The Orientation Section will cover these topics:

  • Components of Combination Vehicles
  • Safety Fundamentals
  • Essential Regulatory Requirements
  • Driver Responsibilities
  • Safe Operation of a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle)
  • Stopping at weigh stations/scales
  • Hazard awareness of vehicle size and weight limitations
  • Low clearance areas
  • Bridge formulas

Components of Combination Vehicles:

Combination Vehicles consist of at least 2 units. One of them is the Power unit, and attached will be one or more trailers. Dollies are used to haul more than one trailer. They go in between the trailers and have a 5th Wheel of their own. Different states have different laws for determining combinations of width and length.

Safety Fundamentals:

Safety is a truck driver’s number one priority before doing any task. Truck drivers must be safe for themselves, their trucks, and everyone around them. This means using 3 points of contact and facing the truck when getting in and out, always inspecting your vehicle before driving, being aware of your surroundings, planning your trips, taking breaks and being well-rested.

Essential Regulatory Requirements:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is mainly responsible for reducing motor accidents involving commercial vehicles. They inspect trucks, and truck companies to ensure they comply with the legal requirements. When being inspected, a driver can be fined for having defective equipment, being overweight or oversized, not having proper licenses, not having proper permits, or hauling an unsecured load.

To be able to haul HazMat, a driver must get the endorsement by passing a Knowledge test, and passing required background checks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces HazMat regulations that ensure the safe and secure transportation of HazMat. 

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issues and enforces the HazMat regulations, and sets standards for containers, documents, markings, labeling, and placarding. There are 9 classes of HazMat:

Driver Responsibilities:

Drivers are responsible for everything regarding their truck or load. Even if the driver didn’t load their trailer, it is still their responsibility to ensure their cargo securement. Drivers must inspect load and load securement within the first 50 miles of their trip. There are different types of cargo that require specific types of securement:

  • Logs and Poles
  • Lumber
  • Metal Coils
  • Pipes 
  • Auto Hauler
  • Containers
  • Boulders
  • Steel
  • Vehicles
  • Construction Material
  • Concrete Products

Different types of equipment used for tie-downs:

  • Tie-downs, such as ropes, straps, and chains
  • Blocking, such as installing blocks to prevent cargo movement
  • Bracing devices that keep freight stationary
  • Dunnage, or filler material used in empty spaces between cargo
  • Loading locking bars that are placed between trailer walls or ceiling to prevent cargo movement
  • Tarps or nets that usually cover open cargo

Every tie down used must be able to handle 1.5 times the load of the cargo it is securing. There must be a tie-down for every 10 feet of cargo, and a minimum of 2 tie downs no matter how small the load.

Safe Operation of a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle):

There are local laws in different states that drivers must follow. For example, weight allowance, size of load, etc. Drivers are required to stop at weigh stations in order for officials to ensure they are following state and federal laws. 

Low Clearance Areas:

Drivers must always know the height of their vehicle to be safe. Some tips to watch for these low clearance areas:

  • Use truck Gps and enter your height so it routes you away from these areas.
  • Know the height of your equipment
  • Read the clearance signs posted before and on bridges.

Bridge Formulas:

Trucks have a certain allowance of weight on each axle to make sure one axle doesn’t hurt road surfaces or bridges. There are different weight requirements per axle depending on how many axles there are and the space between them.