There will be at least 6 vaccines that will likely meet acceptable effectiveness – we will dive into the first 2 announced.
This November has seen the highest jump in reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the U.S. and in states where a major outbreak had not previously appeared.
While wearing masks and increasing social distancing can reduce the spread of COVID, it does not kill the disease, just slows it down to acceptable levels to keep our healthcare at reasonable capacities.
The only way to truly get ahead of the pandemic and back to normal life is scientifically approved vaccines to be distributed across the globe.
Two Vaccines Show High Effective Rates In Human Trials
Vaccine researchers deserve to be praised for finding highly effective vaccines, with no major side effects, in only ten months with the capability to have millions of vaccines available by the end of the year.
Two major super-pharma companies have released human trial results in the past week. Pfizer’s vaccine trial showed an effective rate of 95% with hopes to distribute around 50 million vaccine by the end of the year. Moderna’s vaccine trial showed an effective rate of 94.5% and hopes to distribute around 20 million by the end of the year.
In perspective, the annual flu vaccine hopes to achieve over 60% effective rates as biologists must guess what various flu strains will look like for the next flu season.
To transport and deliver these vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine is required to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius and the Moderna vaccine to be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.
To note, there are 4 other vaccines that will likely meet acceptable effectiveness that will also be easier to produce and distribute.
So, what will the logistics look like for these two vaccines?
Massive Cold-Storage Supply Chain Will Be Tested
Not only does Pfizer and Moderna plan to produce a billion vaccines each to be distributed worldwide, but both vaccines require two doses for proper immunity.
These vaccines also require cold supply chains, or to be refrigerated from production to distribution, to extend the shelf-life of the vaccine.
This means everything must be kept chilled with a massive amount of special equipment, reefer trailers, containers, and more.
According to NBC News, “Pfizer is marshaling a massive new cold-storage supply chain to handle the delicate dance of transporting limited doses of its coronavirus vaccine from manufacturer to any point of use within two days.”
The company says the vaccines will be packed below dry ice inside thermal packaging containers developed by Pfizer, which should maintain the -70 degree Celsius requirement for enough time to transport the vaccine from manufacturer to distribution points through standard pharmaceutical reefer trailers at -30 Celsius.
The packages, containing 1,000 to 5,000 doses, will be shipped by air to major distribution hubs and then delivered by trucks to hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations and pharmacies.
However, everyday pharmacies are not able to stockpile large quantities of vaccines that require subzero storage. Though, pharmacies may be able to keep Pfizer’s cooler-size boxes on hand, and other vaccines can be stored at less extreme temperatures.
According to the New York Times, UPS is creating a freezer farm in Louisville, KY where it can store millions of doses of vaccine at subzero temperatures. FedEx already has machines in warehouses that can produce dry ice, and UPS said it was considering adding them.
Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer for the government’s Operation Warp Speed, which is tasked with distributing the vaccine, said Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that tracking and tracing every dose will require the use of a program called Tiberius that links databases from shipping companies and the government, a capability that didn’t exist two months ago.
What Can We Do Now?
With tens of millions of vaccines going to the most populous states and our healthcare workers first, what can we do now?
The most important thing we can do is to help flatten the curve. We are in the worst period of the pandemic and many are facing “pandemic fatigue”. But we must stay vigilant in wearing our masks, think about what your holiday plans will look like with masks and social distancing, and being kind to those who agree or disagree with each other.
Our healthcare workers are dealing with 36-hour shifts, collapsing with emotional distress, and not feeling the hero status they rightly deserve like in the beginning of the pandemic.
Let us be thankful and share the love and kindness we celebrate during the holidays with those on the frontlines.
Are you concerned for your staff and/or drivers and their COVID-19 exposure?
We offer on-site pre-shift screenings, screening questionnaires and temperature screenings for your distribution site, terminal, construction site or office.
We also offer antibody testing, which provides insight into employee exposure by determining whether or not they have developed COVID-19 antibodies.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just wrapped up their 60-day comment period on their long-anticipated proposed hair testing guidelines.
Since 2015, when Congress mandated HHS to release hair testing guidelines, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the trucking industry has increased random drug testing requirements due to the rise in rates of positive drug tests. The DOT also released a national drug testing results Clearinghouse Database to help reduce the number of safety-sensitive employees using controlled substances. Learn how to sign-up for the Clearinghouse
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.
Let’s break this down.
Why use hair testing as an alternative testing method?
The biggest problem with urine testing is how many options there are to try and cheat a drug test. These methods include:
- synthetic “fake” urine
- watering down the urine, or
- slipping in clean urine from someone else
While there are processes in place to catch individuals cheating the system, many people claim to have cheated and never been caught. Hair testing on the other hand is virtually impossible to cheat when done properly. There is no scientific proof that results can be manipulated by:
- dying your hair
- applying hair products
- detox kits, or
- any other misconceptions about manipulating test results.
Additionally, the hair testing can detect drugs and alcohol in the system from a week to 90+ days, unlike urine testing, which only detects drugs and alcohol up to 7 days. Employers have long been using hair testing for pre-employment testing so they can better understand a potential new hire’s drug testing history.
“The scary part is, while a driver can be disqualified from driving from Werner Enterprises, they’re able to go to another carrier [that may not use hair testing] because hair testing isn’t recognized under federal regulations,” said Jamie Maus, vice president of safety and compliance at Werner Enterprises.
“Of the 5,000 positive hair tests in the last couple of years, only a handful of those also tested positive in urine, so only a handful of those would have been reported to the current Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse or to other companies.”
“What was more surprising was the types of drugs we were picking up. The number one drug we see is cocaine, then amphetamines, and then opioids – marijuana is not even in the top tier.”
While critics of hair-testing claim it can result in false positives because certain drugs can be absorbed into the hair from secondhand smoke, or that it may offer racial bias in test results, hair-testing advocates say those concerns are unfounded and scientifically unproven.
Why the HHS hair testing proposal falls short
The biggest problem with the proposed hair testing guidelines is that, if hair testing results come back positive, a second urine test is required to confirm the positive test result.
This means a urine specimen must be collected at the time of the hair test or an employee must give a urine specimen by an MRO when reviewing a positive hair test result.
Not only will this create scenarios where a driver could receive a positive hair test result and a negative urinalysis test result, it also creates other issues such as:
- extra testing costs for confirmation testing
- longer driver downtime while waiting for test results, and
- complicated logistics of collectors or labs keeping an authorized second urine specimen for an undisclosed period of time while waiting for the MRO to determine if the specimen is needed for confirmation testing.
According to industry experts, hundreds of thousands of secondary urine specimens per day may need to be shipped to two completely different testing laboratories as some labs do not test both hair and urine and millions of these specimens will be collected, shipped, identified, and eventually discarded for no reason, significantly increasing testing costs to companies.
When can we expect DOT hair testing?
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.
Drug and Alcohol Services
At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).
Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.
We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.
PennDOT will likely toll 5 to 10 interstate bridges in the Commonwealth with the approved initiative for a period of likely 30 years or longer.
In Pennsylvania, the Major Bridge P3 (Public-Private Partnership) initiative was approved this week that will add tolls to yet-to-be determined bridges to help speed up and pay for the “reconstruction and rehabilitation” of major bridges throughout the state.
According to the initiative, PennDOT is currently carrying an annual funding gap of over $8.1B to maintain and improve state-owned bridges and highways.
How will the Major Bridge P3 initiative help the state?
According to the initiative, the goals of the funds collected include:
- accelerating the renewal of major bridges to ensure public safety,
- avoid time and financial impacts of travel diversion resulting from bridge restrictions and closures due to bridge conditions,
- help offset gas tax revenue losses which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,
- ensure in-state and out-of-state traffic to contribute fairly to the replacement or rehabilitation of the bridges based on usage, and
- create a sustainable funding model for the state’s major bridges.
How will the Major Bridge P3 initiative affect the trucking industry?
This is the second initiative approved in the past decade aimed at improving roads and aging bridges on top of the highest fuel tax rates in the nation that lean heavily on the trucking industry.
According to Joe Butzer, Interim President of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, “the trucking industry in PA already pays more than $2B in Federal and State Highway taxes and pays 39% of all taxes owed by Pennsylvania motorists despite trucks only representing 9% of all the miles traveled.”
Fleets will need to plan to pay more toll bridge fees as they travel through Pennsylvania.
The DataQ System can help fight and remove incorrect records that could be keeping your scores or insurance rates high.
Every year the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) releases the top concerns affecting the trucking industry. As expected, the latest survey revealed that the shortage of qualified truck drivers and cost of trucking insurance remain top concerns.
These issues will continue to be a problem for years to come. However, there are tools that fleet managers, owner-operators, and truck drivers should understand that could help simplify the hiring process and possibly reduce trucking insurance rates.
These tools include:
- Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) Reports
- Inspection Selection System (ISS) Scores, and
- the DataQ Process
PSP Reports Used In Trucker Hiring Decisions
The FMCSA created the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to help carriers make more informed hiring decisions. This database includes a commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) which is largely the same data used in the carriers CSA performance measurements.
PSP records are simply a history of violations without scoring like in the CSA score system and are available for companies hiring commercial truck drivers.
Fleets can use the three-year roadside violation history and 5-year crash history alongside a driver’s employment history to analyze a their potential driving habits.
These reports are also valuable for truck drivers looking for jobs, which keep them informed of their current record and any potentially incorrect data that could be challenged and removed with the DataQ process. A driver likely looking for a new job should pull a report at least twice per year to verify their record is accurate.
ISS Scores Helps Roadside Inspectors Pull Drivers For Inspection
Usually, inspectors look for physical defects and spot visible violations that warrant a truck to be pulled over for a full roadside inspection.
However, inspectors have additional tools to determine if a roadside inspection is recommended.
When rolling into weight scales, inspectors’ computer terminals quickly pull basic information on the truck, driver and company. One of the data points is the “Inspection Selection System” or “ISS” Score.
These scores combine CSA score percentage, out-of-service rates, crash data, and previous audit information. If the ISS Score is high, an inspection is warranted. If the score is not too high and considered “optional”, it still may be worth it to an inspector to look at the truck pulling through.
Fleets can find their ISS score through their FMCSA Portal or if logging into the SMS system.
DataQ is Used To Clear Incorrect Information Harming Your Fleet
If you notice incorrect information in your PSP report or the CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS), there is a tool—DataQ System—to help fight and remove these records that could be keeping your scores or insurance rates high.
When you want to challenge an incorrect violation, a crash that meets the challenge guidelines, or an inspection assigned to you by mistake, you can achieve this through the DataQ process.
DataQ is the online system for drivers, motor carriers, Federal and State agencies, and others to file concerns about Federal and State data maintained in MCMIS and released to the public by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The most important part of the DataQ Process is gathering the best supporting documents when making your case. This may include ELD data, video records, and more. There is a limit to how many times you can challenge that same violation, so being thorough the first time will help you win your case.
If you have an eligible crash that occurred on or after June 1, 2017, you may submit a challenge with compelling evidence to prove the crash was Not Preventable. During the Demonstration Program, eligible crashes are limited to the following:
- Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) was struck by a motorist driving under the influence of illegal substance (or related offense)
- CMV was struck by a motorist driving the wrong direction
- CMV was struck in the rear
- CMV was struck while it was legally stopped or parked, including when the vehicle is unattended
- CMV struck an individual committing, or attempting to commit, suicide by stepping or driving in front of the CMV
- CMV sustained disabling damage after striking an animal in the roadway
- Crash as a result of an infrastructure failure, falling trees, rocks, or debris
- CMV was struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle
What can CNS do for me in the DataQ system?
We have built great rapport with the FMCSA challenging DataQ’s and have the experience and expertise to determine what can and cannot be challenged.
Our DOT Compliance Specialists are well-versed in the FMCSA rules and regulations, as well as what an officer is required to note on their report.
Whether you would like our DOT Specialists to challenge one DataQ or conduct a monthly analysis of all roadside violations to potentially challenge, we have a cost effective solution for your company.
- Request copies of an Inspection Report
- Contest incorrect, multiple-listed, or missing IEP/shipper information.
- Citation with associated violation
- Assigned to wrong motor carrier or driver
- Challenging a DOT Audit/Investigation
- Challenging a fine as a result of a Notice of Claim or Notice of Violation
- Crash duplicates, record missing, crash report contains incorrect information, crash preventability program*
It’s not too late to register and vote in-person in many states.
For long-haul truckers, in-person voting can be hard to schedule on Election Day, but even so, FreightWaves recent survey found that truckers are largely planning to vote in person on November 3, 2020.
According to their social media survey, 70% stated they planned to vote in person in this year’s presidential election while 8.3% plan to vote by absentee ballot, and 16.7% already voted by mail-in ballot.
If you are registered to vote, there are 40 states plus Washington, D.C. that allow in-person voting at your dedicated polling location days before the election.
Not Registered to Vote?
21 States and D.C. Allow Voter Registration and Voting on Election Day
If you have not registered to vote but still want to vote in-person, twenty-one states and Washington D.C. allow you to both register and cast your ballot on Election Day at your polling place.
Many states require additional documentation in order to register and vote on Election Day, such as state-issued license, ID card, or change of address card, or a paycheck, bank statement, utility bill, or other government document that has your name and current address.
These states include:
- California: If the voter registration deadline has passed, you can still conditionally register to vote and cast a provisional ballot in person at your County Elections Office at any time up to and including Election Day. Your provisional ballot will be counted when your County Elections Official verifies your voter registration.
- Colorado: You can register and cast a ballot up through Election Day by appearing in-person at a Voter Service and Polling Center during the Early Voting period or on Election Day
- Connecticut: If the voter registration deadline has passed, you can still register to vote in person at a designated Election Day Registration office.
- District of Columbia: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting or on Election Day.
- Hawaii: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting at early walk-in locations and on Election Day at your polling place.
- Idaho: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting or on Election Day.
- Illinois: You can also register in person (and vote) at your local elections office during the “grace period.” The grace period starts 27 days before Election Day and ends on Election Day. Grace Period Voting does NOT take place at your regular polling place. Grace Period Voting almost always happens at your Local Election Office.
- Iowa: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting or on Election Day.
- Maine: If you register to vote within 21 days of an election, including on election day, you must appear in person to register at the municipal registrar in order to register.
- Maryland: You can register to vote in-person during early voting and on Election Day.
- Michigan: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during early voting or on Election Day.
- Minnesota: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time during the in-person absentee voting period or on Election Day.
- Montana: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote at your county election office through close of polls on Election Day, except between noon and 5:00 p.m. the day before the election. You’ll have to register at the office of your Local Election Office — not at a polling place.
- Nevada: You may register to vote in-person at the polling place either during early voting or on Election Day.
- New Hampshire: If you have missed the voter registration deadline, you can still register to vote and a cast a ballot at the same time on Election Day.
- North Dakota: North Dakota does not have voter registration. You simply need to bring valid proof of ID and residency to the polls in order to vote.
- Rhode Island: You may register in person on Election Day at your local Board of Canvassers but only for Presidential elections.
- Utah: An individual who is not registered to vote may register to vote, and vote, on election day or during the early voting period — however, individuals must vote by provisional ballot.
- Vermont: You can register to vote on Election Day at your polling place.
- Washington: Individuals may register to vote in a voting center, or other location designated by the county auditor in his or her county of residence no later than 8:00pm on the day of the primary, special election, or general election.
- Wisconsin: Individuals may register to vote in person at your polling place on Election Day.
Fall brings the insects life stage to adults and egg masses are present. After storing up the summer warmth and energy, they are beginning to swarm.
This invasive plant hopper species, the Spotted Lanternfly, has found its way to the US and rapidly spread throughout southeast Pennsylvania with the potential to infest agricultural crops and create a lot of issues for residents.
Spotted Lanternflies can potentially hitch a ride on products and vehicles, thus moving into a new area and spreading the infestation.
Businesses who ship products in and out of quarantined zones in Pennsylvania are required to have a Spotted Lanternfly Permit.
These permits demonstrate that the business know of this invasive pest and best practices to prohibit its spread.
Spotted Lanternfly Permitting renewals and requirements
Since April 2019, the Spotted Lanternfly Permit style has changed. Currently, only one paper permit is issued to each company. Each company can now make as many copies as needed to issue to their drivers.
Permits are free, but online training is required to obtain them. Managers and/or supervisors who demonstrate working knowledge and understanding of this insect and the quarantine requirements may obtain a permit.
In July, a renewal notice and replacement paper permit (blue and white trifold) were sent to all permit holders as a replacement for the old orange tags.
- How do I renew?
- If you have a blue and white paper permit, no further action is needed. If you have not received a paper permit, email email@example.com.
- When does my permit expire?
- Permits do not have an expiration date.
- Do I have to retake the permit course and exam?
- No additional training is required at this time.
If you have not received your permit or gone through the required training, CNS is trained on the Spotted Lanternfly Permit requirements from the PA Department of Agriculture.
We offer training for your drivers to identify and help contain and eventually stop the spread of this insect.
The CNS course is a 35-45 min training. Please note a supervisor from your company will still be required to take the permitting course from the Penn State Extension Website.
Fall Prevention Steps to Prevent Spotted Lanternfly Spread
With Spring comes the return of the Spotted Lanternfly season. Fall brings the insects life stage to adults and egg masses are present. After storing up the summer warmth and energy, they are beginning to swarm. In areas of heavy populations, thousands of the invasive insect will gather in mass on trees, houses and other tall structures, to launch themselves into the wind and glide, looking for food and a safe place to lay their eggs.
If you observe SLF in Pennsylvania, report these swarms via the Public Reporting Tool.
Fleets should inspect vehicles, trailers and items stored outdoor before movement within or from the quarantine, as well as inspect goods prior to transport or sale.
Most importantly, make any efforts to destroy the Spotted Lanternflies to help reduce populations. Spotted Lanternflies can be controlled with a combination of physical removal of life stages and host trees, and pesticide applications. Use Penn State Extension’s management resources to safely manage the insects on your property or at your business.
More efforts to reduce the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly
This year, the PDA Compliance and Enforcement Team is offering compliance assistance to help companies become spotted lanternfly compliant and get permitted.
The PDA has partnered with the PA State Police as part of “Operation Spotted Lanternfly” to do roadside inspections. After the State Police do their DOT inspections, the PDA team will interview the driver, inspect their permits and related logs, and do a vehicle inspection.
Roadside inspections have proven to be effective, and the PDA Compliance and Enforcement Team expects to increase the number of inspections this coming Spotted Lanternfly season.
Know the quarantine zones
To stop the movement and spread of spotted lanternflies, quarantines are in effect. A quarantine means certain articles cannot be moved out of the area. Industries located or operating inside the quarantine zone will need a Spotted Lanternfly Permit.
Currently the following counties are under quarantine in Pennsylvania:
There are also quarantine counties or zones in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.
Quarantine counties have restricted movement of certain articles. The PA Department of Agriculture lists these prohibited items:
- any living stage of the Spotted Lanternfly—Lycorma delicatula—including egg masses, nymphs, and adults
- brush, debris, bark, or yard waste
- landscaping, remodeling or construction waste
- logs, stumps, or any tree parts
- firewood of any species
- grapevines for decorative purposes or as nursery stock
- nursery stock
- crated materials
- outdoor household articles such as: recreational vehicles, lawn tractors and mowers, mower decks, grills, grill and furniture covers, tarps, mobile homes, tile, stone, deck boards, mobile fire pits, any associated equipment and trucks or vehicles not stored indoors
Do you remember the beginning of 2020 when the crash of the FMCSA’s CDL Clearinghouse website caused registration confusion?
The launch was supposed to be a smooth process as companies had three months prior to register. But few did.
As a result of so many people attempting to register through the website at the last minute, the website was overloaded and crashed, causing registration errors and quick fixes just to get people in the system.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database where new drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information of CDL drivers is stored and searched.
This database has worked well in preventing drug users from job hopping, as well as open the book on what is happening real-time with the trucking industry drug testing statistics.
In the first 8 months the Clearinghouse was in effect, over 35,000 drivers were found with a positive drug test forcing them to begin the return-to-duty and SAP process before getting back on the road.
DOT’s Clearinghouse faces a key test as fleets will likely flood the system in the coming weeks — CCJ ArticleCCJ Article – Nov 4, 2020
“We’ll see what happens with it,” said Lucas Kibby, marketing specialist at Compliance Navigation Specialists. “There’s going to be a large influx of people going to the site around the end of December and into the first few weeks of January, when people start realizing the rules.”
According to the latest Clearinghouse report, marijuana accounted for nearly half of the positive drug test results, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine.
However, we are now less than three months away from another major Clearinghouse deadline where companies could face fines, if in violation.
Clearinghouse website may crash again as required annual query deadline approaches
With the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes, employers of CDL drivers must follow a new drug testing process when hiring a potential new driver before a pre-employment drug test can be done at a collection site.
Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if pre-employment drug tests are performed before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.
Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present.
After the detailed query is done, the pre-employment drug test can continue as part of the pre-employment new-hire process.
The other major required process for employers, including owner-operators, is to annually query all current CDL drivers at least once a year to make sure no violations appeared in the database. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.
This means the majority of CDL drivers need to have had a limited query run on them by January 6, 2021 or face potential violations and fines if found to be done late or not at all during an audit.
Early Clearinghouse registration issues led officials to advise employers to wait to register until December 2020 or January 2021. Consequently, a large spike in DOT Clearinghouse web traffic is expected as companies rush to register and submit annual queries to the DOT Clearinghouse before the deadline.
What fleets need to do before 2021 deadline
Every employer with CDL drivers needs to verify that they are registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. After registering, employers will purchase query tokens that will be used to when they want to run limited or detailed queries on their drivers or potential new drivers.
Owner-operators should purchase around 5 query token to run their annual queries each year, lasting them five years before they need to purchase more tokens.
Larger fleets should purchase query plans around two-and-a-half times their driver size to last two years of annual queries and a handful of new hire drivers.
Finally, annual queries can be ran on all CDL drivers within the company.
Drug and Alcohol Services
Do you need help registering to the FMCSA Clearinghouse or looking to switch to a trusted drug testing consortium?
At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).
Since the emergence of COVID-19, the importance of drug and alcohol testing and driver physicals have not changed, especially considering positive drug testing rates have increased in April and May since 2019.
According to Clinical Reference Laboratories (CRL), positive drug test rates are up by more than 16% in April and 24.1% in May year-over-year. The culprit during the pandemic is marijuana, which increased 21% in April and 37.8% in May compared to the previous year.
Similarly, DISA’s random positive drug testing rates have more than doubled, up from 0.18% in April 2019 to 0.37% in May 2020.
Employers, more now than ever, are taking employee health more seriously and attempting to make the required drug tests and driver physicals more convenient as they do not want to put workers at risk if health clinics are being used to test people who have COVID-19 symptoms.
With the hyper-focus of clean and safe facilities, minimizing hospital sites, and navigating collection sites or medical offices closing, many fleets are turning to on-site mobile drug testing.
This allows fleets to manage when drivers can be drug tested or receive required physical exams, trust their COVID health protocols, and not worry about busy testing and physical exam sites.
Trusted mobile collection sites are maintaining effective drug-testing procedures during the pandemic while increasing their on-site safety guidelines, which includes:
- Stopping any testing if an illness is evident and advising the customer
- Staff wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment during test sessions
- Cleaning instruments and testing area after every test
- Maintaining a minimum safe distance wherever practical, and
- Treating the Donor with courtesy and respect at all times
On-site testing not only employee safety during the pandemic, recent studies have shown that on-site and mobile collection testing has a higher rate of positives than clinic based testing.
This is most likely due to the element of surprise, where drivers may normally be able to purchase products in hopes of cheating their drug test or less opportunities for subversion of the testing process.
Can drivers refuse a drug test claiming COVID-19 pandemic concerns?
If your employees express concern about reporting for a drug test, on-site testing can assure them that employer guidelines are in place to protect them during drug testing and physical procedures.
It is important to note, if an employee refuses a drug test for any reason (including COVID-19 concerns), it is reported as a refusal to test.
This means collectors document the refusal and follow the company’s guidelines as outlined in its refusal to test policy.
If the company is regulated by the DOT, refusals are reported to the MRO (Medical Review Officer), reviewed, and a decision is made on whether or not it is a refusal to test based on the circumstances.
No matter the outcome, the driver will not be allowed to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as driving, during this process.
Mobile Drug and Alcohol Services
Want to save time and money?
If your company is committed to creating and maintaining a drug-free workplace with little to no interruptions in your operations, on-site collection may be the right option for you.
Our medical professionals are available to go on-site and perform drug and alcohol tests.
On-site drug and alcohol testing can be scheduled at your place of business or any other location of your choosing.
We are extremely flexible and can accommodate the busiest of schedules and various types of operations.
Our Certified DOT Examiners, Certified Collectors and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT) are readily available to serve you.
How does Mobile Drug Testing work?
- Schedule an on-site testing appointment for your company.
- We send appointment confirmation and a letter to all of your employees letting them know what to bring to the exam (upon request).
- Our professional staff will arrive 10 minutes early to set up.
- Our certified staff will provide collection services in an efficient manner.
- CNS will send samples to the certified lab. (24-48 turnaround time for DOT 5 Panel)
- Results upload by the Medical Review Officer (MRO) to your portal.
In the last few years, the number of younger truck drivers has been decreasing, according to a recent study by the American Transportation Research Institute.
This means the trucking industry is relying even more on drivers in the 45 to 54-year-old age group.
According to the American Trucking Associations, in 2019 the trucking industry was lacking about 60,800 drivers at the end of 2018 and the industry could be short more than 100,000 drivers in five years if conditions don’t change.
In hopes to increase the share of younger drivers in the industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed an under-21 commercial driver pilot program allowing young drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce. Currently 18 to 20-year-olds are only allowed to operate intrastate commerce.
The FMCSA is requesting comments on the program that would allow:
- 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or
- 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles.
The drivers in the pilot program would not be allowed to haul passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles.
This pilot program comes after a 2019 military recruitment program that is studying the details of allowing 18 to 20-year-olds with military CDL-equivalent training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
This military pilot program will be expanding the military positions allowed as an effort to provide additional younger service members with opportunities in trucking, according to a notice scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Oct. 9.
The new roles include combat engineer, field artillery cannoneer and Patriot launching station operator from the originally approved roles as motor transport operator, fueler, and pavement and construction equipment operator.
The new roles were not included previously because FMCSA was not aware these classifications required heavy vehicle training.
DOT Compliance Services
Our compliance specialists can assist with a number of needs related to hiring and training new drivers including CDL training, new 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.
2020 has been a year of validating the future of electronic vehicles and testing of autonomous long-haul driving.
Electronic and autonomous trucking will be here quicker than you think. Don’t worry, truckers will not be effected tomorrow, but it is definitely something to think about over the next decade or two.
Last week, Tesla held their battery day event revealing new battery technology and plans to dramatically increase battery production for electric vehicles (EVs), including the Tesla Semi that will be in production after Gigafactory Texas is built.
For those who were not excited about Tesla Battery Day, then you probably did not understand it.
Tesla, an automotive and energy company currently valued at double that of Texas’ oil company Exxon Mobile, showed a big step in the right direction for EVs and autonomous driving, and not just for Tesla.
The California Governor just signed an order that will ban the sales of new gasoline cars by 2035 in the state after previously announcing California fleets to phase out sales of new diesel trucks and buses by 2045. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that 2 million diesel trucks cause 70% of smog-causing pollution in the state.
Furthermore, autonomous trucking company–Locomation—will be equipping their platooning technology into 1,120 of Wilson Logistics trucks as early as 2022.
For the trucking industry, let us break down what technology is available now and what may be available by the end of the decade.
Tesla Semi is planned to be in production by the end of 2021
Tesla confirmed recently that the Tesla Semi will be produced at Gigafactory Texas alongside Cybertruck, Model 3, Model Y, and battery production.
The current timeline for “first completion” of the Austin, Texas factory is planned for May 2021, which has been under development for almost two months. The Tesla Semi is currently planned to be in production by the end of 2021 in Texas and Gigafactory Nevada will support Tesla Semi production.
When Tesla first announced the Class 8 heavy-duty truck, they said it would have a 500 mile (805 km) range on a full charge and would be able to run for 400 miles (640 km) after an 80% charge in 30 minutes using a “Tesla Megacharger” charging station.
CEO Elon Musk also said that the Tesla Semi would come standard with Tesla Autopilot that allows semi-autonomous driving on highways.
Tesla’s head of the Tesla Semi program, Jerome Guillen, said back in June that they currently “have a few trucks that keep driving around and that can deliver cars. But we’re going to accelerate that. I want to be clear that the first few units, we will use ourselves, to carry our own freight, probably mostly between Fremont and Reno, which is a fantastic test route. We’re going to prove that we have very good reliability. So far, the early units do have it, but we’ll do that at a larger scale. And we have also promised some early units to some long-term, very patient, and supportive customers, and we’ll do that.”
The bottleneck slowing down the Tesla Semi program has been battery cell supply, but he mentioned that Tesla expects to have more cells to expand the lineup next year.
Tesla has been taking reservations for the electric truck and said that the production versions will have 300-mile and 500+ mile range versions for $150,000 and $180,000, respectively. Walmart just announced that they will more than triple their order of Tesla Semis to 130 as a part of a serious sustainability push.
With the new batteries to be produced in Gigafactory Texas, Tesla forecasts a 54% boost in range along with a 56% reduction in cost per kilowatt hour, given 18 months to three years to see the impact.
For the Tesla Semi, a 54% boost in range would expand reach to 462 and 770 miles respectively.
According to CCJ, Mike Roeth, executive director at the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), said that while range improvements will help win over fleets, it’s simply too early to tell how Semi might benefit and that “the industry has reached some consensus that electric trucks make complete sense in about 300 miles of range.”
“Range is a crucial determinate for battery electric trucks replacing engines, specifically diesels in trucks,” Roeth said. “These improvements are impressive and will help accelerate adoption. But the 300 and 500 mile range announcements from 2017 have yet to be validated as Tesla has not delivered Semis to customers or shared third party verified data.”
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, US electric truck sales are now expected to increase to over 54,000 units by 2025.
Other Electric Trucks:
Hyliion: There are already 20 trucks operating with Hyliion’s electric powertrains, built via ventures with Dana Corp. and Volvo. The e-axle could be retrofitted onto old trucks, or built into new ones. The benefits were clear—the e-axle would provide a helping hand, adding power and torque that allowed the diesel block to work more efficiently, improving fuel mileage and lowering emissions. Naturally, the system also captures power via regenerative braking, which, given the mass of a semitruck, can be substantial. Batteries must be able to absorb 5 kilowatt-hours of power from braking on a steep hill, then turn around and feed that power back to the drivetrain during acceleration.
Dailmer: Daimler/Freightliner’sheavy-duty eCascadia was premiered in Portland, Oregon in June 2018 and is currently undergoing practical tests with customers in the United States in a variety of applications including regional and local distribution, food distribution and parcel delivery.
The eCascadia has a target range for series production of up to 250 miles (compared to Tesla Semi’s 300 and 500+ model range). Production of the eCascadia is scheduled to start in mid-2022.
Nikola: If you are wondering about the Nikola semi, do not hold your breath. The company is facing incredible scrutiny after a scathing report by short-seller firm Hindenburg Research that accused the company of fraud.
Unlike Tesla Semi, the Nikola semi displayed in their video announcement was a “pusher” going downhill, not producing its own power. Additionally, there are no hydrogen stations being built across the U.S, no vehicle production in the works as of yet, and the company is facing a big legal battle after their founder recently “stepped away” from the company.
Autonomous self-driving is seeing massive progress from multiple companies
The race is on for fully autonomous driving to become reality. The aim is Level 4 autonomy, meaning full automation without human intervention under “defined driving conditions and applied in all markets.”
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 long-haul truckers, many hope the slow diffusion of autonomous technology should leave plenty of time for operations optimization and new opportunities rising across the supply chain as traditional driving transitions.
Let’s take a look at several companies striving for autonomous driving.
Daimler and Torc Robotics: In 2019, Daimler bought autonomous vehicle firm Torc Robotics, acquiring “advanced, road-ready technology” for level 4 autonomous driving while Plus.AI conducted the first real-world commercial freight delivery by a self-driving truck, carrying 40,000 pounds of Land O’Lakes butter in a three-day trip across the United States.
Waymo: Part of Google parent Alphabet, Waymo has done driving tests in Georgia, Michigan, California, and Arizona. Their testing still had a human operator behind the wheel if anything goes wrong. They have 40 autonomous trucks right now and hope to have self-driving trucks operate between Los Angeles, California and Jacksonville, Florida by 2023 or 2024.
Kodiak Robotics: Kodiak is backed by some big names and is working to bolster the opportunity by using the driverless technology on the more predictable and less dynamic highways. They are focusing on autonomous vehicles that are used between a drop-off or pick-up sites that can include more technical challenges.
TuSimple: An autonomous driving technology start-up focused on heavy-duty commercial trucks, TuSimple currently operates in China, San Diego, CA and Tucson, AZ. They operate 40 self-driving truck fleet in the United States that are used for transporting freight between Arizona and Texas. The trucks have accrued more than 1 million safe miles so far and run routes for UPS and McLane Co. They recently joined with Traton’s Scania trucks to roll out autonomous vehicle operations to Europe with TuSimple’s Level 4 automation system that can drive without any human intervention.
Locomation: A company spun out of a prestigious university robotics lab, Locomation will equip 1,120 Wilson Logistics trucks with their convoy technology, which enables driverless trucks to follow a lead-truck piloted by a human, combining the best of autonomous technology with reliable human-in-the-loop driving protocols. The first units will be delivered in early 2022.
This agreement followed a successful pilot program involving two Locomation trucks hauling Wilson Logistics trailers and freight on a 420 mile-long route from Portland, OR to Nampa, ID. As opposed to truly driverless technologies pursued by Waymo, Embark, TuSimple, and others, Locomation always requires at least one driver to be alert and in control.
Tesla: Tesla will likely release a new fully functional version of its Full Self Driving package to private beta testers in Fall 2020 after undergoing a “fundamental rewrite” of its software that boasts over a million cars with full self-driving computer and hardware that has been collecting tons of data.
Tesla has released various components that will eventually equal the sum of Full Self Driving, including Smart Summon (slow speed in carparks), Navigate on Autopilot (high speed on freeways) and most recently, stop and go through traffic lights. The full self-driving technology will be built in with Tesla Semi that is to be in production in late 2021.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, fully autonomous trucking will be here faster than you think.