Just about anyone has the ability to report a trucking company to the Department of Transportation in their state when they see that trucking regulations are being flaunted or violated. There are state as well as federal regulations that govern the trucking industry, and there are consequences associated with violating either one of these.
The two main groups of people who might need to report a trucking company to the DOT include truckers themselves, and other drivers on the road. Osage Specialized Transport, one of the top Denver trucking companies, has compiled a brief guide to help keep drivers accountable and safe on the road. Continue reading below to find out how and why you would go about reporting a trucker or trucking company to the appropriate regulatory organizations.
Why Should a Trucking Company be Reported to DOT?
As much as the industry attempts to regulate the trucking business, the biggest causes of concern still tend to be overlooked. Bad driving habits and poor training are two of the biggest culprits in this regard, and when these types of behavior are encountered on the road, they’re exactly the things that should be reported to DOT.
In part, inconsistent requirements for licensing is to blame for the sometimes poor driving habits of some truckers. While drivers would likely be safer if there were a consistent process across the entire country by which a driver can obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), requirements currently vary from state to state.
One big reason that there aren’t more stringent qualifications for earning that CDL is that the federal government continues to classify truck driving as unskilled labor, and this has led to some serious consequences. It means a truck driver is not required to have any special training or skills before being granted a CDL, and that the driver doesn’t even necessarily have to be skilled at driving with a trailer attached in order to be granted a license.
Many drivers of big rigs have also picked up on the same kinds of driving habits that members of the general public are prone to such as distracted driving. After all, truck drivers are only human. Cell phone usage has become an epidemic among truck drivers, and it’s unfortunately not uncommon to find a driver engaged in checking their Facebook account, answering emails and texts, and watching YouTube videos while driving to spice up the long stretches of boring road travel.
This is extremely dangerous behavior both for the trucker and for other drivers on the road. Whenever you see this kind of behavior from someone working for a trucking company, you should report it promptly.
Who Should Unsafe Trucking Companies be Reported To?
It can be a scary sight to see a big rig on the road that is being operated recklessly, or if you witness distracted driving. When you notice any driving behavior that is clearly unsafe and can have an impact on others, you have several options for reporting that trucking company to the proper authorities.
In an Emergency, Dial 9-1-1
If the situation is an emergency, you should call 911 immediately, and law enforcement officers will be dispatched to the scene along with a medical service if that becomes necessary. Supply the dispatcher with all relevant information so that the appropriate personnel and services can be sent as quickly as possible.
File a Complaint with the FMCSA
Your second option in the event of unsafe truck driving is to file a formal complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This has to be done within 90 days of the time you observed the unsafe or negligent behavior.
The specific types of behavior that are most commonly reported to this organization include
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Exceeding the hours of allowable service
- Inadequate record-keeping
- Excessive road speed
- Lack of adequate maintenance and/or inspection on the vehicle.
All truck drivers and the companies they work for which engage in interstate commerce are obliged by the federal government to comply with FMCSA requirements to acquire trucking permits and authority.
If you gain firsthand knowledge of a driver or company that is not in compliance with these regulations, you should formally contact the FMCSA and file a complaint.
Report to the State Department of Transportation
When the issue is primarily one regarding safety, you should report the driver and the trucking company to the State Department of Transportation. State agencies have their own rules and regulations regarding the trucking industry, and if you observe someone who appears to be violating a state law, you should contact your state DOT right away.
Whenever there is clear evidence that a truck driver and/or company violated FMCSA regulations or state DOT requirements, it’s likely to be classified as negligence when the courts review an incident.
How Can Truck Drivers Report an Unsafe Company?
Because it’s virtually impossible for federal or state agencies to monitor all safety and good driving habits among truckers, that responsibility falls primarily on the shoulders of the truckers themselves. If you are a trucker who discovers that a particular company is in violation of either federal or state directives, you have an obligation to report it so that it doesn’t ultimately end up in disaster for one or more drivers.
Your first option is to call the state Department of Transportation, and this agency should be called whenever you find that any safety or service issues are being mishandled by a particular company. Next, you have the option of filing a coercion complaint with the FMCSA. These kinds of complaints are generally related to hours of service situations, wherein truckers are forced by companies to continue driving past a time frame where it is safe to do so.
If your employer forces you to drive longer than a safe number of hours in any given day, filing a coercion complaint is the way to go. If you feel that you might be punished by your employer for alerting authorities to their bad practices, you have the option of filing a Whistleblower Complaint with the OSHA. There is a direct provision in this Act, known as the Whistleblower Provision, which specifically prohibits this and protects an employee from being fired or discriminated against.
Trucking is an integral part of the network of commerce worldwide. When done safely, it enables us to count on having the products we rely on delivered to our homes, offices, and the local grocery store. But when poor driving habits, whether caused by long hours or negligence, everyone is at risk.
The organizations outlined in this article exist to provide a safety net for the general public, and for other truckers as well. If you witness dangerous driving or inappropriate practices, it is your responsibility to help put a stop to it by reporting a trucking company to the DOT or other regulatory body.