We’ve written about this issue before — namely violation stacking, where a roadside officer during an inspection more or less piles on and writes every single violation that results from one problem on the vehicle. In such cases, federal recommended practice is for the originating violation to be the one that carriers are charged for, not those down the line. However, some states continue to ignore the recommendation, and the most obvious instance of this has to do with lights.
Rickey Gooch of the Justice for Truckers partnership based outside of Nashville, Tenn., sent out an account of one such instance where a driver got hit with five separate lighting-system-related violations after, she assumed, some vagrants pulled a pigtail loose and she was stopped and inspected. Gooch held a back and forth on behalf of this driver with Texas Department of Public Safety officials that led, ultimately, to some intel on what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is doing to prevent the very ability of state enforcement officers to upload stacked violations to contribute points to the carrier’s CSA Safety Measurement System profiles.
FMCSA’s Bill Quade, the agency’s associate administrator for enforcement, in an email chain forwarded my way makes note of an effort ongoing with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to update “ASPEN software that will use ‘smart logic’ to reduce stacking by not allowing an officer to select an additional violation if the behavior leading to the second violation had already been noted on an inspection report.”
As an example, Quade went to bat for the driver, Rebecca Nichols, and the problem with the disconnected pigtail. “The situation described may well be covered by this,” Quade wrote. “Once a citation for a disconnected pigtail is cited other violations that naturally arise from that lack of connection (such as lighting violations on the trailer) would not [be able to be] selected.”
That should save carriers and drivers no small amount of time on DataQs, eventually. (Cross your fingers.) As it is, stacking violations is costing drivers’ jobs when a rep at the carrier sees a giant points total associated with a single inspection and doesn’t check over the details, as appears to have been the case here. As Gooch saw it, “lighting violations gone wrong in my opinion put [Nichols] out of work.”
Find more on lighting violations in my last post on the subject, ranking the top states for the “inoperative required lamp” violation and pointing to other low-hanging DataQs fruit.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.