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Is a Violation, Just a Violation?

Over the last few months, there have been different conversations taking place regarding hours of service compliance, and what happens when a driver receives a violation.

As organizations operate day to day, t’s very important that we keep in mind our legal responsibilities, driver’s legal responsibilities, and that an hours of service violation is not just a “violation”.

Federal Carrier must comply with the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulation at all times. Section 4 states no motor carrier, shipper, consignee or other person shall request, require, or allow a driver to drive and no driver shall drive if:

Driving would be likely to jeopardize the safety or health of the public, the driver, or the employees of the motor carrier. Additionally, the driver, in doing so, would not be in compliance with these Regulations.

A violation, simply put, is when one of these regulations is exceeded or misused.

An example of exceeding the hours in Canada is driving over the 13 hours of on-duty time in a day. An example of misusing the regulations would be to instruct a driver to perform an on-duty task while staying in an off-duty status.

Anytime a violation occurs, there is a ripple effect.

The violation itself is the event, and a result of the event is the ripple. Similar to a stone being thrown into a calm body of water.

A situation our industry regularly sees is when a driver is nearly out of hours and instead of finding a safe place to park for the night, they continue to work illegally by using the wrong duty status, such as off-duty and then personal conveyance. While the violation may not appear on the logbook, you can identify such violations when completing monitoring per the requirement.

One ripple effect is when the violation is identified, the carrier is responsible to take quick action to ensure the violation does not occur again.

When a violation occurs on the logbook, such as driving over 13 hours in a workday, there are multiple ripple effects of this decision. First, the violation is going to show on the driver’s logbook for the current day plus the next 14 days. In total, that’s 15 days that they will be even more stressed, knowing the violation is there, and in the event of an inspection by law enforcement, it’s a guaranteed violation recorded on the inspection report.

The second ripple effect is when identified through monitoring, the driver could be faced with a situation where a progressive discipline letter is issued or possibly termination is warranted.

Afterward, the violation will stay on their daily log which is electronically stored for the current month plus 6 months. (Now, I understand that while the Federal mandate for ELD's came into effect in June, not all Federal carriers are currently operating on an ELD as we wait for the accreditation. In the event monitoring is on paper logs, then the paper logs would be maintained in chronological order for 6 months at the principal address).

When a Carrier (in Alberta) is faced with a new carrier compliance review or third-party audit, these violations would be identified if selected by the auditor, which would result in potential fines and penalties against the carrier.

In my opinion, the worst ripple effect that can happen is when an incident, collision, injury, or worse occurs on the road when a driver shouldn’t have been there in the first place because they were in violation leading up to the event.

Part of a carrier's responsibility is to also help prevent violations, and while I know there are multiple examples of how we can help achieve this goal, some examples are:

Monitoring what your drivers are communicating while out in the field, and be proactive to resolve any issues that you can to help ensure they can make it to a safe place to rest before they run out of hours.

Monitoring when a driver communicates they will run out of hours soon and help create a plan to help them if needed. This is especially important if a day cab is running on the highway and needs to locate a motel/hotel to get a room within their legal hours.

Monitoring drivers while at busy customers, to ensure they make it off properly safely within legal hours.

Remember, “Regulations are not a recommendation, but are an absolute”. Carriers need to ensure they comply with the regulations at all times, and that drivers are 100% in compliance with the regulations.

Let's create a pivotal impact!


Did you know, the Pivotal Transportation Industry Solutions offers online compliance training that is designed by industry experts, to help ensure you meet your regulatory requirements?

If you or someone that you know requires compliance training and prefers to take the courses online, then I encourage you to send us an email to inquire further,


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