Frequent roadside inspections by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the US help to keep roads safe. In this process, the department also maintains a data of all the driver-related violations.
Records show that there were more than 1,800,000 inspections in the US in the year 2021 of which at least 33% showed violation of DOT norms. The breaches included driving above the speed limit, using cell phone while driving, and failure to stay in lanes.
Even though these infringements may not look serious, they impact a transporter’s compliance, safety and accountability (CSA) score that determines whether or not it can continue its operations. For any transportation company, that offers employment to so many drivers, and enables businesses to take their products to customers, it is important to understand DOT violations and how to prevent them.
Here’s a list for reference:
1. Drivers working for over 14 hours
Truckers engaged in CDL home daily jobs or any other commercial driving job can only work for a reasonable number of hours per day. The risk of occupational injuries in the transportation sector increases if a driver works for more than 12 hours. Imagine the consequences of driving for more than 14 hours!
When they work for hours without a break, drivers tend to lose focus on the road and may get into accidents, endangering their and others’ lives. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has therefore prescribed hours of services according to which truckers cannot be on duty for over 14 hours at a stretch.
Drivers hired for local Class A CDL driving jobs also have to rest for at least 10 hours before they get back to work for the next day’s shift. An exception may only be made during adverse road/weather conditions when drivers have to stop for a break. After this, their driving window can be extended by two hours.
If a transportation firm’s driver works beyond the assigned hours, a fine of up to $ 7322 can be imposed on it. Besides paying a hefty fine, the organization also downgrades its own safety rating with such violations.
To prevent such incidents, drivers must always carry the essential load documents with every set of consignment they carry. On their part, fleet owners can install electronic logging device in their vehicles to keep a record of each driver’s on-road time.
2. Driving beyond 60 – 70 Hours in 7 – 8 days
Hours of Service (HOS) is a term denoting the total number of hours for which truck drivers can be on duty. Besides specifying driving time, the HOS also talks about breaks or rest durations to ensure that truckers stay alert on the road. At times, to make up for their lost hours, or simply because they did not log their hours properly, drivers tend to go beyond their HOS.
In any situation, truckers must not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven successive days or 70 hours on duty after 8 successive days. Non-compliance is a serious offence and attracts a fine of more than $4000 along with a 7-point deduction on the trucker’s CSA score.
Transportation companies must note that even if their drivers wish to get back to the road quickly, they must always abide by their 34-hour restart rule.
3. Incorrect logs
A report from Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has shown that at least 14% of truck drivers have fabricated their logs in the recent past. Recording false logs is a serious violation that puts drivers out of service and deducts seven points from the CSA score. Falsified log records also attract a penalty of up to $12,695.
There are several reasons for which drivers falsify their driving logs. Most common of these include making on-time deliveries even when they don’t have enough time, making up for any time lost, and going home early.
Fleet operators are held responsible when their drivers file incorrect logs. To prevent scarring their organization’s brand image, the managers on duty must always check all drivers’ log and compare it against their respective locations that are documented in the backoffice team’s records.
Another method to check the authenticity of records is to consider the point-to-point mileage. Delivery receipts from clients, roadside inspection reports, and payment receipts for fuel refills can also help a transportation company to in connect the dots and verify if a driver’s log report is inaccurate.
4. Unavailable duty status records
All drivers are supposed to maintain daily records of their duty and if their employer fails to provide the same during an inspection or audit, the fine on the transportation company can vary between $1200 per day to $12695.
By using an electronic attendance logging device in all their trucks, carriers can prevent problems of missing duty records status. At the same time, the managers should also keep digital data of all log books and communicate promptly with drivers if they notice something wrong.
5. Wrong CDL
Drivers for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) need certain skillsets, vehicle knowledge and physical abilities to handle huge trucks. Such skills are different from the ones needed to drive cars and other smaller vehicles. If a driver takes charge of a CMV without proper license, DOT is entitles to impose a fine of up to $5732.
On the basis of gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), CDLs are divided into three categories:
CDL Class A – The license allows a trucker to drive any CMV with a trailer having two or more axles. The drivers can also take charge of any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26000 pounds in which the GVWR of towed vehicle is more than 10000 pounds.
CDL Class B – The license permits its holder to operate any CMV with a GVWR of more than 26000 pounds, as also any vehicle towing a trailer that does not exceed a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.
CDL Class C – With this license, drivers can operate any commercial vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver. They can also handle vehicles that are used for transporting materials categorized as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
Summarily, transportation service providers must remember that the DOT enforces its regulations strictly and penalties are heavy. It is therefore necessary to take all possible measures for the safety of drivers and maintaining true information of their duty hours. Carriers must also use effective fleet management system to ensure compliance in the operations.
Also Read : Making Daily Fleet Operations Safer for Drivers