Teen Drivers to be Scrutinized in Interstate Apprenticeship Program

On January 13, FMCSA announced in a pre-publication Federal Register post that the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program is coming soon for around 3,000 potential drivers and 1,000 motor carriers to be involved.

Currently, 49 states and Washington DC give commercial driver licenses to people under 21 to drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) intrastate, but they cannot cross state lines.

This new rigorous apprenticeship program will just take some of those best drivers and train them so they can cross state lines.

Requirements for drivers in the apprenticeship program

The new Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program will allow interstate transportation for:

  • people 18 to 20 years old
  • with a state-issued CDL with a clean record
  • driving an automatic or automatic manual transmission truck with automatic emergency braking, forward-facing video cameras, and top speed limited to 65 miles per hour
  • and must complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time accompanied by an experienced driver
  • who are at least 26 years old and have at least five years’ experience driving a CMV interstate and a CDL for at least 2 years, and
  • the supervising driver is required to have two years of incident-free driving with no crashes or tickets

The young drivers in the program are also not allowed to drive trucks with more than one trailer or carry hazardous materials.

The FMCSA will issue a specific exemption to the normal age restrictions for each young driver admitted to the program, which will run for up to three years and complete a report to Congress analyzing the safety record of the teen drivers and making a recommendation on whether the younger drivers are as safe as those 21 or older.

Motor carrier requirements for the apprenticeship program

Motor carriers interested in participating must complete an application for participation and submit monthly data on:

  • an apprentice’s driver activity (vehicle miles traveled, duty hours, driving hours, off-duty time or breaks)
  • safety outcomes (crashes, violations, and safety-critical events), and
  • any additional supporting information (onboard monitoring systems or investigative reports from previous crashes)

In addition, carriers will be required to notify FMCSA within 24 hours of:

  1. any injury or fatal crash involving an apprentice
  2. an apprentice receiving an alcohol-related citation in any vehicle (driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated)
  3. an apprentice choosing to leave the pilot program
  4. an apprentice leaving the carrier, or
  5. an apprentice failing a random or post-crash drug and alcohol test

The pilot program includes two probationary periods, one for 120 hours and the other for 280 hours. After that, until they turn 21, they will be able to drive by themselves but under continuous monitoring by trucking companies, including monthly safety performance reports filed with FMCSA.

  1. The first probationary period must include at least 120 hours of on-duty time, of which at least 80 hours are driving time in a CMV. During this period, the motor carrier must ensure the apprentice:
    1. Completes the required hours of driving time, and
    1. is competent in each of the following areas: interstate, city traffic, rural 2-lane and evening driving; safety awareness; speed and space management; lane control; mirror scanning; right and left turns; and logging and complying with rules relating to hours of service.
  2. The second probationary period must include at least 280 hours of on-duty time, including no fewer than 160 hours of driving time in a CMV. During this period, the motor carrier must ensure the apprentice:
    1. Completes the required driving time, and
    1. is competent in each of the following areas: backing and maneuvering in close quarters; pre-trip inspections; fueling procedures; weighing loads, weight distribution and sliding tandems; coupling and uncoupling procedures; and trip planning, truck routes, map reading, navigation and permits.

Will anybody insure these young drivers?

According to comments submitted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), “We expect it will be difficult for many motor carriers to afford insurance coverage for younger drivers. Small-business motor carriers are especially unlikely to take the risk of insuring under-21 drivers without evaluating the costs and benefits to their operations. In all likelihood, only self-insured carriers will be willing to provide coverage for under-21 interstate drivers.”

However, while some might think that age is the bigger factor in determining risk, as it does with determining insurance rates for non-CDL drivers, a recent study found that experience in big rigs was the dominating factor.

The more than 9,000 participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that included questions on the driver’s age and CDL driving experience, which was cross-referenced with driver safety performance metrics from the Motor Carrier Management Information System, as well as carrier-recorded crash data and the Commercial Driver’s License Information System.

The data showed that “for drivers with seven months to one year of CMV driving experience, crash rates were higher for drivers aged 55 years and older compared to their younger counterparts.”

The rigorous apprenticeship program should give these drivers the experience needed so that insurance coverage for the younger drivers is not so unaffordable. 

Need help monitoring your driver’s safety and driver records?

Accuracy, organization, and diligence are crucial to keeping your files in order and ready for an audit at a moment’s notice and ensuring new drivers are properly qualified before operating in a safety sensitive position.

At CNS, our DQ file management system is completely customizable to your company’s needs. The consultants at CNS stay in communication with you regarding document updating, as well as offering comprehensive reports upon request, and reports of routine audits by our own DQ file auditors.

Beyond DQ files, our safety management programs are perfect for combining multiple services and can be tailored to fit your needs, whether you are a new owner operator or a seasoned trucker or business owner.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

When To Expect CVSA’s Level 8 Electronic Credentials Inspection

Level 8 is an inspection conducted electronically or wirelessly while the vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with an enforcement officer.

Trucking enforcement has changed dramatically over the decades. At first, the focus was on equipment being an issue.

After a standard inspection was developed, there was an improvement in maintenance and the focus changed to drivers.

Today, most FMCSA roadside and traffic enforcement inspections target drivers, with 3.3 million driver inspections versus 2.2 million vehicle inspections in FY 2021. 

most FMCSA roadside and traffic enforcement inspections target drivers, with 3.3 million driver inspections versus 2.2 million vehicle inspections in FY 2021

With vehicle automation coming and technologies improving, the focus will change to electronic credentials.

In 2017, CVSA voted and approved definitions of a new Level 8 electronic inspection “conducted electronically or wirelessly while the vehicle is in motion without direct interaction with an enforcement officer.”

As we approach 5 years of waiting since this announcement, is the future of inspections getting caught on camera at weigh stations coming anytime soon?

What is a Level 8 Inspection?

There are eight levels of inspections ranging from the Level I Inspection, which evaluates both the driver and vehicle, to inspection levels with a more specific area of focus, such as Level VI for radioactive materials and Level VIII for electronic inspections, which is currently not being used.

Level I, Level V and Level VI are the only inspections that may result in issuance of a CVSA decal placed on the vehicle.

The North American Jurisdictions do not have the ability for an electronic inspection, but CVSA’s approved definitions for what such electronic inspections need is a step toward their final goal.

A Level 8 inspection is simply a “credential check” where, for example, carriers could be caught for not having their Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) current, though will most likely not affect safety scores as it will not be checking for flat tires or other safety issues covered in deeper inspections.

Electronic screening provides value to a responsible carrier because of the time and money saved not having to stop at weigh stations. Electronic screening provides benefits to participating agencies too, as they can focus resources on high-risk carriers.

This inspection, as defined by the CVSA, would include:

  • A “descriptive location, including GPS coordinates.”
  • Electronic validation of the current operator, including “driver’s license class” and any endorsements, a “valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate” and, where applicable, a Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate for those with medical waivers for missing limbs
  • Current hours of service status and compliance information
  • USDOT or (Canada) NSC number of the authorized carrier, power unit registration information, operating authority info, and Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) compliance information
  • Any federal out-of-service orders

But we are far from this inspection hitting our roadways.

When to expect Level 8 inspections

According to CVSA, the next step in the electronic inspection implementation process for member jurisdictions will be the development of the information technology (IT) infrastructure to capture the information required for a Level VIII Electronic Inspection.

The challenge is that each vehicle will have to have the technology to send the information, and then the state will have to have a way to receive it in a secure way.

A 2015 report from DriveWyze states that “until the advent of a Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) transponder-based bypass program, there has been no opportunity for the CSA program to leverage the volume of roadside data being collected every day for weigh station bypass programs.

Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) transponder-based bypass program

CMRS transponders would provide less infrastructure needed, more data that can be exchanged between vehicle and roadside operations, and more security to protect data privacy.

The wireless roadside initiative already envisions wireless electronic inspections but is trying to create its own technology from an architecture that predates both the commercial deployment of CMRS transponders and commercially available weigh station e-Inspection software.

Currently, there are no jurisdictions with the specific necessary data exchange capabilities in place to go-live immediately and begin conducting Level VIII Electronic Inspections.

However, some jurisdictions are investigating the necessary IT and data upload and exchange needs to proceed with the proper IT infrastructure to meet the definition of the new electronic inspection. However, this is strictly voluntary and there is no deadline for implementation.

This is because there is a large cost for the states to get the proper equipment and IT infrastructure in place and then maintain it over many years.

Each carrier’s decision to bear the electronic data transmission cost to the roadside will be based solely on return on investment. The solution being discussed in the industry is some form of Alternative Compliance and credit for inspections where positive credits in CSA will make the investment worthwhile to the trucking industry.

Moving forward, updates and ongoing discussion of the Level VIII Electronic Inspection will take place during the Alliance’s committee meetings throughout the coming years in the Information Systems Committee, the Driver-Traffic Enforcement Committee, and the Enforcement and Industry Modernization Committee.

Need Audit Help Now Or Want To Go Digital With DOT Compliance?

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

We offer several different program levels depending on the size of your organization, however our PSM Motor Carrier Program is more common when considering affordability and the comprehensive DOT compliance assistance.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • DOT audit support
  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Canada enforcing drivers COVID vaccine mandate at border Jan 15

Canada enforcing drivers COVID vaccine mandate at border Jan 15

Beginning Saturday, truck drivers transporting goods into Canada will have to provide proof they have been fully vaccinated and received their last dose at least 14 days before entering.

Drivers are required to enter their contact information and vaccination information at least 72 hours before entering the country on the ArriveCAN website and app .

To meet the requirements, travelers must have received either two doses of the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines; or one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Non-Canadian citizens who try to enter the country unvaccinated will be turned around, while unvaccinated Canadian citizens will be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to reenter the country.

Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates that the Canadian trucking industry is expecting a loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border truck drivers due to the mandate.

The United States is expected to institute a similar mandate on Jan. 22.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

CVSA Evolves Free Driver Fatigue Educational Training Platform

CVSA Evolves Free Driver Fatigue Educational Training Platform

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is now home to the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP), offering a training tool to help combat truck driver fatigue.

Research in 2006 showed that numerous factors impact driver fatigue and motor carriers should consider certain factors in their safety programs, including:

  • driver health
  • environmental factors (such as cabin ergonomics and vibrations)
  • road conditions and seasonal variants
  • operational factors (scheduling practices, compensation, regulations, and safety culture)

In 2009, an operational field test with 77 commercial vehicle drivers in Alberta, Quebec and California found positive trends in sleep duration and sleep efficiency after implementing a Fatigue Management Program.

These trends include:

  • Improved reported sleep quality on duty days
  • 20 minutes longer main sleep on duty days
  • Improved duty day main period sleep duration and efficiency compared to rest days
  • Drivers reported less fatigue
  • Reduction in proportion of drivers reporting critical events (29% from 46%) and 40% reduction in number of critical events per km driven

To take advantage of these positive trends, FMCSA created the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP) with help from medical and sleep scientists from Canada and the U.S.

FMCSA has supported the NAFMP since its inception and looks forward to CVSA continuing to provide this important program to educate the motor carrier industry on driver fatigue.

What is the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP)?

NAFMP is a comprehensive educational and training program aimed at preventing fatigue-related risks and crashes and cultivating a corporate safety culture that proactively works to eliminate driver fatigue.

Learn how other drivers’ risky behaviors can affect your insurance rates.

At no cost or obligation, the comprehensive approach of the NAFMP combines effective fatigue management tools with education on what causes fatigue and how to minimize its occurrence.

You can use their e-learning platform to:

  • complete the training with interactive modules (containing exercises and quizzes)
  • or access on-demand downloads

Accessed through www.nafmp.org, the training is designed to build a safety culture and educate truck drivers, their families, carrier executives and managers, shippers and receivers, and dispatchers on identifying sleep disorders, treatment options and fatigue management technologies.

The 10 training topics include:

  • Fatigue Management Program introduction and overview
  • Safety culture and management practices
  • Driver education
  • Driver family education
  • Train-the-trainer for driver education and family forum
  • Shippers and receivers
  • Motor carrier sleep disorder management
  • Driver sleep disorders management
  • Driver scheduling and tools
  • Fatigue monitoring and management technologies

How will NAFMP likely change under CVSA guidance?

According to CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol, “Offering the North American Fatigue Management Program as one of the Alliance’s driver-related educational programs helps us do our part to combat crashes caused by driver fatigue and exhaustion.”

In addition, CVSA plans to enhance, improve and grow the program by:

  • Hosting live and recorded Q&A sessions
  • Offering a moderated forum where users may ask questions and provide feedback
  • Offering information sessions at CVSA events and conferences
  • Hosting program and steering committee meetings to discuss program improvements
  • Offering webinars on various topics relevant to fatigue management
  • Offering Spanish content in addition to English and French

Learn more about the NAFMP and how to implement a fatigue management program by visiting the NAFMP website. Download a step-by-step implementation manual and register in the eLearning platform for the program courses.

DOT Compliance Programs (PSM)

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM),a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

7 Steps To Start Your Hotshot Trucking Company

how to start a hotshot trucking business

If you’ve got the vision and desire to start a hotshot trucking company, now is the time to make that vision reality.

Hotshot trucking is simply hauling for a single customer that is needed in expedited fashion. Hotshot carriers are usually short-haul trucking operations that specialize in delivering time-sensitive, project-critical loads.

They are often associated with commercially driving an F-350 pulling a gooseneck or 5th wheel trailer to haul construction materials, cars, sheds, horses, etc.

If you are looking to haul commercial loads, it is easier to get hired anywhere with a Class A CDL. A clean driving record and a CDL gives your hotshot business a starting point to build your reputation as well as your customers. 

5 Reasons to Get Your CDL When Hauling Hotshot

However, starting any new business can be expensive, time-consuming, and will likely overwhelm you with paperwork and documentation before you even pick up a load.

That’s where CNS can help! As a leader in the trucking industry, we’ve helped many hotshot trucking startups and know what makes new companies successful.

We’ve outlined the basic steps you’ll need to take to start a trucking company and the services we offer individually or as a fully manage DOT Compliance Program.

How do I start a hotshot trucking business?

Before the process begins, be sure to make a detailed business plan that lists expenses (your salary, purchasing or leasing a vehicle and trailers, licensing, insurance, and registration) and revenue expected in your business.

As a new venture hotshot trucker there are many start-up requirements you may need, including:

  1. DOT Medical Exam for Medical Card
  2. Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  3. USDOT Number and MC Number
  4. Commercial Insurance
  5. BOC-3 Process Filing Agent
  6. IFTA Registration (if applicable)
  7. DOT Compliance

If you are a short-haul (intrastate) trucking carrier, you mostly stay within a 150 air-mile radius and report back to the same location to end your day. These operations usually function locally, and it is an attractive way to bring in new drivers who want to be home each night.

However, you may have extra flexibility in where and what you can haul. You will need a CDL to haul across state lines (interstate) or outside of the short-haul barrier, which leads to a few more requirements before getting started.

Step1: DOT Physical and Medical Card

Before even applying for your own LLC, it is important to make sure you qualify to be a truck driver.

This is a requirement mandated by federal law for anyone planning to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), including hotshot drivers.

Be sure to schedule a DOT physical exam from a trusted medical examiner. A DOT physical is a test of your general health, mental, and emotional well-being and will include:

  • urinalysis
  • blood pressure/pulse rate
  • vision test
  • hearing test
  • physical examination

We offer DOT exams at our location in Lititz, PA with our Certified Medical Examiner (CME), and we also have mobile DOT physicals available.

Step 2: Federal Employer Identification Number

Next, you will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a unique nine-digit number assigned to businesses in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service.

You will use this number to file your business tax return, open a business bank account, and receive payments from customers.

Our DOT Licensing Specialists can assist you in setting up your EIN, no matter what state you are in. In addition, we can help you decide what type of business you want to identify as, whether it be an LLC, Partnership, Corporation, S-Corp, etc.

Step 3: USDOT Number and/or Motor Carrier Number

Depending on what your company will be doing, you may need a USDOT Number or both a USDOT number and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number.

Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with the FMCSA and must have a USDOT Number.

You will also need a USDOT Number if you plan to haul hazardous materials commercially intrastate for types and quantities requiring a safety permit.

In addition, companies are required to have both a DOT number and an interstate operating authority (MC Number) if they do any of the following tasks:

  • Operate as for-hire carriers (for fee or other compensation)
  • Transport passengers in interstate commerce (or arrange for their transport)
  • Transport federally regulated commodities in interstate commerce (or arrange for their transport)

As you start your own authority and obtain your DOT Number and/or MC Number, the most important requirement to activate them is commercial trucking insurance.

Step 4: Hotshot Commercial Insurance Coverages

For commercial insurance, there are 5 critical hotshot insurance coverages needed to protect your business that can be customized for your specific needs.

As a new venture hotshot trucker there are many start-up licensing requirements you need, and the licensing rules require companies to meet certain insurance liability requirements.

For instance, primary auto liability, also known as Bodily Injury Physical Damage (BIPD), is required by the FMCSA at a minimum coverage of $750,000 to obtain your MC authority.

The 5 critical insurance coverages needed for your hotshot company are:

  1. Primary auto liability – $750,000 minimum
  2. Non-trucking liability
  3. Cargo coverage – $100,000 minimum (recommended)
  4. Physical damage coverage 
  5. Uninsured motorist insurance

There are few insurance providers that will give a new trucking company a commercial insurance quote. We find that Progressive usually offers the best startup insurance quotes.

Get multiple quick quotes with our sister company, CNS Insurance, to see your commercial insurance rates.

Non-trucking Liability: All time spent in a truck isn’t billable, but it is insurable. When you use your truck for non-business purposes, you need insurance coverage. Non-Trucking Liability offers liability coverage for property damage or bodily injury to a third party when trucks are being used for non-business purposes.

Cargo coverage ensures the contents of the trailer, temperature-control machinery, and other appliances or accessories that keep cargo secure. Coverage is custom and calculated based on the type of commodities hauled and the requirements of the shipper.

Physical damage coverage: Any time you drive, you are exposed to risk. Your truck could be damaged in an accident or from another disaster. It could be stolen or vandalized. Any of these issues could put your truck out of commission and compromise your business. While not required on your truck unless your vehicle is leased, it does offer 24-hour collision coverage for damages to your tractor or trailer.

Uninsured motorist coverageIf your truck/trailer is damaged or you sustain injuries in an accident that is caused by a party that does not have sufficient Auto Insurance coverage, this coverage will pay for your injuries.

Step 5: File a BOC-3 (interstate carriers)

A BOC-3 filing is required in the United States to activate your Motor Carrier Authority. This filing assigns legal agents if court papers ever need to be served to your company by an outside state. It is required before federal operating authorities can be granted in the U.S.

CNS, unlike many of our competitors, does not charge an annual fee for a BOC-3 filing.

Step 6: Get an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Sticker (interstate carrier)

This agreement is between the lower 48 states and Canadian provinces, and it simplifies reporting of fuel use by motor carriers operating in multiple jurisdictions. Alaska, Hawaii, and Canadian territories do not participate.

An operating carrier with IFTA receives an IFTA license and two decals for each qualifying vehicle. The carrier files a quarterly fuel tax report. This report determines the net tax or refund due and redistributes taxes from collecting states to states where it is due.

Keeping track of all the requirements, receipts, mileage logs, etc. can be complicated, which is why our DOT Compliance Specialists will file your IFTA fuel taxes for you.

Step 7: Become DOT Compliant

Now you need to become compliant with the FMCSA. These items need to be maintained through the year.

You are required to keep impeccable records in the event of an audit. These driver files include MVR reports, previous employer history and inquiries, PSP reports, and more.

If you have a commercial driver’s license, you will need a pre-employment drug test and be enrolled in a DOT drug and alcohol consortium.

We at CNS are excited for your new venture to become reality. We’re here to help you navigate the path towards starting your hotshot trucking company.

Our DOT Essentials Program is a great place to start and our DOT compliance specialists are on hand to get you up and running as quickly as possible. The DOT Essentials Program includes many of the above-mentioned filings and registrations and is one of the most commonly used DOT Compliance Programs by our clients.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Drug Testing: Supply Chain Issues Cause Extension To Use Old Chain of Custody Forms

chain of custody forms

On Nov 29, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has granted an extension for using the 2017 Federal Custody and Control Form (CCF) for urine specimens until August 31, 2023.

With this extension, either the 2020 Federal CCF or the recently expired 2017 Federal CCF may be used for urine specimens collected for federal workplace drug testing programs and those collected for testing under the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations.

With this change, the use of the 2017 Federal CCF is now permitted (as of November 23, 2021) without a memorandum for the record (MFR).

Why is there an extension for the old CCF forms?

Due to a shortage of raw materials needed for the 2020 Federal CCF, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) requested OMB approval for continued use of the 2017 Federal CCF.

Short supplies include the carbonless paper used for CCF and the resins and plastics used for the labels directly affixed to the form. Items used for specimen collection kits (e.g., cardboard, shipping materials) are also in short supply.

These shortages are attributed to the materials’ use for COVID-related activities. Additionally, it was noted there is only one supplier of the carbonless paper, and the supplier has indicated they will not be increasing its production.

Where do I get the new or old CCF forms? 

Whoever manages your drug testing account, Lab or TPA can assist you so that you receive the new or older DOT CCF forms. Most of our clients already have the new CCF form.

Another option is to work with a third-party administrator (TPA) that can provide you with electronic ordering (eCCF) with no paper drug testing forms.

How do I know if I have the old DOT CCF form or the new DOT CCF form?

The easiest way to know the difference is that Copy 1 Lab copy in Step 2 has information about ORAL FLUID testing. The old form does not mention Oral Fluid.

Is Oral Fluid testing now authorized?

No. DOT has not yet authorized Oral Fluid testing. Do not collect oral fluid using the new DOT CCF forms. 

How can I stay compliant with this change?

Our comprehensive Drug & Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) is available for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

When you select our Drug and Alcohol Consortium you receive professional guidance from one of our drug and alcohol experts who completely manage your consortium.

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers. We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

We also offer an online results portal where our consortium clients can order their own chain of custody forms for a drug test, search collection sites near a driver location, see the status of a chain of custody order and the results of the test, and download chain of custody forms for audit or other purposes.

Our DOT Compliance Specialists can assist you with any questions you might have.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

2022 DOT Trucking Regulation Changes: ELDT, Driver Hiring, Age, Clearinghouse, Safety

2022 DOT Trucking Regulation Changes: ELDT, Driver Hiring, Age, Clearinghouse, Safety

After another year of the COVID pandemic and lagging supply chain issues, there was not a big push for major regulatory changes in 2021.

However, a massive infrastructure bill was passed into law in November and other major regulatory changes will go into effect quickly in 2022.

In 2022, some changes that the trucking industry may see include:

  • CDL trainees – Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule
  • Driver age – Under 21 Interstate Truck Drivers
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing – changes to DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse
  • Safety Regulations
  • Medical Examiner Final Rule
  • Speeding – Speed Limiting Rule
  • Hiring – California AB5 Independent Contractor Rule

Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule

As of February 7, 2022, entry-level CDL trainees will have much stricter requirements for obtaining their CDL.

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule establishes new minimum training requirements for individuals who want to:

  • obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • upgrade a CDL, or
  • obtain a passenger (P), school bus (S) or hazardous materials (H) endorsement

Under these new requirements, an entry-level driver must successfully complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction.

Prior to taking the knowledge test or the state administered CDL skills or hazmat endorsement tests, training must be provided by an entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR).

Rush Of CDL Trainees Expected Before 2022 ELDT Rule

Under 21 Interstate Truck Drivers

In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.

On Nov. 15, President Biden signed into law the $1 trillion infrastructure that requires the transportation secretary to establish an apprenticeship program for young drivers by Jan. 14, 2022. This program could certify up to 25,000 18- to 20-year-old drivers as long-haul truckers per year until it ends in 2024.

The apprentice truckers will be required to drive 240 hours under the supervision of an older driver in a truck equipped with safety features like automatic brake systems and a 65 mile per hour speed governor. After that, they’re free to drive any cross-state route in the country.

DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Most notable is a proposed rule that would revise the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. According to the abstract listed with the rule, the proposal would “streamline and improve error-correction procedures, queries and consent requirements.” As of right now, the notice of proposed rulemaking is expected in February 2022.

Other likely changes coming to the drug and alcohol Clearinghouse are exemption requests.

Last year, the Motion Picture Compliance Solutions (MPCS) exemption to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule has been granted after stating that it did not fit their industry’s model.

Whether or not the exemptions are approved is yet to be seen and will depend highly on the situation of the particular carrier requesting the exemption.

Medical Examiner Final Rule

In December 2017, the registry experienced an outage that lasted seven months. During that time, FMCSA suspended medical examiners’ uploading of driver examinations until that functionality was restored.

A recent FMCSA supplemental notice proposes to extend the compliance date again for several provisions of its 2015 medical examiner’s certification integration final rule by another four years, until June 23, 2025, extending from the previous date of June 22, 2021.

According to the new notice, “this action is being taken to provide FMCSA time to complete certain information technology system development tasks for its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and to provide the state driver’s licensing agencies sufficient time to make the necessary IT programming changes after the new national registry system is available.”

Since the hacking outage, the FMCSA says it has experienced additional setbacks in its efforts to launch the national registry replacement system that require an additional delay.

Safety Regulations

Serving as deputy administrator of FMCSA since January 2021, Meera Joshi is waiting to be confirmed as the next FMCSA administrator.

Joshi mentioned four important safety priorities that could be coming in the industry:

  1. Electronic transfer of license data between states: This rulemaking is in the final months of getting published for interstate cooperation as there needs to be swift and current data transfer between states around CDL licensure.
  2. Have state’s downgrade license if a positive drug test is submitted to FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to keep risky drivers off the roads
  1. Strengthening FMCSA’s new entrant program
  2. Increase the scope of motor carrier investigations to encompass more at-risk behavior

As a new entrant, it is required to follow Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and they will want to see some established records and processes during your New Entrant Safety Audit that will happen within the first 12 months of operation to complete the New Entrant Program.

Speed Limiting Rule

In June 2021, House lawmakers re-introduced another trucking speed limiter bill that would require the technology would be set to a maximum speed of 65 mph, or 70 mph with adaptive cruise control systems, as well as automatic emergency braking systems.

The proposal suggested maximum top speeds of 60, 65 or 68 mph, but backed away from anti-tampering requirements.

Nothing has happened with this bill since the summer.

California AB5 Independent Contractor Rule

The biggest issue affecting trucking is the California’s AB5 independent contractor bill that was signed into law in 2019. It has effectively outlawed the leased owner-operator market in California and is currently going through the court system.

Hours before the law was to take effect Jan. 2020, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing it upon truck drivers.

How AB5 affects the trucking industry in California and nearby states

The United States Supreme Court on November 15th invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on whether the Supreme Court should hear California Trucking Association’s suit claiming federal law preempts California’s AB 5 for the trucking industry.

The injunction should remain in place while SCOTUS awaits the Solicitor General’s brief.

More recently, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the first AB5 case from carrier Cal Cartage on October 4, 2021, leaving in place a split in authority regarding whether states can change the rules regarding how truckers are treated.

The next step will be CTA’s case at the U.S. Supreme Court that relies on slightly different arguments and factual statements than Cal Cartage case.

Conclusion

To summarize, as a trucking professional or trucking company owner in 2022, there a few things that you should consider.

If you are getting your CDL or paying to have your drivers trained, it would benefit you to get a CDL permit before the ELDT Rule goes into effect on February 7, 2022.

If you operate interstate, you may be able to consider hiring younger drivers in the 18-20 age range. Although these drivers are young with no experience, the benefit is that you can mold them. Breaking bad habits of experienced drivers is more difficult than developing good habits right out of the gate.

Also, depending on where you are located and how the AB5 rule evolves, you may not be able to hire owner operators as independent contractors any longer. These contractors would have to be treated as full-time employees and offered benefits.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Do I have to be Employed for the SAP Return-To-Duty Process and Follow-up Testing?

Since the CDL Clearinghouse database went live in Jan. 2020, we can track that around 60,000 drivers each year have received some drug and alcohol violation.

If these drivers want to get back to work, they must complete the return-to-duty process and be a part of a SAP program for follow-up testing.

However, many of these drivers are terminated by their employer. But, if they continue to work through the return-to-duty process, they are eligible to seek employment elsewhere.

Since the CDL Clearinghouse database went live in Jan. 2020, we can track that around 60,000 drivers each year have received some drug and alcohol violation.

This brings up a frequently asked question: If a CDL holder is NOT employed and can’t get employed but wants to continue the follow-up process, can this CDL holder contract a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to act as a DER and send this CDL driver for the appropriate follow-up testing plan?

The short answer: No, unless they become an owner-operator. We will explain why after a quick review of the process.

What is the return-to-duty and follow-up DOT SAP process?

Find a DOT SAP:
SAPlist.com is the #1 source for finding a Substance Abuse Professional

After a driver receives a failed drug test result, they must begin the return-to-duty/SAP process which can be split into two major sections: the time to return-to-duty to drive again, and the time to finish the follow-up testing program for the next 12-60 months.

This process begins with an evaluation by a substance abuse professional (SAP), as required in the federal regulations in 49 CFR Part 40 Subpart O. This is often considered the SAP process.

A return-to-duty drug test is a single test required by the DOT after successful completing the SAP process.

Read more for additional details on the SAP process.

Return-to-duty testing can only be done when the driver is CURRENTLY EMPLOYED.

If the driver is not employed, they cannot start their SAP program until they are employed and will be performing a safety-sensitive function. Basically, their progress would be paused until they are employed again.

If the driver is an owner-operator and have a truck, they would use their Consortium/TPA to manage their SAP process and follow-up testing schedule.

But why?

Drug testing while employed in safety-sensitive work is an effective deterrent

Remember, after a driver finished the SAP process and can return to safety-sensitive work, they still must have unscheduled follow-up testing for at least one year.

The need to be employed to have follow-up testing has been a requirement of the regulations for more than 30 years.

There are three main reasons why this is important.

First, the federal agency does not have jurisdiction over the general public, or someone who is not operating under their jurisdiction. If the driver is no longer employed or is not an owner-operator, they are not required to follow federal regulations until they are back in a safety-sensitive function.

Second, a driver cannot know his or her follow-up testing schedule or how long it will be. If they did, this could allow the person in recovery to continuing substance abuse and time to stop so they are clean before the next follow-up test.

If a driver does not know how long the follow-up testing program could continue, that will help the driver remain free of substance abuse long-term.

For example, a SAP could recommend 6 follow-up tests in the first 12 months, and then follow-up tests in the third and fifth year. A driver would not know this, which makes the preventive nature of follow-up testing more effective.

Third, absent safety-sensitive work for an employer, the follow-up testing would not be effective.

While a C/TPA can handle this process for a self-employed owner-operator, the role of the employer and job function is very important to successful implementation and recovery.

The entire point of follow-up testing that produces negative results is to show that the driver can safely operate in DOT-regulated safety-sensitive work.

In other words, the stress of the job could be a reason why some drivers take drugs or drink heavily. If you are unemployed, this trigger is not be tested and might be easier for a driver to get through the follow-up program and later continue substance abuse while driving.

If you are currently unemployed and still must finish the return-to-duty or follow-up testing process, don’t be discouraged. There are many employers who will hire someone with a past refusal or positive test.

For help getting hired, it is often recommended to explain that you will pay for these directly observed tests instead of the potential employer.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Understanding the CSA Intervention Process and the Importance of Warning Letters

Understanding the CSA Intervention Process and the Importance of Warning Letters

FMCSA will monitor your safety performance and compliance through its SMS. If you do not improve, they may investigate your company further.

A motor carrier is considered high-risk based on many sources of information, and when they are, the FMCSA wants to understand why.

They seek this understanding through the intervention process.

The CSA intervention process evaluates why safety problems occur, recommends remedies, encourages corrective action, and when necessary, invokes strong penalties for carriers failing to comply.

Let’s dive into the entire process and learn how to be proactive when dealing with the FMCSA.

What is the CSA intervention process?

The FMCSA has three categories of intervention when dealing with a potentially high-risk carrier: Early Contact, Investigation, and Follow-On.

Early Contact

Early Contact usually happens in the form of warning letters or a targeted roadside inspection.

Warning letters alert safety performance and compliance problems to motor carriers early on. If they do not improve their safety metrics after this warning, they may face Offsite or Onsite Investigations.

Targeted Roadside Inspections are usually prompted based on poor safety data scores that are pulled as they approach the scales and can be conducted at a permanent or temporary roadside inspection location.

Investigation

Investigationis the hands-on analysis used to identify safety performance and compliance problems. There are three types of investigations:

  1. Offsite Investigation: A safety investigator requests copies of documents from a carrier and reviews the documents remotely, to identify specific safety performance and compliance problems.
  2. Onsite Focused Investigation: A safety investigator focuses on specific safety performance and compliance problems at the carrier’s place of business and may interview employees and perform vehicle inspections.
  3. Onsite Comprehensive Investigation: A safety investigator reviews the entire safety operation at a carrier’s place of business and may interview employees and perform vehicle inspections.

Follow-On

Lastly,the Follow-Oncategoryhas four consequences based on a motor carriers investigation result.

  1. Cooperative Safety Plan (CSP): A voluntary plan a carrier may implement with the help of SIs to address safety problems. This plan may be used alone or with a Notice of Violation (NOV), but it cannot replace a Notice of Claim (NOC).
  2. Notice of Violation (NOV): A formal notice that violations are severe enough to warrant formal action, but not civil penalties. To avoid further intervention from FMCSA, the carrier must take corrective action and provide evidence of it, or contest the violations.
  3. Notice of Claim (NOC): A formal notice that violations are severe enough to warrant assessment and civil penalties.
  4. Operation Out of Service Order (OOSO): An order requiring the carrier to immediately cease all motor vehicle operations.

Exceeding a BASICs Intervention Threshold will trigger a warning letter

Motor carriers must take warning letters seriously as they are the first step in the intervention process.

The FMCSA sends warning letters when safety performance data indicates they are not complying with safety regulations.

These letters identify which Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) have higher than average safety compliance problems and outlines possible consequences if these problems are not fixed.

The BASIC “intervention thresholds” were established because they are strong indicators of future crash risk and exceeding them can put you on FMCSA’s priority lists which can later result in fines and violations.

The seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories are:

  1. Unsafe Driving: Speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, inattention, or failure to use seatbelts
  2. Hours of Service (HOS) Compliance
  3. Crash Indicator: History of crash involvement
  4. Driver fitness: Invalid license, medically unfit to operate a CMV
  5. Controlled substances/alcohol
  6. Vehicle maintenance: Failure to make required repairs
  7. Hazardous (HAZMAT) materials compliance: Leaking containers, improper packaging and/or placarding

In Aug 2021, Unsafe Driving intervention threshold was 65% for general carriers, 60% for hazmat, and 50% for passenger carriers.

If a carrier has one or more Acute and/or Critical Violations related to this BASIC, their percentile may increase at or above the intervention threshold.

In Aug 2021, Unsafe Driving intervention threshold was 65% for general carriers, 60% for hazmat, and 50% for passenger carriers.

What should you do if you receive a warning letter from the FMCSA?

If you do receive a warning letter, it is your chance to improve your safety performance and compliance without further intervention from the FMCSA.

Read the letter carefully as it:

  • Identifies your company’s specific safety performance and compliance problems
  • Explains how to access your safety record, and
  • Outlines the consequences if you do not improve

Motor carriers then need to develop and execute strategies that will make their operations compliant with the safety regulations outlined.

If you do not create a plan now, a future audit investigation may require you to create a Safety Management Plan (SMP) to address corrective action in the key areas of violation.

How To Prepare For A Comprehensive FMCSA Safety Audit

FMCSA will continue to monitor your safety performance and compliance through its SMS. If you do not improve, they may investigate your company further.

There are 4 best practices every carrier should prioritize:

  1. Maintain good record-keeping procedures – keep all documentation current and accurate
  2. Good company policies – Focus on hiring, work, and discipline
  3. Proof of consistent Hours of Service – monitoring, auditing, and corrective actions for logbook violations
  4. Maintain good vehicle maintenance records  – DVIR, annual inspections, and preventative maintenance

If you feel overwhelmed or do not know where to start, you can always conduct a Mock DOT audit where third-party experts, like Compliance Navigation Specialists, can go through the audit process to identify issues that need correcting.

Are you being reactive or proactive?

The best tip we can provide carriers is to exceed, and not “just meet” the DOT regulations.

At CNS, our DOT Compliance Programs focus on Proactive Safety Management (PSM), a mindset that will ensure your fleet’s safety and compliance is always in order and ahead of the FMCSA.

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

  • ELD management
  • Driver Qualification File Management
  • New driver on-boarding
  • Driver safety meetings
  • CSA score management
  • Policies and handbooks
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • and more

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Driver Training Prevents the Biggest Unplanned Costs Affecting Fleets

Driver Training Prevents the Biggest Unplanned Costs Affecting Fleets

When it comes to driver training, the conversation at many fleets goes like this:

“What if we train everybody and they leave?” – CFO

“What if we don’t train them and they stay?” – CEO

Outside of normal trucking expenses (fuel, truck, and insurance), the biggest unplanned costs that can hit your company are issues that a focused driver training program could reduce or help prevent.

These unplanned costs include accidents, speeding tickets, roadside violations, impacts of poor CSA scores, vehicle maintenance issues, driver turnover, and eventual increased insurance rates.

As a business owner or fleet manager, you try to prepare financially for many of these costs. The problem is we often do not consider ways to prevent the costs in the first place or we consider the preventive measures to be too expensive or undervalued.

The CFO worries about the short-term cost of training drivers in a high churn industry but misses the long-term impacts of not training the 80% of their drivers that will stay. A good CEO can understand the short-term and long-term impacts of the entire picture.

You are probably starting to think:

  • What are the costs of a poor driver training program or not having one at all?
  • How much would a driver training program cost?

In this article we will discuss:

  1. Financial impact of trucking accidents on your business
  2. Truck driver training, driver turnover and the impact on CSA scores
  3. How to implement a customized driver training program

Driver training and the impact of Accidents

Every owner-operator understands that the insurance rates for their first 3 years will be high because new drivers with little driving experience have the highest risk of getting into an accident.

When there is an accident, the costs can be extremely high.

FMCSA data show us that there are more than 5,000 fatalities due to truck accidents each year, and more than 100,000 truck accident injuries.

In 2019, 11% of all crash fatalities were due to large truck crashes. If this accident was a multiple-vehicle crash, 23% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths stemmed from a large truck collision.

The reality is that many of these accidents could have been prevented with adequate truck driver training or on-going training after they receive their first job.  

According to the FMCSA, crashes are devastating in terms of fatalities and injuries, financial costs, damaged reputations, the inability to attract and retain good drivers, and general goodwill in the industry and community.

Specifically, let’s just look at the financial costs for large vehicle crashes:

  • The cost of all large truck crashes is about $91,000 per accident
  • A crash with injuries costs almost $200,000 per accident
  • A crash with fatalities costs around $3.6 million per accident

Immediately following a potential driver-at-fault accident, an accident driver investigations must occur, looking into their training history and if the driver satisfied all their training requirements.

Unfortunately, records associated with driver training are often doctored following an accident with the hope to provide a more favorable picture of actual training that occurred.

After the investigations, pre-employment violations are often found around driver qualification files and lack of previous employment history on record.

The best way to avoid collisions is to drive safely. The best way to monitor driver safety habits is measuring the ELD telematic data over time to show trends in a simple Driver Scorecard.

With a customized driver training program, red flags on these driver scorecards can immediately give the driver courses on defensive driving, fuel efficiency, HOS regulations, or driver ELD training.

Then, if an accident does happen, the fleet can show proof of focused on-going training.

Driver training and the impacts of Driver Turnover and CSA Scores

In 2020, the driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers averaged 90% while smaller truckload fleets faced a 69% turnover on average.

In some circumstances, there are even fleets facing a 200% or 300% turnover rate, meaning a driver could be recruited, hired, and onboarded in January and replaced at least twice by December.

In these cases, it makes sense why fleets fear spending money on training new and current drivers. The operational budget for trucks and tires come first before investing in company culture, safety, and on-going training.

In other words, high driver turnover causes pressures to quickly train drivers and push them on the road to get money flowing after losing the previous driver.

However, Vigillo—a data analyzing firm—completed a recent study that found a group of fleets with high driver turnover had 1,177 total crashes where fleets with low driver turnover had just 303 total crashes.

“There is a pretty strong correlation between the safety culture that exists at a motor carrier, which can be measured in CSA, and turnover rates,” said Vigillo CEO, Steve Bryan.

Their data revealed that fleets with high driver turnover had:

  • 189% more driver out-of-service rate
  • 300% more vehicle out-of-service rate
  • 181% more hours-of-service violations
  • 224% more crash indicators
  • 640% more hazmat violations, and
  • 182% more controlled substance violations

According to FMCSA annual violation data, fleets regulated by the DOT have paid over $27 million annually in fines, which breaks down to an average of $5,074 per case for violations. With HAZMAT, this average nearly doubles.

Many of these violations will also place the truck out-of-service until the issues are fixed. Being placed out-of-service for 10 hours while a maintenance shop is fixing the truck can cost a fleet around $900 more.

You can already see the cost benefits of reducing high driver turnover through positive company culture and a successful driver training program.

How to implement near-term customized driver training

Today, new technology and equipment analyzes and optimizes nearly every facet of fleet efficiency. This includes electronic logging devices, dashcams, and fleet management software that driver must be trained to use.

Each driver comes with their own experiences, skills, and flaws and these technologies can be used to understand your driver better.

For example, if driver trainers notice a habit of hard acceleration or hard braking, they should make sure a video training schedule includes driving fundamentals and defensive driving topics.

Similarly, if there is a pattern of logbook errors, include logbook training and hours of service rules into their video training schedule.

All custom training schedules should be accompanied by common new driver training, such as reviewing common maintenance and pre-trip inspection training, what to expect during a roadside inspection and how to treat inspectors, highlight drug testing processes and marijuana regulations, seasonal safe driving tips, cargo securement training, etc.

Customized training should also be measurable using quiz assessments to track driver performance. If their assessment score is low, then the training needs to be retaken.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company and drivers.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.