Through the Eyes of a Dump Truck Driver- The Driving Laws of MD

Each year, new driving laws are introduced across the country. Many of these changes are modifications to existing laws while some are completely new. For most drivers, changes can be very minor, but for commercial drivers, they must pay much closer attention to the new laws – their business depends on it. Dump truck drivers fall into the category, “Heavy and Tractor-trailer Drivers” according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, these drivers totaled 1,797,700 with an expected growth rate of 5% over the next ten years. In the state of Maryland, the most recent version of the motor carrier handbook is 148 pages. Worth noting within these pages are some useful and not-so-obvious guidance.

Truck Idling

The Maryland Vehicle Law, Title 22, Subsection 402 (c)(3) states, “A motor vehicle may not be allowed to operate for more than 5 consecutive minutes when the vehicle is not in motion except in the following circumstances:

  1. When a vehicle is forced to remain motionless because of traffic conditions or mechanical difficulties over which the operator has no control;
  2. When it is necessary to operate heating and cooling or auxiliary equipment installed on the vehicle;
  3. To bring the vehicle to the manufacturer’s recommended operating temperature, or
  4. When it is necessary to accomplish the intended use of the vehicle.

Any unnecessary idling wastes fuel and causes more air pollution.  Recognizing there are times when vehicle idling is not necessary; drivers should do their part to assist Maryland in reducing vehicle emissions and the release of harmful air pollutants.   

Hazmat Materials

Commercial drivers seeking a Haz-Mat Endorsement or a renewal of an existing Haz-Mat Endorsement are subject to a background check as required by the “U.S. Patriot Act of 2001”.

Covering Loads and what’s Required

 The beds on all vehicles transporting loose materials that include dirt, sand, gravel, wood chips, or other material that can blow, fall or spill from a vehicle, must be fully enclosed on all sides and covered with a canvas or other type of approved cover.

When transporting loose materials, the following vehicles are exempt from this law:

  1. Any Class "K" (farm area) vehicle.  "Farm area motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle owned by a farmer and operated only on a farm or on a highway adjacent to the farm.
  2. Any Class "E" truck with a manufacturer's   rated capacity of 3/4 ton or less, and a maximum gross vehicle weight of 7,000 pounds or less.
  3. Any construction vehicle working within the confines of a public works construction project site as outlined in the construction project's plans and specifications provided the distance traveled does not exceed one mile or the distance specified in an extension granted.
  4. Any construction vehicle or mining equipment while crossing a highway between construction or mining sites.
  5. All Class "G" (trailer) vehicles provided no part of the load is higher than six inches below the top of any of the enclosures.
  6. All vehicles operating to or from the Port of Baltimore to a stockpile or storage facility within one mile.

Even though the date of the most current guidance is October, 2005 – Maryland dump truck drivers must stay current with all material in this hefty handbook year over year. Above all, Maryland encourages all drivers to make safety a priority. Like the handbook says, “Safety Is Good Business - You Hold the Key!”