In its efforts to ensure that the highways and byways within its jurisdiction are as safe as possible, the Maryland legislature has charged the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) with regulation of tractor trailer traffic. Through its Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the State Highway Administration (SHA), MDOT ensures that the weight of tractor trailers falls within acceptable ranges.
Commercial Motor Vehicles
According to Title 11 (Department of Transportation) of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), the MDOT only has authority to regulate the weight of motor vehicles that are legally defined as commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). FMCSR defines two classes of CMVs: regular CMVs that operate in commerce (mainly tractor trailers) and smaller CMVs (mainly recreational vehicles, passenger buses, rental trucks moving private property and multipurpose vehicles).
Regular CMVs must have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 lb. If the regular CMV is being operated in combination with a trailer, the gross combination weight rating (GCWR) must exceed 26,001 lb. with the GVWR of the trailer exceeding 10,001 lb. Smaller CMVs must have either a GVWR, or a GCWR, of at least 10,001 lb.
The manufacturer's GVWR is usually found on a sticker located on the edge of the driver's door or the door frame of the CMV. The GCWR is usually located on the door frame of the trailer. Any driver with a CMV, or a CMV/trailer combination, that falls within the regulated GVWR/GCWR ranges must register such with the SHA. The driver must also obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) from the MVA.
Both registered regular CMVs that operate in commerce and registered smaller CMVs must stop at all open Truck Weigh and Inspection Stations (TWIS) while traveling throughout Maryland. Both classes of CMVs are weighed at the weigh station; however, only regular CMVs are subject to safety inspections to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state motor carrier safety rules, regulations and standards.
A growing number of regular CMVs participate in the FMCSR Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN)--a technology-based system that allows regular CMVs to bypass TWISs because they are equipped with CVISN electronic devices that send a signal to the TWISs with all the necessary information. This process is known as "weigh-in-motion" operation.
Preventive Maintenance Program
Whenever the driver registers, or renews registration, of a CMV, he is required to certify personal possession of a working knowledge of all applicable federal and state motor carrier safety rules, regulations and standards, and participation in the Preventive Maintenance (PM) Program. The PM Program stipulates that either every 12 months or 25,000 miles (whichever comes first) a CMV must receive a thorough safety inspection and any needed preventative maintenance. A copy of a Preventive Maintenance Report indicating compliance must be kept in the CMV at all times.
Any regular CMV that has a GVWR/GCWR in excess of 73,000 lb. requires a special overweight hauling permit, and can travel only the shortest available route on numbered state highways and on the federal interstate system when transporting their loads. These routes are referred to as designated truck routes.
Any regular CMV with a GVWR/GCWR in excess of 55,000 lb. is subject to the Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT). These CMWs are required to show MVA/SHA officers at the TWIS proof of payment of the HVUT.
- Maryland State Highway Administration: Maryland Motor Carrier Handbook (PDF)
- Maryland Department of Transportation: Maryland Motor Carrier Program-Frequently Asked Questions
- Maryland State Highway Administration: Truck Weigh & Inspection Stations (TWIS)
- Maryland State Highway Administration: Hauling Permits
- Photo Credit line of trucks 1 image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com
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