Driver violations can impede the delivery schedule and timely services of your commercial fleet company. If the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finds any serious violations on your commercial vehicles, the driver will be given an out-of-service (OOS) order. You also lose driver violation points. In 2020 alone, the top three common causes behind OOS orders included operating a commercial motor vehicle without the proper license, no record of duty status, and a false report of their record of duty status.

Two years ago in 2019, the top violations included speeding, driving without a valid medical certificate, and failure to obey traffic control devices. These offenses also deduct a specific number of driver violation points or an assigned severity points in the Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) System of the FMCSA.

Apart from being unable to operate with an OOS order until the violation is corrected, the FMCSA monitors these violations closely to ensure compliance. Without enough trucks or commercial vehicles on the road, your fleet business may lose profit and valuable long-term clients.

Identifying these driver violations is the first step to avoiding them. Here are the top 12 driver violations you need to know for 2021.

  1. Traffic violations include speeding, reckless driving, following another vehicle too closely, and running a red light or stop sign. Other common traffic-driving violations to avoid are failing to use a seat belt and distracted driving.
  2. Road rage or aggressive driving usually results in other violation records. To avoid road rage, commercial drivers should manage their emotions and not take out their anger on other drivers. Focus on safety!
  3. Operation time refers to violations against the FMCSA’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. According to the FMCSA, property-carrying drivers cannot drive past the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, and added hours incur HOS violation penalties. The 14 consecutive hours should be considered the daily driving limit and they need to take 10 hours off duty to go back to work.
  4. Exceeding driving hours means your drivers may have a violation record if they work beyond 60 hours duty for 7 consecutive days. It’s also among the top DOT violations list. DOT fines and penalties for exceeding hours average at $4,787.
  5. Carelessness stems from not driving defensively to protect the vehicle and other drivers on the road. Distracted driving such as looking at one’s phone or reaching for items also signals carelessness and can lead to other driving violations.
  6. No duty status is a violation of the FMCSA’s requirements for logging a driver’s record of duty status. Drivers must update their record of duty status or driving hours log according to their last duty change.
  7. Improper training stems from not answering the question “what are driving violations” for your drivers. You can include the violations as part of your training programs for new drivers and include these in refresher courses or reviews with seasoned staff. The FMCSA has a complete list of violations here.
  8. Unauthorized passenger on board is a violation for any commercial motor vehicle that isn’t a bus. Only buses are permitted to transport any person. Other commercial vehicles will have to be issued an authorization that includes the person’s name, the transport points, and the expiry date of the authority.
  9. Pre-trip inspection failure occurs when a driver does not ensure important parts such as the tires, parking and service brakes, lighting devices, steering mechanism, and other integral accessories are not working before the next trip.
  10. False logs are common out-of-service violations. There’s also a penalty for falsifying driver logs, so make sure the driving log is filled out accurately.
  11. Incorrect class license is a common driver violation from staff carrying the wrong type for the vehicle they operate. To ensure your drivers are carrying the correct license class, review the vehicles they operate and see which ones need an update.
  12. An out-of-service violation renders the driver and commercial motor vehicle unable to operate. The driver must correct the violation to get back on the road.

Commercial vehicle violations will cost your company money, period. The rates will differ according to your company’s state of origin or based on the state they’ll be driving in. Be sure to review your state’s rules and double-check the penalties in the areas within your routes.

To avoid incurring costs, emphasize the importance of defensive driving to your staff. Regularly review the commercial driver log book rules. Don’t forget to review everyone’s licenses, manage inspections, and keep everyone informed of state rules.

Final Thoughts

Knowledge of top driving violations is the first step to prevention. For continuous good practices, you can incorporate fleet safety platforms that prevent risky habits like distracted driving.

Keep learning and read everything you need to know about fleet safety on our blog.

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