fire department.


Course Review

Course Review

Course Review

You do not have to be a commercial motor vehicle certified peace officer to conduct traffic stops on commercial motor vehicles that have committed moving violations or have defective equipment.

Best practices: Do not conduct any searches of large trucks/trailers by yourself.

Know who your CMV certified officers (inspectors) are in your area ahead of time and know how to contact them if you end up with questions to ask.

When stopping larger vehicles, account for the fact that it will take the driver longer to stop the vehicle than in a passenger vehicle.  Additionally, it will take the driver a longer distance to merge safely into traffic at the conclusion of a traffic stop.  Provide traffic control assistance as needed.

Traffic stops, including those on large commercial motor vehicles, can lead to the discovery of other criminal activities.

Truck Tractors do not have to display a rear license plate, but they must have a front plate.

Interstate transportation = Across state lines.  

Intrastate = Within state borders.



References

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Hazardous Materials Training - Basic Peace Officer Course, 2013.

Special Thanks to Lieutenant Wade Kimble Sr. with the Texas Department of Public Safety for additional information and course material.