Examining the Most Common Trucking Violations (Part 2)

trucking violations

The supply chain within the U.S. is dependent upon truckers to transport goods throughout the country. Indeed, truckers fill an essential role in the economy, but the job is not without risks. According to the National Safety Council, 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal collisions are large trucks. There is a myriad of factors that can contribute to crashes like these, including weather and road conditions. It’s unfortunately true, though, that many are caused by violations that are made by truck drivers. It’s imperative that truck drivers avoid these five most common trucking violations.

Surpassing 14 Hours of Duty

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truckers’ hours according to the Hours of Service rule. This rule was last revised in June 2020 and it stipulates that a driver carrying property may not drive any more than 14 consecutive hours without a break of at least ten consecutive hours. Furthermore, a 30-minute break must be taken after eight cumulative hours spent driving. For drivers who are transporting passengers, the limit goes up to 15 cumulative hours.

There are a few provisions to the rule, including an extension of two hours given in adverse driving conditions. Examining trucking violations reveals fines that average $7,322. To avoid fines and stay safe on the road, truckers should carefully track their hours and always take a break when they are approaching eight hours or 14 hours spent behind the wheel.

Driving More Than 60/70 Hours in 7/8 Days

The Hours of Service rule isn’t the only standard that regulates the time a trucker is permitted to spend on the road. The Code of Federal Regulations also imposes certain limits that truck drivers must abide by. These limits are included in § 395.3 of Title 49 and dictate that a driver cannot surpass 60 hours spent on duty in a span of seven consecutive days — or 70 hours spent on duty in the span of eight consecutive days. The timer for this limit resets if a driver takes at least 34 hours off duty.

A violation of this rule can have serious consequences for any truck driver. The most common consequence is a fine, which can average $4,787 — but the highest fine ever recorded for this violation is $21,780. Needless to say, it’s important to keep track of your hours and ensure that you don’t surpass 60 or 70 hours worked in a seven- or eight-day period.

Not Keeping Duty Status Record

Truck drivers are responsible for reporting their duty status to carriers daily. This is outlined in § 395.8 of the FMCSA standards. Failure to report is considered a recordkeeping violation, and it can trigger fines totaling $1,270 per day, or up to $12,695. Certain exemptions are available for drivers who meet the 100 air-mile requirements, but these drivers must keep detailed and accurate records of their time for at least six months. Time records should contain the following information:

  • The time that each shift of duty begins
  • Total number of hours spent on duty in a day
  • The time that each shift of duty ends
  • The totally time of duty for the preceding seven days

Failure to keep these records or report duty directly to your carrier can have serious consequences. Drivers should use an electronic logging device that is registered with the FMCSA to quickly and efficiently record their duty status while on the road.

Deliberately Falsifying Logs

It’s unfortunately true that some drivers will intentionally falsify their duty logs as a way to work more hours or get around regulations. This might seem like a small infraction, but falsified logs have been linked to fatal collisions, and this violation is one of the most dangerous mistakes a driver can make. Truck insurance covers many liabilities, but falsification of logs may invalidate coverage. The schedule of penalties for this offense was recently updated to allow for more severe consequences, which can include fines of up to $12,695.

The violation also carries a severity weight of seven, which means that it can put a driver out of service. The International Roadcheck of 2019 revealed that as many as 14.7% of drivers had falsified logs and were placed out of service as a result. This statistic likely only represents a portion of the drivers who are actually falsifying logs, so it’s clear that it’s a major problem in the transportation industry. Drivers need to act as whistleblowers if their carrier ever suggests falsifying logs.

Incorrect Class License

Of all the violations a truck driver can engage in, carrying the wrong class license is likely one of the least dangerous — and it may even be unintentional. The International Roadcheck of 2018 showed that as many as 21.4% of drivers, though, were guilty of this violation and placed out of service because of it. There are many different types of commercial licenses, with the following three being the most common:

  • CDL Class A: Required for operation of any combination of CMV with a GVWR of at least 26,001 lbs.
  • CDL Class B: Required for operation of a CMV that has a GVWR of at least 26,001 lbs.
  • CDL Class C: Required for operation of a CMV that is designed to transport at least 16 people

The fines for a class license violation can be as high as $5,732. It’s important that drivers double-check their license to ensure it’s adequate for the type of vehicle they are being asked to operate.

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