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Seat Belt Laws-Big 5er and Others?


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I know each state has differing seat belt laws. For example Tennessee requires only front seat driver and passengers unless children under 16 in back. My question arises from our recent trip. My wife was feeling somewhat poorly on our 9 hour return trip from Pennsylvania. I converted the work station to a bed and "secured" her with the cargo net. I know team drivers do this all the time. Is this legal in all states?

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I know each state has differing seat belt laws. For example Tennessee requires only front seat driver and passengers unless children under 16 in back. My question arises from our recent trip. My wife was feeling somewhat poorly on our 9 hour return trip from Pennsylvania. I converted the work station to a bed and "secured" her with the cargo net. I know team drivers do this all the time. Is this legal in all states?

My understanding is that the net is a North America legal passenger restraint net. You can bet that teams across North America are using that as a primary restraint and assuming they are legal.

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Now see what you done went and did, Carl? You are trying to make George apply the commercial regs to a non commercial vehicle.

 

The federal regulations specify the size of a sleeper berth, what sort of access there must be to it, that you must be able to communicate with the driver, the style of mattress in the sleeper berth and that it must have an occupant restraint system....NONE of which applies to any of us. cuz we ain't COMMERCIAL motor vehicles.

 

Texas says seats in a vehicle must be equipped with seatbelts (if it came from the factory with them). And that a person commits an offense if they ride in a "passenger vehicle", while "occupying a seat" equipped with a seat belt and are not secured by that seat belt. Well, the sleeper isn't a "seat" now is it? And your HDT isn't a passenger vehicle since that is defined as a "car, light truck, sport utility vehicle or a passenger van". If you are in a motor home while it is being driven and you are in the bed, there is no restraint system, is there? Hmm, another conundrum, isn't it? Some jack-butt might write you a ticket, but I think it would be easily beaten. Other states will phrase their laws differently but basically, in Texas, your non commercial HDT does not legally require any restraint system in the sleeper berth.

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From what I found a couple months back while researching this for CA, must be 16 years or older to ride in the sleeper with restraint.

That's not the way I read it. Maybe Chad will pop in but what I saw for California was "A person 16 years of age or over shall not be a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person is properly restrained by a safety belt. This subdivision does not apply to a passenger in a sleeper berth, as defined in subdivision (x) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations." So the way I read that, the 16 year old age limit doesn't apply to someone in the sleeper. Of course I couldn't locate (didn't try hard either) "subdivision (x) oif Section 12 of Title 13" to see what it says.

 

The law is always clear..as mud. Like I said, every state is gonna be different. Chad is well versed in California law, but I doubt anyone knows them all. I think that as long as we use the sleeper restraint we will be ok, since "most" seat belt laws are written for seats, and belts.... not beds, and nets.

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Interesting point Phil. I've always been grumpy about exemptions for motor-homes, just a pet peeve. Just because that's what our legislators drive to get away from it all, we allow some 80 year old geezer to herd a 54,000 lb Newell down the road on a car license.

 

I must look up our provincial regulations here to see if they are any different from Texas

 

On our recent trip across Canada, I erred on the side of common sense. Rocel said she wanted to have a nap in the lower sleeper. I said fine, but you will do up the net. So we cruised with the net up and Rocel sound asleep. I always do the upper net up even if its just the mattress up there. I really don't want anything flying around my head in an unplanned deceleration event. For values of unplanned deceleration event.

 

But I've had the undiluted joy of watching reviews of motor vehicle accidents from our team of 65,000 people world wide, just like clockwork every month. Motor vehicle incidents kill more than ten times all the other fatalities added together with is kinda a scary statistic when you figure the oilfield is supposed to be a dangerous place to work.

 

I know you see this all the time and can't change the rules. That would drive me even farther nuts than normal. lol

 

Geo

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[quote name="Desolation Roe" post="798156" timestamp="144133859"

 

On our recent trip across Canada, I erred on the side of common sense. Rocel said she wanted to have a nap in the lower sleeper. I said fine, but you will do up the net. So we cruised with the net up and Rocel sound asleep. I always do the upper net up even if its just the mattress up there. I really don't want anything flying around my head in an unplanned deceleration event. For values of unplanned deceleration event.

 

 

Heck Geo, having the mattress flying forward would be like a poor mans air bag.....lol

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What I'm reading is folks worry about Commercial Vehicle or Passenger Truck Regulations but use, maybe even register, their Toter as a Motorhome. Now the question is if the vehicle you use and register as non commercial vehicle do you worry about commercial or passenger regulations. Can a person sleep in a Motorhome Bed, while travelling, is the question I would ask? I would say the rules depend on your comfortable zone for safety and the use/registration not the appearance of what you're driving.

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What I'm reading is folks worry about Commercial Vehicle or Passenger Truck Regulations but use, maybe even register, their Toter as a Motorhome. Now the question is if the vehicle you use and register as non commercial vehicle do you worry about commercial or passenger regulations. Can a person sleep in a Motorhome Bed, while travelling, is the question I would ask? I would say the rules depend on your comfortable zone for safety and the use/registration not the appearance of what you're driving.

Tough call. Phil is the expert.

 

I try very hard to stay out of scales and not attract any attention on the road. It worked great for the last 9,000 km this summer, not even a hint of interest from law enforcement.

 

Taking that as a given, I run the rig as common sense dictates and try to stay safe.

 

My personal experience is that nothing good ever comes from getting tangled up with the DOT. It is a maxim to live by that there is something wrong with every vehicle on the road, and at $400 (or more) per infraction that can add up quick.

 

We had a guy at a place I used to work at couple of years ago who was coming home from a job via one of our nearby side roads. It was a very heavy fluid pumper, tandem tractor and tri-axle trailer, but nothing unusual and it would pass muster at any scale inspection. Unfortunately, there was a very small sign, kinda obscured on the entry to an overpass not 3km from the office. None of our other drivers noticed it, and none of our management noticed it. The sign said 90% of axle loading limit in effect.

 

But a roving DOT guy scaled the fluid pumper, and at 90% he was 4500 kg overweight. The fine was $1 per KG and it was down to the driver to pay it. I think at the end of the day our company helped out at least a bit as nobody had any idea that road ban existed, but the story is meant as encouragement to run your rig safely, pay attention to the rules and maintain a low profile.

 

Geo

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27135 VC - this is the seatbelt section of the CA vehicle code.

 

27315©(1) VC As used in this section, "motor vehicle" means a passenger vehicle, a motortruck, or a truck tractor, but does not include a motorcycle.

 

27315(d)(1) VC A person shall not operate a vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt.

 

27315(e) A person 16 years of age or over shall not be a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person is properly restrained by a safety belt. This subdivision does not apply to a passenger in a sleeper berth, as defined in subdivision (x) of Section 1201 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations.

 

This section does not address seat belts in RV's at all. The CA DMV handbook on recreational vehicles addresses seat belts with the following paragraph:

Always wear your safety belt when driving. Even though many RVs accommodate passengers in places where safety belts are not required by federal law (i.e., dining table), if the area has a safety belt wear it. Riding in a place which is not equipped with a safety belt increases the danger of injury in case of a collision.

 

This is just from a cursory viewing of the Vehicle code. 27315 is the section we use to cite people for not wearing their seat belts. There is a separate section that addresses children under 16 and what type of restraints they require. I am not at work (and won't be until next week), so I can't do a more in depth search related specifically to motor homes. Based on the above, which is what most cops will use, if you are 16 or over and you are sitting in a seat equipped with a seatbelt (regardless of the type of vehicle) you need to wear that seatbelt. If you are in a bed or dinette or similar in a Motorhome that was not originally equipped with seat belts, then you would not be required to wear a seatbelt.

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What I'm reading is folks worry about Commercial Vehicle or Passenger Truck Regulations but use, maybe even register, their Toter as a Motorhome. Now the question is if the vehicle you use and register as non commercial vehicle do you worry about commercial or passenger regulations. Can a person sleep in a Motorhome Bed, while travelling, is the question I would ask? I would say the rules depend on your comfortable zone for safety and the use/registration not the appearance of what you're driving.

Well first, (if being used properly) none of us on here are commercial, and therefore we do not fit into any of the commercial regs. That doesn't mean that some over zealous DOT enforcement unit won't try to put you in the regs, so that is why you need to be prepared for the day it occurs. Secondly, the question is not "can a person sleep in a motorhome bed?". The question is "Is there something that says you can not?" Most laws do not say what you may do. They say what you may not do. Many times they list exceptions, but rarely do they give you permission to do things. You may not drive on the shoulder of a roadway, except to do this or that. You may not ride in a vehicle without being secured by a seatbelt, unless this or that. But you will never find a law that says you may sleep in the bed without a seatbelt. So, unless you are prohibited from doing so, you can do it.

 

You are absolutely right about the use of and not the appearance of our trucks. The registration on the other hand makes no difference. I can put a moped into the commercial regs under the right circumstances. It isn't what it is, it is what it is doing that matters. Unfortunately some enforcement people can not get passed that old "if it walks like a duck" logic. Part of that issue is that you can use a Prevost "motorhome" to pull your race car to the race track or haul your band to it's next performance. There are many other things that would make your "motorhome" be considered a "commercial" motor vehicle. Also, the rules couldn't care less about "your" comfort zone. "You" may be comfortable driving 80 mph but is the speed limit is 65..............

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