This post was written by: Channing Puls
Avoiding Trouble: Top 5 DOT Violations
1. Lighting Violations
Over 588,000 lighting and reflective sheeting violations were issued in 2022, making them the most common vehicle DOT violation. These easy-to-spot DOT violations provide a wide-open invitation to all officers to visit with your driver on the side of the road for an inspection.
These common violations provide officers the ability to find obvious violations with a driver’s electronic logging device, the truck, or the trailer’s braking system. If they don’t pull you over in the first place, they can’t check those things! Avoid lighting violations by simply checking your truck and trailer over daily. Truck and trailer lights usually take a while to burn out, especially with more lights becoming LED. Simply doing a walk around inspection when it’s dark out will easily reveal these DOT violations. Finding out about a lighting issue during a DOT inspection is too late!
2. Seat Belt Violations
This is an obvious choice, but we can’t get this one right 100% of the time. Over 42,000 truck drivers have been cited with these DOT violations back in 2022. Each seat belt violation will cost you seven points against your CSA score in the Unsafe Driving BASIC category. There could be any number of reasons why a truck driver chooses not to wear their seatbelt. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. These DOT violations should be non-negotiable with your drivers. Unfortunately, this violation is often only detected after your driver receives a violation.
The most effective way we’ve found to prevent these DOT violations is through onboard driver monitoring… inward facing truck cameras. The reality is that cameras are becoming increasingly common in trucks, and there are several good reasons for that. They are effective in detecting and helping to prevent more than a few bad driving behaviors.
3. Speeding Violations
Speeding violations are the most common driver DOT violations and over 109,000 have been issued so far this year. DOT officers are just like all police officers – they look for the low hanging fruit. If your trucks have all the lights working and aren’t speeding, they tend to blend in with traffic and “disappear”. Speeding is a fact of life on the roadways, but it shouldn’t be the norm in your fleet.
The problem is that we live in an increasingly lawsuit driven society. Being DOT compliant isn’t optional when juries are handing out million-dollar verdicts. Your ELD or GPS provider can handle the data collection. But you must have a system in place to review the information, analyze the data and then act on what you’ve found. I highly suggest doing this at least once per month, but once a week would be even better.
4. Sign Violations
Truck drivers have received over 80,000 of these DOT violations last year. These violations are thankfully less common than the others on this list, but they are still very significant. We’ve seen a spike in sign violations over the last few years. This is probably due to more law enforcement officers issuing violations for failure to obey a traffic safety device when trucks are driving in the left lanes on the Interstate instead of writing an improper lane violation. Regardless of their motivation, this is wrong and if you receive a violation for this, I suggest submitting a DataQ request to try to have it changed. We all know that you shouldn’t run stop signs and red lights and that your drivers shouldn’t drive in the left lanes on the highway. These violations are usually a symptom of distracted driving rather than an intentional act.
Coach and train your drivers to:
- Avoid texting/using their cell phone while driving.
- Avoid eating while driving when possible.
- Avoid improper lane changes.
- Learn how to manage stale green light situations to avoid running red lights.
5. Cell Phone Usage
Using a handheld device carries the highest point severity (10 points) in the CSA system for good reason. Law enforcement officers have issued over 14,500 cell phone violations in 2022. Not a huge number, but these are the ones who were caught with a phone in their hand. We’ve all heard about how dangerous texting or talking on a handheld cell phone is. Like seat belt violations, the easiest and most effective way to prevent this violation is to have driver-facing cameras in your trucks. Again, you may not like that idea and there is usually a fair amount of pushback from drivers and even feel like it’s too over the top for your company. It’s not!