Major CDL Clearinghouse Deadline Approaching or Face Fines

fmcsa cdl clearinghouse annual queries

Do you remember the beginning of 2020 when the crash of the FMCSA’s CDL Clearinghouse website caused registration confusion?  

The launch was supposed to be a smooth process as companies had three months prior to register. But few did.

As a result of so many people attempting to register through the website at the last minute, the website was overloaded and crashed, causing registration errors and quick fixes just to get people in the system.

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database where new drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information of CDL drivers is stored and searched.

This database has worked well in preventing drug users from job hopping, as well as open the book on what is happening real-time with the trucking industry drug testing statistics.

In the first 8 months the Clearinghouse was in effect, over 35,000 drivers were found with a positive drug test forcing them  to begin the return-to-duty and SAP process before getting back on the road.

According to the latest Clearinghouse report, marijuana accounted for nearly half of the positive drug test results, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine.

However, we are now less than three months away from another major Clearinghouse deadline where companies could face fines, if in violation.

 

Clearinghouse website may crash again as required annual query deadline approaches

With the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes, employers of CDL drivers must follow a new drug testing process when hiring a potential new driver before a pre-employment drug test can be done at a collection site.

Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if pre-employment drug tests are performed before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.

Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present.

After the detailed query is done, the pre-employment drug test can continue as part of the pre-employment new-hire process.

The other major required process for employers, including owner-operators, is to annually query all current CDL drivers at least once a year to make sure no violations appeared in the database. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.

This means the majority of CDL drivers need to have had a limited query run on them by January 6, 2021 or face potential violations and fines if found to be done late or not at all during an audit.

Early Clearinghouse registration issues led officials to advise employers to wait to register until December 2020 or January 2021. Consequently, a large spike in DOT Clearinghouse web traffic is expected as companies rush to register and submit annual queries to the DOT Clearinghouse before the deadline.

 

What fleets need to do before 2021 deadline

Every employer with CDL drivers needs to verify that they are registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. After registering, employers will purchase query tokens that will be used to when they want to run limited or detailed queries on their drivers or potential new drivers.

Owner-operators should purchase around 5 query token to run their annual queries each year, lasting them five years before they need to purchase more tokens.

Larger fleets should purchase query plans around two-and-a-half times their driver size to last two years of annual queries and a handful of new hire drivers.

Finally, annual queries can be ran on all CDL drivers within the company.

Do you need help registering to the FMCSA Clearinghouse or looking to switch to a trusted drug testing consortium?

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

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

IFTA Fuel Tax Rate Changes Q3 2020

IFTA Fuel Tax Rates | IFTA | CNS

With 11 states showing a tax rate change, the Q3 IFTA return due date is October 31st.


What are the 2020 IFTA tax rates for the 3rd quarter?

The International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) has released the 3rd quarter 2020 fuel taxes. You can download the full list of 2020 Q3 tax rates below and can also find more information on the International Fuel Tax Association at their website.


Download: Fuel Tax Quarterly Rate Spreadsheet

For the latest IFTA tax rates excel spreadsheet to be emailed to you, please fill out this quick form.

Which states had IFTA tax rate changes?

There were eleven states that showed a tax rate change, which include California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia. IFTA lists the 3rd Quarter 2020 Tax Rate Changes, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Managing IFTA requirements can be challenging. Between tracking receipts, managing mileage logs, matching fuel to taxes, chasing drivers and filing with the jurisdictions, it is easy to see why many companies search out solutions for the complicated process.

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

CNS takes your fuel tax reporting worries away! 

CNS is a full-service tax provider that can manage the entire process for you from start to finish and offers custom simple solutions for companies of all sizes. 

Our fuel tax specialists will work with you to collect your data, ensure your fuel and mileage match, prepare your filings, and even file the paperwork for you directly. 

What CNS fuel tax team will do and what is needed from you.


Fuel Taxes: Free Estimate

Our Fuel Tax Specialists will give you a free estimate. They can also answer any questions you have on fuel taxes or reporting.

How to protect yourself from truck accident litigation with compliant driver files

compliant driver files

Every year, government auditors find hundreds of violations when reviewing DQ files for compliance.

A critical element in maintaining a safe carrier operation is monitoring driver qualifications files effectively and in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. 

When your driver files are not in compliance, the company faces risks of misplacing documents, filing inaccurately, incurring violations, or being hit with costly litigation.

Truck accidents are inevitable and more than 50% of these crashes are caused by driver fatigue and driver error, according to statements made by the Pennsylvania State Police motor carrier enforcement unit at the CNS and NIS Safety Conference earlier this year.

Litigators will look at the crash information and the driver files to find unsafe driver trends. If the company handles their hiring and driver qualification process well, there is a reduced chance of litigators finding unsafe driver trends that can harm the company with violations and heavy fines.  

So, what are driver qualification files?

Put simply, a driver qualification file is the driver’s personnel file and is required for anyone driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle as defined be the FMCSA in 49 CFR 390.5 or state authorities.

A DQ file is needed even if the driver is a mechanic quickly moving a vehicle, the company owner moving a vehicle, a part-time or temporary driver, or a driver who works for a private company.

After a job offer is extended to a driver, carriers need to build a driver file that includes:

  • driver’s licenses
  • employment application
  • previous employer inquires
  • motor vehicle records
  • credit history and background checks
  • drug test results
  • FMCSA Clearinghouse queries
  • medical certificates
  • and more

Driver File Management

Questions about Driver File Management? Fill out the form to get started


What information needs to be gathered in driver qualification files (DQF)?

The difficult part of the DQ File is that companies must know the driver qualifications file requirements to pass a safety audit. Every year, government auditors find hundreds of violations when reviewing DQ files for compliance.

Most of the time, violations occur for a few reasons, including:

  • companies taking shortcuts in the hiring process
  • staff managing the driver files not being trained in DOT regulations, or
  • companies not realizing they must meet these stringent driver qualification file requirements if their fleet is not focused on trucking.

 

Using driver files to protect yourself from truck accident liability

Sometimes companies may hire and retain employees who are not qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Other times, the driver’s history and record might be okay, but the company did not build a complete driver file to reflect this.    

The consequences of can be steep as companies face litigation and blame.

In a litigator’s eyes, driver qualification files reflect any kind of negligent hiring and retention claims and provide punitive damages against the carrier for continuing to employ someone they knew was dangerous or could hurt someone.

For example, if the employer failed to do a thorough background check on the driver, that can support a strong negligent hiring claim.

Similarly, if the driver had any previous violations, this is very important in terms of proving notice against the carrier to support a claim for punitive damages.

At a minimum, an annual review of driving performance and insuring driving credentials are valid can reduce unsafe drivers or pinpoint areas where further training could correct bad driving habits.

Driver information litigators look for after an accident:

  • governmental agencies responses to inquiries regarding driver records
  • driver’s past employment records and employers showing they contacted them (or repeatedly tried to) at the time of the driver’s employment
  • driver’s workers’ compensation file
  • medical evaluations of the driver
  • drug test results, including negative results
  • driver training testing documents and company safety meetings attendance
  • driver’s DOT file
  • prior violations
  • driver’s annual reviews
  • disciplinary records

Beyond these records, companies need to avoid these common driver file violations:

  • not having a current DOT medical card on file
  • not having the initial driving record on file (MVR)
  • not having a DQ file for each driver that needs one 

Proactive Driver Qualification File Management

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.

Our DOT Compliance Specialists will ensure all DQ files for your company will be ready to pass an FMCSA audit.

Start managing your DQ Files now


Combining multiple services?

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.

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.


How To Pass Roadside Inspections During CVSA Brake Safety Week

DOT Audit | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

Last year’s CVSA Brake Safety Week found 13.5% of commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related violations and were placed out-of-service.

The annual CVSA Brake Safety Week enforcement blitz is scheduled for August 23-29, 2020.

Enforcement officials will inspect commercial motor vehicles during this time and place vehicles out-of-service (OOS) until any critical OOS brake or other violations are corrected. Vehicles that pass may receive a passed-inspection CVSA decal.

“Brakes are one of the most important systems in a vehicle,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Failure of any component of a brake system could be catastrophic. Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.”

2019 CVSA International Roadcheck and Brake Safety Week Results

According to the US federal regulations and the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, if your brake system efficiency falls below the minimum of 43.5%, your vehicle will be put out-of-service.

Brake system and brake adjustment violations during last year’s International Roadcheck inspection accounted for 45.1% of all OOS conditions. That was more than any other vehicle violation category.

Last year’s Brake Safety Week found that 13.5% of commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related violations and were placed out-of-service.

Review the Brake Safety Results in one of last year’s unannounced inspections

More recently, according to The Truckers Report, Nebraska had an unannounced truck inspection blitz in mid-July that found 43% of the vehicles inspected were placed out-of-service. During this surprise inspection, drivers face up a total of $7,315 in fines from the 384 violations documented.

What is covered in a roadside brake safety truck inspection?

Inspectors will be paying special attention to brake hoses and tubing, which must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks, appropriately flexible, and free of leaks, corrosion, and any other type of damage.


Vehicle Maintenance: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your vehicle maintenance.

At roadside, brake inspections include visual checks as well as an air brake test using a performance-based brake tester (PBBT) in the 14 jurisdictions where it is available. The performance-based air brake test measures the slow speed brake force and weight at each wheel and uses those measurements to determine the efficiency of the braking system.

As long as the brake system efficiency stays above 43.5%, the vehicle will not be placed out-of-service, unless another critical OOS violation is found.

How can I prepare for a truck inspection of my air brakes?

If you know your brake system you are more likely to know if there is an issue. You should know what size and type of air brake chamber you have and learn how to properly identify it.

Most air brake chambers will have a marking on them, letting you know what type and size it is. If you know the type of chamber you have, you will also be able to determine the maximum allowable push rod travel for that brake chamber and whether it is in or out of adjustment.

You should inspect your air brake system and all brake components regularly during your pre and post-trip inspection to keep your vehicle in safe operating condition.

The list below covers some items you can visually check on a regular basis to ensure they are securely attached, leak-free, and free of damage, such as corrosion and holes.

  • Air brake chamber
  • Brake hoses and tubing
  • Cotter pins
  • Clevis pins
  • Slack adjuster
  • Air lines

The CVSA has answered some frequently asked questions about your air brake system and inspection and have also provided an air brake inspection checklist, which is a great way to be sure you are prepared for your roadside safety inspection.

In addition to being prepared for a brake inspection, it is even more important to be prepared for a complete truck inspection.


Vehicles Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance costs can be a huge line item for fleet companies and at times, hard to keep under control. Routine maintenance of your vehicles is a necessity to ensure that your biggest assets always stay on the road.

An experienced and knowledgeable vehicle maintenance partner can make all the difference.

CNS can effectively manage your vehicle maintenance to meet your specific driving demands. We effortlessly handle an unlimited number of preventive maintenance schedules for all the vehicles in your fleet.

Serving your customers is your business; maintaining your fleet should be ours. Depend on CNS to keep your vehicles on the road and benefit from our expertise and gain a partnership that is dedicated to your success.

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


Reduce Vehicle Maintenance and Violation Costs with Proper Pre and Post Trip Inspections

pre and post trip inspection

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.

Every year it is reported that around 25 to 30% of the maintenance-related CSA violations are due to inoperative or defective lighting.

Why does this continue to happen?

The simple answer is:

  • drivers are not given enough time necessary to run a thorough pre-trip or post-trip inspection, or
  • drivers are not being trained to understand the importance of the daily inspections.

The reality is, teaching a driver how to do a pre-trip and post-trip inspection is as important as teaching them how to drive the truck.

The Importance of Pre and Post Trip Inspections

A thorough pre-trip inspection should take between 30 and 45 minutes to perform.

Some of the easiest things to catch during a pre-trip inspection are also the most common violations written up on a roadside inspection.

For example, low tread depth and damaged sidewalls are easily visible and usually do not wear out on one trip.

According to the DOT, in 2015 63% of roadside inspections were triggered by a commercial motor vehicle being driven with an observable defect, including:

  • inoperable lights
  • deflated tires
  • cargo securement
  • missing placards, and
  • fluid leaks

All of the above can be caught without sliding under the truck.

In fact, the most common method roadside inspectors use to select a vehicle for inspection is whether or not there is a visual defect.

Drivers just need to be educated on what they are looking for and what the DOT is looking for when they are going to write up a violation.


Driver Training: Free Estimate

Contact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.

Preventing Vehicle Maintenance and Violation Costs

It is no secret that vehicle maintenance is near the top of any fleet expenses, with companies reporting average repair and maintenance costs of 16.7 cents per mile, according to the ATRI in 2019.

A minor problem caught during a pre-trip or post-trip inspection will likely cost less money to fix and should get you back on the road quicker instead of waiting around for a major issue to be fixed.

Also, it is better to catch an issue before hitting the road as roadside repairs generally cost three to five times more than repairs in the shop or the extra cost of towing the truck to a shop.

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.

Accident costs take more time recover from

When it comes to accidents preventable by  pre or post-trip inspections, hidden costs of an accident can be 4 to 10 times greater than the visible costs.

Visible costs:

  • cargo damage
  • vehicle damage
  • personal injury costs
  • medical costs
  • loss of revenue
  • increased insurance premiums and deductibles
  • towing costs
  • storage of the damaged vehicle

Hidden costs:

  • lost customers
  • lost sales
  • lost productivity
  • cost to hire or train replacement workers
  • loss of, or damage to, third-party property
  • vehicle replacement
  • damaged equipment downtime
  • accelerated depreciation of equipment
  • tarnished public perception
  • charges from government agencies to replace or repair property
  • and more

The FMCSA found that the average cost of a truck crash involving a tractor-trailer pulling one trailer was  $172,000, and for two or three trailers, the costs amount to over $500,000.

To recover the cost of a single accident, a company would need to generate over $7,000,000 of additional revenue to pay the costs of the accident, assuming an average profit margin of 2%.


DOT Training

All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:

  • driver training that is ongoing and consistent
  • driver education, and
  • driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws

All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.

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

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

CVSA International Roadside DOT Inspection Readiness (2020)

DOT Inspection

2020 DOT Inspection Readinessnow
re-scheduled for Sept. 9-11

The annual International Roadcheck—conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) in late this year—is a high-visibility reminder of the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety. The 2020 International Roadcheck is now scheduled for Sept. 9-11.

Let’s review a few important notes and changes for the 2020 International Roadcheck.

Date change for 2020 International Roadcheck

Historically, the International Roadcheck has happened the first week of June. In 2020, the DOT inspection dates planned to have been moved up a month to take advantage of potentially more favorable weather conditions.

This year, the CVSA’s International Roadcheck was supposed to happen May 5-7, 2020, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now re-scheduled for Sept. 9-11.

Law enforcement will also be paying closer attention to unsafe driving behaviors of both truck and car drivers July 12-18 as part of the CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week.

In July, more than 10,000 citations, warnings issued to truckers during Operation Safe Driver Week, mostly for speeding and seat belts.

Also, the annual Brake Safety Week enforcement blitz is scheduled for August 23-29, 2020 with no plans of being postponed this year.

“During last year’s International Roadcheck inspection and enforcement initiative, brake system and brake adjustment violations accounted for 45.1% of all out-of-service conditions. That’s more than any other vehicle violation category. And during last year’s Brake Safety Week, 13.5% of the commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related vehicle inspection item violations and were placed out of service,” the CVSA statement reported.

DOT inspection focus for 2020 International Roadcheck

Primarily, the International Roadcheck conducts the North American Standard (NAS) Level I Inspection, which includes 37 steps in two main inspection categories:

  • driver operating requirements
  • vehicle mechanical fitness
  • Note: hazardous materials/dangerous goods are sometimes part of a Level I inspection

Depending on other factors, an inspector could conduct a:

  • Level II inspection (walk-around driver/vehicle)
  • Level III inspection (driver/credential/administrative) and/or
  • Level IV inspection (vehicle-only)

Each year, there is also a special category focus. This year’s now-postponed Roadcheck focus is on the driver requirements category.

This includes driver CDLs, medical cards, seat belts, records of duty status, ELD compliance and more – during the 72-hour ramp-up in enforcement.

>>> Download 2020 International Roadcheck Driver Requirements <<<

CVSA’s President, Sgt. John Samis of the Delaware State Police, commented that due to the US Federal mandate for electronic logging device compliance, “this year’s International Roadcheck would be the perfect opportunity to revisit all aspects of roadside DOT inspection driver requirements.”

What to expect during the CVSA International Roadcheck

At a minimum, drivers should anticipate the following procedures during a roadside DOT inspection:

  • inspector greeting, interview, driver preparation
  • collection/verification of driver documents
  • motor carrier ID
  • license examination
  • records check (duty status and periodic inspection reports)
  • certification check (if needed)
    • Medical Examiner’s Certificate
    • Skill Performance Evaluation Certification, and
    • daily vehicle inspection report
  • other inspections such as driver seat belt usage, illness, fatigue, impairments due to substance use

A roadside DOT inspection would include critical components such as:

  • brake systems
  • cargo securement
  • coupling devices
  • driveline/driveshaft components
  • driver’s seat (missing)
  • exhaust systems
  • frames
  • fuel systems
  • lighting devices
  • steering mechanisms
  • suspension system
  • tires
  • van and open-top trailer bodies
  • wheels, rims, and hubs
  • windshield wipers
  • Buses, motor coaches, passenger vans or other passenger-carrying vehicles: emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in engine and battery compartments, and temporary and aisle seating

Although this 3-day event spanning from Canada to Mexico intensifies the frequency of inspections, it’s crucial to remember that DOT inspections happen every day of the year.

The FMCSA 2019 data reports 3.36 million inspections last year, with only 67,072 (or, about 2%) happening during the International Roadcheck. The annual data show 944,794 driver violations, with just over 20% (195,545) being for out-of-service conditions.

>>> Review the 2019 International Truck Inspection Results <<<

Obeying safety standards and being prepared for inspection at any time of the year is a vital aspect of any driver’s protocol.

What are CVSA Standards for critical violations?

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

There are eight different levels of inspection the CVSA follows. However, truck inspections in the 2019 Roadcheck were only subjected to the North American Standard (NAS) Level I, II and III Inspections.

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.


DOT Audits

We can perform a mock audit for you

You can stay ahead of the FMCSA by ensuring your drivers are in compliance before sending them out on the road. We offer many services, but one specifically—DOT Mock Audits—help trucking companies operate with the confidence that they will pass any audits or inspections the FMCSA throws at them.

Basically, in a DOT Mock Audit, we send out a specialist that will conduct an audit in the exact same way a DOT officer would. This can help keep you prepared for any surprise roadside inspection or any future actual DOT audits, and you can be sure that they will happen.

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

For any assistance related to DOT Audits, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

IFTA Audits – What to expect and how to prepare


Are you prepared for an IFTA Audit?

When it comes an audit, the best defense is a great offense. And the best offense is knowledge.

Knowing what will happen in an audit and being prepared with sufficient record-keeping will keep you ready for an audit at any time.

We have interviewed Adam Galante, our Vice President of Operations, to talk about electronic record-keeping requirements for an IFTA audit.

Tracking system requirements for an IFTA Audit

What are the requirements for the different tracking systems available to carriers?

When using a GPS tracking system, there are several data points you want to be sure are recording accurately.

The required data sets for an IFTA audit are:

  • date and times
  • the odometer or the ECM reading or hubometer reading
  • longitude and latitude readings for each ping

In addition, carriers need to ensure the readings are made in a sufficient manner, at correct intervals, and readings must be recorded to the fourth decimal point.

What is a sufficient interval for recording GPS data?

The GPS needs to ping at intervals of less than five minutes. Be sure the tracking system you are using is set to this interval.

Also, consider various factors about the routes drivers take, by asking questions like:

  • what is the distance the driver will be traveling?
  • is it a short or long route? Are there a lot of hills or is it mostly flat?
  • how often are drivers crossing state lines?
  • is the GPS tracking system proper geofencing around the different states?

Note: Geofencing needs to map the entire state all the way around.

What would be considered inadequate or insufficient data recording?

An IFTA auditor will look for several factors when evaluating electronic record-keeping from the GPS tracking system.

IFTA auditors will check:

  • if the GPS is meeting the interval of less than 5 minutes for every ping
  • if the GPS tracking system is using proper state geofencing
    • For example, if the geofencing isn’t mapping the entire state all the way around, your data will be inadequate.
  • if the odometer readings put into the GPS match the odometer on the vehicle
  • if longitude and latitude lines aren’t recorded to the fourth decimal point

If you want CNS to perform a mock IFTA audit, we can tell you if you are in compliance.

To talk with an IFTA specialist, call or email CNS at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

What should carriers look for when purchasing a compliant tracking system?

Make sure the tracking systems can record the sufficient data points, as mentioned above.

In addition, GPS tracking systems should be able to:

  • set recording intervals to under 5 minutes – this is very important!
  • record time stamps for each state crossing
  • record longitude and latitude for every ping to the fourth decimal point
  • know how the provider is accumulating their unknown miles and providing that information to you.

What are the most common reoccurring problems in processing fuel taxes?

When auditors process fuel taxes, they often come across these five error points:

  1. bad GPS data
  2. insufficient GPS information coming through
  3. GPS pings are not set to the correct intervals of less than five minutes
  4. broken GPS hardware
    1. once it’s broken the data normally can’t be retrieved
  5. poor fuel tax reporting
    1. faded, unorganized fuel receipts or fuel purchase pre-authorization slips that cannot be read.

If you can resolve these fives common fuel tax issues, you will be well-prepared for an IFTA audit!

Read our previous blog post for more tips on Surviving an IFTA Audit.



IFTA Fuel Tax Service

Keep your electronic record-keeping accurate with CNS Fuel Tax Service

The fuel tax service at CNS stands out because it offers carriers these benefits:

  • secure data storage with a portal login
  • experts familiar with IFTA audits and GPS tracking systems
  • affordable pricing that will work for any business

The thought of an audit should not scare you if you are prepared. Use your electronic record-keeping as a resource to keep you prepared for any inspection or audit situation. When your records are accurate and secure, your business will be too!

To talk with an IFTA specialist, call or email CNS at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

Are you ready for a compliance review?


Have you been selected for a compliance review?

Being selected for a Compliance Review (CR) as a motor carrier can bring a lot of stress and headaches. But much of this anxiety lies in being uninformed about the auditing process.

Let’s look at what a Compliance Review entails and how you and your company can prepare for one.

What is a Compliance Review?

A Compliance Review is basically a checkup to evaluate performance of the FMCSA regulations and record-keeping to determine if safety management controls are compliant.

It is important to “do your homework” in advance, in case you do get audited, which is very possible.

Two important things you should you know if you are being audited?

  1. Know the regulations you are subject to as a motor carrier
  2. Know which records an Auditor will expect to review

6 Inspection Categories of a Compliance Review

Each category is called a “factor,” and is rated as:

  • satisfactory
  • conditional
  • unsatisfactory

1. General requirements

  • Documentation of proper liability coverage for the type of carrier and cargo. Refer to Section 387.9 of the FMCSR for details.
  • Forms CS-90 or MCS-82, signed by an insurance provider representative.
  • Vehicle markings: CMVs marked on two sides with the name listed on the MCS-150 form, and the DOT number preceded by “USDOT.”
  • Training records: Keep detailed records of all transportation safety training. Be able to show training for any employee involved in compliance.

2. Driver qualifications

  • Driver licenses must equal the vehicle class being driven and have the correct endorsements.
    • be sure to track your employees license expiration dates.
    • have a CDL Driver drug and alcohol testing program in place.
    • written policy on your testing program is required. Distributed this policy to all CDL drivers and get a signed receipt from all drivers to keep in your files.
    • if safety function duties require PART 40 Drug and Alcohol testing, then verify past three years of employment. Required tests include:
      • Pre-employment drug test, Post-accident drug and alcohol, Random drug and alcohol, Reasonable suspicion
  • Documentation for employees retained after a positive drug test result.
  • Driver qualification file should be well-organized and include the following items:
    • application for employment
    • employment verification from previous three years with safety performance history and drug/alcohol test results, if applicable.
    • Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) from past three years
    • Road test and certification
    • DOT physical certification from past three years
    • entry-level driver training, if needed
    • state agencies 3-year driving record inquiry
    • annual written driver statement of violations
    • signed annual reviews from motor carrier from past three years
    • waivers (if any)

For a complete list of documents that should be included in the Driver Qualification File, print out this handy checklist. But the items above are ones required for an audit.

3. Operational

  • 6 months of driver logs and supporting documents.
  • motor carriers must comply with record-keeping requirements even when using a logging exception.

4. Vehicle requirements

  • 12 months of vehicle maintenance file for any CMV under motor carrier control for 30 consecutive days. Include the following information:
    • Motor carrier number (or license plate number)
    • Model and year
    • Vehicle identification number (VIN) or serial number
    • Tire size
    • Owner (if not the motor carrier)
  • proof of periodic inspection (or approved sticker).
  • certification of anyone performing CMV brake system work.
  • 90 days’ worth of post-trip inspection reports, with mechanic signature that defects were corrected, signature of the next driver’s pre-trip inspection, and name of individual who accepted vehicle back into service.

Review Part 396 of the FMCSA for full details

5. Hazardous Materials

  • Shipping papers and emergency response information (from shipper). Retain these for one year (three years for hazardous waste).
  • Refer to 49 CFR Section 172.203 for full details of what must be on shipping papers.

6. Accidents

  • Accident register listing all accidents as defined by Section 390.5 of the FMCSR (a.k.a. “DOT recordable accidents”)
  • Per Section 390.15, the register must include this information:
    • Accident date and hour
    • Location city, state, and address
    • Number of deaths
    • Number of non-fatal injuries
    • Hazardous materials (not including fuel spills)
    • Driver’s name
    • Copy of State or Insurance Report
  • Maintain records on the accident register for three years.
  • View a sample accident register

Be ready for a Compliance Review at all times

Maintaining proper record-keeping and organization is key to being ready for a Compliance Review at all times.

If you maintain accurate records, and keep your files up to date, then the next time you see “You’ve been selected,” all the required materials will be at hand. No doubt, this will relieve stress and help you pass a Compliance Review quickly and without issue.


DOT Audit Services

CNS offers several different types of audit services, including:

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe, compliant, and on the road.

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.

IRP registration fees increase for multiple states


Wisconsin, Nevada and North Dakota have updated their IRP registration fee schedules for the upcoming year. The changes for Nevada and North Dakota will go into effect January 1, 2020, however Wisconsin’s changes will take effect on October 1, 2019.


IRP registration fees

Wisconsin IRP fee changes

Wisconsin has increased its’ fees for trucks, buses, and road tractors at 4,500 pounds and 6,000 pounds from $75 and $84 respectively, to $100 for both weights. Fees have also increased for truck tractors at 4,500 and 6,000 pounds from $93 and $102 respectively, to $118 for both weights.

See the updated Wisconsin IRP registration fee schedule.

Nevada IRP fee changes

Nevada has released its’ IRP registration fees for all jurisdictions. The new fees will go into effect on January 1, 2020. Adjustments were made to account for depreciation factors and to add the Nevada suggested purchase cost (OPC) for 2020.

The update also increased the maximum weight for registration in Nevada from 80,000 lbs. to 129,000 lbs., therefore eliminating the need for an overweight permit for a reducible load.

See the updated Nevada IRP registration fee schedule.

North Dakota IRP fee changes

Effective January 1, 2020, North Dakota has updated fee schedules for trucks, truck-tractors, tractors and buses. Fees for some weight ranges over 22,000 lbs. decreased in some instances.

Additionally, North Dakota is adding fee schedules for trucks, truck-tractors, tractors, and buses registered at 20,000 lbs. and less.

See the updated North Dakota IRP registration fee schedule.

Utah also recently announced an increase in IRP fees.

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.