What FMCSA Hopes To Learn From Proposed Split Sleeper Pilot Program

Proposed Split Sleeper Pilot Program

In January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced they will be exploring further flexibility for team drivers by evaluating 6/4 and 5/5 sleeper berth split options in a new pilot program.

According to FMCSA Deputy Administrator, Wiley Deck, “gathering more data on split-sleeper flexibility will benefit all CMV stakeholders.”

Last year, the hours-of-service rules were revised to allow team drivers to choose to spend only seven hours in the sleeper berth instead of eight as drivers can split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 or a 7/3 split.

While this did not change the 14-hour driving window, the FMCSA hopes this will reduce driver temptations to speed or operate unsafely because their workday is ending.

“FMCSA continues to explore ways to provide flexibility for drivers, while maintaining safety on our roadways. This proposed pilot program will provide needed data and feedback for the agency to use now and in the future,” said Deck.

As part of the pilot program, FMCSA will collect driver metrics, such as crashes, fatigue levels, caffeine consumption and duty status for the duration of the study and analyze participants’ safety performance, but the data collected does not guarantee the agency will go forward with the proposed rulemaking.

FMCSA will provide systems and devices to participants for:

  • Driver record of duty status
  • Video-based monitoring system
  • Roadside violations data
  • Wrist actigraphy data to evaluate sleep and wake times
  • Psychomotor vigilance test data for driver’s behavioral alertness based on reaction times
  • Subjective sleep ratings to measure driver fatigue levels
  • Driver sleep logs

The program, of around 200-400 drivers from all fleet sizes, will start with 90 days using the current HOS regulations followed by at least 6 to 12 months to collect data from driver participants operating under a temporary exemption from current HOS and allowed to split time as 6/4 and 5/5.

While we wait over a year for the data to be collected and analyzed, it begs the question of why not just use a simpler solution and do what the proposed rule changes for the last three years has included—the use of the sleeper berth to stop the 14-hour clock for up to three hours.

According to one driver, “Instead, the FMCSA went with the split sleeper berth option for flexibility. The problem with that is figuring the remaining available hours from the first rest period. It is all very confusing and the ELD system we use does not automatically calculate those hours. The driver shows HOS violations until the ten hours is met. Now they want to waste money on the 6/4 and 5/5 split? In typical government fashion they are wasting money on studies and making it more difficult than it needs to be. Simply stop the clock when in the sleeper berth for up to three hours. Simple.”

Only time, and the data collected, will tell if more flexibility will come to the split sleeper berth hours-of-service rules.

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


COVID-19 Waivers To Wind Down As Renewals Deadline Pushed To May 31

Truckers and COVID-19 | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

The eighth FMCSA extension was previously set to expire on Feb. 28, but extends hours of service for COVID relief haulers for the following categories only:

  • Livestock and livestock feed
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19
  • Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores

Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19 are exempt from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

According to the FMCSA, “Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”

 

Medical Card and CDL Renewal Extension Ending May 31

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FMCSA feared drivers would have trouble renewing commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and commercial learners permits (CLP) or getting DOT physicals for their medical cards.

So, the FMCSA announced and has extended a waiver effective until May 31, 2021, that waives the requirement that the State either change the medical certification status to “not certified” or  downgrade a CDL or CLP driver whose Medical Examiner’s Certificate has expired.

In other words, the extended waiver now permits, but does not require, states to extend the validity of CDLs and CLPs due for renewal since March 1, 2020 and waives the requirement that drivers have a medical exam and certification, provided they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance issued for a period of 90 days or longer and expired on or after Dec. 1, 2020.

State drivers license agencies (SDLAs) must bring their CDL and CLP issuance and medical certification practices back into conformance by May 31, 2021.

Commercial drivers who wish to retain a HAZMAT endorsement during CDL renewal are required to retake the Hazmat knowledge test in accordance with 49 CFR 383.71(d)(3) and 383.73(d)(4). FMCSA has not issued a waiver or an exemption from this requirement.

The FMCSA also issued an Enforcement Notice, explaining that it will not take enforcement action against drivers and motor carriers that fall under the terms of the waiver.

FMCSA will not take enforcement action against a driver with an expired medical certificate if the driver had a valid medical certificate issued for a period of 90 days or longer that expired on or after December 1, 2020.

However, we have seen some roadside enforcement still give violations out when drivers are meeting the waiver guidelines.

 

CNS will assist with DataQs, DOT Physicals and Drug and Alcohol Testing

Incorrect violations can be challenged and our DataQ process and our DOT consultants are well-versed in the FMCSA rules and regulations, with specific knowledge on what officers are required to note in their report. We are able to challenge one DataQ or schedule a monthly review of all roadside inspections and report on which violations can be challenged.

Our DOT Compliance Specialists can help with DataQs. Call one of our DOT Compliance Specialists at 888.260.9448 to discuss your options or you can request more information in the form below.

CNS collection sites and network of collection sites are open for DOT physicals and required drug and alcohol testing.

You can schedule a DOT physical locally or a drug and alcohol test nationwide by calling CNS at 888.260.9448.


DataQ


Common DOT Compliance Issues For Waste Haulers

Common DOT Compliance Issues For Waste Haulers

Waste and recycling haulers mostly drive intrastate, or within a commercial zone, and many troopers do not pull them in for roadside inspections, but fleets still need to be prepared for formal DOT audits and events like Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) 2021 International Roadcheck coming May 4-6.

While on the road, inspectors look for physical defects and visible violations that warrant a truck to be pulled over for a full roadside inspection. We frequently assist fleets to comply with the complex DOT regulations and see cargo securement and vehicle maintenance violations for waste and recycling haulers.

This year the International Roadcheck will focus on lights and hours-of-service (HOS) violations. Last year’s blitz showed that HOS was the top driver out-of-service violation, accounting for 34.7 percent of all driver out-of-service conditions.

While many fleets in the waste hauler industry meet the HOS short-haul exemption, carriers then often assume that HOS regulations do not affect their fleet. Below we highlight four areas where DOT inspectors find common waste hauler violations during inspections and audits: HOS, vehicle maintenance, cargo securement and driver qualification (DQ) files.

 

Hours-of-Service Issues

To keep fatigued drivers off the road, hour-of-service regulations limits how long and when a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver can drive. Most waste and recycling haulers only operate within the state (intrastate) and assume hours-of-service rules do not apply to them.

However, states adopt the federal regulations so that the regulations remain consistent between all types of operations. Hours-of-service rules will apply to intrastate operations; however, states may and often do amend certain parts of the rules.

For example, a state may extend driving time from 11 to 12 hours; however, this amendment would only apply to true intrastate operations in that state.

While most fleets in this industry are short-haul carriers and do not require the previous seven days of time logs, DOT inspectors at a roadside inspection frequently ask for them. Drivers just need to tell the inspector that “we are short-haul and our company retains time records at their business.”

If the officer does not believe the driver, they can follow up with the company to get verification. If a violation is given for not having the last seven days in the truck, it can be challenged and removed.

However, during a DOT audit and request by an authorized representative of the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) or State official, the records must be produced within a reasonable period of time, usually about two working days, at the location where the review takes place.

If occasionally a driver goes over the 14-hour on-duty window when operating within the short-haul exemption (not more than eight days in any 30-day period), the driver should, as soon as they realize they will be going over the 14 hours, create a paper record of duty status for that day, making sure to take their 30-minute break as it is now no longer exempt.

However, the driver does not need to go back and recreate the last seven days into the log format.

 

Vehicle Maintenance Issues

Maintaining equipment is one of the most important tasks a motor carrier must perform to ensure safety and reliability. The most common method roadside inspectors use to select a vehicle for inspection is whether there is a visual defect.

During the 2020 International Roadcheck, the top five vehicle violations were related to brake systems, tire, lights, brake adjustment, and cargo securement.

If there are ongoing vehicle maintenance issues, typically we see some mechanics that do not keep a good paper trail of parts they are using and repairs that are made. 

For example, one company we helped upgrade their Conditional rating bought bulk parts for inventory but were not keeping track of the inventory to show they when they replaced something.

Alongside the paperwork showing that a maintenance issue was fixed, we also need to see the corresponding driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) noting the defect. 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. 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.

Best practices for vehicle maintenance include:

  • performing an inventory of all fleet vehicles and maintenance to determine regularly required maintenance activities and parts,
  • creating a preventive maintenance schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendations for frequency, and
  • establishing record-keeping report and storage methods

 

Cargo Securement and Weight Issues

Cargo being transported on the highway must remain secured on or within the transporting vehicle so that it does not leak, spill, blow off, fall from or otherwise become dislodged from the vehicle.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the top five vehicle violations during the 2020 International Roadcheck were related to cargo securement. For example, rollback tow trucks and trucks that pick-up dumpsters to take to dump often have a lot of debris flying off them.

It is important to not forget about cargo securement tarping around demolished vehicles that could lose debris or over dumpsters that a contractor may have filled up too high. Tiedowns attached to the cargo work by counteracting the forces acting on the cargo. The angle where the tiedown attaches to the vehicle should be shallow, not deep (ideally less than 45°). During a pre-trip inspection, make sure that cargo is properly distributed and adequately secured, make sure that all securement equipment and vehicle structures are in good working order, and ensure that nothing obscures front and side views or interferes with the ability to drive the vehicle or respond in an emergency.

Similarly, one of the largest problems during a roadside inspection was household garbage collectors being overweight on an axle. This is why it is imperative to know how much your cargo weighs and know where to put it on the trailer.

 

DQ Files Issues

The last area we see common violations for waste and recycling haulers are driver qualification files.  FMCSA considers the driver hiring process to be a critical element in building and maintaining a safe carrier operation and a driver’s personnel file is required to include information of past employment, drug testing history, motor vehicle records, credit history and more.

All DQ file rules affect carriers in the waste hauler industry and, during audits, we often see fleets with nearly non-existent driver files. Failure to maintain these driver qualification file basics lead to DOT fines, CSA violations, unsatisfactory safety rating and even out-of-service orders.

In 2019, there were more than 3,500 enforcement cases alone that averaged over $6,600 in fines per company, with the average cost of a Driver Qualification File violation fine over $600 per fine.

It is important to understand what the common DQ file violations are and how to prevent them from happening in your company’s driver qualification file management process. Common DQ file mistakes include:

  • not obtaining a driver motor vehicle record,
  • not keeping a driver qualification file long enough, and
  • not having important drug test history and medical card on file

Managing driver files becomes an ongoing burden as employers are required to keep files current for drug tests, physical exams, safety records, annual MVRs, commercial driver’s licenses, endorsements and even conducting annual driver reviews (a burdensome process). For fleets with high driver turnover, this problem becomes amplified.

 

Final Thoughts

Remember, while this year’s International Roadcheck is focused on lights and hours-of-service violations, drivers are still dealing with roadside inspections every day.

DOT regulations are complex and is important to keep your drivers trained and updated on the ever-changing rules and regulations. Be sure to have managers, or an outside third party, to organize a mock audit to look over DQ files and vehicle records in the eyes of a DOT inspector.

No matter what, if you are pulled in for a roadside inspection, keep calm and respectful and the inspection will go by more quickly.

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

CVSA INTERNATIONAL ROADSIDE DOT INSPECTION READINESS (2021)

DOT Audit | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

2021 DOT Inspection Readiness 

The annual International Roadcheck conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)  is a high-visibility reminder of the importance of commercial motor vehicle safety. The 2021 International Roadcheck is scheduled for May 4-6, 2021.

Last year’s blitz showed that the top violations putting drivers out of service were Hours-of-Service (HOS) violations, accounting for 34.7% of all driver out-of-service conditions.

Review some of the CVSA Inspection Results from 2019

DOT inspection focus for 2021 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 CVSA Roadcheck focus is on lights and hours-of-service (HOS) violations.

To keep fatigued drivers off the road, hour-of-service regulations limit how long and when a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver can drive and regulates the minimum amount of time drivers must rest between driving shifts.

>>> Download the 2021 International Roadcheck emphasis areas flyer <<<

Lighting devices include headlamps, tail lamps, clearance lamps, identification lamps, license plate and side marker lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps on projecting loads.

All required lighting devices are inspected for proper color, operation, mounting and visibility. In addition, the condition and location of reflectors and retroreflective sheeting are also inspected.

The top vehicle violation in the U.S. in fiscal 2020 was an inoperable required lamp, accounting for 12.2% of all vehicle violations and 4.4% of all out-of-service vehicle violations. Moreover, taking into account all possible lighting-related violations issued in fiscal 2020, one in four vehicles chosen for inspection (25.3%) were issued a lighting-related violation.

Slightly more than one in seven out-of-service violations (16.4%) in the U.S. were lighting related. These violations can be largely avoided by checking the condition and location of reflectors and retroreflective sheeting, and by checking all required lamps/turn signals mentioned above and ensuring they are operative, properly mounted and not obscured in any way.

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.

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.

 

Can Carriers Legally Have 2 DOT Numbers?

Can Carriers Legally Have 2 DOT Numbers? | CNS

Are all carriers with multiple DOT numbers trying to cheat the system? The short answer is no.

Over the years, the Department of Transportation has been cracking down on carriers or drivers from dropping a bad DOT Number for a new clean record. These carriers are called “chameleon carriers” because they try to blend into new surroundings, hiding themselves from their past negative record.

Another frequently used term is “reincarnated carriers.” They are technically different as they are groups of companies that move assets around to prevent fees or compliance issues, whereas chameleon carriers shut down and start new companies to try and prevent fees and compliance issues.

Chameleon carriers are bad for the trucking industry because many are unsafe operators who disregard hours of service compliance, vehicle or truck maintenance, and/or customer service. There are companies who sometimes use cardboard signs to quickly swap their DOT number and company name while on the road to prevent roadside enforcement.

It has been estimated that chameleon carriers are involved in nearly three times the rate of new carrier severe crashes, which has led the DOT and other organizations to the prevention of reincarnated or chameleon carriers.

But are all carriers with multiple DOT numbers trying to cheat the system? The short answer is no.

According to Adam Galante, a DOT compliance expert at Compliance Navigation Specialists, “What drives people to have multiple DOT numbers are the insurance rates, which are determined by  their hauling classification. We see it a lot with farmers who do follow regulations, but haul different items and fall under multiple classifications.”

“A fertilizer hauler contacted us to get another DOT number and instantly we are trained to think they are a chameleon carrier, but that is not the case. He can have different entities, but he has to keep the equipment separate. It’s when you start sharing equipment that things can get ugly, unless there is a proper lease agreement to share it.”

“For instance, the fertilizer hauler may want two DOT numbers. One for when he picks up fertilizer for his farm operation and another for picking up and delivering fertilizer to other distributors. So, if he is picking it up for his own farm use as well as delivering to other distributors needing fertilizer, he would need to separate the entities because they would own a  private property farm as one entity and a commercial operation as another entity. This is significant because a farm and a commercial operation wouldn’t operate the same and insurance rates would be different as well.”

 

When is it legal to have more two or more DOT numbers?

The FMCSA’s policy is to assign a unique USDOT identification number to each person required to identify themself with FMCSA and remain assigned to that person forever under 49 U.S.C. 13902, 31134 and 49 C.F.R. 390.19T or 390.200T.  

According to the DOT, “a person includes an individual, corporation, partnership, or other business organization as authorized by state law. Each separate and distinct person must have separate registration.”

For corporations, partnerships, and other business organizations, the USDOT number will remain the same when there is a change in company officials, address or other demographic information, and the corporation, partnership, or other business organization will continue operations as the same legal person/entity.

The only time a company will need multiple DOT numbers is if they operate two or more separate commercial driving entities.

Why choose Compliance Navigation Specialists for your licensing and permitting needs?

In other words, the company needs to have separate entities but have familial ownership. This can happen due to a company acquisition or a large company that has multiple divisions.  

“For example, there is a company who has one tractor trailer, bus transportation, and a pickup to haul empty containers from the ports,” said Adam Galante of CNS. “These are considered three completely different operations. You do not want to put these on the same insurance policy, which is why we separate them as separate entities.”

Many others choose the route of having a single DOT number parent company where the parent company has the DOT number, appropriate insurance, and all subsidiaries are listed as per insurance regulations. They have corporate leases between the parent company and subsidiaries that cover the ownership of the equipment, addressing company vehicles only, not owner-operators.

Everything they have runs under the parent company regardless of which entity the equipment is registered to.

Whether you choose to get one or two DOT numbers, you do need to follow proper procedures so that you can operate your vehicle legally.

 

Are USDOT numbers transferable?

According to a recent Transport Topics article, “the rise in acquisitions ultimately is good since it gives small fleet owners a way out besides bankruptcy and puts their business in a position to scale up with another company.” This trend is likely to continue given the rise in insurance costs.

However, understanding what happens to DOT numbers during an acquisition or merger is important.

To answer the question, no, USDOT numbers are not transferable but operating authorities, or MC numbers, are transferable. This is because USDOT numbers are a unique identifier to track the safety history of a specific carrier. Transferring a USDOT number would have the effect of transferring the entire safety history of one entity to another separate entity. 

This means that if a merger or acquisition creates a new legal entity, a new USDOT number will be required as well.

Questions about multiple DOT numbers can come up here because there is safety history and experience associated to the DOT number, which lowers insurance rates. When the companies merge and get a new DOT number, this is going to increase insurance rates because there is naturally higher insurance for a new entrant who has no safety history associated to the DOT number. 

In some cases, you may be able to transfer the drivers’ qualification files (DQ files) from the merged or acquired entity to the gaining or new entity. 

If drivers do not need to apply for a role at the new company, the DQ files from the previous DOT number can be accepted.  However, a note should be put into the DQ file specifying the date of the acquisition or merger to indicate why the DQ files have a different motor carrier identified.

It is also important to note that the transferred DQ files should be audited by a trained DOT compliance expert to make sure the transferred files meet the DOT requirements, as this new entity is also required to have a new entrant audit in the next 6-18 months of operation.

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


Audit Services

We are here to assist with all DOT compliance needs and any type of DOT audit you are going through, including New Entrant Audits, IFTA Audits, IRP Audits, Audit Representation and we will even perform a Mock Audit for your company.

DOT Increases Fines and Includes Civil Penalties of CDL Clearinghouse Violations

DOT Increases Fines and Includes Civil Penalties of CDL Clearinghouse Violations

As of January 11, 2021, the DOT gives authority to issue fines for violating Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements.

This new year brings the annual changes to the U.S. Department of Transportation adjusted fines and the second full year of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations CDL Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.

In accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the DOT published a final rule detailing the 2020 inflation adjustments to civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of certain DOT regulations.

The DOT must publish any annual minimum and maximum penalty adjustments by January 15 of every year, and the new levels take effect immediately upon publication of the rule, which was January 11, 2021.

Fine amounts have been increased 1.01764 percent.

For example, Commercial driver’s license (CDL) violations [49 U.S.C. 521(b)(2)(C)] or employer violations pertaining to knowingly allowing, authorizing employee violations of out-of-service order [49 U.S.C. 521(b)(2)(C)] new minimum penalty will be $5,833.

This rule does not change previously assessed or enforced penalties that DOT is actively collecting or has collected.

FMCSA also revised appendix B to include civil penalties for an employer, employee, medical review officer, or service agent who violates the regulations implementing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse at 49 CFR part 382, subpart G.

 

Upcoming FMCSA CDL Clearinghouse Violations

As of October 2020, more than 150,000 employers and owner-operators have registered with the Clearinghouse. According to the FMCSA, this number is well off the 525,000 estimated regulated motor carriers in the U.S.

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 pre-employment process when hiring a potential new driver.

Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if new-hired drivers start driving before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.

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.

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 they face potential audit violations and fines if a DOT Officer determines the queries were completed late or not at all.

Employers are also required to report any other drug or alcohol violations by their drivers to the database. This can include direct observation of an employee using alcohol or a controlled substance while on the job, information obtained from a previous employer, and traffic citations for driving a commercial vehicle under the influence.

Any fleet or O/O who does not comply with the Clearinghouse rules is subject to civil and criminal penalties, which could include fines up to $2,500 per offense. 

Note:  Clearinghouse violations can still be cited and fined even though they occurred prior to the effective date of this rulemaking.


The 2020 adjustments to these civil penalties are summarized in the chart below.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-01-11/pdf/2020-25236.pdf

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

Where Trucking Regulations Stand As We Enter 2021 With A New Administration


As we transition from a Republican agenda to a Democrat agenda with Biden coming into office, there is potential for substantial impact within the trucking industry in the coming years. 

Since Democrats have won a majority in the U.S. House in 2018, they have laid out a bolstered regulatory agenda regarding trucking, including previously proposed bills that call on a return to public view of CSA scores, speed limiter rules, and sleep apnea rules.

Overall, we expect a more active regulatory DOT, since Biden is looking to amend DOT order 2100.6 to eliminate Trump’s requirement that new rules require repeal of two existing rules.

Let’s take a look at what 2021 may bring.

2020 Hour of Service Rule Changes

Last year marked the first time the hours-of-service rules had a major update in years that were highlighted after the ELD rollout.

Drivers could begin operating under the new HOS regulations on September 29, 2020 after the rule was debuted on May 14, 2020.

The HOS rules changes will improve the workday for many truckers, including short-haul and team drivers, and will increase overall flexibility while the overall structure of HOS rules have not changed.

The 4 major changes in the 2020 hours of service reforms will affect the:

  • 30-minute rest break requirement
  • split-sleeper berth exception
  • short-haul exemption, and
  • adverse driving condition exemption

For more information, see the details of these rule changes.

The DOT may look at the other HOS rule changes that did not make a cut, and what effects the new changes are making, as to whether implement more HOS changes in the future.

DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Another major CDL Clearinghouse deadline approaches where companies could face fines, if in violation, and the 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.

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.

Greenhouse Gas Emission

Biden will likely restore strict fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards that were placed during the Obama administration, which Trump rolled back.

Biden is also expected to drop the effort to revoke California’s waiver, which would allow the state to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards, while the EPA under a Democratic administration will develop a more collaborative relationship with California air quality regulators.

Speed Limiting Rule

In June 2019, Senators revived a plan that would “require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.”

The maximum speed requirement would also be extended to existing trucks that already have the technology installed.

Trucks without speed limiters will not be forced to retroactively install the technology.

This legislation is likely to be brought back in a Biden administration.

Sleep Apnea 

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can last at least 10 seconds or more and can occur up to 400 times a night.

With 28% of commercial truck drivers likely suffering from mild to severe sleep apnea, these drivers are five times more likely to be involved in a crash, and the total cost of collisions related to apnea is estimated at $15.9 billion a year, according to research from the National Safety Council.

In order to diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor may send you to a sleep center for testing. You may be asked to spend a night at the center, where experts will monitor your sleep.

In August 2017, FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) decided against moving forward on a possible regulation mandating the testing and treatment of sleep apnea for truck drivers and other transportation workers.

This is on the back-burner but not completely dead.

Hair Drug Testing

The industry is seeking additional drug testing methods, like hair and oral saliva testing, that can be used to prevent unsafe drivers on the roads as these methods are harder to cheat and provide a more complete drug testing history.

Large fleets have long used hair testing for pre-employment testing, catching 5 to 10 times more drug users than industry standard urine testing. However, currently these positive results cannot be released to the drivers record per DOT regulations.

Once completed, the DOT will adopt HHS hair testing guidelines and eventually prevent these drivers from seeking a job with another fleet.

As of right now, the proposed guidelines fall short of what the trucking industry has been hoping for.

The HHS proposed hair testing guidelines were published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2020. After the 60-day comment period, which ended November 10, 2020, HHS will review all comments and can make additional changes to their proposal. This process could take months.

When HHS releases their final proposed guidelines, the industry will need to wait for the Department of Transportation to go through its rulemaking process to allow the use of hair testing by motor carriers. While the DOT will likely adopt HHS guidelines, this process could take two years on its own.

However, Congress may try to push for immediate DOT adoption and the incoming Biden administration may apply pressure to speed up this process as well.

Autonomous/Electric Trucks

Electronic and autonomous trucking will be here quicker than you think.

Don’t worry, truckers will not be affected tomorrow, but it is definitely something to think about over the next decade or two.

There is much that still needs to be considered before mass adoption of electric fleet vehicles like the Tesla Semi. This includes dozens to hundreds of megacharging stations to be built at trucking terminals and over the road chargers meant for truckers, showing they can handle consistent next day maintenance repairs if the truck breaks down, etc.

However, the incoming Biden administration is expected to increase regulatory oversight of electric and self-driving cars and trucks and increase the availability of federal tax credits for EVs.

For fleets to realize economic gains from autonomy requires a new set of processes and systems designed to assure safety and provide a positive return on investment. Over time, fleets would expect to see more balanced routes and reduction in mixed traffic and commuter congestion.

If the technology is nailed, then peak hours of travel can be circumnavigated to provide greater assurance on cargo arrival times, partnered with improved safety of fellow road-users.

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

Off-Duty Driving: FMCSA Denies Personal Conveyance Mileage Clarification

Off-Duty Driving: Personal Conveyance

In May 2020, following the announced proposed Hours of Service rule changes, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) petitioned to update the definition of personal conveyance and include a mileage limit.

CVSA feared the current rules could have a driver travel hundreds of miles over several hours designated as personal conveyance.

In Sept, FMCSA denied the petition, saying CVSA’s proposal did not provide a “sufficient safety basis” to initiate a rulemaking. Furthermore, it was unable to estimate the extent to which drivers may be circumventing the hours-of-service requirements by claiming personal conveyance status.

The FMCSA believes the 2018 regulatory guidance is appropriate, which allowed drivers to enter into personal conveyance status–whether the truck is loaded or not–to find the nearest safe parking or rest location after their hours of service are exhausted by a shipper/receiver or off-duty periods are interrupted by law enforcement.

“The movement from a shipper or receiver to the nearest safe resting area may be identified as personal conveyance,” according to a notice from FMCSA, “regardless of whether the driver exhausted his or her hours of service, as long as the CMV is being moved solely to enable the driver to obtain the required rest at a safe location.”

The FMCSA recognized that “the driver may not be aware of the direction of the next dispatch and that in some instances the nearest safe resting location may be in the direction of that dispatch. If the driver proceeds to the nearest ‘reasonable and safe location’ and takes the required rest, this would qualify as personal conveyance.”

It is important to note that it is up to the carrier whether they allow drivers to use personal conveyance in their company policy.

Some personal conveyance tips: 

  • Driver must be off duty for it to be personal conveyance
  • CMV can be loaded or empty during personal conveyance
  • Personal conveyance does not affect the driver’s on-duty time
  • A move when the driver is parked and off duty can be personal conveyance
  • The driver does not have to return to the last on-duty location after a personal conveyance
  • Drivers should annotate on the drivers log if they cannot park at the nearest location and must proceed to another location.

Keep up with current Hours-of-Services Rules and Regulations

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

DOT Virtual SAP Assessments and Delayed Collector Requalification through June 2021

DOT Virtual SAP Assessment

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) provided guidance about the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency on DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements for employers, employees, and service agents (collectors, MROs, SAPs). 

On April 4, 2020, ODAPC provided supplemental information specific to performing remote evaluations by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) and the re-qualification timelines for collectors, Medical Review Officers (MRO), Screening Test Technicians (STT) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), and SAPs.  

As of December 09, 2020, this statement is now effective through June 30, 2021.

Virtual SAP Assessments and Evaluations Allowed During Pandemic

Under federal regulations, the SAP must conduct a face-to-face, or in-person, assessment and evaluation of an employee who has violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations. 

ODAPC recognizes that conducting face-to-face assessments and evaluations during the pandemic may not be possible for certain individuals.

SAPs are allowed, if they voluntarily choose to do so, to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect during the pandemic.

ODAPC recommends that, when a SAP conducts assessments and evaluations remotely, the format of the assessment be documented in the final report for reference.

ODAPC realizes that performing evaluations remotely may not provide as much information to the SAP as a face-to-face evaluation would, but believes remote evaluations are preferable to not performing the evaluations at all. 

SAPs who choose to conduct initial assessments and evaluations and follow up evaluations remotely should consider the following parameters:

  • The technology used should permit a real-time two-way audio and visual communication and interaction between you and the employee.
  • You should determine if the quality of the technology (e.g., speed of the internet connection, clarity of the display, application being used, etc.) is sufficient for you to gather all the visual (e.g., non-verbal physical cues) and audible information you would normally observe in an in-person face-to-face interaction.
  • You may only utilize the technology if your State-issued license authorizes you to do so and within the parameters of that authority.

Delayed Collector and Other Service Agents Requalification Is Allowed

Under federal regulations, collectors, MROs, STT/BATs, and SAPs are required to maintain their DOT required qualifications by completing refresher training courses to continue acting as service agents in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. 

  • Collectors and STT/BATs must complete refresher training every five years
  • MROs must complete requalification training every five years, and
  • SAPs must complete 12 professional development hours every three years

DOT realizes that during the pandemic, these service agents may find it difficult to find the necessary resources (e.g., exam location or personnel to conduct mock collections, etc.) to meet their re-qualification requirements.

If a service agent is unable to meet their re-qualification due date while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect, DOT will not consider it a non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent. 

DOT will consider these service agents qualified per Part 40 to continue providing the Part 40 required services while this policy is in effect.


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.


Interested in Training?

Ag hauler HOS Exemption Clarification Goes into Effect

HOS Exemption | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

FMCSA’s rule went into effect on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, clarifying ag hauler definitions in the hours-of-service regulations.

Drivers transporting agricultural commodities within 150 air miles of the source–during harvest and planting seasons–are exempt from the hours-of-service requirements, which in-turn exempts them from ELD requirements.

In addition, drivers transporting livestock in interstate commerce while the livestock are on the commercial motor vehicle are not required to have a 30-minute rest break.

The updated rule clarifies three definitions:

  • “any agricultural commodity”
  • “livestock”, and
  • “non-processed food”

For more details, please see the latest Exempt Commodities List.

Any Agricultural Commodity

The “any agricultural commodity” definition includes horticultural products at risk of perishing or degrading in quality during transport. This would include plants, sod, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals, seedlings, live trees, and Christmas trees.

Livestock

The “livestock” definition includes insects and all other living animals cultivated, grown, or raised for commercial purposes, including aquatic animals.

Non-Processed Foods

The “non-processed foods” definition includes fresh fruits, vegetables, cereal and oilseed crops that have been minimally processed by cleaning, cooling, trimming, cutting, chopping, shucking, bagging, or packaging to facilitate transport by commercial motor vehicle.

If you have questions on short-haul exemptions beyond ag hauler exemptions, please contact us or review some previous posts related to HOS Short-Haul Exemptions and the 100 air-mile Radius Short-Haul Exemption.


DOT Compliance Services

Our compliance specialists can assist with a number of needs related to hiring and training new drivers including CDL trainingnew and ongoing driver training and even managing your driver qualification files.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is on-boarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

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