Tag Archive for Less-than-load

Connecting the DoTs: How Good Intentions Can Pave the Way to DoT Fines

Connecting-the-DoTs

You were just pulled over for DoT violations. Then you were fined an exorbitant sum for failing to provide driver logs, which you didn’t even think you needed. You’re driving short haul. What happened?

A lot of small companies are not prepared until they get caught.

  • Your small service fleet grew—and now you’re a victim of your own success—your new truck exceeds the allowable weight limit.
  • Your vanpool picked up one extra passenger—you were just trying to help—and now you’ve exceeded the number of passengers you can take.
  • Your short haul truck had a record busy day—business is great—but now you’ve been fined for letting your truck overshoot its allowable 100 mile radius.
  • Your service fleet took on some LTL (less-than-load) business—to reduce costs and fully utilize the fleet—and now you’ve been fined for carrying hazardous materials.

While long haul drivers are not exempt in any way, short haul drivers have certain exemptions, and that’s where you could inadvertently drive into a trap. A simple change in your business (buying a new truck, or carrying different cargo) could bump you out of the zone of short haul exemption and into the zone of long haul obligation, leading to fines.

Short haul trucking is defined as driving within a defined small radius (usually about 100 air mile area) of the truck’s home terminal during the day and returning to the same terminal at night. While short haul drivers are usually exempt from the same DoT regulations (Hours of Service for example), changing business practices within a company can bring the same regulations as long haul into play—sometimes even intermittently.

When Do Companies Have To Maintain Driver Logs?

According to Michael Scott, Software Architect responsible for translating DoT regulations into software solutions at Webtech Wireless, “Maintaining paper driver logs is an onerous task. Every commercial driver must maintain driver logs, which involves recording each transition (starts, stops, on duty, off duty, and so forth).”

Consider the following:

  • Do I have vehicles that are over 10,000 lbs?
  • Am I attaching trailers to my trucks (or towing other vehicles that could push the combined weight over 10,000 lbs)?
  • Do I have vehicles that carry hazardous materials (such as chlorine)?
  • Am I driving vehicles designated for fewer passengers than I’m actually carrying (remember, the driver counts)?

Size Doesn’t Matter

Michael says, “It’s really about driver activities. Even if you’re driving a minivan and otherwise subject to short haul restrictions, if you start carrying hazardous materials, you’re required to maintain driver logs or risk being in violation of DoT regulations.”

Key switches to start maintaining driver logs:

  • You start carrying hazardous materials
  • Your distances increase
  • Your truck’s gross tonnage for commercial vehicles increases (over 10,000 lbs)
  • You want to increase passenger capacity in a vehicle (check DoT regulations for more details)
  • You attach a trailer that puts the gross vehicle weight over 10,000 lbs (or towing another vehicle producing the same overweight result). Note: When the trailer or truck that caused to overage in weight is disconnected, the driver no longer needs to maintain driver logs.

Read the Fine Print

Regulations differ between US DoT and Transport Canada, but the intent is the same: In the US you must be able to show driver logs for 7 days and in Canada for 14 days. If you’re found not to have driver logs, you may be fined up to $1,000 per day for each day missing.

If you’re in the US,

US DoT Requirement to Fill Out a Daily Log:

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=395.1

If you’re in Canada,

Canadian Definition of Commercial Vehicle:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2005-313/