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Frequently Asked Questions - Safety

How can a motorist report a safety problem on the road?


The Motor Carrier Transportation Division maintains a Truck Safety Hotline to take reports from motorists who see some kind of truck safety problem while traveling in Oregon. Anyone who spots problems, such as a truck speeding, tailgating, changing lanes unsafely, or spilling its load, can relay information about the incident by either calling a toll-free number or completing a form online:

Call  1-800-248-6782

Calls are recorded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the online form is also available at all hours. Regardless of how reports are made, if enough information is received about an incident and the truck involved the Motor Carrier Division will send a letter to the company responsible. An ideal report would include time, location, a description of the incident, and the Oregon DOT license plate number (a red plate with white letters) or the company name and truck ID number on the cab. Because truck trailers are often leased, the trailer ID number may not be enough to identify the company using the trailer.

The Hotline receives more than 100 reports each year and letters are sent to the companies responsible asking them to look into each complaint. Many reports involve speeding or careless/reckless driving. Those two bad driving habits are among the most common causes of truck-at-fault accidents. Another common complaint of motorists relates to trucks making unsafe lane changes.

In the majority of cases, companies respond to the reports by counseling or reprimanding the driver involved and they often place a letter in the driver´s file. Sometimes companies will deny the allegation, report that certain information is simply inaccurate, or offer a satisfactory explanation for the incident. In response to several calls each year, companies report that a driver resigned or was fired.

Most truckers are professionals who drive safely and courteously. The Safety Hotline allows the public to help identify those few who cause problems. It´s important to remember that trucks, including those that weigh at least 8,000 lbs., travel nearly 2 billion miles over Oregon highways each year. In light of that, it´s remarkable that the Safety Hotline receives so relatively few calls from motorists reporting truck driving problems.

Since the Hotline was established in 1988, thousands of motorists have used it to report hazards. The Oregon Department of Transportation thanks all who have used the Hotline, or will use it in the future, for their help making Oregon´s highways safe for everyone.

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How can truck drivers report safety problems?


Truck drivers can report violations of safety regulations by contacting regulators at either the state or federal level. They can call the Oregon DOT's Motor Carrier Transportation Division at 503-378-6963 or a U.S. DOT hotline — 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-8239).

Under federal law, a company cannot fire, demote, blacklist, or threaten drivers, write them up, or treat them differently if they report violations of federal safety and health regulations related to commercial motor vehicle safety. Typical driver concerns include too fatigued to drive safely, driving in violation of the hours-of-service rules, and driving defective and unsafe equipment, but the law protects truck and bus drivers who do any of the following:
  • Refuse to operate a vehicle that fails to meet safety regulations.
  • Report violations of vehicle safety requirements.
  • Allege exposure to significant hazards.
  • Testify or otherwise participate in safety-related proceedings.
If a driver experiences discrimination, he or she has 180 days after the alleged incident occurs to file a whistleblower complaint. Complaints should be filed only with the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Oregon drivers can contact OSHA’s Seattle office at 206-553-5930. If OSHA finds the complaint has merit, the driver may be awarded appropriate relief such as reinstatement of job, back-pay, compensatory damages, and attorney fees. Between 1997 and 2005, OSHA’s Seattle Regional Office reports that it handled approximately 143 complaints filed under this law.

Whistleblower protection extends to employees who drive a commercial motor vehicle (even as an independent contractor who personally operates the vehicle), as well as employees who repair and maintain vehicles as a mechanic, handle freight, and perform any job for a motor carrier directly affecting commercial motor vehicle safety in the course of employment. The employee cannot, however, be an employee of the U.S. government, a State, or a political subdivision of a State acting in the course of employment. Visit the FMCSA Web site for more about the law.

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After a safety inspection, what are the follow-up requirements?

pic of truck inspector
After every truck and/or driver safety inspection performed by state transportation officials or law enforcement officers, the driver receives a copy of the inspection form. If the inspection found violations or defects, the motor carrier involved is required to sign and return that form to the state where the inspection occurred in order to confirm that the problems were addressed. See Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Part 396.9.

When the inspection occurs in Oregon, the inspection form given to the driver must be signed by a company official and returned to the Oregon Department of Transportation within 15 days. The company must certify that any vehicle-related problems were repaired and/or driver-related problems were addressed through action that ensures future compliance with regulations.

Inspection Follow-Up Requirement --When violations were found in an inspection, correct all violations and have a company official sign the inspection form. The form must also be signed by a repair person if a vehicle had a critical safety violation resulting in it being placed out-of-service until repairs were made. If violations are related to the driver (speeding, logbook, etc.), the company official´s signature certifies that action was taken to assure future compliance with regulations. When the inspection occurred in Oregon, sign and return the inspection form by mail within 15 days to: Oregon Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Transportation Division, 550 Capitol St  NE, Salem OR 97301-2530, or FAX the form to: (503) 373-7481

Oregon Enforcement - for inspections that found an out-of-service violation -- 1st time a carrier fails to return an inspection form for a Level 1 or Level 2 inspection:  50 days after the inspection, a Cease and Desist order is sent to the carrier establishing failure to meet inspection follow-up requirements.

2nd time, within 12 months of a Cease and Desist order, that a carrier fails to return an inspection form:  A civil complaint action may be filed assessing a $1,000 penalty and seeking a five-day suspension of Oregon operating authority. At that point, the carrier may admit the failure to meet requirements, agree to remedy the problem, and seek settlement, or deny the violation and request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Records Requirement -- Keep a copy of each truck and driver safety inspection for 12 months.

Questions? Carriers can call the Motor Carrier Transportation Division -- 503-373-0982 or 503-378-8811 -- if they're unable to meet requirements within 15 days of an inspection, or if they have questions about a safety inspection.

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Is there an easy way for a company to check inspection records?

Trucking Online logo
One feature of Trucking Online lets companies use a home or office computer to view Oregon safety inspection reports and make sure they’ve met all inspection follow-up requirements. The service can be especially helpful to companies with large fleets because it’s not uncommon for a driver to take his copy of an inspection report and then forget to turn it in to his boss. The oversight can lead to enforcement actions that include a $1,000 penalty and a five-day suspension of Oregon operating authority. Now safety managers can stay on top of things and independently check inspection reports.

When an inspection finds a safety violation, companies are required to sign and return the inspection form within 15 days to verify that they fixed the mechanical problems and/or addressed the driver violations. Yet companies regularly fail to meet the requirements. 8,477 forms were returned late in 2013 to the Motor Carrier Transportation Division and 1,506 were never returned at all.

The new Trucking Online feature lets companies view all truck and driver safety inspections from the past 24 months. Inspection reports marked with a “T” need to be signed and returned, the ones marked with a “C” have been returned and certified, and there’s no return required for the ones marked with an “N.”

The feature also lets companies view just the outstanding inspections that have not yet been signed by a company official and returned to MCTD. For those inspections, companies can choose to generate a letter just like the one they would get in the mail if they fail to respond to the inspection. After confirming that they’ve fixed the problems found in the inspection, they can print the letter, sign it, and fax it in.

Currently, the Motor Carrier Division pursues enforcement actions against companies that fail to return inspection forms for Level 1 or Level 2 inspections that found an out-of-service violation.  It also pursues enforcement actions against companies that fail to return three inspection forms within a 12 month period. In 2005, after sending warning letters and providing 30 days to respond, the Division issued 236 Cease and Desist Orders documenting that a company did not meet the requirements. Another 42 companies were subject to a civil complaint action assessing a $1,000 penalty and suspension because they already received such a Cease and Desist Order and then within 12 months failed again to meet the requirements.

Inspection follow-up requirements date back to the early 1980s when states began adopting federal safety regulations and conducting inspections in a uniform manner nationwide. Today, inspection follow-up requirements are spelled out in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Part 396.9. Any state receiving safety-related federal grant funds must enforce the requirements and ensure the “timely and appropriate” correction of violations found in inspections.

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Are dump trucks required to tarp their loads?


There's no law specifying that certain trucks must tarp their loads, but all trucks are required to prevent loads from shifting or leaking. ORS 818.300 establishes that a person commits the offense of operating with a sifting or leaking load if the person "drives or moves on a highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles that is constructed or loaded so as to allow its contents to drop, sift, leak or otherwise escape therefrom." That also applies to anyone who owns a vehicle or combination of vehicles and causes or permits it to be driven with a shifting or leaking load.

The Motor Carrier Transportation Division often hears from motorists who report that something fell off a truck and cracked a windshield or caused some other damage. The Division cannot act as an arbiter between the motorist and the trucking company involved to help recover damages. But it can help identify the company if a motorist has just a license plate or other sketchy information about the truck and then provide a business phone number and address so the motorist can contact the company to file a claim.

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What are the hours-of-service rules for intrastate truck drivers?


Local, hourly truck drivers and other drivers hauling from point to point within Oregon in intrastate commerce follow the rules in Oregon Administrative Rule 740-100-0010.

Motor carriers conducting intrastate transportation of property may not:
  • Exceed 12 hours driving following 8 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • Drive for any period beyond the 16th hour after coming on-duty following 8 consecutive hours off-duty.
  • Drive for any period following 70 hours on-duty in any seven consecutive days, except any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.
  • Drive for any period following 80 hours on-duty in any 8 consecutive days, except any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.

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What are the hours-of-service rules for interstate drivers?


Truck drivers hauling property from Oregon to another state or otherwise in interstate commerce follow the rules in Federal Regulations - 49 CFR 395.3:

 
pic of logbook No motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle:
  • More than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • For any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty, except when a property-carrying driver complies with the provisions of 395.1(o).

No motor carrier shall permit or require a driver of a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver's services, for any period after:
  • Having been on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.
  • Having been on duty 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.
  • Any period of 7 consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.
  • Any period of 8 consecutive days may end with the beginning of any off duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours.

See 49 CFR 395.1  for exceptions to the rules.

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When do trucks need to carry and use chains in Oregon?

 
pic of OregonIn Oregon, chains or traction tires are required whenever winter conditions exist and signs are posted advising drivers to carry or use them. State law mentions no dates when chain and traction tire requirements start and end. That's because no one knows for sure when winter conditions will start and end for the varied climates throughout the state. Motorists should be prepared and watch for the signs advising when they're required to carry chains or have traction tires, and when they're required to use chains. Under certain conditions traction tires may be used in place of chains on vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or less if they're not towing or being towed.

Winter Travel in Oregon
Oregon Chain Laws and Minimum Chain Requirements  are posted on the Internet at ODOT's TripCheck Web site (look for Winter Travel links in lower left corner of TripCheck home page). 

The TripCheck site also features Road Cams  with regularly-updated camera images of highways around the state.

For road and weather information by phone, dial 511 or 1-800-977-ODOT (within Oregon) or 503-588-2941 (outside Oregon).

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Who qualifies to be an Oregon Trusted Carrier Partner?


Trusted Carrier qualifications are listed in Oregon Administrative Rule 740-045-0060. 
 
pic of Trusted Carrier plate To qualify for participation in the Trusted Carrier Partner program, a carrier must:
  • Have at least 12 months history of Oregon operations.
  • Have a valid U.S. DOT number.
  • Be a participant in Oregon's Green Light weigh station preclearance program.
  • Not have an unsatisfactory safety rating with the State or Federal regulatory agencies.
  • Not be a participant in PRISM, a national safety improvement program.
  • Not have a record of safety violations, including, but not limited to, violating an out-of-service order or having a driver found driving under the influence.
  • Not have a driver and/or vehicle out-of-service percentage greater than the national compliance average.
In addition to the requirements above, the Department may deny participation in the Trusted Carrier Partner program for violations or conditions related to registration or tax requirements including, but not limited to:
  • Suspensions with the Department.
  • Civil monetary penalty actions.
  • Revocations of IFTA tax license.
  • More than one motor carrier related tax report filed late.
  • More than one repayment plan entered into or satisfactorily concluded.

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Does the Oregon DOT help enforce truck speeds on highways?

pic of speed limit sign
No, the Oregon Department of Transportation does not enforce the speed laws in Oregon. All speed enforcement is done by Oregon State Police, County Sheriffs, and local police agencies.

While police can't be everywhere, motorists can take individual action when they see trucks speeding in Oregon. They can report any safety problems -- speeding, tailgating, changing lanes unsafely, spilled loads, etc. -- to a Truck Safety Hotline by either calling a toll-free number or completing a form online:

Call  1-800-248-6782

Calls are recorded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the online form is also available at all hours. Regardless of how reports are made, if enough information is received about an incident and the truck involved the Motor Carrier Transportation Division will send a letter to the company responsible. An ideal report would include time, location, a description of the incident, and the Oregon DOT license plate number (a red plate with white letters) or the company name and truck ID number on the cab. Because truck trailers are often leased, the trailer ID number may not be enough to identify the company using the trailer.

The Hotline receives more than 100 reports each year and letters are sent to the companies responsible asking them to look into each complaint. Many reports involve speeding or careless/reckless driving. Those two bad driving habits are among the most common causes of truck-at-fault accidents. Another common complaint of motorists relates to trucks making unsafe lane changes.

In the majority of cases, companies respond to the reports by counseling or reprimanding the driver involved and they often place a letter in the driver´s file. Sometimes companies will deny the allegation, report that certain information is simply inaccurate, or offer a satisfactory explanation for the incident. In response to several calls each year, companies report that a driver resigned or was fired.

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Who's available to answer safety questions?


The Motor Carrier Transportation Division maintains offices throughout Oregon, with safety specialists available to help any motor carrier.

Salem
3930 Fairview Industrial Drive SE, Salem OR 97302-1166
503-378-6963

Ashland
Interstate 5, MP 18, Ashland OR 97520-0023
541-774-5997 

Bend
20340 Empire Avenue, Bend OR 97708
541-388-6171

Cascade Locks
500 SE Frontage Road, Cascade Locks OR 97014
541-374-0087

Farewell Bend
5920 Hwy 30, Huntington OR 97907-9707
541-869-2904

Klamath Falls
4647 Hwy 97N, Klamath Falls OR 97601-9387
541-884-5151

La Grande
3012 Island Avenue, La Grande OR 97850
541-963-1389

Portland
12348 N Center Avenue, Portland OR 97217-7871
971-673-5885

Springfield
640 A Street, Springfield OR 97477
541-736-2303

Umatilla
1801 SW Hwy 730E, Umatilla OR 97882
541-922-2578

Woodburn
I-5 SB, MP274, Woodburn OR 97071
503-982-5365



View map of Safety Offices & Staff

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FAQs -- Other Subjects

 
graphic of question markThe Motor Carrier Transportation Division has created a number of pages like this with frequently asked questions about other subjects.

FAQ by subject -- a page listing all FAQs

Individual Pages
Authority
Citations 
Farm Trucks
Green Light 
Household Goods Moving 
Insurance 
Over-Dimension Trucks
Registration 
Taxes and Fees
Trucking Online


Still need an answer to a question?
Complete the Ask ODOT online form or call 1-888-ASK-ODOT (1-888-275-6368).

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