Robin Hutcheson becomes the 4th acting FMCSA Administrator in 2 years

With Meera Joshi leaving next month, Robin Hutcheson has been named Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the 4th acting Administrator since FMCSA’s last full time administrator Ray Martinez, who stepped down from the post in October 2019. 

But this hasn’t kept the FMCSA from doing its job. The agency still published the HOS final rule, continued pilot projects, and issued emergency declarations throughout the pandemic without an administrator.

Hutcheson would still need to be nominated and confirmed if she is to ascend to the role of Administrator. 

Most recently, Hutcheson has served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Safety Policy for the DOT in the Biden-Harris Administration since January 2021, leading safety policy for the department, coordinating other efforts like COVID-19 response and having instrumental input in the development of the Infrastructure Bill, especially the new Safe Streets and Roads for All program.

Prior to being appointed to the Biden-Harris Administration, Hutcheson was the Director of Public Works for the City of Minneapolis and oversaw a team of 1,100 people across nine divisions, including drinking water, surface waters and sewers, solid waste and recycling, fleet management and all transportation functions.

Prior to her appointment in Minneapolis, she served as the Transportation Director for Salt Lake City, working to improve all modes of transportation.

Safety starts with your Hiring Process

After a driver is hired, 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).

With high driver turnover in trucking, construction and distribution fleets, this problem becomes amplified.

CNS goes beyond just helping you manage your driver qualification files. Our Proactive Safety Management Programs help to manage your entire plan for safety, compliance and record keeping, from drug consortium management to vehicle and equipment maintenance, without the cost of employing the many staff members it takes to run an effective safety program.

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

Teen Drivers to be Scrutinized in Interstate Apprenticeship Program

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

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

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

Requirements for drivers in the apprenticeship program

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

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

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

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

Motor carrier requirements for the apprenticeship program

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will anybody insure these young drivers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

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

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

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

When To Expect CVSA’s Level 8 Electronic Credentials Inspection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Level 8 Inspection?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we are far from this inspection hitting our roadways.

When to expect Level 8 inspections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

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

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

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

CNS Moves To New Headquarters, Further Growing its’ One-Stop-Shop for Transportation Industry Professionals

CNS COMPANIES is a network of companies specializing in services related to the transportation, manufacturing, construction, service, education and medical industries.

Lititz PA- Today, Compliance Navigation Specialists (CNS) is pleased to announce our new company and affiliate headquarters is now open. Our operating address is changing to 151 Koser Road, Lititz PA 17543, effective January 1st, 2022.

CNS-Companies is the fastest growing one-stop-shop transportation compliance company locally, and across the contiguous United States, working with industry leading brands, serving more than 2,000 clients and overseeing half a million units.

“The space allows us to serve our clients more collaboratively and add room for our proven and continued growth” says John Irwin, Founder and CEO.

“Our new one-stop-shop location will not only allow us to reach more clients throughout North America, but also be more effective within our local community. Over the past year we have added more relevant services for local transportation companies including DOT physicals, HAZMAT training classes, CDL exam preparation, Occupational Medicine, among others. The added space will allow us to expand these services and better serve our clients.”

The 21,000 square-foot two-story building features a 65-foot indoor bay designed for conducting Pre-Trip inspection trainings as well as any other non-driving training sessions. In addition, there is a large training center, allowing the CNS Driver Training Center to hold CDL classroom training, as well as pre and post-training meetings to discuss trainee improvements. The larger space is launching the development of a state-of-the-art CDL Training Program, including things like a CDL Training Simulator, hands-on displays for vehicle maintenance training and much more.

CNS Companies Headquarters 151 Koser Rd. Lititz, PA

The CNS Occupational Medicine division has a full drug testing facility as well as multiple dedicated physical examination rooms to conduct several different types of DOT and OSHA required physicals, flu shots, audiometric testing and many other medical services.

The CNS Licensing Center has several offices as well and a bull pen area to hold 40+ employees. Both floors will be fully utilized by employees of CNS and its’ subsidiaries—CNS Insurance, CNS Licensing Center, CNS Driver Training Center and CNS Occupational Medicine.

This facility is designed to be a one-stop-shop covering all angles of the transportation industry including driver training, safety and compliance consulting, commercial truck insurance coverage, and occupational medical services. Long-term plans include opening similar facilities across the country thus growing the CNS brand nationally.

Canada enforcing drivers COVID vaccine mandate at border Jan 15

Canada enforcing drivers COVID vaccine mandate at border Jan 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOT fights Bus Driver Shortage by Waiving CDL “Under the Hood” Skills Test

The FMCSA waiver, which became effective January 3, 2022, expires March 31, 2022.

On January 4th, 2022, the FMCSA, in coordination with the Department of Education, announced it would give states the option of waiving the portion of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test that requires school bus driver applicants to identify the “under the hood” engine components.

“Our nation depends on having enough qualified school bus drivers to support our children’s education. Temporarily giving states the option to modify the school bus test, widens the pool of possible drivers to fill this critical role without compromising our vital safety standards,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi.

This temporary waiver is to help states and municipalities that are experiencing a shortage of school bus drivers recruit new hires and make sure schools are open for in-person learning full time. 

All other components of the written and road test must be met.

Drivers receiving a CDL under this temporary waiver are only permitted to operate intrastate school buses; they are not authorized to operate trucks, motorcoaches, or any other type of commercial motor vehicle requiring a CDL.

The FMCSA waiver, which became effective January 3, 2022, expires March 31, 2022.

Why School Bus Drivers Need Class B CDL Training before Feb. 2022 ELDT Rule

Many who are considering becoming a school bus driver do not know that a new federal regulation will add stricter training requirements in Feb. 2022.

The Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule, which will be implemented on February 7, 2022, is the first to establish new minimum training requirements for individuals who want to:

  • obtain their commercial driver’s license (CDL) – Class A or B
  • upgrade their current Class or Class B CDL, or
  • obtain their initial passenger (P), school bus (S) or hazardous materials (H) endorsement

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

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

RUSH OF CDL TRAINEES EXPECTED BEFORE 2022 ELDT RULE

In Pennsylvania, there are nearly 43,000 licensed school bus drivers and there is a need for many more.

To become a licensed school bus driver a person must have a Class A or B CDL with both passenger and school bus endorsements. A further brake endorsement may be required depending on the type of brakes on the bus.

Bus driver candidates must also pass a physical and background check, according to federal regulations.

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

Learn more about all levels of commercial driver training and CDL permit test preparation that we offer at our CNS Driver Training Center.

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

Truckers Can Help As January Is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Truckers Can Help As January Is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

What if truckers were educated and equipped to spot and report potential signs of human trafficking to the National Hotline?

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and with over three million truck drivers across the United States, who better to spot potential signs of trafficking on the roads, at public rest stops, travel plazas, restaurants, and hotels?

This is the motivation behind Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) who have trained over 1.2 million people across the industry about what to look for and how to report human trafficking to police.

According to TAT, our society has traditionally been conditioned to see the problem as “prostitution.” Too often the response has been to ignore it. But it is critical to consider, “What’s her story?” It is quite possible that a person engaged in commercial sexual activity has not chosen to be there but has been forced or coerced.

Why truckers matter

Sex trafficking often occurs at truck stops in the United States in two forms, through commercial sex and fake massage businesses.

Due to their frequently remote locations and transient customer base, truck stops are an ideal venue for traffickers to profit from exploiting victims without interference or undue attention.

“Human traffickers often use roadways as the mode of transportation for transporting their victims,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “Since our roadways are the ‘workplace’ for truck drivers, motorcoach drivers and commercial motor vehicle inspectors, they are in a prime position to make a difference in helping to identify potential victims of human trafficking.”

In January 2015, Kevin Kimmel caught a glimpse of a distraught looking young girl in the darkened window of an RV which had pulled into the truck stop where Kimmel had stopped to sleep. He decided things did not look right and called the police. When police responded, they found an Iowa couple in the RV, along with a 20-year-old malnourished and frightened young woman, who said the couple had kidnapped her two weeks earlier in Iowa and forced her into prostitution. The couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is launching a new annual three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative (HTAI) corresponding with each country’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

  • In the U.S., the initiative will start on U.S. Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is January 11, and go to January 13.
  • In Canada, it will start on Canada’s Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is February 22, and go to February 24.
  • Mexico’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is scheduled for March 15-17.

This initiative is an awareness and outreach effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about the crime of human trafficking, the signs to look for and what to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked.

“Identification, and ultimately prevention, starts with education,” Capt. Broers added. “Through CVSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, we aim to equip drivers and inspectors with the tools they need to proactively serve on the frontline in our effort to end human trafficking.”

In preparation for the 2022 Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, CVSA is offering human trafficking awareness resources in its membership and working with the Truckers Against Trafficking organization to distribute wallet cards and window decals. In addition, during the three-day awareness initiatives, CVSA jurisdictions will note human trafficking awareness and outreach data and submit that data to the Alliance.

What is Human Trafficking?

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud, or coercion with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women, and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world, including North America.

Force: Physical or sexual abuse, often in the form of repeated rapes by one or more people to create submission; confinement to the residence; restrictions on movement and communication to family and friends; forced abortions; lack of medical treatment or reproductive health; forced and frequent movement between cities.

Fraud: False promises of a better life through the trafficker presenting as a boyfriend or caretaker figure; false information about working conditions, payment, and whether commercial sex will be required; telling the victim that if he or she initially consented to be part of the escort service that he or she must continue to consent and is not a victim.

Coercion: Threats of harm to the victim or victim’s family; threats to shame the victim by revealing the commercial sex to his or her family and others in the community; confiscation of birth certificates and other identification documents; forced dependency on the trafficker; rumors of or witnessed violence at hands of traffickers used as threats; cycle of rewards and punishments; threats of police involvement and arrest; threats of deportation if victim is a foreign national.

Traffickers frequently move their victims from city to city, forcing victims to engage in commercial sex at truck stops along the way. Brothels disguised as massage businesses are also sometimes present at or near truck stops. These networks control women through confinement and complicated debt bondage schemes.

How to Help: Stay Alert to Suspicious Activity and Report Trafficking

How to Help: Stay Alert to Suspicious Activity and Report Trafficking

A good starting point for truckers is to watch for young teenage girls or boys lingering around truck stops or entering and exiting trucks, since these would not be normal occurrences.

You can listen to the conversation on the CB radio and stay alert for:

  • code words like “lot lizard” or “Commercial Company”
  • for anyone using cryptic descriptions of a child, rates or sex acts they are looking for

Finally, report any indicators of trafficking, regardless of how minor the indicator may seem.

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

FMCSA Targeting Vehicle Technology and Safety Fitness Changes in 2022

FMCSA Targeting Vehicle Technology and Safety Fitness Changes in 2022

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) agenda for the next 6 months was published Friday and outlines their regulatory and deregulatory focus for 2022.

The updated agenda has four new proposals in the pre-rule stage with formal notices scheduled to be issued between March and June of 2022.

These pre-rule stage topics include:

  • Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Revisions
  • Automatic Emergency Braking Systems
  • Safety Fitness Procedures, and
  • Unique Electronic Identification of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Other notable rules in the works from FMCSA include:

  • Broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility (an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking was previously published in 2018)
  • Third Party CDL testing rules
  • Safe integration of automated driving systems (an ANPRM was previously published in 2019)
  • Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Implementation Revisions

So, what can we expect with the new proposals in 2022?

Future Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Revisions

According to the proposal, many lessons were learned by FMCSA staff, State enforcement personnel, ELD vendors, and industry in the intervening years.

These lessons can be used to streamline and improve the clarity of the regulatory text and ELD specifications and answer recurring questions.

This led to four hours-of-service (HOS) rule changes that improved the workday for many truckers, including short-haul and team drivers, and increased overall flexibility while the overall structure of HOS rules has not changed.

These HOS changes affected the:

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

Knowing that there are technical modifications that could improve the usability of ELDs, the FMCSA is seeking information to determine what other changes would be warranted.

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) standards in trucking

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be seeking comments on a proposal to require and/or standardize equipment performance for automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems on heavy trucks.

NHTSA believes AEB systems represent the next wave of potentially significant advances in vehicle safety.

“Dynamic brake support and crash-imminent braking are AEB systems that potentially save lives and reduce moderate and less-severe rear-end crashes that are common on our roadways.”

Among 20 carmakers that have pledged to install automatic emergency braking systems in all their cars by 2022, NHTSA said that by the end of 2019, four of those manufacturers have met that goal: Tesla, Volvo, Mercedes, and Audi with many others likely meeting this goal today.

The rulemaking is expected to propose performance standards for AEB systems on heavy trucks and accompanying test procedures to measure the performance in NHTSA compliance testing.

Safety ratings changing to “Unfit” will be looked at again

In 2016, a proposed Safety Fitness Determination (SFD) rule would replace the current three-tier federal rating system of “Satisfactory, Conditional and Unsatisfactory” for federally regulated commercial motor carriers with a single determination of “Unfit”, which would require the carrier to either improve its operations or shut down.

At the time, FMCSA believed the rule would enable them to properly assess the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 companies a month.

This was quickly shot down from most trucking groups in the industry with the belief that the rule creates an environment that is not equal to all involved and, in many cases, allows a competitive advantage to certain carriers.

The Truckload Carrier Association stated that “the very fact that this rule would only determine the safety fitness of approximately 75,000 carriers is incomprehensible and discriminant to say the very least.”

The American Trucking Associations commented that “the term ‘unfit’ is applied to fleets that, comparatively speaking, are considered the least safe in the industry. Yet FMCSA lacks sufficient data on 4/5ths of the industry to make such a determination.”

The ATA said they could possibly support a future proposal of this sort only after the SMS data is made reliably indicative of individual fleet safety performance.

In 2017, it was suggested that the FMCSA should radically improve the CSA system.

However, the agency has yet to make an official decision on whether to incorporate the highly complex data method known as Item Response Theory into its Compliance, Safety, Accountability motor carrier safety rating program.

Next year, the FMCSA plans to gather information on how it can more effectively identify “unfit” trucking companies and remove them from the nation’s roadways. They will accomplish this by seeking public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate and possible changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure.

Unique Electronic Identification (E-ID) of Commercial Motor Vehicles

FMCSA requests public comments on potential amendments to require every interstate commercial motor vehicle to be equipped with an electronic device capable of communicating a unique identification number when queried by a roadside system.

The goal of this requirement would be to improve the effectiveness of the roadside inspection program by more fully enabling enforcement agencies to target their efforts at high-risk operators, while at the same time providing an incentive for safe and legal operations.

DOT and Driver Training

Truck drivers and fleet managers need continuous training on new FMCSA rules.

CNS offers a variety of in-person and online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company or its’ drivers.

Fleets that incorporate training alongside driver qualification, drug testing and fuel tax management can create a complete picture of fleet safety.

Our complete DOT Compliance Programs promotes proactive safety and will complement or become your current safety department, without the cost of employing the many staff members it takes to run an effective safety program.

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

CVSA Evolves Free Driver Fatigue Educational Training Platform

CVSA Evolves Free Driver Fatigue Educational Training Platform

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

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

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

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

These trends include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can use their e-learning platform to:

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

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

The 10 training topics include:

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

How will NAFMP likely change under CVSA guidance?

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

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

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

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

DOT Compliance Programs (PSM)

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

Our PSM Motor Carrier Program includes:

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

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

7 Steps To Start Your Hotshot Trucking Company

how to start a hotshot trucking business

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

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

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

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

5 Reasons to Get Your CDL When Hauling Hotshot

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

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

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

How do I start a hotshot trucking business?

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

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

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

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

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

Step1: DOT Physical and Medical Card

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Federal Employer Identification Number

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

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

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

Step 3: USDOT Number and/or Motor Carrier Number

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 4: Hotshot Commercial Insurance Coverages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 7: Become DOT Compliant

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

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

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

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

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

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