The longer a person drives, the higher the likelihood of being cited for a violation. When you’re a long-haul driver, this potential for violation citation goes way up. And can prove costly

Financial penalties are one concern. But losing your license can mean days off the road. Which hurts both the driver and damages the fleet’s bottom line. This article explains common driver violations and how to avoid them.

What constitutes a driver violation?

There are many truck driving rules the driver and fleet operator need to understand and follow. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has passed regulations to keep drivers and the roads safe. A company may refuse to hire drivers with certain types of violations or who’ve had truck violations within a certain period of time. Reduce risk with this roundup of the top common driver violations.

Common driver violations

Operating past 14 hours on duty

One key area of driving limits is the amount of time the driver can be on duty. According to the FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules, “a [property-carrying] driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.”

If a driver operates past 14 hours on duty, that’s considered an hours of service violation, a critical violation of 395.3(a)(2). For passenger-carrying drivers, the limit is 15 cumulative hours.

Driving over 60/70 hours in 7/8 days

According to 395.3(b)1, a driver may not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days, applicable for carriers that don’t operate every day of the week. Or, 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days for carriers that do operate every day of the week.

The 7/8 consecutive day period can be restarted if the driver takes 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. A thorough understanding of the 34-hour restart rule and the 60-hour/7-day and 70-hour/8-day limit can allow commercial motor vehicle drivers to restart their cycle. And get back on the road more quickly.

Learn more about the 34-hour restart rule here. 

Note: Drivers can record the 34-hour break with the Motive App in two simple steps.

No record of duty status

According to the FMCSA’s regulations (395.8a), a motor carrier must require each of its drivers to record the driver’s duty status for each 24-hour period. If a carrier fails to do so, it’s considered a critical violation with a severity weight of 5 out of 10.

If a driver isn’t exempt from the ELD mandate, they’ll need an FMCSA-registered electronic logging device to record the duty status. However, there are some exceptions.

For instance, drivers who qualify for the 100 air-mile radius exemption per [49 CFR 395.1(e)(1)]3 and 150 air-mile radius exemption per 49 CFR 395.1(e)(2)]3 aren’t required to keep record of duty status (RODS). However, they must keep accurate time records for six months.

The time records must contain the following information:

  • The time the driver reports for duty each day
  • The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day
  • The time the driver is released from duty each day
  • The total time for the preceding seven days in accordance with Section 395.8(j)(2)

For more information on a driver’s record of duty status and supporting documentation, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about HOS exemptions, check out this article: 4 hours of service exemptions drivers and fleet managers should know.

False logs

Falsification of logs is one of the top three most common driver violations found during the annual International Roadcheck. In 2021, 14.7% of drivers were placed out of service because of falsified log books.

Falsifying logs is a critical violation that has a severity weight of 7.

Wrong class license

Having the wrong class license is another violation more common than many people think.

During the International Roadcheck 2021, having the wrong class license was the second biggest driver violation. Accounting for 565 violations or 19.5% of driver violations.

There are multiple types of driver licenses:

  • CDL Class A. It’s required for drivers who operate any combination of vehicles/CMV with a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds. Provided the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds.
  • CDL Class B. It’s required to operate a CMV with a GVWR of 26,0001 or more pounds. Or tow a vehicle not heavier than 10,000 pounds.
  • CDL Class C. It’s required to operate a CMV designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver. Or to transport hazardous materials, as defined under the federal law.

Traffic violations

Any driver on the road can be penalized for speeding violations or other traffic violations. The commercial vehicle driver isn’t exempt from citation for truck violations such as:

  • Speeding
  • Erratic or improper lane changes
  • Tailgating 
  • Using a hand-held cellphone (in states where it’s prohibited)

With fleet management software, risk managers can keep an eye on traffic violation trends. Drivers can be identified for additional coaching or receive targeted in-app coaching after their route is done.

Carelessness and negligence

Another cause of truck driver violations? Carelessness. The driver may be changing the radio channel, smoking, or eating while driving. And end up bumping another vehicle off the road. 

Inattention or distracted driving can see a truck swerving into another lane, failing to yield, and so much more. This carelessness may not cause an accident. But when it does, the driver could face charges of negligence. Common negligent driving examples include failing to stop at a red light. Speeding or driving too slowly. Or failing to use the vehicle’s turn signals.

Improper equipment

The FMCSA also regulates specific safety equipment for every commercial vehicle such as mirrors, lights, reflectors, and brakes. The driver is also expected to keep a roadside emergency kit with specifically mandated items in it.

Additionally, all trailers must have an underride bar to prevent another vehicle from running underneath the tractor-trailer truck. The bar is commonly known as a “DOT bar.”

Substance abuse

Fleet drivers must meet a higher standard when it comes to substance abuse than other motorists. To help identify substance abusers on the road, the FMCSA Clearinghouse rule requires FMCSA-regulated employers and their service agents to record their employees’ DOT drug and alcohol violations under Part 382 of the FMCSA’s regulations.

The rule also requires them to populate the clearinghouse (an electronic database) with verification of a CDL driver’s completed steps in the return-to-duty process.

As of the end of December 2021, a total of 111,025 drug violations were reported and 2.544 alcohol violations had been recorded since January 6, 2020 when the clearinghouse became operational.

Understanding fines, points, and penalties

These common driving violations risk road safety. They can also cost time and money and lead to loss of points as well as stiffer penalties. Educate your drivers about the potential risks that accompany these violations to help keep them informed and accountable.   

Hours-of-service violations

Drivers who violate the regulation of operating past 14 hours on duty, or driving over 60/70 hours in 7/8 days, commonly face fines. They can also accumulate points on their licenses. The amount of the fine and number of points accumulated will vary depending on the severity of the violation and the specific regulations of the jurisdiction. 

In severe situations, or for repeat offenders, the driver’s license may be suspended. Hours-of-service violations also may attract the attention of regulators and lead a fleet to experience more frequent inspections, audits, and potential penalties.

Recordkeeping violations

The FMCSRs identify several possible recordkeeping violations. These cover:

  • Failing to prepare or maintain a record required by part 40 of Title 49 
  • Preparing or maintaining a required record that is incomplete, inaccurate, or false
  • Knowingly falsifying, destroying, mutilating, or changing a report or record

These violations are subject to a maximum civil penalty of $1,496 for each day the violation continues, up to $14,960, according to the May 2023 amendment. 

A driver convicted of violating an out-of-service order can be fined not less than $2,500 and not less than $5,000 for a second or subsequent conviction. Employers convicted of these violations are subject to a civil penalty between $2,750 and $25,000.

Out of service order violation

A driver who drives within the 24 hours they’ve been placed out of service for a CDL violation or violating alcohol prohibitions can face a civil penalty not to exceed $3740 for a first conviction and not less than $7481 for a second or subsequent conviction.

Meanwhile, an employer who knowingly allows, requires, permits, or authorizes an employee to operate a CMV during any period in which the CDL-holder is subject to an out-of-service order, is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $6,755 or more than $37,400.

Other road violations

Drivers who violate traffic law, or are found careless or negligent, may have to pay fines. The amount can vary depending on the severity of the violation and where it takes place. In a jurisdiction where driving violations lead to points, the driver can also expect to accumulate points on their license. Too many points can lead to license suspension or other penalties.

Road violations can also lead to increased insurance premiums for both the driver and the fleet operator. Depending on the fleet company’s policies, and the severity of the offense, the driver may have to participate in retraining programs or face suspension or termination. 

If the violation results in an accident or injury, there could also be legal consequences. The driver and/or fleet could be sued or face criminal charges.

Improper equipment

Maintaining proper equipment ensures road safety for drivers and the public. VIolations regarding  improper equipment usage can net fines. The fine amount typically depends on the severity of the violation, the number of violations, and the specific regulations in place.

The fleet may also have to meet compliance orders issued by regulatory agencies. Generally, operators are given a set timeframe to remedy the equipment issues.

Fleets that violate equipment restrictions can also expect increased inspections and scrutiny, which can lead to potential penalties for non-compliance. If the situation is an immediate risk, the authorities could impound the fleet’s vehicles. In severe cases, the fleet may even have its operating authority suspended or revoked.

How to use Motive to keep drivers on the right side of the law

Roadside inspections can happen practically anywhere. That’s why commercial motor vehicle drivers must always be prepared for safety inspections. An FMCSA-registered ELD helps keep fleets accountable. 

Motive’s ELD can inform drivers of upcoming HOS violations with timely alerts ahead of potential violations. The notifications give drivers ample time to plan, stop, and park their vehicles safely.

The Motive Driver App also makes it easy for drivers to maintain their logs and paperwork. Driver signature prompts reduce form and manner errors and drivers can easily correct their record of duty status (RODs) if updates are required. At the same time, the Compliance Hub makes it simple for fleet managers to audit driver logs and resolve violations faster.

Our software further helps you avoid ELD violations and improve your CSA scores by helping identify drivers who could benefit from ongoing training or targeted coaching.By pairing critical CSA and driving data, you can see all of your fleet’s risk factors to avoid increases to your current CSA scores. Use CSA Insights and DRIVE together to design a proactive fleet safety program that can help reduce accidents and costs. Improve driver performance. And retain top performers.

Learn more about the Motive fleet management solution and explore our fleet safety resources.