Unlike private cars, the DOT can pull trucks over for routine inspections even if you have not committed a moving traffic offense. If you know that you have not violated any regulations, there is nothing to worry about. However, it’s a different story if you have compliance issues as it may cost you hundreds of dollars on fines.
Here are some of the most common citations that truck drivers including hotshot truckers get:
1. Following Too Close
If your vehicle is less than a truck length behind another car, there’s a big chance of you being stopped and getting cited for following too close.
The distance law may vary per state but generally, you need to meet the perception and reaction time of 1.5 seconds. Of course, any trucker knows that you need more distance to comply with the perception and reaction time to avoid a collision.
2. No Seatbelt
The seatbelt is there for your own safety. However, for one reason or another, some drivers just aren’t compliant with the seatbelt program. Some states such as North Carolina impose high fines and fees for such violation.
Enforcers often see inattentiveness as a sign of illness or fatigue, both of which are considered as dangerous driving. If you don’t give your 100% attention to what you are doing, chances are you may cause a road accident involving other vehicles.
While identifying attentiveness can be a challenge for enforcers, you may be pulled over for such violations if you get caught frequently swerving lanes where you should not, or when you approach a traffic stop at a high speed, among others.
Since speeding is easy to detect, it has become one of the top reasons why drivers of both commercial and private vehicles get pulled over. And more often, if you get stopped for this violation, the enforcer will also thoroughly check your registration and other documents to see if you are compliant. Be sure to observe the speed limit at all times. You’ll never know when an officer is around.
5. Improper Load Securement
When you are towing a flatbed, your load is in plain view, allowing the officers to clearly see your securement method and the general condition of your load. If they can see any deficiency in your load securement, you’ll get a ticket for it.
Compliance to proper load securement is vital not just to avoid getting a citation but most importantly, for safety purposes.
6. Lane Deviations
Some lane deviations are allowed, while others are considered as unsafe; hence, they are prohibited by state traffic laws.
Changing lanes when not allowed or unsafe to do so raises concerns about the driver’s impairment, fatigue, illness or distractions. In the US, about 33 percent of road crashes happen when vehicles change or veer off their lanes. Because of this risk, most states impose significant fines and penalties for this violation, especially if it results in an accident. The fine can go from $100 or higher.
7. Use of handheld phone
The use of a handheld phone falls under distracted driving. It is a big no-no for drivers for the obvious reason. It’s easy for enforcers to spot you when you are using your phone, so don’t give them that reason to pull you over. You will do yourself and other commuters a big favor if you will not use your phone while driving.
8. Lighting violations
Doing pre-trip and post-trip inspections can help you. Staying up-to-date with pre- and post-trip inspections can help you avoid getting cited for lighting violations such as having an inoperative tail light. If you are using standard bulbs, they typically connect and disconnect with constant vibrations. Using LED lights reduces your risk of lighting violations as these lights are more reliable and last longer than regular bulbs.
9. Improper registration or credential display
If your credentials and registration are not correctly displayed, the law enforcer has a good reason to stop you. Such a situation generally prompts the CMV officers to conduct a Level 3 inspection, the least.
10. Non-compliance to the weight limit
If you don’t have the required permit for carrying an over-dimensional or overweight load, this can also be a cause for a citation.
For flatbed trailers, generally, the maximum load width is 102 inches (8.5 feet) and the maximum height is also 102 inches. The legal length for the load is typically 48 to 53 feet while the maximum weight is around 46,000 pounds. These legal limits may vary from state to state. So if you are traversing different states, it would be good to check each state’s DOT website for more information.
You can check here for a directory of state-by-state DOT websites.
11. Failure to obey traffic signs and signals
Traffic signs and signals are there for a reason – to help keep our roads safe. When a driver neglects them, the lives of other drivers and pedestrians are at risk. The commonly violated traffic signs and signals include school, construction and hospital zones that warn drivers to slow down. Some drivers also ignore signs that tell them not to change lanes, to reduce their speed, or to stop.
The fines and penalties for failing to obey traffic signs and signals greatly vary by state and the violation committed. But you may get fined at least $100 plus surcharges.
Getting pulled over is not a fun experience. Aside from the inconvenience and delays it will cause, you may also have to pay fines and penalties which can go up to several hundreds. While we hope it won’t happen to you, this list should help you ponder and make you extra careful to avoid violations.