What Is a DOT-Recordable Accident?
Not all auto accidents are the same. Some involve unique rules under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and US Department of Transportation (DOT). A serious truck accident, for example, will require the trucking company to report the wreck to DOT and potentially face repercussions. Too many DOT-recordable accidents on a trucking company’s record could lead to a reduced safety rating, increased insurance premiums and less business.
Which Accidents Are DOT-Recordable?
The US Department of Transportation oversees the FMCSA. The DOT requires all trucking companies to keep records of recordable accidents for at least the past three years. It uses these accident records to help keep the trucking industry safe. A certain number of recordable accidents on a trucking company’s record can lead to negative consequences for the carrier, such as reduced capabilities and business. This could ultimately save other people from becoming victims of truck accidents by the same negligent or irresponsible company. A truck company must report a traffic accident to the DOT if the crash meets certain qualifications.
- Property damage to one or more vehicles that is serious enough to require a tow truck to take the vehicle(s) away.
- Injuries to victims that require medical attention immediately after leaving the scene of the crash.
- Fatal truck accidents that cause one or more deaths.
A trucking company must report these accidents to the DOT regardless of who was at fault. Note that this rule only applies to traffic accidents – it does not apply to accidents or injuries while stepping in or out of the truck or loading or unloading cargo. Only vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or more for intrastate driving or 10,000 or more for interstate driving must comply with DOT accident recordings. Passenger vehicles that transport more than 15 people and those that transport hazardous materials must also report serious accidents to the DOT.
Steps Required to Report an Accident to the DOT
If a truck accident qualifies as a DOT-recordable accident, the trucking company will have to take certain steps on the accident report and register. At a minimum, the accident report will need to include the city where the crash occurred, the date of the accident, the name of the truck driver, the number of injuries and fatalities, whether the crash resulted in hazardous materials released, and copies of any related accident reports. The FMCSA and any authorized agent must have access to this information for at least the next three years.
What Happens After a Truck Company Reports an Accident to the DOT?
Commercial carriers must maintain DOT-recordable crash records. The DOT will use this information to calculate the number of accidents that involved the truck, driver and/or trucking company per 1 million miles driven in the last three years. If a carrier surpasses the allowable accident rate threshold, it may face penalties. The DOT calculates the rate by multiplying the number of accidents by 1 million, then dividing that by the number of miles the carrier drove in the last 12 months. The DOT also includes drunk driving incidents, safety violations and other factors in its calculation. The final number will serve as the common carrier’s safety rating.
If a carrier’s safety rating equals more than 1.5 accidents per million miles, the carrier will receive an unsatisfactory label, resulting in 2 or more points added to the rating. An overall unsatisfactory rating will lead to restrictions against the company, such as the inability to transport hazardous materials or carry 16 or more passengers. A pending conditional unsatisfactory rating leads to a 45-day window when the company can correct its issues before the rating becomes official. A carrier has the right to petition its rating if it does not agree.
DOT-recordable accident information and carrier safety ratings can be important during truck accident claims in California. A Los Angeles truck accident lawyer may be able to use this information to build a claim against the trucking company or driver. A recorded history of negligence and truck accidents could serve as proof against the carrier during an injury claim.