AmericanFarm.com

DOT rules explained at Del. expo

By CAROL KINSLEY

Michelle Rodgers, who has been director of University of Delaware Extension since April, spoke briefly before lunch to visitors to the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown, Del., for the Delaware Summer Turf and Nursery Expo, held in partnership with the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association. This was the first time in years that the summer meeting had been held downstate.
Before coming to Delaware, Rodgers was associate director of Michigan State University Extension. Before that, she spent 27 years at Pennsylvania State University.
Rogers noted she had had a good relationship with the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association and looked forward to the same with DNLA. "It's a great opportunity to work around common interests," she said. She added a new website will be launched in a few weeks, creating a stronger web presence for Cooperative Extension. She invited attendees to convey their needs, whether diagnosis, identification or other matters. "Your input helps with the design," she said. "We want to bring resources to you in ways beyond the traditional."
Chatting with Sue Barton, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture, Rogers said, "You are my new best friend!" The landscaping at her new home is 25 years old, she said, and revamping it is "too much for the common person." She'll be looking to professionals for help, she indicated.
Brian Kundel led two "Pest and Beneficial Insect Walks," exploring the grounds of Carvel Center, including the Demonstration Garden maintained by Sussex County Master Gardeners.
Attendees earned pesticide credits in part by identifying plants marked by orange stakes all over the grounds.
Dr. Rose Ogutu discussed soil health while outside, employees of EP Henry demonstrated how to build a raised patio.
Cpl. Keith Lamey of Delaware State Police Truck Enforcement Unit gave tips on how to avoid trouble on the road.
The Truck Enforcement Unit enforces state weight laws, conducts inspections and operates scale houses. Lamey said most of his work is on I-95 because that's where most of the accidents occur. He noted, "It gets expensive to be wrong."
Several members of the audience were not fully aware of the rules that apply to them. Lamey explained that all employers, employees and commercial motor vehicles which transport property or passengers in interstate commerce must have a DOT (Department of Transportation) number. "It's better to know the rules before you start," he said. "You can get a DOT number online in one hour," he said.[Details on who needs a number and how to get one are posted online at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.]
Lamey stressed that "registered weight" didn't matter. What matters is the GVWR that matches the vehicle's VIN number.
He added that "interstate" gets tricky. If a vehicle is carrying a commodity ordered for a specific job, not just to stock your inventory, what matters is where the commodity comes from originally, not where you pick up the load. And if you leave the state for any reason, even to buy lunch, you're participating in interstate commerce.
"Don't take it personally" if you're pulled over for a roadside inspection, Lamey said. Inspectors look for, among other things, required safety equipment and lights, the driver's qualifications and vehicle documents, and check to see that the load is secure. The most common violation is an inoperative or improperly connected emergency break-away, Lamey said. This equipment must be maintained regularly. Other common violations include flat or under-inflated tires, drivers not licensed for the type of vehicle being operated, non-existent or improper load securement, cell phone use or texting, and seat belt not properly worn.
Lamey said drivers can assist by knowing where paperwork is, carrying special permits and documentation rather than filing it in the office and conducting quality pre-trip/post-trip inspections, making sure tools are put away and so forth.
Voluntary inspections are available. Joe Wicks of Joe Wicks Nurseries said, "It's important to consider voluntary level one inspections and to educate (employees) on the current laws."