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What are Acute and Critical Violations?

When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completes a safety audit, it is looking for evidence of violations that can put the public at risk. It classifies all violations as either acute or critical. When a trucking company or independent owner-operator receives an acute violation, it means that the violation was so grossly unsafe that the FMCSA will implement immediate corrective action. Refusing or failing to put a drug and alcohol testing program in place is a common example of an acute violation.

A critical violation is one in which the FMCSA feels demonstrates a lack of control over safety management. A common example of this type of violation is not requiring drivers to document and submit a record of duty. Below are some of the top violations for each type for 2018.

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Top Acute Violations by Motor Carriers

As listed in the example above, failing to implement or enforce a drug and alcohol testing program is the leading violation in this category. Other acute violations in order of severity include:

  • Drivers operating with a suspended or revoked license. It’s easy to check license status by running an annual motor vehicle report.
  • Not implementing or enforcing a random drug and alcohol screening program or failing to join a consortium.
  • Making false statements on records or requiring or permitting others to do so.
  • Allowing a driver who has more than one commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Employers can qualify drivers by checking the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).
  • Inadequate or total lack of financial responsibility. All commercial drivers must carry liability insurance at a minimum as well as several other types depending on the type of loads, size of the vehicle, and the origination and destination points.
  • Driving a vehicle that has been declared out of service.
  • Allowing a driver to work who has tested positive for drugs or excess alcohol consumption.
  • Not submitting a safety plan when transporting hazardous materials.
  • Using a CMV that has not been inspected in more than one year and/or not inspecting new equipment received from a provider.

Top Critical Violations by Motor Carriers

As with acute violations, the top critical violation is the example from above of not recording hours of service in an appropriate manner. Other top critical violations include:

  • Allowing a driver to work before receiving the results of his or her pre-screening test.
  • Submitting false reports of duty status.
  • Retaining a driver’s record of duty status and not submitting it to the FMCSA when requested.
  • Not keeping minimally acceptable records of maintenance and inspection records.
  • Not keeping a file of qualifications on each driver.
  • Not requiring drivers to participate in the preparation of vehicle inspection reports.
  • Not maintaining medical certificates on every driver.
  • Failing to require drivers to take a post-accident drug and alcohol screening test.
  • Hiring a driver who does not meet minimum qualifications.

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https:// csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMS_AppendixA_ViolationsList.xlsx