What is The FMCSA?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an affiliated agency of the United States Department of Transportation. It is responsible for regulating truckers and other large motor carriers such as buses and licensed commercial drivers to ensure compliance with all aspects of road safety. However, even with safety mandates that all truckers and motor carriers abide by, safety violations are still happening every day on the road, which can put motorists at risk of being involved in a severe accident.
According to the FMCSA, here are the most common moving violations that occur year after year:
FMCSA Cited Moving Violations
Moving violations are the most commonly cited violations by the FMCSA every year, including:
There are many reasons why truckers may be driving at high speeds, but one of the most common reasons is the demand to make deliveries fast and on time. Because of their size, high center of gravity, and hefty weight, a crash that involves speeding can quickly turn deadly. Adding in adverse weather conditions can also make a speeding accident much worse. The FMCSA requires truckers to heed proper speeds when driving through inclement weather conditions such as:
- Rain, sleet, snow, fog
- Low visibility
- Wet or icy pavement conditions
- Heavy traffic
- Construction zones
Tailgating means driving too closely behind another vehicle, and it's a bad driving habit that can cause a severe accident. If truckers are driving aggressively close to a vehicle in front of them, and the vehicle in front makes a sudden stop, it can be difficult for a large truck to brake in time to avoid a collision. This can result in an "override" accident, which means that a truck will crash and rollover a smaller vehicle.
Dangerous Lane Changes
Changing lanes or passing without using proper signaling or cutting off other drivers is a recipe for a trucking accident. Not to mention, trucks have blind spot challenges, and when making careless maneuvers on the road, cutting off another vehicle can cause that vehicle to crash into the back of the truck.
Making an improper turn can involve multiple types of violations such as:
- Making a left-hand turn at an intersection that has visible signs stating "no left turn."
- Making a turn at a "no turn on red" sign.
- Making illegal U-turns
- Making turns from the wrong lane
- Failing to use turn signals
Failing to Yield the Right-of-Way
Ignoring right-of-way rules can put other motorists at risk. When vehicles, including trucks, approach a four-way intersection that does not have a traffic signal, drivers must yield to the vehicles coming from the right.
Railroad Crossing Violations
Motor carriers and trucks have particular guidelines when approaching a railroad crossing and must always approach them with the expectation that a train is coming. Truck and commercial vehicle drivers must make a complete stop and look both ways before crossing the track. They must also abide by warning signals and not try to "beat the train" by maneuvering around crossing gates.
Failing to Obey Traffic Signs and Signals
Truckers who fail to obey stop signs, run through red lights, or speed up when the yellow light is flashing to slow down, is a surefire way to cause an accident. This common FMCSA violation can be the catalyst to a severe truck crash.
Reckless driving can cover a multitude of destructive driving behaviors, including speeding and cutting off other motorists, and tailgating. Here are some different types of reckless driving behaviors that can be the cause of a severe truck accident:
- Driving across medians
- Driving the wrong way to avoid traffic jams/heavy traffic situations
- Driving while under the influence
Other Common FMCSA Violations
In addition to the moving violations mentioned above, the following are other common citations that the FMCSA consistently reports:
Failing to Use a Seatbelt
Commercial drivers are mandated to operate their commercial motor vehicles while restrained with a seatbelt. If they are carrying authorized passengers, they must abide by this rule as well. All motor carriers must be equipped with appropriately installed seatbelts for the intended amount of occupants.
Using a Handheld Mobile Phone
While everyone knows using a smartphone or any other electronic handheld device while driving can be a major distraction that could lead to a severe accident, it's still a common violation for commercial truck drivers.
Having Unauthorized Passengers on Board
Under FMCSA regulations, drivers are prohibited from transporting any person in a commercial vehicle other than a bus used for that purpose. However, if there are exceptional circumstances, it must be in writing and authorized with details of the following information:
- The transported person's name
- Locations of the transportation
- Dates of transportation
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Under FMCSA guidelines, drug possession and driving under the influence of drugs is a serious violation. The use of medications, such as "pep pills" and "bennies" is prohibited. If a driver has a medical condition and must take medication prescribed by a licensed doctor, the substance must not impact the driver's ability to operate the vehicle.
Failing to Conduct Pre-Trip Inspections
The FMCSA requires Pre-trip inspections. The purpose of a pre-trip inspection is to ensure the following parts are in good working order to avoid a truck accident:
- Trailer brakes
- Hand brakes
- Truck frame
- Lights and reflectors
- Rearview mirrors
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
- Turn signals
Failing to Properly Place and Use Warning Devices
Warning signal flashers can prevent accidents when displayed correctly on highways and the shoulders of the road. FMCSA mandates that when drivers are stopped for emergency reasons, they must display hazard warning signal flashers and keep them illuminated until the vehicle is cleared from the road.
Failing to Secure Vehicle Equipment or Load
Vehicle cargo must be secured and appropriately distributed in the vehicle. The following are some examples of items that should be fastened and secured before making a trip:
- Spare tires
In addition, truck drivers should check that any cargo inside the vehicle does not pose an obstruction to their view or hinder the movement of their arms and legs should they need to act quickly if an emergency arises.
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