The 10 Most Common FMCSA Driver Violations
Because of the potential risk that commercial trucks can pose, there are various regulations that truck drivers and companies must comply with and that are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If they violate these rules, they can be subject to steep fines, loss of driving privileges, and other significant penalties.
Here are the ten most common FMSCA driver violations:
There is an inherent incentive for truck drivers to speed. Trucking companies are paid by the load, so they make more money by getting deliveries to their destinations as quickly as possible. Truck drivers know this and may even be pressured by their employers to speed and take other safety risks. Speeding violations range in severity from one to ten, based on the speed and location of the infraction. Speeding violations affect drivers’ CSA scores.
2. Hours of Service Violations
The FMCSA regulates the hours that commercial truckers can drive and when they must take a break. Despite these rules, many truck drivers and companies violate these rules and put other motorists on the road at serious risk.
3. Failing to Obey a Traffic Control Device or Sign
Trucking companies sometimes use their larger size to intimidate other drivers. They may run through a red light, thinking that other drivers won’t get in their way. Other similar actions may include:
- Running a stop sign
- Passing in a no-pass zone
- Disobeying a yield sign
- Speeding past a yellow light
- Not waiting for pedestrians at crosswalks
4. Overloading or Improper Loading
Trucks that are overloaded or improperly loaded may tip over if the cargo shifts during transit or cargo may fall off the truck. Overloaded trucks can also cause tire blowouts, engine failure, and other operational issues. Because of the dangers of loose cargo, there are strict rules about how much weight a truck can carry, based on its gross weight and number of axles. There are also rules about the type of materials that must be used to secure loads.
5. Taking Drugs or Alcohol
Operating a commercial truck is a challenging feat. However, it can also be tedious, which may motivate some drivers to turn to drugs or alcohol to keep them awake and stimulated during long travel.
6. Operating a Commercial Vehicle without a CDL or Proper Endorsement
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required to operate a commercial vehicle. Additionally, truck drivers may have to obtain additional endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles or haul certain types of cargo. This violation includes acts such as:
- Driving with no CDL
- Driving with an expired CDL
- Driving with the wrong license class
- Driving on a suspended or revoked CDL
- Attempting to secure a CDL in more than one state
- Driving without the proper endorsement
7. Operating a Commercial Vehicle While Using a Mobile Phone
While states have different rules regarding the use of mobile phones while driving a passenger vehicle, the consistent rule for commercial drivers is that they cannot use a mobile phone while operating a commercial vehicle. Nonetheless, some commercial drivers use mobile phones or other unpermitted devices.
8. Failing to Conduct Proper Pre-Trip Inspections
Pre-trip inspections are required before commercial drivers hit the road. When mechanical issues contribute to an accident, it is often the case that these inspections were skipped or conducted quickly without regard for safety.
9. Record Keeping Violations
Truck drivers must maintain accurate records regarding their driving time and hours, breaks, and dispatching information. They can face steep penalties for failing to keep records or falsifying these records.
10. Following Too Closely
Following too closely is dangerous, but especially when the tailing vehicle is a large commercial truck. This bad habit makes it more likely that an accident will occur because the driver will have less time to stop when they are following too closely.
These are just a few of the violations truck drivers may commit. A lawyer can investigate whether the driver violated any of these rules and whether that contributed to the truck accident.