Ray Martinez leaving FMCSA at end of October


DOT recently announced that the current FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez, will be leaving his position; his last day will be October 28th.

Mr. Martinez has been heading up the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) since March 2018 and has been a very active and involved leader, with initial intentions of settling differences between the agency and the trucking industry. Martinez regularly attended trade shows and conferences to talk to industry leaders and discuss updates on FMCSA work.

How will current FMCSA projects be affected?

Since he started in March 2018, Martinez began work on two major projects, the overhaul of the hours of service regulations and the pilot program for younger interstate drivers.

With this change occurring in the middle of these programs, the major question most trucking professionals have is, will this effect or prolong these programs from being completed? The answer tot his question is unclear, however, there is a good chance that these programs will see a delay.

The move is a result of an ongoing desire to be closer to family in Massachusetts, where he will manage a DOT construction project at the Volpe Center. After switching positions with the current deputy administrator—Alan Hanson (new DOT chief counsel)—Jim Mullen will temporarily replace Ray Martinez until President Trump nominates a permanent replacement.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT drug test: Who, what, when and how


As directed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), all CDL drivers and their employers are required to follow the rules related to DOT drug tests.

Who is given a DOT drug test?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to take a drug test and their employers must ensure their drivers are tested before operating a CMV.

Below is a full list of those required to be tested.

  • employers of CDL drivers operating CMVs on public roads
  • CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads
  • interstate motor carriers
  • intrastate motor carriers
  • federal, state, and local governments
  • civic organizations (disabled veteran transport, boy/girl scouts, etc.)
  • faith-based organizations

What substances are tested?

The DOT requires testing of alcohol and five drug classes, including:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Cocaine
  3. Opiates
  4. Amphetamines or methamphetamines
  5. PCP

Alcohol tests will identify alcohol in the system at .02 BAC and more.                      

Motor carriers can also implement a separate testing program in addition to, and distinct from, the required DOT testing program, under which they are able to test for other drugs.

What types of DOT drug tests are there and when are they given?

DOT drug and alcohol tests are given in several different scenarios, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver and operating a CMV
  2. post-accident – drug and alcohol tests may be required after an accident depending on the circumstances. Learn when post-accident drug tests are required.
  3. random – random testing programs are required by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an area in which supervisors must be trained in identifying.
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

How are the drug tests administered?

The DOT has a strict process for administering drug tests and the steps are the same for all six types.

  1. Go to the collection site with a valid ID and provide a sample before leaving.
  2. Provide your urine sample in the designated collection area. The collection process will be private unless required, as in a return-to-duty or follow-up test.
  3. When finished with the sample, provide the container to the collector and observe as they split the sample into two containers, seal them with tamper-evident tape and allow you to sign the tape before you leave.
  4. Provide your contact information and verify your name and date of birth so the Medical Review Officer (MRO) can get in touch with the results.

Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT post-accident drug test requirements


As a DOT-regulated motor carrier, it is extremely important to ensure all CDL drivers are in top physical and mental condition while operating these highly complex and powerful commercial motor vehicles. Driver awareness of post-accident drug test requirements is also crucial.

Although we do everything possible to prevent accidents, there are times when circumstances are beyond our control, making the post-accident steps one of the most important pieces of knowledge for a CDL driver. A driver’s responsibilities do not stop at the site of the accident.

What are the different types of DOT drug tests?

There are several situations in which a DOT drug test is required, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver
  2. post-accident – applies to certain situations following an accident
  3. random – random testing program require by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

When is a post-accident drug and alcohol test required?

Drug and alcohol tests are not required after every accident. A CDL driver is required to take a post-accident drug test if:

  • the accident results in one or more fatalities
  • injury was incurred that required medical treatment away from the scene and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)
  • any vehicle is towed, and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)

Also, it is important to note that a driver is still liable to take a drug and alcohol test if a citation issued within 32 hours of the accident. If a citation is issued after the 8 hour mark, the motor carrier must make a note saying “a citation was not issued until this time, which was after the 8 hours for alcohol testing.”

How much time do I have to get a post-accident drug test?

A driver has 2 hours in which an alcohol test should be completed, however it must be completed within 8 hours. If the driver goes over the 2-hour mark, they must provide an explanation as to why there was a delay and the motor carrier must provide a written explanation and keep in their company files.

A drug test needs to be completed as soon as possible; however, it must be completed within 32 hours. At times there might be a delay in the issuance of a citation, however as long as the citation is issued with 32 hours, a drug and alcohol test is required.

Drivers often run into issues with meeting these timeframes because they will be kept at the scene of an accident for several hours or an investigation must be completed to determine if the driver was at fault.

What if I miss the maximum time frame allowed?

If a driver does not get his post-accident drug test before the maximum allowed time, the company needs to make a note in their files as to the reason why, however it is too late and the company will be out of compliance and face fines and audit penalties, so completing the drug test within the allowed time is imperative.

What about on-site tests, such as a DUI test or breathalyzer?

If an officer conducts a DUI test or a breathalyzer at the scene of an accident, a driver is still required to follow protocol and get an official drug and alcohol test within the allotted time frames. An on-site test by an officer will not fulfill the required DOT post-accident drug test as these tests do not follow DOT rules and regulations.


Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

For post-accident alcohol testing, CNS will coordinate a location for you.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Approaching AOBRD deadline will require use of ELDs


The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, which was put into action almost two years ago, will take full effect on December 16, 2019, which is the AOBRD deadline.

When the ELD mandate was introduced, an April 1, 2018 deadline was set to switch over to an ELD. The only exception was for those carriers that were using automatic onboard recording devices, also known as AOBRDs, on or before December 17, 2017.

Many have either started the switch or already made it long ago, however if you have not started, you should start now as the process is not as seamless as one might think.

Why is it important to switch from AOBRD to ELD now?

Carriers that have not updated their AOBRDs may run into some challenges, including training drivers to use ELDs and teaching office employees how to transfer logs.

Certain parts of the process can take longer than expected, as well as the potential for suppliers to run low on ELDs or take longer to fix glitches if too many attempt to switch at once.

It may also be difficult to get all drivers into a training class or webinar at the same time. In addition, it will not be a one-time training session. ELD training will need to be ongoing for all drivers, as mistakes will be made, and issues will arise.

Any difficulties may be answered on the FMCSAs ELD rule FAQ section.

What issues are drivers having?

Continuous education of drivers will be necessary. One area that drivers are running into problems with in the switch from AOBRDs to ELDs is unassigned drive time.

The issue comes in when a driver on the road rejects the unassigned drive time, which causes it to enter into the unassigned driver account in the admin system. This forces the company to assign it to a specific driver or explain why it couldn’t be assigned, with no other option.

With AOBRDs, users could create a generic driver account for road tests or yard moves; pretty much all the odd miles that show up in a fleet.

How do you install and train truck drivers on ELDs?

ELD install tips

If you need to manage the installation of ELDs on a large fleet of trucks, some good steps to follow include:

  1. Run a daily report and determine which trucks were in the yard and which ones are coming to the yard.
  2. Then, send a firmware update from your computer to a specific ELD unit.
  3. Then, go out to the truck, allow the firmware to download.
  4. Follow the automated installation steps on the tablet.
  5. Reboot the tablet two or three times and cycle the engine a few times.
  6. Test drive the truck ensuring everything was downloaded properly and you are finished.

ELD training tips

Drivers will need to be trained on ELDs, so a few tips in training them to make the process more seamless are to:

  1. train drivers one-on-one as often as possible.
  2. ensure drivers know how to log into the system.
  3. point out any visual changes and emphasize the sensitivity of the ELD.
  4. emphasize that—before doing anything with the truck—the driver must know how long they have been off duty, as well as how many hours they will be working that day and week.
  5. perform daily log audits and contact and train drivers with issues.
  6. be repetitive.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

What ELD should you use?

We searched high and low for a partner in the ELD industry, testing over 20 ELD systems, before we decided to choose Pedigree as our preferred ELD.

A few reasons why we chose Pedigree include:

  • their excellent price point that we at CNS could stand behind.
  • their dedicated team of technicians looking to improve efficiency and streamline the customer’s operation.
  • their knowledge on DOT rules and regulations to keep you and your ELD running smooth.
  • their “OneView” platform and infrastructure was far greater compared to the competition.
  • the ability to manage our client’s use of ELDs and offer them customer support directly.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Utah increases International Registration Plan fees


As of January 1, 2020, Utah’s International Registration Plan (IRP) fees will increase for vehicles with a registered weight ranging from 0 to 80,000 pounds.

The registration fee for vehicles with a registered weight of 0 to 12,000 pounds will increase from $45 to $46. Vehicles with a registered weight of 12,001 to 80,000 pounds will have an increase of $1.50.

The fee change goes into effect at the beginning of 2020 and will apply to all supplements, renewals, new accounts or any account activity after the effective date of January 1, 2020.

International registration plan fee increases were also announced for Wisconsin, Nevada and North Dakota in August 2019.

Audit services

The long list of rules and regulations involved with the International Registration Plan (IRP) can be difficult to follow. Failure to stay up to date with your registration fee or changes to those rules and regulations can lead to the failure of an IRP audit.

All of our services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and DOT compliant, which is why we offer mock audits and management that help avoid these types of issues.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

FMCSA proposes fee reductions for Unified Carrier Registration


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a proposed rule that would reduce Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) fees for 2020 and 2021.

The reduction in annual UCR fees applies to motor carriers, private motor carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies that are paying fees to their respective state.

What is the Unified Carrier Registration fee reduction?

The UCR fee reduction would be for 12.82% in 2020 and 4.19% in 2021, based on the rates paid in 2018, however the Unified Carrier Registration vice chairman of the board of directors stated that the rates are expected to decrease by another 1-2%.

As an example, a carrier with a fleet of two or more trucks paid $69 in 2018 and $62 in 2019, but after the fee reduction, they would only pay $60 in 2020 and $66 in 2021.

How are the UCR fees calculated?

Fees are calculated based on collections of the second year prior, which would be 2018 right now. Based on federal law, requests for fee adjustment are required when the annual revenue exceeds the maximum allowed and the board estimates that by the end of 2019 the total revenue will exceed the maximum by $3.08 million.

If there are excess funds after other costs are covered, such as payments to the states and administrative costs, they are retained and fees for the following year are reduced.

Based on the board’s research, the fee reduction includes a reduction in the amount of the administrative cost allowance from $3.5 million to $3.2 million for the 2020 and 2021 UCR Agreement registration years. They have also determined that the administrative cost allowance needed for the 2020 and 2021 registration period should be $3.2 million for each registration year.

The agency reviewed the board’s formal recommendation and concluded that its projection of the total revenue received for registration year 2018 is acceptable.

Licensing services

We offer many different services related to licensing, including assisting with your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR).

All of our services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and DOT compliant.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

CVSA approves drag link welds on Dodge Ram recall


The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently approved a new inspection bulletin in relation to a recall on the drag link assembly for 2013-2018 Dodge Ram 2500s and Dodge Ram 3500s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a safety recall report regarding the drag link assembly on 2013-2018 Dodge Ram 2500/3500s.

The CVSA has put the 2019-02 Inspection Bulletin in place to guide the inspection of the drag link assembly on those particular Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks that are subject to roadside inspections.

In accordance with the manufacturer’s approved recall remedy, these vehicles may have the outboard steering linkage jam nuts welded to the adjuster sleeve, which should not be cited as an out-of-service condition.

Drag link assembly
Drag link assembly weld locations for Dodge Ram recall

For the latest Inspection Bulletins, certified roadside inspectors should visit the CVSA’s Inspection Bulletins section to ensure inspections are conducted accurately and using the most up-to-date information.

Stay DOT compliant

It is important to stay up to date on vehicle maintenance, what is checked during an inspection and what can cause you to pass or fail an inspection.

We offer audit services and safety management programs that will ensure you stay in compliance at all times. All of our services are focused on keeping your trucking company safe and compliant so that you stay on the road.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

IFTA Fuel Tax Rates (2019 Q3)


What are the 2019 IFTA tax rates for the 3rd quarter?

The International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) has released the 3rd quarter 2019 fuel taxes. You can download the full list of 2019 Q3 tax rates below.

You can also find more information on the International Fuel Tax Association website.

Which states had IFTA tax rate changes?

There were seven states that showed a tax rate change, including Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia. IFTA lists the 3rd Quarter 2019 Tax Rate Changes, which will go into effect on July 1, 2019.

When are your IFTA taxes due?

The IFTA return due date for the 3rd quarter is October 31st. Take a look below for a list of IFTA fuel tax reporting for the each quarter.

  • 1st quarter (January to March) — April 30
  • 2nd quarter (April to June) — July 31
  • 3rd quarter (July to September) — October 31
  • 4th quarter (October to December) — January 31

Review the 2019 1st quarter IFTA tax rates
Review the 2019 2nd quarter IFTA tax rates

CVSA international truck inspection results for 2019


On June 4-6, 2019—as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck—67,072 truck inspections were conducted, removing 12,019 vehicles and 2,784 drivers from roads across the US and Canada.

The International Roadcheck is conducted annually and is meant to remove unsafe commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and drivers from roads. During this 72-hour inspection, 17.9% of vehicles and 4.2% of drivers were placed out of service.

The basis for violations comes from the CVSA North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.

Inspection levels

There are eight different levels of inspection that the CVSA follows, however the truck inspections in this roadcheck were only subjected to the North American Standard (NAS) Level I, II, and III Inspections.

  • NAS Level I Inspection –includes a 37-step procedure examining the driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.
  • NAS Level II Inspection—includes anything that can be inspected without getting under the CMV.
  • NAS Level III Inspection—includes a review of driver requirements, such as the license, cargo and vehicle documentation, record of duty status, seat belt usage, etc.

There were 60,058 Level I, II, and III Inspections conducted in the US and 7,014 in Canada. Respectively, the vehicle and driver out-of-service rate for the US was 17.7% and 4.4% and 19.9% and 2% for Canada.

Inspection focus

Inspections focused on violations related to steering and suspension systems, which resulted in identifying:

  • 408 steering violations or 2.5% of all out-of-service violations
  • 703 suspension violations or 4.3% of all out-of-service violations

Truck inspection results

The results for inspections are summarized below and include out-of-service vehicle, CMV driver, seatbelt, hazardous materials/dangerous goods and motorcoach violations.

There were 16,347 vehicles placed out-of-service with the top violation being for braking systems. The list below summarizes the remainder of recorded vehicle violations.

Out-of-service vehicle violations:

Vehicle violation category Number of violationsPercent of out-of-service violations
Braking systems 4578 28%
Tires and wheels 3156 19.3%
Brake adjustment 2801 17.1%
Cargo securement 1991 12.2%
Lighting devices 1875 11.5%
Suspensions 703 4.3%
Steering mechanisms 408 2.5%
Other 401 2.5%
Frames 170 1%
Coupling devices 124 .8%
Driveline/driveshaft 61 .4%
Fuel systems 44 .3%
Exhaust systems 35 .2%

There were 3,173 drivers placed out-of-service with the top violation being for hours of service. The list below summarizes the remainder of recorded driver violations.

Driver out-of-service violations:

Driver violation categoryNumber of violationsPercent of out-of-service violations
Hours of Service 1,179 37.2%
Wrong Class License 714 22.5%
False Logs 467 14.7%
Other 351 11.1%
Suspended License 232 7.3%
Drugs/Alcohol 99 3.1%
Expired License 94 3%
Violating License Restriction37 1.2%

There were 748 seat belt violations and out of 3,851 CMVs inspected, 527 violations for commercial motor vehicles transporting hazardous materials/dangerous goods with the most common violation being for loading. The list below summarizes the remainder of recorded violations for hazardous materials/dangerous goods.

Hazardous Materials/Dangerous GoodsNumber of violations Percent of out-of-service violations
Loading 7329.9%
Shipping papers 6125%
Placarding 46 18.9%
Markings 31 12.7%
Bulk packaging 15 6.1%
Package integrity 12 4.9%
Other 62.5%

During the International Roadcheck, 823 motorcoaches were inspected with 47 vehicles and 21 drivers being placed out of service. Inspections included a review of emergency exits, electrical cable sand systems in engine and battery compartments and seating.

Out-of-service orders and the number, type and severity of safety violations affect a motor carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score and its Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rating.

Stay DOT compliant

Knowing what your CSA score is and how it affects your company and all of the requirements to pass inspections, whether it be for brake safety or suspension and steering, will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and compliant so that you stay on the road and pass all truck inspections.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT hours-of-service: Comment extension


The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) wants more time to collect and analyze comments on the FMCSA’s proposal for changes to the hours-of-service rules.

The CVSA sent a formal petition to the FMCSA requesting a 45-day extension to the comment period regarding a notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at providing commercial motor vehicle drivers more hours-of-service flexibility.

In early August the FMCSA proposed five changes to the hours-of-service regulations:

  1. 30-minute break requirement: Changes will allow drivers to satisfy the required break using on duty, not driving status, rather than off duty.
  2. Sleeper berth exception: Changes will allow drivers to split the required 10 hours off duty into two periods.
    • One period must contain at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.
    • The other period cannot be less than 2 consecutive hours, either off duty or in the sleeper berth.
    • Note: Neither period would count against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window
  3. 30-minute to 3-hour off-duty break: Changes will allow drivers one off-duty break of at least 30 minutes and no more than 3 hours, that pauses the driver’s 14-hour driving window
    • Note: Driver must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty at the end of the work shift.
  4. Adverse driving conditions exception: Changes will extend the maximum window during which driving is permitted by two hours.
  5. Short-haul exception: Changes will lengthen the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extends the operating distance limit from 100 to 150 air miles.

CVSA fully supports FMCSA in their request for comments, however, Executive Director Collin Mooney said that 45 days is not enough time to prepare and approve comments on such a complicated and important issue. Mooney stated that it is imperative that stakeholders provide more time.

The August 22, 2019 proposal opened a 45-day comment period allowing comments on regulations.gov using docket number FMCSA-2018-0248 until Oct. 7, however the extension would leave the comment period open until November 21, 2019.

Stay DOT compliant

Knowing these Hours-of-Service rules and regulations will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and compliant.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.