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Old 06-03-2008, 03:09 PM
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Default Laptop Illegal in Commercial Vehicle?

From OOIDA website:

une 2, 2008
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Arizona cops say passenger seat laptops violate FMCSA’s TV ban

Gerald Cook watched the Arizona DOT officer open his handbook to a dog-eared page toward the back. The words “television receiver” and an entire paragraph of text were highlighted.

Minutes earlier on Sunday, May 25, Cook had pulled into Arizona’s Sam Simon Port of Entry scale house while traveling westbound on Interstate 10. The Arizona Department of Transportation officer questioned Cook about the laptop computer mounted in the front of his cab.

Surely the officer wasn’t busting Cook for the computer that hundreds of inspection officers had seen before, mounted near his driver’s seat in his 2005 Peterbilt 379.

The computer allows Cook to check e-mail messages from dispatchers and home and, more importantly, allows him to quickly and accurately enter hours-of-service data into his logbook software.

“He told me (the computer) couldn’t be within my reach from my driving position,” Cook said. “That negates doing my logbook on the laptop.”

Staff in OOIDA’s Member Assistance Department said two Association members called Tuesday, May 27, regarding Arizona DOT officers at the Sam Simon Port of Entry. The incidents reported in Tuesday’s calls were the first known interpretations of federal law to single out laptop computers.

Several states prohibit all drivers – commercial and non-commercial – from viewing television or movies, but some of those states exempt driver-aid technology such as GPS mapping systems.

After a few minutes, the officer told Cook he was being cited for violating a federal safety regulation that prohibits trucks from having “television” screens within the view of drivers.

The officer told him the ticket could cost $450.

Cook, who said his laptop was closed and in sleep mode, was stunned.

“I’ve never had anybody say anything about it before – it kind of caught me by surprise,” Cook told Land Line. “He said, ‘With the Internet, you can play movies.’ I told him, ‘Have you ever seen a cop car with a laptop? They’re on at all times.’ ”

Arizona officials are interpreting that laptop computers are covered by a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation that was originally designed to prevent television viewing by commercial drivers, said Cydney De Modica, an Arizona DOT spokeswoman.

“Although in general, laptops are used for obtaining current information about road conditions, closures and restrictions, advancing technology does allow the devices to be used as a television receiver, which is, the prohibition under which the driver was cited under 393.88,” De Modica told Land Line. “We all are aware that laptop capability and computer capability is advancing and changing on a regular basis.”

The FMCSRs ban television viewing by drivers with rule 393.88, which states:

“Any motor vehicle equipped with a television viewer, screen or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast shall have the viewer or screen located in the motor vehicle at a point to the rear of the back of the driver’s seat if such viewer or screen is in the same compartment as the driver and the viewer or screen shall be so located as not to be visible to the driver, while he/she is driving the motor vehicle. The operating controls for the television receiver shall be so located that the driver cannot operate them without leaving the driver’s seat.”

Arizona DOT officers issue citations only if a driver has a laptop open, and is typing or working on it while truck wheels are rolling, said De Modica, who wouldn’t comment specifically on Cook’s citation. The decision to include laptops was made to head off what Arizona inspectors see as a troubling trend among a few drivers, she said.

“Over the past year, we’re beginning to see more and more use of onboard technology in the form of laptops,” De Modica said. “We have even seen people in the process of actively engaging in communication on a chat line.”

Cook said the relatively new interpretation of an old regulation serves one purpose:

“It’s a money grab,” Cook said.

The five-year driver said he’ll challenge the interpretation of the federal law.

“I’ll fight it until every cop car in the country doesn’t have a laptop in it,” Cook said. “My laptop is staying right where it is.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:13 PM
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I hope we get an update on that one!! I plan on leaving mine, sitting on the passenger seat with my Delorme Street Atlas on while traveling. I feel a quick glance at the screen is safer than pulling a paper map out while driving down the street any day!! I always pull over and do a load check, then log it before I start so that won't change either!

If they outlaw the Laptop from being in driver's reach, they need to outlaw all the dash mounted GPS units too!!
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Laptop Illegal in Commercial Vehicle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thebaldeagle655
“Any motor vehicle equipped with a television viewer, screen or other means of visually receiving a television broadcast shall have the viewer or screen located in the motor vehicle at a point to the rear of the back of the driver’s seat if such viewer or screen is in the same compartment as the driver and the viewer or screen shall be so located as not to be visible to the driver, while he/she is driving the motor vehicle. The operating controls for the television receiver shall be so located that the driver cannot operate them without leaving the driver’s seat.”
While it would be a PITA to fight, the burden would be on the DOT officer to prove the laptop had the capability of receiving a television broadcast at the time of the citation. I know my laptop is incapable of receiving television broadcasts.
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:20 PM
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Bad thing would be the definition of "Television Broadcast." I know with my AT&T broadband card, in a 3g (broadband speed) area I can watch television shows that have already aired as well as the live broadcasts of some NASCAR races.

Could be interesting to say the least!!! I do think I will start carrying my broadband card in the computer case, out o fsight until I need it.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebaldeagle655
Bad thing would be the definition of "Television Broadcast." I know with my AT&T broadband card, in a 3g (broadband speed) area I can watch television shows that have already aired as well as the live broadcasts of some NASCAR races.

Could be interesting to say the least!!! I do think I will start carrying my broadband card in the computer case, out o fsight until I need it.
Directly from the FMCSA:

Quote:
Question 1: Does §393.88 restrict the use of closed circuit monitor devices being used as a safety viewing system that would eliminate blind-side motor carrier accidents?

Guidance: No. The restriction of this section would not apply because the device cannot receive television broadcasts or be used for the viewing of video tapes.
Since the FMCSA doesn't define "television broadcasts", or even "video tapes", it is a gray area.

When I think of a laptop, particularly one that is providing GPS or logging, the term "television" does not come to mind.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:16 PM
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What a trip! I use my laptop for GPS mapping all of the time. I didn't think it necessary to buy a TomTom, Garmin, etc because I had the laptop. I also have installed TV Tuner software for times I am not driving but don't have the USB Tuner plugged in while driving.

I do think it is very hypocritical because the police use it to aid them doing their job and then they cite a driver for using a laptop to do their job.

grrr
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Old 06-04-2008, 01:16 AM
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As the driver who was cited pointed out, it's a money grab pure and simple. Sounds like AZDOT is looking to justify it's otherwise mediocre existance.
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Old 06-04-2008, 03:27 AM
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Driving for Swift does have it's advantages . . since the inception of Prepass, I haven't been over an AZ scale. If I had, I'd have been guilty of this infraction every time. My laptop is in the passenger seat and Delorme is always running.

I can't remember the route but there's a very rural place in upper state NY with nothing but a last minute notice of a low clearence . . I want to say 13' 4" but it's listed in RM MCA as 13' 6". I got to the sign . . there is no place to turn . . so I called the State Police looking for a little help.

Two troopers show up . . friendly and helpful . . they offered to help me back up to bypass the bridge . . via ANOTHER restricted route. One was genuinely interested in how I got there because she wanted to look into whether or not this could be prevented in the future. I showed her the listing in the MCA and then pulled out my laptop, with the GPS crumb trail to show which way I had come.

Her first remark? That's the same program we use!
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Old 06-04-2008, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigtimba
I can't remember the route but there's a very rural place in upper state NY with nothing but a last minute notice of a low clearence . . I want to say 13' 4" but it's listed in RM MCA as 13' 6". I got to the sign . . there is no place to turn . . so I called the State Police looking for a little help.

Two troopers show up . . friendly and helpful . . they offered to help me back up to bypass the bridge . . via ANOTHER restricted route. One was genuinely interested in how I got there because she wanted to look into whether or not this could be prevented in the future. I showed her the listing in the MCA and then pulled out my laptop, with the GPS crumb trail to show which way I had come.

Her first remark? That's the same program we use!

Most warning signs in NY are list as 1 foot lower than actual clearance,if the sign reads 12'6" the actual bridge clearance is 13'6"
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Old 06-04-2008, 04:37 PM
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Well what are they going to do about cell phones then. Alot of them can be used to watch movies or whatever and me along with many others have them stuck to the dash and use some type of hand free device with them.

The only time I use my phone is when the boss calls me for a change in plans. Other then that I don't use it unless I am stopped.

As far as the Laptop, well mine is in the truck also but I don't need it for gps since I have a Garmin GPS V mounted on the dash. So the laptop is in the berth.

I thought about the log thing with it but since my company requires the regular log book copies it just makes even more work at the end of the day.
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