The Saga of California’s AB5 Independent Contractor Law For The Trucking Industry

How AB5 affects the trucking industry in California and nearby states

On Sept. 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed bill AB5 into law that will make it more difficult for companies to classify people who work for them as independent contractors with the new ABC test.

Under the ABC Test, a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the employer can show that all three of the following “prongs” or conditions are satisfied:

  1. the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work,
  2. the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and
  3. the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

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

Days later, a hearing on the trucking group’s request for a preliminary injunction was set and the plaintiffs can argue that they have carried their burden for purposes of emergency relief to show:

  • that they are likely to succeed on the merits,
  • likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of relief,
  • that the balance of equities tips in their favor, and
  • that their requested relief is in the public interest.

Fast forward more than a year to May 2021 and a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a lower court’s injunction against the application of the California’s AB5 contractor law and its ABC test to trucking.

The California Trucking Association has 14 days to seek rehearing, which should be expected on or before May 12. If this request is denied or if the rehearing fails to change the view of the court it will be just seven days before the injunction lifts.  

 

How AB5 affects the trucking industry in California and nearby states

To describe the situation, let us look at port truckers in California. There are around 13,000 truckers regularly serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. However, only a few hundred are classified as employees.

The others are owner-operators who traditionally:

  • lease their rigs from trucking companies,
  • drive under those companies’ permits, and
  • rely on them for work assignments.

These owner-operators are paid by the load and get a 1099 independent contractor tax form at the end of the year.

While this is a popular business model, there are some who abuse this relationship. For example, to meet the state’s strict clean-air regulations, trucking companies forced drivers to purchase new trucks beginning in 2008 rather than assume the expense. Many drivers, who also pay for diesel fuel, repairs, and insurance, fell into debt as they worked overtime to pay off huge loans for their trucks. If they missed payments, some companies reclaimed the trucks and fired the drivers, seizing their equity.

The new AB5 law would basically require carriers to hire the independent contractors and pay them health insurance and other employee benefits.

It is not just California carriers that must deal with the law’s ABC test B prong, which requires carriers and contractors to be in essentially separate areas of business. Carriers across the state’s border that deliver inside California will be required to meet this B prong as well.

Today, the carriers that have been taking the “wait and see” approach on the law and the court’s process are now facing a near-term reality that the independent contractor system might not be possible and will have to face an increase in costs to hire the drivers.

Other carriers have been cutting ties with California as the cost of doing business in the state are greater than the reward and pull out of any California operations to shield themselves from the impact of the AB5 law.

 

CNS can help fleets with our new driver hire program

If AB5 does not include a trucking exemption, then there will be a flood of independent carriers going through a new hire process. There are a lot of rules around the hiring process, not limited to drug testing, CDL Clearinghouse queries, compliant DQ file process, and more.

To get these drivers on the road fast, Compliance Navigation Specialists has developed a new hire program that will streamline your hiring process.

Our New Hire service includes the following:

  • Tailor Drive Qualification file (paper) or Online Tailored Driver Qualification File (Paperless)
  • Initial Audit
  • Previous employer inquires completed on your behalf
  • Initial Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)
  • Pre-Screening program report (PSP)
  • Online Record Retention
  • Pre-employment drug screening verification
  • Doctor on medical card verification
  • FMCSA clearinghouse full query
  • Driver Qualification
  • New Hire phone support
  • and more

Accuracy, organization and diligence are crucial to keeping your files in order and ready for an audit at a moment’s notice. Our DQF Management System is completely customizable to your individual 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 DQF Auditors.

Our driver management and new hire management services will exceed your expectations. You focus on trucking, and let us focus on your driver file management. If you have a fleet of drivers, we assure you that you can’t do this cheaper in-house.

Eliminate the administration cost and have Compliance Navigation Specialists manage your files.

We will ensure that your information is collected, current, and complete. In addition, we will continue to update your files as required, and let you know when an updated piece of information is needed.

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


FMCSA increases fines twice this year for trucking regulation violations

FMCSA increases fines for trucking regulation violations

As of May 3, 2021, the DOT has increased the fine amount for trucking violations to reflect inflation, but why twice in one year?

Due to the 2020 inflation fine increase that happened January 11, the May 3 announcement for 2021 annual changes means it is the second time this year the U.S. Department of Transportation adjusted fines.

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. This means we will not see another fine increase until after January 16, 2022 or later.

This is in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

This latest change means the fine amounts have been increased 1.01182 percent.

For example, new minimum penalty for 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)] will be $5,902 instead of $5,833.

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

2021 FMCSA Fines List

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


Breaking Down Biden’s Second Half $1.8T Infrastructure Plan: American Families Plan

President Joe Biden revealed the second half of his $4 trillion infrastructure plan. The first infrastructure plan, called the American Jobs Plan, is estimated to cost $2.3 trillion. The second half of the infrastructure plan, called the American Families Plan, will cover “human infrastructure” and estimated to cost $1.8 trillion.

The second half of Biden’s infrastructure plan will go towards social/human infrastructure to include expanding the child tax credit, school infrastructure, free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, helping the underserved communities, and more. 

The American Families human infrastructure plan will use about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax credits over a decade, paid by the richest Americans who make over $400,000, aimed toward children and families. The Biden administration maintains that under the new plan, no one making $400,000 a year or less will see their taxes go up.

Biden delivered the new spending plan before a joint session of Congress just before his 100th day in office that focused on handling the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

 

“First, access to a good education.”

Free Universal Preschool = $200 billion

  • This will go towards free universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, offered through a national partnership with states

Free Community College and Other College Incentives = $295 billion

  • $109 billion will go towards ensuring two years of free community college for all students
  • $85 billion will go towards Pell Grants, and increasing the maximum award by about $1,400 for low-income students
  • $62 billion will go towards a grant program to increase college retention and completion rates
  • $39 billion program will give two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in a four-year historically Black college or university, tribal college or university, or minority-serving institution

 

“Second, provide access to quality, affordable child care.”

High-quality Child Care = $225 billion

  • This will go toward high-quality childcare and ensure families pay below 14% of their income toward child-care services

 

“Third, provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.”

Paid Family and Medical Leave = $225 billion

  • This will go to create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program

 

“Fourth, put money directly into the pockets of millions of families.”

Child Nutritional Needs = $45 billion

  • This will go towards expanding access to the summer EBT program, which helps some low-income families with children buy food outside the school year

Lowering Health Insurance Premiums = $200 billion

  • This will make permanent the $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus plan’s provision lowering health insurance premiums for those who buy coverage on their own

Additionally, Biden wants to extend through 2025, and making permanently fully refundable, the child tax credit expansion that was included in the Covid relief bill; making permanent the recent expansion of the child and dependent care tax credit; and making permanent the earned income tax credit for childless workers.

For a few more details of the American Families Plan, you can check out the White House Fact Sheet on the proposed plan.


Speeding Towards CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week, July 11-17, 2021

CVSA OPERATION SAFE DRIVER WEEK, JULY 11-17, 2021

Data shows that even a 10 mph increase in speed ups the risk of a crash by 9.1%.

During Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement agencies across North America engage in heightened traffic safety enforcement and education aimed at combating unsafe driving behaviors by both commercial motor vehicle and passenger-vehicle drivers.

According to CVSA, activities are held across the United States, Canada and Mexico with the goal of increasing commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement, safety belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance.

 

“Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”

The focus area for Operation Safe Driver Week is speeding.

Speeding continues to be the number one cited driver-related factor in highway fatal crashes and was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, killing 9,378 people or an average of more than 25 people per day.

In 2018, NHTSA showed that speeding was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities and just under 10,000 lives were lost due to speeding.

 

Past Operation Safe Driver Week Stats

Last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week saw 14,378 passenger vehicle drivers and 2,339 commercial motor vehicle drivers receive citations for speeding.

In 2019, 16,102 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,454 commercial motor vehicle drivers received citations for speeding.

During 2018’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 16,909 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,908 commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued citations for speeding.

The top citations that passenger and CMV drivers receive are for:

  1. Violating State/Local Laws
  2. Speeding
  3. Failing to use a seat belt
  4. Failure to obey a traffic control device
  5. Using a handheld phone
  6. Inattentive and/or careless driving

 

What will law enforcement look for?

Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers engaging in speeding and unsafe driving behaviors and will be pulling over drivers to issue a warning and/or citation.

This includes:

  • speeding
  • failure to use a seat belt
  • reckless or aggressive driving
  • distracted driving
  • following too closely
  • improper lane change
  • failure to obey traffic control devices, and
  • evidence of drunk or drugged driving

Failure to wear a seatbelt was the second highest violation for both types of drivers and buckling up is the single most effective thing vehicle drivers and passengers can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash.

A study in 2014 shows that issuing citations does influence driver behavior, with just a 1 percent increase in citations leading to a 28 percent reduction in motor vehicle crashes.

This reduction in crashes is a major reason law enforcement has backed and promoted CVSA’s focus on speeding and the message, “Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”


Breaking Down Biden’s First Half $2.3T Infrastructure plan: American Jobs Plan

Biden Infrastructure plan

We break down the plan that will likely affect the trucking and transportation industries the most

President Joe Biden revealed the first half of his $4 trillion infrastructure plan. The plan announced, called the American Jobs Plan, is estimated to cost $2.3 trillion. The second half of the infrastructure plan, called the American Families Plan, will cover “human infrastructure” and estimated to cost $1.8 trillion.

According to Biden, the American Jobs Plan is a 15-year vision that will generate 3-5 million new jobs and spend the $2 trillion over the next 8 years to improve our “crumbling infrastructure,” currently ranked 13th in the world.

The plan focuses on a balance between current transportation, roads, and household issues while preparing for a more electrified future.

While Biden wants the plan to be bipartisan, as he will bring in Republicans to the White House to discuss the details, he also wants to get this done. It is estimated that a version of this plan will potentially pass around August or September and may go through budget reconciliation to get passed.

We break down the plan that will likely affect the trucking and transportation industries the most.

Transportation = $621B

  • $115B will go towards bridges, highways, roads, and $20B for road safety
    • Will address about 20,000 miles of roads
    • Replace the top 10 most economically significant bridges, and
    • Repair around 10,000 bridges
  • $85B for Public Transportation for new rail cars and transportation to connect cities within and into cities
  • $80B for Amtrak
  • $25B for Airports
  • $17B for Ports, waterways, and ferries

 Electric Vehicles = $174B

  • This will include tax incentives and rebates to push buying American-made cars
  • An estimated 500,000 charging stations by 2030, and
  • Electrifying buses and federal vehicles

 Electric Grid = $100B

  • Make grid more resilient
  • Includes 10-year extension and phase down of an expanded refundable investment tax credit and production tax credit for renewable energy generation and storage
  • Higher labor standards
  • 100% carbon pollution free power by 2035
  • $16B will go towards abandoned mines and gas wells

 Corporate Tax Hikes to include:

  • 15% minimum tax on corporate profits (to prevent businesses like Amazon who may have zero tax on profits currently)
  • Increase corporate tax rate to 28%

Workforce = $100B

  • Workforce development, including apprenticeships and assistance for those who have lost their jobs
  • Create hundreds of thousands of jobs across multiple industries

The bill will also include a trillion dollars to go towards manufacturing, broadband, carbon capture, clean water, households, and schools/children incentives.

The second half of Biden’s infrastructure plan will go towards social/human infrastructure to include expanding the child tax credit, school infrastructure, free community college, universal pre-kindergarten, helping the underserved communities, and more. 

The American Families human infrastructure plan will use about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax credits over a decade, paid by the richest Americans who make over $400,000, aimed toward children and families. The Biden administration maintains that under the new plan, no one making $400,000 a year or less will see their taxes go up.

Biden delivered the new spending plan before a joint session of Congress just before his 100th day in office that focused on handling the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

For a few more details of the American Jobs Plan, you can check out the White House Fact Sheet on the proposed plan.


Soft Enforcement As Canadian ELD Mandate Goes Into Effect June 2021


After many discussions which began in 2019, the Canadian ELD mandate requiring the use of ELDs will go into effect in three months on June 12, 2021 and will replace paper-based daily logbooks.

However, the minister of transport just announced that there will be no hard enforcement in the beginning due to the country’s difficulty in certifying ELD devices.

To date, there are no third-party tested and certified devices listed on Transport Canada’s website.

“This will give sufficient time for the industry to obtain and install certified electronic logging devices without penalty as of June 12, 2021,” Alghabra said in a statement issued March 2. “Early enforcement measures will consist of education and awareness.”

Cross border carriers and U.S. ELD manufacturers have raised concerns over whether U.S. devices approved for use in the U.S. will also be acceptable to Canadian authorities.

ELD providers must not only invest in changes to meet these new requirements but also pay an expensive fee ($50,000+) to an independent certification facility for each hardware variant.

 

What is an ELD or electronic logging device?

Commercial driver fatigue is a long-standing road safety issue that the United States has addressed through the use of ELDs.

The Canadian mandate closely follows the U.S. rules and operability requirements, but each mandate has unique variations that drivers and carriers across both countries must be aware of to remain productive and profitable.

There are many advantages to using ELDs, but the main purpose is to ensure that commercial drivers remain within their daily driving limit and accurately log their working hours. If commercial drivers are not within the regulated limit, there may be fines associated with the violation.

The use of ELDs also reduces administrative burdens, such as eliminating the need for paper daily logs and reducing the time enforcement officers need to verify regulatory compliance.

These new electronic logs for truckers are aligned with the United States road safety regulations and will support economic growth, trade, and transportation on both sides of the border.

After extensive research and consultation, Transport Canada has implemented a third-party certification process will be put in place to ensure that the electronic logging devices will be accurate and reliable.

Other important facts about the Canadian ELD mandate:

  • Transport Canada is committed to aligning with vehicle regulations in the United States.
  • Aligning Canadian and US electronic logging device regulations will allow Canadian and US operators to use the same logging device in both countries.
  • ELD data transfers are different as Canadian regulations require carriers to send detailed log reports in PDF format and for a longer period of time (14 days vs. 8 days in the US) and, at inspection, drivers will transfer logs directly to officers not to a centralized database.
  • Canadian-certified ELDs must be capable of notifying the driver at least 30 minutes in advance of reaching any duty-/driving-hour limitation.
  • Transport Canada estimates that requiring the use of electronic logs for truckers will reduce the risk of fatigue-related collisions by approximately 10 percent.

 

ELD Questions? Our ELD Specialist can assist

There are multiple options to fit the needs of today’s fleet, and when it comes to compliance and the ability to expand to do more, there is no better solution than ELD Chrome, built on the award-winning OneView platform from Pedigree Technologies.

Pedigree Technologies’ OneView is preparing to have their ELD system ready and fully compliant for the Canadian ELD mandate starting on June, 12, 2021.

With over 12 years of experience in the ELD business (formerly AOBRDs), Pedigree Technologies has developed the most compliant, intuitive, and reliable solutions on the market. Drivers and fleet managers alike appreciate the ease of use and the superior support they receive.

Simplified and practical ELD, HOS, and DVIR management with IFTA management option, critical data recording, and automated reports, save office staff time while reducing errors and improving accuracy. ELD Chrome eliminates the need for paper logs and inspections by recording all data electronically, tracking (HOS) to meet FMCSA regulations, and reducing manual paperwork. It also offers the ability to expand beyond ELD, giving you both compliance and access to additional OneView applications.”


Further ELD Questions? Get a Free Demo

Contact us with any questions. Our ELD specialists can perform a demo with our ELD devices.

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.