Common CSA Violations title image

Commercial trucks inundate Texas highways, traveling thousands of miles throughout the year. It makes sense that these vehicles should be kept in the best condition possible to avoid devastating accidents. To reduce the number of truck accidents all over the country caused by poor maintenance, certain truck maintenance requirements are put in place by regulators like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). To enforce these regulations, the FMCSA created its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program.

The CSA identifies certain safety violations and then enforces penalties on violators in the form of severity points. This program consists of three components: measurement, evaluation, and intervention.

  • Measurement

To assess traffic threats, the CSA uses the Safety Measurement System (SMS) to evaluate past safety performance ratings, accident data, and traffic reports to identify behaviors and specific carriers that could potentially pose a risk to drivers on the road. When a carrier violates safety protocol, he is penalized with CSA points that affect his overall safety rating.

  • Evaluation

Once the numbers are run and potential threats are identified, at-risk carriers are contacted, investigated, and rated on a more in-depth level.

  • Intervention and Enforcement

During the evaluation, carriers get CSA violation points and are provided safety instructions that are catered to their specific safety needs. An example of this would be if the CSA program found evidence of repeated driver fatigue, then the driver would be instructed on trucking hours of service rules and may receive anywhere from 1 to 10 violation points.

Brad Parker says, “Unfortunately, many truck drivers and companies fail to comply with these safety regulations.”

The most common truck safety violations include:

  • Speeding
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Making improper lane changes
  • Reckless driving
  • Making improper turns
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Railroad grade crossing violations
  • Failure to obey a traffic control device

Common CSA Violations

The FMCSA also identifies other violations, including:

  • Failing to use a seat belt while operating a commercial vehicle
  • Using a handheld mobile telephone while operating a commercial vehicle
  • Having an unauthorized passenger in the commercial vehicle
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Having missing or defective wheel flaps
  • Failing to secure the vehicle’s equipment or load
  • Failing to ensure the driver did a pre-trip inspection
  • Failing to have proper placement of warning devices

Other common contributing factors to trucking accidents are:

Defective Lighting

Defective lights are among the most common and visible CSA violations and include broken or missing lights, reflectors, and reflector tape. Pre- and post-trip inspections of trucks and carrying extra fuses and light bulbs are easy ways truckers can avoid this safety violation.

Faulty Brakes

Brakes also need to be inspected before and after every trip. Truckers should know what to look for and be qualified to make any brake adjustments.

Poor Tires

Drivers should be trained on how to check inflation with a gauge and how to spot when a tire should be replaced. Brad says, “Many truck companies utilize retread tires to cut back the cost associated with new tires. Retreading is the process of reinstalling a new tread to a used tire casing. These tires are a danger to the driver and others on the road around them.”

Falsified Log Books

A trucker’s log book contains important information, such as the trucker’s activities, total number of hours driven over a 24-hour period, and when the trucker is sleeping. It’s meant to ensure that truckers comply with the hours of service regulations which limit the number of hours they can drive before taking a break. To keep up with the demands put on trucking companies, drivers may falsify their log books so they can drive for longer than is safe to do.

Medical Episodes

Truckers need to have medical exams and a valid medical certificate when they are driving. Medical problems like heart problems, respiratory problems, or seizures can prohibit a trucker from driving safely, and some medications can also affect their reflexes and judgment.