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Keep weight regulations in mind when sending your vehicle fleet out on the road

Women loading flowers into a van

Odds are, a big part of your horticultural business involves driving. Whether it’s delivering floral goods, picking up the supplies you need, or getting equipment to a jobsite, small trucks, vans, and trailers help get the job done. But have you stopped to think about how much they weigh? You may want to.

In his blog “Could You be Subject to DOT Regulations and Not Know It?”, author Stephen Glazier talks about cases where a business owner unknowingly breaks Department of Transportation (DOT) road weight regulations.

If a vehicle is used for business and is driven on a public roadway, it falls under the DOT’s jurisdiction. Glazier found the topic of DOT weight regulations tends to get confusing for three reasons:

  • The difference between intrastate (never crossing state lines) and interstate: Depending on your use and what state you’re driving in, the weight threshold that applies can be different.
  • The way weights are measured: The weight being regulated isn’t the actual weight of a vehicle or trailer—it also includes the weight it can carry. These two weights add up to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and is what the regulations are based on. This information is usually posted on the inside of the driver’s door and on trailers.
  • The way regulations are enforced: It doesn’t matter whether the weight rating is for a single vehicle or a combination of vehicles, DOT regulations go into force once the weight exceeds the threshold.

Glazier says it becomes more confusing because drivers of these lower-weight vehicles aren’t required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A business owner might incorrectly assume that if their drivers don’t need a CDL, the business isn’t subject to any DOT regulations. In fact, the business may be required to:

  • Keep driver qualification files
  • Pull and check motor vehicle records
  • Maintain medical cards
  • Carry out road evaluations
  • Ensure drivers are qualified
  • Keep hours of service records

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website has more about federal road weight regulations. State law enforcement can also help with any state-specific questions you may have.

And be sure to review your insurance coverage for your vehicle fleet. Talk with your Hortica representative for that and other tips to help protect your business.

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For more information on workplace safety, check out the Hortica Resources section.

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