channel 19

Todd Dills

Light violations aren’t the only ones being stacked

| October 24, 2013

Inspector under truckThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration no doubt has its work cut out for it dealing in any way with the problem of stacked violations, which I wrote about in relation specifically to lights here. In that post was referenced an FMCSA effort with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance ongoing to reprogram software to prevent stacked violations from contributing to carriers’ and drives’ Compliance, Safety, Accountability numbers, if not from being written in the first place. Kurt Keilhofer asked this great question: “So if the federal guideline is to not stack these violations, why aren’t the offending officers/inspectors being fined?”

A few commenters offered other examples of stacking. 

Air system
From “Aglaw”: Stacking, in general, is a huge problem here in Texas. I had one of my units get nailed by the City of Houston with an air leak that had developed from a crack in the service (blue) line at the gladhand. Naturally, this audible air leak (only with service brakes applied) is an out-of-service order and major violation — albeit one that can appear randomly. Our unit did have a violation, and it was fixed on-site. I don’t dispute what was found. However, there was another “stacked” violation stemming from this one defect. The officer went on to issue a second out-of-service order for an air-compressor violation. This was a Level 1 inspection, and the air compressor was therefore unable to maintain air pressure with the engine at idle, parking brakes released, and service brakes applied — “Excessive air loss rate, pressure not maintained when service brakes are applied.”

Related: How to DataQ: 9 tips

This was one identifiable problem (a crack in the coiled service hose) with two violations issued in relation to that one identifiable problem. Since both violations were issued as criminal citations (tickets), we were successful at trial in having one of the citations dismissed under the “double jeopardy” rule. However, CSA is a whole other matter. When violations are disputed in a DataQ, FMCSA simply sends the matter to the state agency (in this case, TxDPS), who then forwards it to the issuing department (in this case, HPD), who has the very same inspector/officer “rubber stamp” the “no change” determination.

Find a variety of ways to manage the CSA program, as well as discussions of the regime's inequities and what's being done to challenge them, via our CSA's Data Trail main page.

Find a variety of ways to manage the CSA program, as well as discussions of the regime’s inequities and what’s being done to challenge them, via our CSA’s Data Trail main page.

ABS system
From “safetygirl”: We recently got a malfunctioning ABS system on a tractor. We were written for no ABS indicator light, malfunctioning ABS system on tractor, no ABS on trailer one, and no ABS on trailer two — a total four violations. Only one was OOS, but still… The problem was evident. I did not realize there was any standard against stacking. Now I have some ammo, though I’m afraid it’s not much comfort. Two of my drivers have been told by inspectors in Idaho that the company is being targeted because we got one deleted through the [DataQs] process. It’s hearsay, of course, but I have the maintenance score to back it up. I had another report out of the Tri-Cities area of a scale cop telling a driver they were irritated that one of our drivers got out of a certain violation, so he was sticking it to us every chance he got. A system which allows this is a flawed system. I used to sense a certain camaraderie and rapport between driver and patroller. That relationship is fast disappearing with over-regulation. Enforcers are overwhelmed with intricate systems and rules they can’t possibly remember. (They did not become cops to correct homework and measure truck parts.) And drivers are seeing them as the enemy more and more. 

Also from “Aglaw”:  I also see egregious stacking with regard to load securement violations. Our company hauls perishable sod from the field to the end customer, and I occasionally see violations with regard to “loose” tie-downs. I could argue that those are simply violations based on discretionary interpretation. Unfortunately, you will almost always find that one loose or defective (frayed) tie-down violation will have attached to it a separate violation for a “lack of required tie-downs.” The system has become a farce–that of a numbers game to grab the almighty dollar.

  • guest

    Cops and their Cop buddies can do No Wrong….the Trucker is the problem..he is a Criminal until proven otherwise. This is why the inspectors carry GUNS…..a Trucker cant be trusted…..dont expect to get a break from a cop..aint gonna happen….Legislation will have to be Written to prevent stacking and ABUSE….cops like Abuse and Control…when YOU finally drive away with a Handful of Citations and 90 points on your CSA File….they High Five each other and have a good laugh…..this will never change.

  • bill henry

    and they wonder why they can’t find drivers.I have been out here for over 40 years and it is getting harder and harder to keep a positive attitude. I would like to see one of these lawmakers set in their cars in a fast food truck stop for 34 hours 2 hours away from home where they could get proper rest. With the new rules for hours of service we are forced to drive when tired because we have to get it done in 14 hours

  • Jerry

    State Of Colorado, I recall getting a Ticket for a tractor air leak. When asking the Inspector how many pounds of air leaked.
    (Myself, I wasn’t disputing the air leakage.)
    However, stating to the Officer, recall-Combination vehicles applied brakes test, 4 lbs per minute. because, at the time, I did not observe the you/Officer preform this test.
    Officer replied, his supervisor instructed him to look for that problem. (Second Officer, monitoring the scale just quickly turned her head, when no other truck was on their scale.)
    Myself, I didn’t believe the air leakage exceeded the 4 lbs per minute…it was just a soft hissing sound.

  • guest

    I agree totally Bill. It is too rediculous to remain..most older drivers are leaving..for good reason…all this unpaid downtime is a waste of time….spend the rest of your good years doing domething enjoyable and profitable..or retire…and enjoy. THIS is Miserable…they are hoping to replace all drivers with Cheap Foreign Labor any method possible is fine for them..the rich.

  • USMC 69-75

    All this complaining……..where you you on Oct 11 thru the 13? Driving a load probably! That is the one big problem today, nobody wants to stick up for their rights, just bend over and take it! Everybody has the me, me attitude, and the heck with everybody else. Then when they get popped for something stupid, they pay the fine, get the CSVA points and keep going, complaining about for months on end!

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

  • ron s

    i use to drive, for 15 yrs, and glad i got out of it..i make less money now than i did in 1994, but at least i don,t have to take the abuse anymore…i can remember in the state of wahington, a 4 wheeler was tailgaiting my truck, and i was suppose to exit for the weigh station…i was in the passing lane, and he would not back off…the 4 wheeler exited, and i pulled over and baked up to the exit, and then proceeded to the weigh station….at the weigh station, all of sudden about 8 city cops were there…they said i try to run the guy off the road,,,a total lie…they had tape recorder there…and i just could not believe what happen…this is some of the things that can happen to you. though it only happen once…i was innocent of everything, but this 4 wheeler and the local cops made big time trouble for me….i will never forget this.

  • g

    Oh Instantly the trucker is to Blame. In every case no matter what the truck driver is RESPONSIBLE and the One to BLAME for anything that goes wrong.
    High Paid weigh station MONKEYS hoppingupand down with their Ticket Book attached to their Clipboard I bet wagging their fingers at you…nodding to the 4wheeler that truckers are basically criminals.

  • g

    Instant Kangaroo Court Justice at the Scalehouse…just YOU and the COPS….GUILTY..sign here and GET……then they high five and have a good laugh as ur driving off…goes on all day…Trucker?? Guilty!……next….. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.