In addition to penalties for individual traffic violations, the United States maintains a point system that tracks the drivers’ safety. For example, if you get one speeding ticket, you may have to pay a fine and get points on your license. However, if you accumulate specific points within a certain period of time, your license may be suspended.
The Federal Automobile Transport Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a similar system to keep track of the safety records of businesses that hire commercial drivers (commonly referred to as autotransporters).
Read on to find out what constitutes an incident that has to be reported to the Department of Transportation (DOT), how a carrier must record and maintain documentation for accidents, and how the federal government uses this data to determine a carrier’s safety rating. When you need a legal professional’s help in such cases, you can consult our Philadelphia injury lawyers to avoid unnecessary hassles.
DOT-Recordable Accidents at a Glance
In particular, the U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees the FMCSA, requires carriers to follow specific procedures for tracking severe accidents related to commercial vehicles (CMVs). Accidents that meet the DOT-recording standards are called DOT-recordable accidents.
The commercial provisions of the U.S. Constitution give federal jurisdiction over these issues, as most airlines operate across main boundaries and affect commerce in multiple states.
The carrier is required to maintain certain records related to the accident for three years. The government uses this data to determine the number of such accidents per 10,000 miles traveled. Airlines are rated and can be subject to sanctions and additional investigations if certain thresholds are exceeded.
Can the DOT record any accidents?
The DOT oversees the FMCSA. It requires all trucking companies to keep recordable accident records for at least three years. These accident statistics help to keep the trucking industry safe.
Even if a commercial accident causes internal damage and road rash injury to a motorcyclist, it may have to be recorded in a trucking company’s record, which can have negative consequences for the carrier, such as business restrictions.
This can eventually save you from becoming a victim of other companies’ similar negligence or irresponsible trucking behaviors. Under certain crash conditions, trucking companies are required to report traffic accidents to the DOT:
- When property damage to one or more of the vehicles is severe enough to require a tow truck or flatbed truck to remove the vehicle from the scene
- When injuries to victims require immediate medical attention
- When a fatal truck accident causes more than one death
Trucking companies are required to report these incidents to the DOT, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. Please note that this rule only applies to traffic accidents. It does not apply to accidents or injuries that occur during the loading and unloading of trucks or cargo.
Only vehicles over 26,000 pounds for national driving and 10,000 pounds for daytime driving must comply with the DOT accident record. Passenger vehicles that carry more than 15 people or vehicles carrying dangerous goods must also report severe accidents to the DOT.
How can you report a DOT-reportable accident?
If a truck accident is recognized as a DOT-recordable accident, the trucking company must take specific steps to report the accident. At a minimum, the accident report should include the city where the collision occurred, the date of the accident, the name of the truck driver, the number of injuries and deaths, whether the crash released hazardous material, and a copy of the police report. The FMCSA and authorized agents may need access to this information for at least three years.
What happens if a truck company reports an accident to DOT?
Commercial trucking companies must maintain a DOT-recordable crash record. DOT uses this information to calculate the number of accidents involving truck drivers and trucking companies per million miles driven during the past three years. Carriers may be subject to penalties if they exceed the allowable accident threshold.
DOT calculates millions of accidents and calculates a percentage divided by the carrier’s mileage in the past 12 months. DOT also considers drunken-driving accidents, safety violations, and other factors. The final number is used to assess the safety of common carriers.
If the airline’s safety rating is 1.5 or more accidents per million miles, the airline will receive an unsatisfactory label and will receive two or more points in the rating. An overall dissatisfied assessment leads to company restrictions, such as the inability to transport dangerous goods or more than 16 passengers.
A pending conditional dissatisfied check leads to a 45-day period during which the company can fix the issue before the evaluation is developed. The airline has the right to petition for an evaluation if it disagrees.
Information about DOT-recordable accidents and transporters’ safety assessments are likely to be necessary for truck accident claims. A Philadelphia truck accident attorney can use this information to file a lawsuit against the company or the driver. Recorded negligence and truck accident records can be helpful as evidence for the carrier during an injury claim.