Our interstates and highways are full of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), such as large and small semi -trucks, buses, and other vehicles that might carry cargo or hazardous materials. Ensuring that those vehicles and their drivers are following the laws that apply to them is a major component of traffic safety. That important responsibility often falls to local and state law enforcement officers.
But when it comes to CMVs, local officers aren’t always as up-to-date on compliance or procedure, in part because CMVs have special national regulations that apply to them and their own set of certified inspectors to monitor compliance. For example, some of the laws that apply to CMVs simply don’t arise in traffic stops involving other vehicles on the road. Identifying violations and appropriate sanctions may also be different for CMVs than for other drivers.
A CMV Awareness Course, offered through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administraction (FMCSA) aims to help close that knowledge gap. Federal, State and local law enforcement all have a role to play in traffic stops involving CMVs, but there are special procedures to be followed and special laws that apply. The course, which is a self-study program, will help officers to understand the requirements to safely complete a CMV traffic stop, to determine whether a violation has occurred, and to determine an appropriate course of action if there is a violation.
The Course is made up of three different modules or chapters that cover a variety of topics to help officers safely make traffic stops of CMVs. The modules cover practical information, including some of the unique details of stopping a CMV, the reasons that CMVs should be stopped, the meaning of various vehicle markings, the appropriate documentation that CMV drivers should be able to provide, and CMV licensing information.
Some of the CMV regulations and enforcement can be complex. Special knowledge is necessary to know how to deal with CMVs and their drivers when a traffic violation is occurring. Though federal inspection officers have their job to do, much of the safety work simply has to be done by local and state officers. This training course is designed to better prepare them to step up to the task.