This is one of the most common risks that we see on a regular basis on the vehicle side.
If your driver gets pulled into a port of entry or a roadside inspection station and gets a violation. But there are no citations that go with the violations.
The officer will almost always tell the driver, “this is just a warning.” Trying to make it seem like they are not the bad guy.
While they are just doing their job I really wish that they would not tell the drivers that this is, “just a fix-it ticket!” Every inspection counts against your DOT score and is what is used to trigger audits and more inspections.
Back to the risk part of not fixing something that was documented on a roadside inspection.
If it is an OOS (Out of Service) item they should not allow you to move the truck/trailer until it is fixed.
If you chose to move it before then the fines start at around $10K per occurrence.
On the other hand, if the items they said had issues were not OOS, then you should be able to complete your trip, but they must be fixed before you dispatch the truck again.
What that means is that if you go home every night, you have to get the truck fixed before it goes back out the next day.
If you are on a trip, then you have until you’re finished dropping off that load to get it fixed.
If you chose not to fix it, and can’t prove that it was fixed by work order or receipt from a shop. Then you could get a citation when you get audited.
Those fines are not too bad. They start around $320 and work their way up to $5200 depending on the violation and the amount of time that it went un-corrected. It also depends on how many other occurrences they find that happened in the last year.
So let’s say there is just one single occurrence.
Most likely they will be easier on you.
But if they find 10 occurrences per vehicle and you have 20 trucks and 20 trailers. Then they will be harder on you.
In the latter, it could cost you up to or more than $208,000.00 in fines in an audit.
Now let’s say that your diver gets into an accident, and you had several items that didn’t get fixed from a previous inspection.
What does that mean for the company?
Can you say, “GROSS NEGLIGENCE?”
And what does that mean?
You guessed it, insurance is not going to cover you because you knew that something needed fixed and you chose not to get it fixed before you sent the truck back out.
Again they don’t like people who don’t follow the rules.
So they are not going to cover you to the full extent.
Go ahead and open up your checkbook and write the check because you just lost any litigation that you might be involved in.
What about the personal risk?
If an opposing attorney can prove that you knew about the violations, but chose not to fix them. Then you can be held personally responsible just like the driver.
Here is where it gets a little more complicated.
The charges can actually be increased to a higher level if they can prove that the violations that were not corrected led to the cause of the accident.
If they can prove that they would have helped to prevent the accident in any way.
Shall we play pretend for a moment?
On Monday your driver gets an inspection and the officer finds a loose lug nut on the trailer. It didn’t put him Out Of Service (OOS) but it did warrant a violation.
The driver finishes his day and then comes back to the shop.
That evening nothing happened. The driver doesn’t tell you they got an inspection, they don’t mention anything about the loose lug nut.
They get back in the morning, jump in the truck and take off.
Halfway through the day that tire comes flying off and goes through the windshield of a car and injures the passenger of that vehicle.
Because the driver did not inform you of the issue, they take FULL responsibility for the incident.
Of course, your insurance isn’t going to be happy. but there was nothing you as the leader/owner could do.
After that, you will need to nip this in the bud though. By holding training and ensuring that all of your other drivers KNOW how important it is to report daily any violations they might receive.
Now let’s switch the picture a little.
While your driver is pulled over at the inspection station they shoot you a text, saying that they have a loose lug nut.
You tell them not to worry about it and just get through the day you can tighten it up when they get home.
The driver gets home and places the inspection & DVIR (Daily Vehicle Inspection Report) on your desk showing that there is still a loose lug nut.
In the morning the driver gets up and does an inspection of his vehicle finding that the lug nut is still loose. He calls you and you tell him that you didn’t have time to get it fixed, just load the truck and make the run for today.
At that very moment, you accepted FULL responsibility for the accident.
You will have to FIGHT tooth and nail to get them to cover the accident because you knew about the loose lug nut.
Because the driver did what you told them to do they are still responsible for the accident, but so are you.
In this instance, you can actually receive the same exact charges as the driver because the driver was acting on your behalf. You will not get the citations that come with the accident, but you could get the criminal charges that the driver gets.
You could be looking at possible jail time.
Let’s spin it one more way.
The driver tells you that they got an inspection. You tell them to stop at the closest tire shop and get it fixed. They do and give you the receipt.
Your liability here is 0%
As long as you document what happened correctly.
Financial Risk for an audit: Medium to High depending on the situation and the number of times it happened in the last 1 year.
Financial Risk in litigation: High to Extreme
Personal Risk: Medium to High to Extreme depending on the nature of the accident and the violations that were found.
How To Fix Risk 7, Driving A CMV After You Get Inspected And Did Not Fix What The Officers Found
If you have been driving trucks for any amount of time you have probably been through an inspection station.
More likely than not you have also seen an inspection with violations on it.
And might have even seen one of the NASTY OOS (Out Of Service) violations on an inspection. After you got it the officer told you not to move the rig until it was fixed!
Those ones are pretty cut and dry.
If you move the vehicle before it is fixed, then you get a BIG OLE FINE $$$$$.
The ones that get people in real trouble though are when you get a violation, then choose not to fix it before you dispatch the truck out again.
Those ones right there are the REAL culprits that get you in a whole mess of trouble during an audit.
The best way to keep these from happening is to have a solid company fleet policy in place that everyone knows about.
When you sign up for the Turbo Charged Driver Files with DOT Docs we give you a fleet policy that is ready to use and has been customized for your company.
In fact, we give you 2 policies.
One if you use ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) in your fleet.
And one if you operate under an exemption. Like short haul.
That right there is over a $2400 value for FREE!
The second to stop this from happening is by promoting good relationships between drivers, mechanics, and leadership within your company.
If a driver feels comfortable talking to leadership and mechanics then they will make sure that things get fixed before they head back out.
Creating a positive environment makes it WAYYYY easier for people to get things done.
If they are constantly scared that they will get reprimanded for doing something then they will be less likely to try and fix it.
Instead, they will usually duck their head down and keep running.
The problem here is that when they get an inspection they might not tell you about it for weeks. Until they get another one with the same issues.
While we can most definitely blame the driver for not getting us the inspection.
There is almost always a reason why they did not give the inspection to the company. Most of the time it is not because they forgot!
The majority of the time it is because the company culture needs a minor or major revamp.
Now I’m not going to tell you that DOT Docs is the cure-all for everything.
But here at Eclipse DOT, we can help you with Culture.
We have helped companies with 2-4500 drivers improve their culture and employee retention.
A lot of times it’s just a few minor tweaks that need to be made and then the culture starts changing.
If you are interested in hearing how we can help you with culture, reach out to one of our specialists today.