“We’re not here to make your lives miserable,” Sgt. Kenneth Phoenix of the NH State Police Troop G told participants at the opening of the NHLA’s Vehicle Safety Day on March 26. “We’re here to make sure you are safe, that your workers are safe, and that people you pass on the road are safe.”
More than 125 Green Industry owners and workers gathered at North Point Outdoors in Derry during morning and afternoon sessions to learn from Sgt. Phoenix and Troopers Dan Needham and Kevin Raymond about how to check vehicles every day, how to secure loads, and how to maintain large vehicles.
John Sigmund of Fox Ridge Landscaping in West Epping said he found the program helpful because “last year, some of my landscape comrades were being pulled over on a regular basis and were being detained for hours sometimes. They were being cited for violations pertaining to their trucks and trailers, and we didn’t know where to find help. This workshop did it!”
- Sgt. Phoenix started off by listing the top 10 reasons you can be cited during a roadside inspection stop:
• vehicle lamps and signals not operating,
• no fire extinguisher or three reflective triangles
• no inspection sticker
• driver does not have a medical certificate
• driver not wearing a seat belt
• speeding or failing to obey traffic devices
• package or equipment not properly secured
• failure to perform a pre-trip vehicle inspection
• obstructed windshield or broken mirrors
• driving under the influence.
If you use your vehicle for commercial purposes, you must follow all State and Federal Department of Transportation rules and regulations. Every landscape and green industry motor vehicle operator in the state is subject to these rules. Every vehicle should be clearly marked with your company information and if you travel out of state you need DOT registration numbers.
- Among other common infractions:
• failure to have a valid driver’s license, registration and inspection stickers
• failure to stop at an interstate weigh station if your vehicle is more than 10,000 pounds
• overweight vehicles and loads
• cell phone usage while driving
• carrying unsecured gasoline cans, which are considered hazardous materials
• amber light usage when plowing
The larger groups divided into three smaller groups and Troopers reviewed a one-ton truck vehicle with a box trailer; a truck with an open trailer with three mowers on it; a one-ton truck with a large flatbed trailer and skid steer; and a mulch-blowing truck with air brakes.
Sgt. Phoenix said a daily inspection of every vehicle is essential. Before you leave your shop check your emergency brake, trailer hitch, lights and turn signals, windshield and mirrors, wiper fluid, and tire pressure on all vehicles and trailers. To be legal the tread on your truck must be at least 4/32 and 2/32 on your trailer and the inflation of all tires must be 50% of the suggested PSI or it is considered flat, a violation.
Unsafe hauling of equipment in or on a trailer is an often-cited offense.
Gear in the bed of your vehicle must be secured, including gas cans. Even in the bed of the vehicle they need to be secured and not just wedged in with your other gear. Trailer breakaway chains need to be crossed that attach to truck and the emergency breakaway cable needs to be attached to/through the vehicle not just through the chains
Trooper First Class Dan Needham offered remarks about a large truck equipped with air brakes that had a large mulch spreading machine on it. He explained the differences in a passenger motor vehicle license versus a commercial driver license (CDL) license. You need a CDL if you drive a vehicle with a gross weight rating (GVWR) in excess of 26,000 pounds, a combination of trailer and towing unit which exceeds 26,000 pounds GVWR with the trailer in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Drivers in New Hampshire must have the proper class of license to match the type of vehicle they drive. (See separate news item)
Trooper Kevin Raymond demonstrated a truck and trailer with a skid steer. Trooper Raymond involved the landscapers and had them find the GVW for the truck and trailer. He covered the binding down of equipment and discussed direct contact versus indirect contact and that you need to know how much weight your binder will hold. If the unit that you are towing is over 10,000 pounds, you will need the proper rated chains and binders and secure the unit in four places.
Rules and regulations can be found in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Handbook and the North American standard of Out-Of-Service Criteria Handbook.
Troop G offers a monthly review of regulations for commercial drivers at their headquarters in Concord. For more information or to attend a session call (603) 223-8778.
—by Mike Barwell, Interim NHLA Education Coordinator and John Sigmund, NHCLP