Many types of auto accidents take place on the roads each year. When a car accident involves individuals, the local police department is usually the primary point of contact for the final accident report. When there is a commercial truck accident, other officials may need to be involved.
Commercial trucking companies are required to be licensed with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Due to federal laws and regulations, truck accidents must be reported to the DOT.
If a trucking company or independent truck driver has too many DOT-recordable accidents, they may lose their license, receive extensive fines, face large increases in insurance costs, and more.
Why Are Accidents Recorded by the DOT?
All commercial trucking companies are required to keep track of the accidents they’ve had in the previous three years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses these records to help regulate safety in the trucking industry.
If a company has too many incidents, it can be held accountable in many ways. This helps to keep poorly managed companies from causing accidents due to potential negligence or bad policies.
When Is An Accident DOT-Recordable?
When commercial trucks are involved in an accident, it must be reported to the DOT if there’s enough property damage that one or more of the vehicles involved has to be towed away from the scene.
An accident also must be reported if there are one or more victims who require immediate medical attention after an accident. Similarly, truck accidents that cause fatalities are also DOT-recordable.
Trucking companies are required to report all qualifying traffic accidents to the DOT, regardless of who may be at fault for the accident.
DOT recording is mandatory for any vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds and travel between states. In-state trucks over 10,000 pounds are also required to report accidents.
The only passenger vehicles that are required to report accidents to the DOT are those that carry more than 15 people or transport hazardous materials.
How to Report an Accident to the DOT
When a DOT-recordable accident happens, the trucking company is required to take specific steps to report the incident.
The accident report needs to include information such as:
- The driver’s name
- The trucking company
- City of the crash
- Date of the crash
- The number of injuries
- The number of fatalities
- Whether hazardous materials were released
These details and copies of the police reports stay on file with the FMCSA for at least three years after the accident.
What Happens After an Accident Is Reported to the DOT?
The DOT keeps track of accident reports from all commercial trucking companies. They use statistical analysis based on the number of miles the company has driven to determine the allowable accident rate threshold.
This threshold is created by multiplying the number of accidents by one million and then dividing that total by the number of miles the company’s trucks have traveled in the preceding 12 months.
The DOT combines this with any drunk-driving incidents or safety-related accidents to produce the company’s safety rating.
Consequences of Low DOT Ratings
Commercial trucking companies that receive unsatisfactory safety ratings will often face restrictions on their future business. The company may not be allowed to transport hazardous materials.
Low ratings may also restrict the company from carrying more than 16 passengers for transport.
Commercial trucking companies face many repercussions for a low safety rating. Having too many DOT-recordable accidents can lead to larger insurance bills or cause insurance companies to drop coverage completely.