Category Archives: Tips

March 2015 DOT Seminar At Davis’ Trailer World

It was a chilly snowy day in western NY as you never know what March will dole out. The giant snow piles of 2015 are almost gone, good thing as we needed parking space. Even though the weather was still poor thing were ramping up fast for the year. We had greater response than expected for attendees to our planned afternoon DOT forum presented by Srgt. Schramm of the NYS police. Plan was to open up space within the store to hold this but it became evident there was just not enough room to do both. The shop techs had to start extra early this day to complete their scheduled work, clean up and set up for 60 some attendees.

This worked out well as our evening session was planned like this anyhow. Coffee and other hot drinks along with popcorn, donuts and soft drinks were offered to all. This entire event and all supplies courtesy of Davis Trailer World and NYS Police.


At 1:30 in the afternoon the session began. Topics covered dealt with type of carrier (private or commerce), License requirements of operator and at what weights these change ( class A,B, C, D ) driver record keeping and hours of service(log book & Pre trip inspection) These sound simple but can become rather complex. This portion lasted about 1.5 hours and many questions were asked and answered by Sgt. Schramm. After a short break we covered equipment, ratings and required devices of both power unit (truck) and trailer. Again this varies widely by weight and class of operation. Sgt. Schramm spent a full hour on these topics, again many questions were fielded.

The last section covered load securement. We had 2 trailers with equipment loaded on them. something’s were correct and some not. This was intentional. Sgt. Schramm explained direct vs indirect tie down, working load limits of various tie down equipment. How to properly handle combustible materials hauled and proper connection (hitching) of truck to trailer.

The group was very attentive, loaded with questions and a desire to learn. Although we may not all agree with the laws and rules at least we know what they are. We all have the choice to follow them or ignore, it’s just a matter of the consequence. There are a couple of simple reasons I believe in this type of event and are willing to sacrifice my time money and efforts. The line “nobody told me that” I become tired of hearing, the question “how are we supposed to know that” well this is how. All of this information is available from state and federal web sites. Also this educates myself and my staff to help guide our customers. Getting the right product, components and knowledge are all part of our task when filling an order.

At 6:30 pm we got into our evening session and covered all the same topics. Several people waited to talk with Sgt. Schramm and myself to go over certain “gray area” topics. It was a very long day , finally locked up just after 11pm. As we have done for the last several years there are more of these to come in the future. In the meantime please feel free to call, if I don’t know I should be able to find out or direct you to someone that does.

Understanding Tires

Bias Ply Tire: A pneumatic tire in which the ply cords that extend to the beads are laid at alternate angles substantially less than 90 degrees to the center-line of the tread.

Example – ST205/75D15

Radial Ply Tire: A pneumatic tire in which the ply cords that extend to the beads are laid at substantially 90 degrees to the center-line of the tread.

Example – ST205/75R15

Load Rating: The maximum load that a tire is rated to carry for a given inflation pressure.

Tire Ply: Is the number of layers of rubber coated fabric in the tire.

Load Range: (Load range = 2ply/ Letter) Letters are used to identify a given size tire with its load and inflation limits, when used in a specific type of service.

Example: Load Range D tire = 8 ply or Load Range C = 6 ply

Tires/ Tire Pressure: – Always use the proper size tire/weight rating for the trailer & maintain manufacturers recommended tire pressure.

Recommended inflation pressure is provided by the vehicle manufacturer on the tire sidewall and on the Certification / VIN tag, which is usually located at the front left side of the trailer.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Tow Vehicle Continued!

The following equipment, documentation and regulations again are established primarily by the federal government. In our state (New York) some of these are state specific only. State laws can only ever be more stringent than federal, never less or below.

Light trailers, DMV class code of LTR are really quite simple and basic. These require a highway approved coupling device (ball or pintle eye) Safety chains, (any flexible link rated to handle gross weight of trailer and cargo). Highway approved tires with DOT stamp, high speed wheel bearings and hubs, fender covering tire to prevent flinging of debris, front corner marker lamps amber color, stop turn and tail lamps must be red. For trailers that have a width greater than 80” wide a “triple light” must be installed at the rear center. There are specific dimensions that must be followed. Also for 80” and over, overall width marker lights must be installed amber to front and red to rear. This is usually on the fenders, again must be wide as feasible. Reflectors or reflective lenses must be used for all lights. If converting a trailer from incandescent lamps to LED use caution as many of these do not comply with the reflective requirement. The license plate must also be illuminated. This class of trailer must weigh less than 1,000 empty, max gross of 3,000#.

All highway use vehicles must be registered (all trailer registrations expire December 31 in NY State. Renewal by mail is only a courtesy of DMV not a requirement) plated and have an annual safety inspection certificate. The plate is to be installed in the manner it is designed to be read! It has to be visible to a following vehicle. All trailers should be registered for the maximum load plus trailer weight (registered weight) this is your maximum legal load the trailer should haul. This amount will be shown on the vin tag and stated as Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

A good guide to proper equipped compliant certified trailers is to look for the NATM seal on the trailer. This is a national watch dog group looking to make the highways safer for all. Also well established and trained dealers can be very helpful. They are supported by the NATDA another watchdog group for dealerships. Compliance never the less is up the individual operating the vehicle on the highway. When crossing state lines it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Our best resource today is the internet, but please use official State and federal sites for accuracy.

The next issue we will move to Med duty and Heavy (TRL) duty trailers and equipment required.

Thanks for reading.


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for Tow Vehicles

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) Pertaining to Tow Vehicle

These rules apply to everyone and are critical to commercial carriers. Who is a commercial carrier? You, if making money (revenue is done by use of a motor vehicle on the highway directly or indirectly)

These standards are established by the Federal Government. Enforced by local and State police. All motor vehicle manufactures (including trailers) must follow and conform to these minimum standards. The trailer industry has two associations to assist them, The North American Trailer Dealers Association (NATDA) and North American Trailer Manufactures (NATM).

The standards apply to lighting, tires, frame, coupling devices, safety equipment, dimensions and weight ratings. Below is a short list of items to be mindful of.

  • Tow hitch rating should be equal to or greater than what you are towing.
  • Inspect hitches for wear and corrosion periodically, check hardware be sure it is tight
  • All lights must work
  • Mirrors must be sufficient to see behind your cargo
  • Vehicle Markings, DOT Number & Company Name
  • State Safety Inspection Certificate
  • Registration Certificate
  • Insurance ID Card
  • Commercial Safety Triangle Set
  • Commercial Fire Extinguisher
  • Commercial Driver License, Class D or Higher
  • Log Book (certain commercial only)
  • Spare tire, jack and tools needed (commercial)
  • Driver should be trained and educated for task

To gain further information on any of these short list items refer to the Federal Motor Carriers website or a firm such as JJ Keller. The local DMV office also can provide details but limited to driver qualifications. Please feel free to contact me or one of my staff or look for one of our training seminars put on by the State DOT police.