Regularly stopping to inspect your load and equipment is, believe it or not, a law

by Martin Cowie

There’s a law that drivers should be aware of, even though it seems there may be very little enforcement; another example of a ‘Gummy Law’: laws with no teeth.

I am referring to the National Safety Code Standard 10 Cargo Securement (Division 1, Sections 2 and 3) as well as the FMCSR (392.9). Although the National Safety Code is, more or less, a suggestion that the feds would like the provinces to undertake, the Regulation 363 turns this National Safety Code Standard 10 into law.  

The National Safety Code Standard 10, as with the FMCSR 392.9, states “all drivers shall stop and check their load within the first 80 kms and then again every three hours or 240 kms (150 miles), whichever comes first.”

Personally, I know of no drivers who have ever been fined for not following the NSC Standard 10 or the 392.9 of the FMCSR, for driving for more than three hours straight.

It could be because in the regulations it states that a driver is not required to stop if the doors are sealed or it is impossible to check the load. 

I would like to point out that I have physically sat with many MTO and DoT auditors while auditing a company’s compliance. Not once had the auditor – MTO or DoT – looked at, or questioned a driver’s compliance when driving for more than three hours straight, as long as the driver’s logs were compliant as well as all documentation, fuel stops, border crossings, tolls, faxes, etc. in order.

On the safety side of things; while working at a large transport company as a safety and compliance officer, this company had a policy that stated the “driver shall stop every two hours to do a load check, tire check, circle check, regardless if the trailer was sealed or not, and check to see if the brakes or axles were or were not heating up.”

This would have proved to be beneficial for the company and the driver, had a certain driver done just that. However, the driver did not stop after the recommended two hours and due to the spike brake being on, ever so slightly, the brakes heated up and caused a fire. The driver had enough time to pull the tractor away from the trailer, saving the tractor.

However, the trailer and load were lost. This could have been avoided had the driver stopped inside those two hours to stretch his/her legs and do a quick walk around the trailer and tractor, as our policy stated, and as the law states (every three hours, as stated by the law).

Personally, I am not a big believer in a truck driver being paid by the mile. This forces the driver into a ‘piecework’ kind of deal, which I believe was the case with the driver who had the fire.

This kind of compensation forces a driver to constantly think about his/her pay, in regards to miles, and not being able to make it to the next drop-off or pick-up, thus creating stress on the driver and causing the driver to concentrate on his/her mileage rather than the road.  

This pay schedule also forces the driver to break or bend a law or regulation every now and then to try to make a couple of extra bucks. However, in the long run, the driver will lose. The driver may think of driving according to their miles rather than their hours. This can get a driver in trouble once the documentation is looked at and examined.

The driver may not stop every three hours, according to company policy, Standard 10 or the FMCSR. The driver may not do a professional pre-trip inspection before starting their trip, since they feel they are not being paid for such. There are many examples of these so-called ‘Gummy Laws’ that lack teeth.

It makes me wonder about the time and energy wasted by the politicians who rallied for the change, the stakeholders and people who opposed it or agreed with it, the commissions who looked it over, the organizations that held meetings to try to stop it or help it along, the lawyers who had a hand in trying to close each and every loophole…the list goes on.

– Martin Cowie has over three decades of over-the-road experience. He has over three years as a manager and instructor of a truck driving school, training safety and compliance theory to students through a private career college. He has also performed safety and compliance of a very large fleet and has been a consultant for more than two years, assisting small, medium and large companies with compliance in regards to MTO and the DoT. He is currently a consultant and educator for the transportation industry. He can be reached at

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