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Regulatory Guidance on the Designation of Steerable Rear Axle Operators (Tillermen) as Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Regulatory Guidance on the Designation of Steerable Rear Axle Operators (Tillermen) as Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Anne S. Ferro
Federal Register
June 6, 2011


[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 108 (Monday, June 6, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 32327-32329]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-13902]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 383 and 390


Regulatory Guidance on the Designation of Steerable Rear Axle 
Operators (Tillermen) as Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Regulatory Guidance.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA issues regulatory guidance concerning the applicability 
of the term ``driver'' to ``tillerman,'' a person who controls the 
steerable rear axle on a commercial motor vehicle. The term ``driver'' 
is used in FMCSA's commercial

[[Page 32328]]

driver's license requirements and in the Agency's general safety rules. 
This notice provides Federal and State enforcement personnel, and the 
motor carrier industry, with uniform guidance as to when certain 
Federal rules concerning driver licensing and qualifications are 
applicable to tillermen.

DATES: Effective Date: This regulatory guidance is effective June 6, 
2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas L. Yager, Chief, Driver and 
Carrier Operations Division, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and 
Operations, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New 
Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590. E-mail: MCPSD@dot.gov. Phone 
(202) 366-4325.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Legal Basis

    The Motor Carrier Act of 1935 provides that ``The Secretary of 
Transportation may prescribe requirements for (1) qualifications and 
maximum hours of service of employees of, and safety of operation and 
equipment of, a motor carrier; and (2) qualifications and maximum hours 
of service of employees of, and standards of equipment of, a motor 
private carrier, when needed to promote safety of operation'' [49 
U.S.C. 31502(b)].
    The Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (MCSA) confers on the 
Secretary the authority to regulate drivers, motor carriers, and 
vehicle equipment. It requires the Secretary to prescribe safety 
standards for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). At a minimum, the 
regulations must ensure that (1) CMVs are maintained, equipped, loaded, 
and operated safely; (2) the responsibilities imposed on operators of 
CMVs do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely; (3) 
the physical condition of operators of CMVs is adequate to enable them 
to operate the vehicles safely; and (4) the operation of CMVs does not 
have a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the operator [49 
U.S.C. 31136(a)]. The Act also grants the Secretary broad power to 
``prescribe recordkeeping and reporting requirements'' and to ``perform 
other acts the Secretary considers appropriate'' [49 U.S.C. 31133(a)(8) 
and (10)].
    The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (CMVSA) requires 
the Secretary to prescribe regulations on minimum licensing and testing 
standards for persons seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL) to 
operate a CMV. For purposes of the CMVSA, the term CMV means (among 
other things) a vehicle with a weight or weight rating of at least 
26,001 pounds, compared to a minimum weight threshold of 10,001 pounds 
for purposes of the MCSA [49 U.S.C. chapter 313].
    The Administrator of FMCSA has been delegated the authority to 
carry out the functions vested in the Secretary by the Motor Carrier 
Act of 1935 [49 CFR 1.73(l)], the MCSA [Sec.  1.73(g)], and the CMVSA 
[Sec.  1.73(e)(1)]. The provisions affected by this Notice of 
Regulatory Guidance are based on these three statutes.

Background

    This document revises current regulatory guidance on the 
applicability of the definition of a ``driver'' in 49 CFR 390.5, to 
``tillerman,'' a person exercising control over the movement of a 
steerable rear axle on a CMV. Section 390.5 states that ``Driver means 
any person who operates any [CMV].'' Today's guidance also pertains to 
CDL requirements for ``* * * every person who operates a commercial 
motor vehicle (CMV) * * *'' (Sec.  383.3(a)).
    Current Regulatory Guidance Question 14 to Sec.  390.5 (62 FR 
16370, 16407, April 4, 1997) reads as follows:

    ``Question 14: Is the tillerman who controls the steerable rear 
axle of a vehicle so equipped a driver subject to the FMCSRs while 
operating in interstate commerce?
    Guidance: Yes. Although the tillerman does not control the 
vehicle's speed or braking, the rear-axle steering he/she performs is 
essential to prevent the trailer from off tracking into other lanes or 
vehicles or off the highway entirely. Because this function is critical 
to the safe operation of vehicles with steerable rear axles, the 
tillerman is a driver.''

Reason for This Notice

    The FMCSA has received inquiries from various entities, including 
the Professional Escort Vehicle Operators Association and the 
Specialized Carriers and Riggers Association, asking about other 
circumstances under which a person exercising control over a CMV's 
steerable rear axle would be considered a driver of the CMV under Sec.  
383.3 and thus subject to the CDL requirements, or a driver under Sec.  
390.5 and therefore subject to many provisions of the FMCSRs, such as 
driver qualifications and hours of service.
    In these new scenarios, the tillerman does not sit on the CMV, but 
walks alongside it to use a wired or wireless remote control to steer 
the rear axle; sometimes the tillerman may be in an escort car. These 
CMVs are typically specialized oversize vehicles on which the rear axle 
is steered only when ``released'' and when the CMV is moving at very 
slow speeds.\1\ Under these circumstances, we do not believe that the 
persons operating the steerable rear axle should be classified as 
``tillermen,'' as the term is used in Question 14. CDL knowledge and 
skills testing would have little relevance to the remote-control 
operation of a steerable rear axle on an oversized CMV. Therefore, 
FMCSA believes it is necessary to update Question 14 for Sec.  390.5 to 
differentiate among persons who might be considered to be 
``tillermen,'' consistent with the explanation above.
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    \1\ Steerable rear axles may have a ``locked'' or ``unlocked'' 
status, used for highway speeds and low speeds, respectively. The 
status can be changed by operation of the trailer controls when the 
CMV is not moving. In the ``locked'' position, the axle may be 
completely fixed, or have a limited self-steering capability, 
depending on the manufacturer's design. In the self-steering mode, 
the axle automatically steers itself within a range determined by 
the manufacturer to prevent tire scrubbing in turns. Typically, the 
unlocked mode is used for over-length CMVs that cannot turn at many 
roadway intersections without steering the rear axle under close 
guidance of a remote operator.
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    FMCSA considers the tillerman's physical location in, on, or around 
a CMV to be the most relevant factor in determining whether the person 
is a driver. A tillerman physically located on a vehicle is likely to 
be responsible for steering the rear axles of the CMV at highway 
speeds, and should be held responsible for safe operation of the 
vehicle, just like the driver in the cab. Anyone controlling a 
steerable rear axle from outside the CMV would be doing so under the 
direction of the person in the cab, and should not be considered a 
driver. Although certain training may be needed for such remote 
operators, that would vary according to the equipment involved.
    For the reasons explained above, FMCSA issues Regulatory Guidance 
Question 34 to Sec.  383.3 and revises Question 14 of the Regulatory 
Guidance to Sec.  390.5 of the FMCSRs.

PART 383--COMMERCIAL DRIVERS LICENSE STANDARDS; REQUIREMENTS AND 
PENALTIES

Section 383.3, ``Applicability.''

    ``Question 34: Would a tillerman, a person exercising control over 
the steerable rear axle(s) on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), be 
considered a driver or ``* * * person who operates a [CMV] * * *'' 
(Sec.  383.3), and thus subject to applicable commercial driver's 
license regulations?
    Guidance:
    A person physically located on the rear of the CMV who controls a 
steerable rear axle while the CMV is moving at

[[Page 32329]]

highway speeds would be considered a ``* * * person who operates a 
commercial motor vehicle * * *'' (Sec.  383.3), and would therefore be 
subject to the applicable commercial driver's license regulations in 49 
CFR part 383.
    A person walking beside a CMV or riding in an escort car while 
controlling a steerable rear axle at slow speeds would not be 
considered a ``* * * person who operates a [CMV] * * *'' (Sec.  383.3), 
and therefore would not be subject to applicable commercial driver's 
license regulations.''

PART 390--FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY REGULATIONS; GENERAL

Section 390.5, ``Definitions.''

    ``Question 14: Would a tillerman, a person exercising control over 
the steerable rear axle(s) on a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), be 
considered a driver as defined in Sec.  390.5, and thus subject to 49 
CFR Parts 390 to 399?
    Guidance:
    A person physically located on the rear of the CMV who controls a 
steerable rear axle while the CMV is moving at highway speeds would be 
considered a driver as defined in Sec.  390.5 and therefore would be 
subject to the regulations in 49 CFR parts 390-399.
    A person walking beside a CMV or riding in an escort car while 
controlling a steerable rear axle at slow speeds would not be 
considered a driver as defined in Sec.  390.5 and would therefore not 
be subject to 49 CFR Parts 390 to 399.''

    Issued on: May 25, 2011.
Anne S. Ferro,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2011-13902 Filed 6-3-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P

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