The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts roadside inspections to ensure safety on the road. The report All Trucks Roadside Inspections and Driver Violations shows a list of all driver-related violations found during roadside inspections.
In 2021, there have been 1,809,537 inspections so far with 614,221 (33.94%) violations. Infringements include driving over the speed limit, using a mobile phone while driving, and failure to maintain lanes. While these violations may not seem serious, they are deducted against the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score, which determines whether a fleet company can continue its operations or not.
How can DOT violations be prevented? In this article, we talk about the top driving violations and how they can be avoided.
What are DOT Violations?
The DOT is responsible for ensuring the safety of all transportation systems in the United States. To meet that goal, the department enforces regulations that apply to commercial motor vehicles (CMV), drivers, and operators.
The rules cover a wide range of commercial vehicle violations, which include driver behavior and certification. Below is the DOT violations list and ways to prevent them:
- Operating for More than 14 Hours
Working more than 12 hours a day increases the risk of occupational injuries. But imagine being on the road for more than 14 hours. Drivers could lose focus on the road and get into accidents, which is why the FMCSA prescribed hours of service (HOS) to drivers of property-carrying vehicles. According to the FMCSA, property-carrying drivers cannot be on duty for more than 14 hours straight. Drivers also need to be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before driving again. However, an exception can be made during adverse road conditions. This extends the driving window by two hours.
Going beyond the assigned hours is an HOS violation (395.3A2PROPN code), which has an average HSO violation fines of up to $7,322. In addition to the hefty fine, the violation can also downgrade the carrier’s safety rating.
What can you do? Drivers must have the necessary load documents for every shipment they carry. An electronic logging device (ELD) helps keep records of on-road hours, so drivers don’t go beyond their designated HOS.
- Driving over 60/70 Hours in 7/8 Days
Hours of Service (HOS) refers to the total hours that drivers are allowed to be on duty. In addition to driving time, the HOS also includes rest periods to ensure that drivers remain awake and alert on the road. Sometimes, drivers exceed the designated HOS due to several reasons. It could be because they want to make up for lost hours, or they forgot to log their hours properly.
Regardless of the reason, carrier drivers may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive days. Doing so is a serious violation (395.3B2) that warrants an average fine of $4,787 and a seven-point deduction on the driver’s CSA score.
What can you do? Although drivers want to get back on the road quickly, they need to abide by the 34-hour restart rule. This rule allows truckers to reset their workweek by taking a break for 34 successive hours (being off duty, at sleeper berth, or both). Once the reset is finished, drivers can go back on the road.
- False Logs
According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), 14.7% of drivers have falsified their logs. Falsifying logs is a critical violation that puts drivers out of service and removes seven points from the CSA score. Additionally, false log records may incur a penalty of up to $12,695.
Drivers sometimes have their driving log filled out with false information due to several reasons: (1) make on-time deliveries when there’s not enough time given, (2) make up for lost time, (3) go home early, and more. For example, a driver who is off duty should not be behind the wheel. As indicated in the HOS, drivers are allowed to be on the road for specific periods only. Log book rules are enforced to ensure off-duty hours are spent resting and not catching up on deliveries.
As a fleet operator, you are responsible for the false logs filed by the drivers. You need to check the driver’s log and compare it against the driver’s location, which should be on the supporting documents. Otherwise, your drivers are committing a commercial violation, which can put your operations into trouble. Another way to check is by looking at the point-to-point mileage. Delivery receipts, roadside inspection reports, and fuel receipts can also help you in connecting the dots if a driver’s log report seems inaccurate.
What can you do? It’s time-consuming and nearly impossible to go through each driver’s log manually. With the help of a fleet safety camera like Driveri, you’ll know exactly where your drivers are at a specific time. Each footage can help you confirm the location and time, so you can get through the paperwork faster.
- No Record of Duty Status
All drivers must keep a record of their duty status every 24 hours. If a carrier fails to provide this record during an inspection, they could be fined $1,270 per day up to $12,695. Record-keeping violations are a serious offense under FMSCA’s regulations (935.8a).
To prevent the no record of duty status, carriers need to have an FMCSA-registered Electronic Logging Device (ELD). Any property-carrying driver who does not have a record of duty logged in the ELD will be declared out of service for 10 hours. The ELD mandate applies to all drivers except those who are exempt from the ELD rule such as drivers of vehicles that are manufactured before the model year 2000.
What can you do? There’s no getting around the ELD rule unless you meet the conditions for an exemption. Carriers need to ELDs in all vehicles in the fleet to avoid commercial vehicle violations.
- Wrong Class License
Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) requires a set of skills, knowledge, and physical abilities that are different from the ones required for non-commercial vehicles. Operating a CMV is a huge responsibility, which is why the DOT imposes fines of up to $5,732 when caught driving with a wrong class license.
According to the FMCSA’s Commercial Driver’s License Program, drivers must pass skills and knowledge tests before they can obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in their home state. Commercial vehicles are classified as those with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. Below are the different classes of CDLs:
- CDL Class A: With this license class, a driver can drive a CMV with a trailer with a GWWR of less than 10,000 pounds.
- CDL Class B: This is required for drivers who operate vehicles with a trailer with GVWR of fewer than 10,000 pounds or a vehicle without a detachable trailer weighing 26,001 pounds.
- CDL Class C: This license class is for drivers who operate a passenger CMV that transports 16 or more people (including the driver) or hazardous materials.
What can you do? CDL holders must meet high standards before they can receive their respective licenses. To avoid license violations, fleet operators need to ensure that all drivers carry the correct license type and that they are registered in only one state.
The DOT is very strict in enforcing rules against driving violations. Unsafe driving practices, incorrect log information, and excessive hours are penalized offenses and should be taken seriously by all commercial drivers.
Carriers can ensure everyone’s safety by keeping track of the critical violations that drivers often commit. It also helps to have a fleet monitoring system like Driveri to keep track of driving activities and prevent accidents and violations from happening.