Despite many truck drivers who go about their business in a professional manner, every once in a while you run across a crazy one wielding his 10,000-pound vehicle like it’s a weapon. What can you do? The answer depends on the type of truck service involved.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the national regulator for moving companies, including bus and truck companies. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to process a complaint. The complaints can cover unsafe driving, but also any concerns about service issues.
Generally, the FMCSA only has jurisdiction over vehicles that travel in more than one state, which makes it “interstate” activity. The FMCSA may also have jurisdiction if you are a passenger on a bus, limousine, or motor coach service that travels in more than one state and you witness safety problems.
For most trucking and bus incidents, the FMCSA requires the following criteria:
- The safety issue involves an interstate (shipping between two or more states) carrier OR a hazardous materials carrier; and
- The violation occurred within the last 60 days.
You can either call a Safety Violation Hotline (1-888-DOT-SAFT) or you can file a complaint on their website at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
Complaints about moving companies must be about companies that cross state lines, but they don’t have to have occurred within the last 60 days and can be reported at any time. For ADA or Hazmat complaints, you can contact FMCSA anytime – there are no interstate or time restrictions on those.
If the vehicle you’re concerned about doesn’t meet federal reporting criteria, you can contact a FMCSA State Field Office also listed on the FMSCA website.
A regional partnership of law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia and Maryland called “Smooth Operator” has been formed to help drivers handle problems with other drivers’ aggressive driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the definition of aggressive driving is, “When individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
The Smooth Operator program advises motorists that police will need to know the following information to report an aggressive driver:
- Description of vehicle (color, make, model, license plate state, and license plate number).
- Description of driver (sex, race, age, hair color, height, weight).
- Location of incident.
- Date and time of incident.
- What happened?
- Would you be willing to serve as a witness? If yes, you must give your name, address, and phone number.
Information on the Smooth Operator website cautions drivers to consider their own safety when reacting to other aggressive drivers. It advises, “When encountering an aggressive driver, stay calm, keep your distance from that driver, do not return gestures, and remember not to take it personally.”
It may help to stay calm in these situations if you know that there is some official – and productive – action you can take, according to the procedures outlined here.