Carriers 101 on Coercion

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When a D.O.T. auditor shows up to investigate about a driver you had or currently employee, and they discover you scheduling requires him to break FMCSA regulations . . . the driver may not be the one on the hot seat.  When the auditor asks for your explanation . . .
  • I thought it was ok . . .
  • We’ve always done it this way. . .
  • No one ever told me . . .
  • I fired him because he wouldn’t do his scheduled route in time . . .

and other variations on a carrier’s  “its-not-my-fault” explanations will not fly now that  ‘driver coercion” was added by the D.O.T. in its effort to go beyond roadside inspections and gain more FMCSA compliance from Carriers. (Read More:   DOT roadside Inspections enforcement status  and 10 Hours of Duty Rule)

FMCSA backs drivers with coercion rule  : Kevin Jones

A new rule to protect drivers from being compelled to violate federal safety regulations is set to publish today in the Federal Register. Known as the “driver coercion” rule, it provides FMCSA with the authority to go after not only carriers, but also shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries. ( read more )


What is Coercion?

Such actions are used as leverage, to force or leverage the victim to act in a way contrary to their own interests.


A driver is given a route  which he points out  is impossible to complete without going over the 11 hrs driving and or 14 hrs on-duty DOT rule.  If the driver reluctantly accepts the task because they fear the loss of their position or their job it could be considered coercion.  Accidents and road side inspections with a citation will go hard on the carrier, especially if the driver challenges their citation because of coercion.


Who Is Exempt From FMCSA ELD Rule

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For many of the carriers I know, you will be exempt from the ELD ruling if your Drivers use paper DOT RODS for not more that 8 days during each 30 day period.  This exemption was made clear on August 31st 2016.

FMCSA ELD Compliance Timeline

FMCSA ELD Compliance Timeline

Here’s a video on the goals of ELD’s




Carrier Monitoring DOT Safety Measurements

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English: Antique New Hampshire speed limit sig...

English: Antique New Hampshire speed limit sign. On display at Clark’s Trading Post, Lincoln New Hampshire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First:  Carriers need to set the standard and manage safety habits of ‘their drivers and the trucks they drive.  In an ideal world, the concern for others well-being can  inspire companies to create a safety culture for the drivers and their habits.

Note Well:   If your company is distracted from acting on your commitment to  public and employee safety, the DOT is determined to help remind you.  If you are really sloppy about your road safety, you could be looking for a new line of work.

Carrier management would be wise to go to and enter their DOT# .

DOT Safety Measurement Site

Once your enter your DOT# you will see how the Department of Transportation sees you, the Carrier.   and you will understand how much of a regulatory burden may be on your horizon or patting on the back . . . is due.

You will also be able to see the kind of citations your company has received, whether or not your drivers have turned in citations received during road inspections.

If you DOT# has passed the 65th percentile, your company is subject to the possibility of a field audit at any time from the DOT.  The carrier below has passed the 65% percentile because of three (3 ) citations.

Interpreting DOT Safety Measurement Emphesis Hand Held

Two (2) citations:  Driver was caught using a hand-held cellular phone while driving.

One (1) citation:  Driver was speeding 11-14 miles over the posted speed limit.

Both are heavily weighted.

Your take-away for making it this far:

Monitoring your DOT# Safety Measurement at    you can take corrective action, even if the citation ( s ) were not reported by your drivers.

Recommendation:  By monitor your DOT# at  quarterly or more frequently you company’s health is more assured.

No Cell for Truck Drivers on the Road

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Person using cell phone while driving.

Person using cell phone while driving. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) severity tables for the Unsafe Driving and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs on February 8, 2012, to include 27 new entries, as listed below.

Unsafe Driving BASIC

The agency added the following texting and cell-phone-use violations to the Unsafe Driving BASIC:

  • §177.804(b): Failure to comply with 49 CFR 392.80 – Texting while Oper a CMV -Placardable HM, severity weight 10
  • §177.804(c): Fail to comply with 392.82 – Using Mobile Phone while Oper a CMV – HM, severity weight 10
  • §392.80(a): Driving a commercial motor vehicle while Texting, severity weight 10
  • §392.82(a)(1): Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV, severity weight 10
  • §392.82(a)(2): Allowing or requiring driver to use a hand-held mobile tel while operating a CMV, severity weight 10

    No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle. (49 CFR Part 392.82) A commercial motor vehicle is defined by the US DOT as a vehicle with a single or combined GVWR, or actual weight of over 10,000# utilized in interstate commerce. (Note: Most states have adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for intrastate commerce with vehicles at weights ranging from 10,001 to 26,001#)

    Use of a hand held mobile telephone means: (49 CFR Part 390.5)

    1. Using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication,
    2. Dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or
    3. Reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner which requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated position.
    Three minutes of good information, well explained and demonstrated.
    • This rule does not prohibit a driver from using a mounted mobile phone which can be easily accessed from the driver’s seat and activated with a single button. 
    • Driving means operating a commercial vehicle while on a public road, and when stopped in traffic on such a road. Driving does not include instances when the driver is safely parked.  Emergency use is permitted.
    • Penalty: Driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for 60 days with the second offense in 3 years. (120 days for each subsequent offense within 3 years)  Only applies if violation occurred while driving a CMV.

    Related articles

Are Your Tires Safe?

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Are You A Target For DOT Audit – Intervention?

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It depends on how you have responded to inspection citations like this.

Citation-C-Driver Violation-Example

Find our how you are doing with your DOT inspections by going to this site. or click on pic below.


If your report looks like this . . . you’ve got some serious training and DOT safety system training to do.  (3 years of reports)


and your status report will probably look like this . . .image and expect intervention


Get a Grip On Roadside Inspections

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Just because your company uses straight trucks spec’d under the 26,000 GVWR ( Non – CDL ) doesn’t mean your trucks are invisible to DOT inspectors and State Highway Patrol officers.  

Even without events like Roadcheck,  DOT roadside  inspections  of your vehicles are inevitable especially because of  CSA 2010.   If you want to pass these inspections and get back on the road quickly, you need to make sure that you are keeping your trucks properly maintained  That is the role of the pre and post trip inspection.

1 Inspect left rear lamps , wheels, rims, hubs and tires. (click for video)

DipStickIsuzuRange Throughout the inspection . . . look on ground & engine compartment for wet fluid leaks on chassis and ground


Inspect left rear lamps , wheels, rims, hubs and tires. (click for video) Tire at left showing the result of core wire exposed due to under inflation of tires. Replace!



Inspect left wheels , rims, hubs and tires.  Full service fleets usually have the tire pressure needed posted near the tire on the truck body, near by.  Use that pressure.  10% more or less must be corrected before it is safe to drive   Example:  Tire is rated for 100 psi.  Your inspection reveals it is 85 psi.  This tire must be checked by the full service truck provider mechanic before it is safe to drive.


Damaged tire

Inspect right wheel, rim, hub and tire.
The tire at the right has a damged rim and a bubble in the tire.  Do not drive on a tire and rim like this.


TuboLeak Inspect brakes fluid levels & if operating properly (Not too much play in the foot pedal).

Find our how you are doing with your DOT inspections by going to this site. or click on pic belowHowToCheckYourDOTStatus


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