driver-facing cameras

Driver-facing cameras have become a hot button issue in the transportation industry over the past few years. Truck drivers are understandably wary about having recording devices pointing at them while they drive, but are there any benefits to these cameras? Here’s everything that drivers should know about driver-facing cameras.  

What are Driver-Facing Cameras?

Driver-facing cameras are just what they sound like; cameras that are installed in a semi-truck cab that face the driver.  

Why are Carriers Installing Driver-Facing Cameras?

There’s a lot of reasons that carriers are installing driver facing cameras, but the biggest one is it gives carriers a better chance to avoid liability in the case of an accident. Like seemingly everything else, insurance premiums for trucking carriers are on the rise, and installing driver facing cameras is just one way that carriers can reduce these costs.  

Why are Drivers Against Driver-Facing Cameras?

The reason that drivers are against these cameras is pretty simple. Would you want to have a camera directly in front of your face during your work shift? The answer is probably, “no”.  Truck driver’s feelings on front-facing cameras have been well-documented, but do they get a worse reputation than they deserve?  

Are There Any Benefits of Driver-Facing Cameras for the Driver?

The main benefit of driver-facing cameras is that they can help prove a driver’s innocence in the case of an accident or traffic violation that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen. Most drivers will point out that that’s what dash cams are for (cameras that face the dashboard and show what the driver would see), but driver facing cameras can absolve a driver in the case that they’re being accused of distracted driving.  

Aside from that, the other benefit to driver-facing cameras is that it can lead to safer driving for newer drivers. A driver whose only been in the industry for 6 months to a year might have learned or adopted a bad habit that wasn’t noticed during CDL training or during their time with a driver trainer. Driver-facing cameras could in theory alert the carrier to this habit so that the driver can be coached on avoiding it. This, of course, is a debatable benefit to truck drivers.  

The reality, whether drivers like it or not, is that driver-facing cameras are becoming more and more popular for both commercial carriers and private fleets.  

With this in mind, we talked to Erin Lynch, Customer Success Manager with Drive My Way. We asked her thoughts on driver-facing cameras and what drivers should know about the new practice. 

Erin Lynch, Customer Success Manager, Drive My Way

When did driver-facing cameras start to become popular in the trucking industry, and why do you think they did?

“The trucking industry saw a huge shift in technology when the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate started in 2016. As the trucking industry rushed to comply, technology evolved very quickly to make devices as simple as possible to install and be compliant with the mandate.

By 2018, many fleet management systems offered complete telematic management solutions, that included ELD’s and many other features. We’re now at a point in the last 3 years where efforts are being directed to measure safety, which includes driver-facing cameras.”

Are trucking carriers using these cameras to watch drivers at all times?

“No solutions have the capability, bandwidth, or storage, to watch and store videos 24/7. Typically, they record on a loop, recording over previous footage. The cameras are only activated if an “event” or incident occurs, such as speeding or hard breaking, and records 10 seconds before the event and 10 seconds after. The driver-facing camera will capture these incidents but can also be configured to capture such events as a driver using a phone or eating/drinking.

The videos are available to view immediately and are usually stored for a specified time period. However, it is important to note that typically it is only the incident videos that are stored and available. Carriers would have to request non-incident videos from their system provider and, for privacy reasons, that’s typically not done unless in very specific situations.”

Is there a good compromise for drivers wanting to protect their privacy and carriers wanting to increase their fleet’s safety?

“I think most solutions do offer a good compromise between those two. It’s the communication between carriers and drivers that cause the biggest issues. While carriers may use these systems to lower insurance costs, they are built with the intention to measure safety, and that’s good for everyone involved. Carriers need to clearly communicate what the cameras can and cannot do, what will be recorded, how it’s stored, etc.

A driver should be very clear about the camera’s intentions and limitations. The best telematic solutions for carriers will have ways to positively reinforce good driving behaviors and to help correct poor behaviors such as training, not just as a monitoring or penalizing device.”

Erin finished with these thoughts,  

“Drivers, if you’re unsure of why driver-facing cameras are being used, you have a right to ask questions and understand what is being done with the recorded video. Carriers, if a driver has to ask you why cameras are being used, then better training and communication is needed. Being clear on intentions and capabilities of driver-facing cameras is key.”

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eld requirementsThe ELD mandate has been around since 2017, so unless you’re a new truck driver, you probably know about ELDs and the requirements surrounding them. But, if you are a new driver, here are the need-to-know facts about ELDs.  

What is an ELD?

ELD, sometimes referred to as E-Logs, stands for Electronic Logging Device. It’s a device attached to a CMV’s engine that tracks HOS (Hours of Service) logs. Back in the day, paper logs were used to track HOS. Some carriers eventually moved to EOBR (electronic on-board records) tracking to help make the data more accurate, while other carriers stuck with paper logs. So, why was the change made to ELD? EOBR devices were great, but they didn’t have a consistent data format, so they’d regularly have to be regenerated in a paper format, which defeated the purpose of the device.  

Then came along the ELD which did what the EOBRs did but generated more accurate data and in a consistent format, making it easier for enforcement and review.  

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate was something announced by the FMCSA in 2017. It stated that trucking carriers and owner operators needed to have ELDs installed in all their trucks by the end of that year. There was an extended deadline given to carriers that already had EOBRs installed in their trucks, which was December of 2019. Those dates have long passed, so now all carriers are required by law to have ELDs installed in their CMVs. 

Do all Drivers Have to Comply with the ELD Mandate?

The vast majority of drivers and carriers, including owner-operators need to comply with the mandate, but there are a few exceptions that the FMCSA outlines here.  

The ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate, including: 

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) and will not be required to use ELDs. 

  • Drivers who use paper RODS (Record- of Duty Status) for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period. 

  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered. 

  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000. 

The most common exemptions to this mandate would be under the “short haul exemption for local drivers and non-CDL drivers. There are a few different conditions a driver needs to meet to be considered for this exemption.  

“A driver is exempt from the requirements of §395.8 and §395.11 if: the driver operates within a 150 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location, and the driver does not exceed a maximum duty period of 14 hours. Drivers using the short-haul exception in §395.1(e)(1) must report and return to the normal work reporting location within 14 consecutive hours, and stay within a 150 air-mile radius of the work reporting location.”

As you can see, the exceptions to the ELD mandate are few and far between, so it’s more likely than not that you or your carrier will need to comply with the mandate. 

What are the ELD Requirements?

ELD information packet that contains the following: 

  • User’s manual describing how to operate an ELD 

  • Instruction sheet describing data transfers supported by the ELD and instructions on how to transfer HOS records to a safety official. 

  • Instruction sheet that describes how to report when an ELD malfunctions and how to manually record HOS in the case of an ELD malfunction. 

  • Blank RODS graph paper in case the ELD functions. Must have 8-days worth of paper.  

You might be thinking, what’s the purpose of all this digitization if I’m required to keep all these manuals and sheets in my cab? The good news is that the FMCSA was thinking the same thing. The first three items on this list can be stored digitally.  

While most carriers and drivers who were accustomed to the old system may have found switching to ELDs a pain at first, they’ve definitely shown their benefits over the past few years.

Most are specific to companies, DOT inspectors, and fleet managers, but the biggest benefits for drivers and owner operators includes less paperwork, and more easily accessible data for inspections. No need to fumble around trying to find paper HOS logs anymore when the inspector comes knocking, which helps you get back on the road making money faster.  

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cdl suspensionA CDL suspension is the last thing any truck driver wants. It leaves a permanent mark on their driving record, leads to increased insurance costs, and there’s a financial loss for not being on the road. That’s why it’s important to know what can lead to a CDL suspension and how to avoid one. Here are the need-to-know facts.  

Difference Between Suspension and Disqualification

A CDL suspension is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV  (Commercial Motor Vehicle) for a specified amount of time. Suspensions are usually because of offenses, accidents, or traffic violations. The driver is able to hold a CDL again once the designated time is up.  

A CDL disqualification, on the other hand, is when a driver isn’t permitted to drive a CMV because of a qualification issue. This can be a medical reason or not meeting a DOT requirement. The driver can have their CDL reinstated once the issue has been corrected.  

What Offenses Can Lead to a CDL Suspension?

There are a number of offenses that can lead to a CDL suspension. They’re broken into major offenses and traffic violations.  

Major Offenses: 

  • Operating any vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Refusing to take a sobriety test 
  • Reckless Operation 
  • Leaving the scene of an accident while driving 
  • Operating a CMV with an already suspended CDL
  • Use of the vehicle to commit a felony 

Traffic Violations: 

  • Speeding 15 mph or higher above the posted speed limit  
  • Negligent driving  
  • Tailgating  
  • Traffic offenses that occur with traffic accidents  
  • Operating a vehicle without a CDL (This also means not holding the CDL in your possession while driving or without the correct class of CDL) 

How Long Does a CDL Suspension Last?

cdl suspension

Though suspension periods vary by state, they tend to be harsher than those for class D drivers. This is because the severity of CMV accidents is usually much greater than that of standard vehicles. A CDL suspension can last anywhere from 60 days to a lifetime ban depending on the type and severity of the offense and what number offense this is for the driver.  

A first major offense could mean a suspension from 60 days up to a full year (3 years if you’re carrying hazardous materials). A second major offense, in most cases, will lead to a lifetime suspension.  

For traffic violations, if two are committed within a three-year period, the driver’s CDL will be suspended for 60 days. If three traffic violations are committed within three years, their CDL will be suspended for 120 days. This is much less severe than the periods for major offenses, but these shorter suspensions will still lead to financial penalties in upped insurance premiums, traffic fines, and loss of income. 

What Should Drivers Do While the License is Suspended?

There are a number of options for drivers who still want to remain in the industry while their license is suspended. They can try to find work with their current company in a dispatch or training position. This will still keep the driver in the trucking world while he or she waits for their license to be reinstated.  

If a driver feels that a CDL suspension was given unfairly or in error, he or she can appeal the suspension with the issuing state. The driver is also able to dispute anything on a DAC report, if he or she feels that there is an error or information on it was falsified by a previous employer. 

The important thing to remember is to always err on the side of caution while driving and periodically check your MVR. It’s possible that you could have a suspended or disqualified CDL and not even know about it. This is especially true for OTR drivers who aren’t home to receive mail consistently.  

CDL suspensions are unfortunately a part of life for some drivers. While they can be devastating at the time, it doesn’t always mean the end of your driving career. As a truck driver, driving safely and knowing the rules is your best defense against CDL suspensions.  

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clearinghouse will impact truck drivers
You have likely heard about the upcoming new change affecting the trucking industry. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has been in the works for many years, and will finally go into effect in January 2020. The database is designed to address the detection of disqualified drivers, therefore, CDL drivers need to register for the Clearinghouse to be eligible for new employment with carriers. Here’s how Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers, and how they need to act in preparation for it.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a planned database of positive DOT drug and alcohol test results. It will not contain historical data—it only starts collecting data from January 6, 2020 onward. The database was meant to address a major loophole in the detection of disqualified drivers. Technically, if a CDL driver fails or refuses a drug and alcohol test, they are supposed to be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Currently though, a driver can bypass this system. If they fail a test by a carrier, other carriers may not know about this and can still hire them. The average rate of drug test failure is only about 2%. Even though very few drivers fail drug tests, the Clearinghouse will contain violation data about all CDL drivers. The Clearinghouse affects all commercial truck drivers, owner operators, and motor carriers.

How does Clearinghouse work?

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) will manage the secure portal where all concerned parties will have access to data about drug and alcohol violations. Drivers can register on the Clearinghouse, although they’re not technically required to. If drivers register, they will have access to their own data for free.

Drivers are also required to provide consent for companies attempting to access their data.

The Clearinghouse will feature an electronic consent feature for this purpose. Motor carriers, state drivers licensing agencies, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals will also be involved with the system. What’s important to note is that CDL drivers can’t really bypass Clearinghouse even if they don’t register. Whether you register or not, violation data about you will be on there if it exists. If you’re not registered you just can’t see it, and you can’t consent to carriers using the data to hire you.

How Clearinghouse will impact truck drivers

Once CDL drivers are registered on the Clearinghouse, motor carriers can run two types of queries, or requests for data. The first is pre-employment full queries and is a request for a full record of violation data. As the name suggests, carriers are required to make this query before a driver can be hired by their company to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Once carriers make the query, drivers can give their consent to the data on the Clearinghouse portal.

Without drivers giving their consent to the data, carriers are not legally allowed to hire that driver.

Carriers can also make a limited query, which is more like an annual review of their current driver to ensure they are in compliance. Carriers are required to make a limited query once a year, although some may elect to make it more often. Drivers don’t have to give consent for the limited query through the Clearinghouse portal. Instead, drivers give their consent for the limited query to the carrier based on the carrier’s own discretion and paperwork.

What do truck drivers need to do next?

Truck drivers should register for the Clearinghouse by January 6, 2020, especially if they are searching for a new job. Registration isn’t technically required for all CDL drivers, but it is needed if they’re looking for a new job. Registration simply makes the violation data available to you and to carriers looking to hire you.

It’s safe to say that if a driver doesn’t register, they won’t be able to be hired for a new driving job.

There is no renewal required after a driver registers. If drivers are in the hiring process, they’ll have to log on to the Clearinghouse and provide their consent to carriers looking to access their data. While there is no requirement to provide your consent quickly, it’s in your best interest to do so quickly to be considered for employment. Finally, drivers will need to sign consent forms for the limited query, which should be provided by their motor carriers.

The requirements are slightly more complicated for owner-operators, since they serve as their own bosses.

Basically, owner operators are subject to the regulations for both drivers and employers.

They’ll have to designate a consortia or third party administrator who must also be registered. The requirements for owner operators vary slightly depending on whose authority they are operating under. If they’re operating under a carrier’s authority, the carrier takes on more of the responsibilities.

Drivers can register for the Clearinghouse by visiting the Clearinghouse website. There are also helpful FAQs and a helpful timeline on the website. It may be best to select email as a preferred method of contact. If you don’t, the FMCSA will send correspondence via snail mail, which can hamper the speed of your job search and hiring process. Being registered in the Clearinghouse will make job hunting easier for CDL drivers.

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trucking industry changes

The trucking industry has seen a number of changes in just the last few years, not to mention since a generation ago. Seems like every year there’s a new law, mandate, regulation, or technology that may impact the industry. Despite all this, truck drivers remain in high demand and trucking remains vital to the national economy. Truck drivers simply want to know whether and how these changes will impact their job and their work. Here’s what you need to know about recent trucking industry changes.

Electronic logging devices

Probably the biggest change in the industry over the last few years has been the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate. There was plenty of controversy and debate surrounding the ELD mandate when it was about to launch. There was also some anticipation of whether it would actually have any effects. Many drivers were upset about the ELDs and how it would impact their behavior.

While many truckers threatened to leave the industry over ELDs, trucking has continued to see steady growth.

Since it’s been over a year, there are some signs of how it impacted the industry.

Recent findings suggest that the ELD mandate improved hours of service (HOS) compliance overall. The percentage of inspections with intentional violations has dropped. Interestingly though, there seems to be no effect of the mandate on crashes. The number of crashes pre-mandate and post-mandate are comparable. At the same time, drivers were cited more frequently for unsafe driving behaviors after the mandate was in effect. It’s unclear whether the mandate changed driver behavior, or if enforcement has just been stricter.

Bottom line for drivers: Mandates aside, its how truckers choose to drive that determines how safe they are on the road. While mandates can be annoying, drivers haven’t left trucking because of the ELD. Clearly, the industry and the truck driving profession has been attractive regardless of the mandate.

New hours of service rules

There has been much discussion around the proposed hours of service (HOS) rules. These rules are intended to regulate the number of hours a driver can spend on the road at any given time before taking an extended break. The rules are designed to promote the safety of truck drivers and other motorists, although many truck drivers aren’t happy about these proposed mandates.

Basically, as the industry is adapting to the ELD mandate, it is calling for additional HOS flexibility without compromising safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has proposed some changes to elements of the HOS rules. These include the 14-hour rule, the short haul exception, the 30-minute rest break, the split-sleeper berth rule, and the adverse driving conditions exception. Good news is that the FMCSA is seeking input from all industry stakeholders, including drivers. The comment period is set to end on October 7, and drivers can express their opinion on the matter until then.

Bottom line for drivers: While the new mandates regarding the HOS can be frustrating, some of the new exceptions might be useful. Nothing has been decided yet, so drivers would need to keep an eye out for new rule changes coming in the near future.

Pay increases

The trucking industry has seen high growth and is expected to continue growing through 2024. Given the high demand for drivers you’d think that higher pay would be expected. Even though pay rates have been on the rise, there is more to the story.

Often the increase in pay isn’t enough to account for increases in inflation and cost of living.

Additionally, the implementation of ELDs means that carriers have to deal with the costs of switching over their trucks. Even when there are pay increases, they may be more likely for some types of jobs over others. Many companies offer sign-on bonuses, but they usually come with too many conditions and strings attached that sometimes they aren’t worth it.

Bottom line for drivers: Truckers should still be careful and shop around for the best pay. You have some room to be “picky”, but don’t expect all companies or runs to pay as well as others. Try to look past the sign-on bonuses and evaluate whether they are really worth moving to a new carrier.

Autonomous trucks

Here’s an issue which has seen much contention, but very few changes over the last few years. For at least a decade, we’ve heard news about the coming age of self-driving trucks. Some truckers were worried that the development of autonomous trucks means they could be out of a job, although they shouldn’t be. Well, autonomous trucks are now here, and nothing much has changed. Drivers don’t need to worry about losing their jobs because of self-driving trucks. Although these trucks have been developed, they are still in their infancy.

Seeing more of these autonomous trucks on the road is at least a generation away, if not longer.

Even once the technology catches up, there are legal and liability issues to work out because carriers don’t want to be on the hook if the robot trucks cause crashes. As any truck driving veteran will tell you, it’s their judgment, experience, and intuition that helps them drive safe. Will the autonomous trucks be able to replicate that on the road? Remains to be seen. Until then, there is still a desperate need for great truck drivers.

Bottom line for drivers: Nothing has changed yet. Self-driving trucks can’t do everything and truck drivers are still in high demand. Your job isn’t in danger, although the trucking industry may look different in 40 years.

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The American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) latest annual survey is raising awareness of the trucking industry’s biggest issues.

First of all, the driver shortage came in at number one, followed by driver retention at number two. However, creators of the survey demonstrate interest in all the other problems for both drivers and employers. Major industry issues such as these are talked about often. As a result, many of the underlying, secondary issues from the driver’s side are overlooked.

Also, ATRI President Rebecca Brewster stated, “For every motor carrier, if you really care about the driver shortage and driver retention, you’d better care what’s on that driver list of issues”.

And, she’s not wrong. Consequently, the survey uncovered a vast number of issues in trucking that go far beyond the driver shortage, and may even contribute to it.

So, here is ATRI’s 2018 list of the top 10 issues facing the transportation industry. The list is discussed by both commercial truck drivers and carriers.

First of all, top industry concerns for commercial drivers include:
  1. Hours-of-Service (HOS)
  2. Truck Parking
  3. The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate
  4. Driver Distraction
  5. Driver Retention
  6. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
  7. Driver Health and Wellness
  8. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  9. Driver Shortage
  10. Automated Truck Technology
Furthermore, top industry concerns for motor carriers include:
  1. Driver Shortage
  2. Driver Retention
  3. Hours-of-Service (HOS)
  4. Transportation Infrastructure/Congestion/Funding
  5. Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate
  6. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
  7. Driver Distraction
  8. Tort Reform
  9. Truck Parking
  10. Federal Preemption of State Regulation of Interstate Trucking (F4A)


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Illinois Trucking School

Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) trained over 2,000 student CDL truck drivers.

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Image via IVCC

Since the program’s inception in 2000, each student received their CDL license, all endorsements, and other skills, including logging, backing, and maneuvering. In addition, the program’s administrative assistant, Mary Beth Liss, stated in a press release that many students come to them without even knowing how to drive a manual transition. “Our instructors are happy to teach them,” Liss said.

Also, Bruce Hartman, the program’s coordinator, says that the program educates the public on the misconceptions of trucker life.

“People also think if they get their CDL, they may have to travel and be gone from home for long periods of time. This is incorrect as we have many local jobs,” Hartman said. “In fact, we currently have information on over 20 local jobs and about 50 regional and over-the-road jobs.”

Veterans have also been taking full advantage of this program. According to current program students, the Illinois Veterans Grant or Post 911 benefits left them with only $237 of their tuition left to pay.

IVCC offers both day and night school each semester for this 160-hour program. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, but no prior driving experience is required.


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Trucking Industry Relieved

Image via Forbes

Trucking industry relieved: Canada agreed to a highly-anticipated trade deal between the US and Mexico.

After months of negotiation, President Trump announced the “modernized” trade pact that rebalance trade affairs between the three countries. As of September 30, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) replaces the former North America Free Trade Agreement.

In a statement made on October 1, Trump stated that the “…USMCA brings our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico into the 21st century. In addition, NAFTA failed repeatedly to keep up with the fast-changing American economy. The old rules incentivized offshoring, leading far too many manufacturing jobs to leave the country.”

The most significant changes in the USMCA include automobile pricing and tariffs.

According to Forbes, the new agreement outlines a 12.5% increase in imports of American-made auto content. Therefore, more automobile manufacturing transitions from China to the United States. In addition, though USMCA does not discuss steel and aluminum tariffs, the prices for end products increase in 2019.

Also, both Canada and the United States agreed that the USMCA “…results in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region.”

Overall, though all three parties agree that there are still details to be worked out, all agree that this deal will be beneficial for the economy.


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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will increase brakes inspections during Brake Safety Week.

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Brakes Safety Week is September 16-22, 2018. Enforcement personnel plan on doing everything in their power to ensure the safety and well-being of all highway travelers.

Overall, North American Standard Level 1 inspections assess everything from hydraulic fluid leaks and loose parts to defective rotor conditions. Also, vehicles that fall short of the minimum standards leave the road immediately.

In 2017, 14% of inspected trucks were put out of service. “Properly functioning brake systems remain crucial to safe CMV operation,” the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance wrote in a release. “Also, improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems reduce braking efficiency. Therefore, this poses serious risk to public safety on our roadways.”

In addition, CVSA’s 2017 International Roadcheck inspections revealed the majority of violations involved brakes.


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Auxiliary power units (APU) are one of the best weapons truck drivers can have against wasting fuel.

They make it possible to power a truck’s heating, air conditioning and other comfort systems without the need to keep the engine idling during rest stops. While they are very beneficial by not wasting fuel, the additional weight can cause problems. With an APU weighing several hundred pounds, they can push a truck hauling its maximum weight limit over the line into non-compliance, depending on where truckers are driving.

When former President Obama signed the 2012 MAP-21 bill into legislation, many states began to rethink their policies regarding trailer weight limits. While some states have specific laws outlining their exact tolerance policies, others do not. Because of this, it can be difficult to keep each state’s policies straight.

The following table displays state-by-state APU Weight Exemptions.

APU Exemption Guide

APU Exemption Guide by Track Your Truck

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