Congress Considering Allowing Drivers to Pause the 14-hour Clock Up to 3 Hours

A bill filed in the U.S. House Thursday by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) would allow drivers to take one break per day — up to three hours — that does not count against their 14-hour on-duty time, set forth by the hours-of-service limitations. The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers Act (REST Act) would still require drivers to log 10 consecutive off-duty hours before beginning their 14-hour on-duty period. The bill mirrors a petition filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which calls for an option for drivers to pause their daily 14-hour clock up to three hours, and the removal of the required 30-minute break.

Last March, FMCSA removed the requirement that drivers’ 34-hour restarts include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods, which is a core component of an hours of service overhaul instituted back in July 2013. The mandatory 30-minute break was also added then. The 30-minute break remains in place, despite other portions of the rule being gradually removed by Congress.

 

CVSA Roadcheck set for june 5-7: hours of service focus

The CVSA has released the focus of the 2018 summer roadcheck, planned for June 5-7 – Hours of Service. Are you ready?

Regardless of Electronic Log Device compliance or exemption, the CVSA expects drivers’ to be compliant to hours of service regulations.

From the press release: “Although the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that went into effect on Dec. 18, 2017, does not change any of the underlying hours-of-service rules or exceptions, the ELD mandate placed a spotlight on hours-of-service compliance,” said Capt. Turner. “We thought this year would be a perfect opportunity to focus on the importance of the hours-of-service regulations.”

 

Surviving an IFTA Audit

Have you ever been through an IFTA audit? If you haven’t been through one, would you be stressed if you received a call or a letter stating you are due for one?

I have been in many clients’ IFTA audits. If you are keeping accurate mileage and fuel receipts, you have nothing to worry about. But sometimes that is easier said than done. I have had new clients contract with Compliance Navigation Specialists (CNS) to complete a mock audit or represent them in an actual audit and have come across some common problems. Below ere some of the more frequent challenges and how to avoid them:

  • The first common problem I come across has to do with fuel receipts. It’s important to know that drivers must provide documentation proving the miles they ran, as well as the fuel purchased. Often times drivers are either missing fuel receipts or using a credit card that doesn’t show gallons purchased. I have even witnessed a client bringing their fuel receipts down from their attic and open up the box to find that the heat erased the ink on the thermal receipts. All of these issues cause challenges in an IFTA audit and can be prevented. I recommend getting a fuel card to keep accurate records of fuel purchased per gallon per truck.
  • When it comes to miles, the main problems I see are missing trip sheets, inaccurate mileage recorded by the driver, or inaccurate mileage for a GPS system. Drivers are responsible to make sure their GPS is reading the odometer mileage and working consistently. It’s good practice to test the GPS system periodically to make sure it is working properly. If the GPS system fails for any reason, the driver must recreate their trips to complete their taxes.
  • Drivers are required to keep supporting records and documents for four years from the tax return due date or filing date, whichever is later, plus any time period included as a result of waivers or jeopardy assessments. If a driver is reporting their IFTA taxes wrong or is just bad at record keeping, they could get hit with back taxes and interest. As an example, if a driver is bad at record keeping and can’t prove their mileage, the state has the right to calculate their miles per gallon by 4.0 mpg. This can cause serious back taxes, plus interest. In Pennsylvania, a trucker challenged the 4.0 mpg factor in Nedeljko Gunjak, Inc. v. Commonwealth, docket no. 455 F.R. 2013. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has denied the appeal of a motor carrier’s assessment for additional fuel use tax that was more than $300,000 under the International Fuel Tax Agreement.  Due to the carrier’s absence of records that IFTA requires a motor carrier to keep, the state, following an audit, had imposed a 4.0 miles-per-gallon factor on all the carrier’s operations, and made such other audit adjustments as were warranted by the best information available. The taxpayer’s argument was that they presented the required records. PA court said that the records the carrier had shared were so obviously inaccurate as to preclude any reliance.

    While this finding is by no means novel, it is a good time emphasize how important it will be when a carrier faces an IFTA audit that its records be reasonably complete and accurate. At CNS, we have several tools and management processes to keep you in compliance with IFTA, so if you do get notified of an IFTA audit you will not have to worry. For additional information about CNS services, contact us at info@cnsprotects.com or visit us at www.cnsprotects.com

Contributed by John Irwin, CNS CEO

Diesel Prices have dropped to record low for 2018

With the most recent drop in diesel fuel prices for the week of March 5th– March 12th, truckers will be noticing the lowest price points since the New Year, according to the Department of Energy’s latest report.

The average price for a gallon of on–highway diesel in the U.S. is 1.6 cents lower than it was just a week ago, coming in at $2.976. This is the lowest that diesel prices have dropped since the week ending January 1st, a little over two months ago when diesel prices were $2.973 per gallon throughout the U.S.

The region with the biggest drop in prices was in the Lower Atlantic region, where prices dropped 2.3 cents per gallon. But it wasn’t just in the Lower Atlantic region where drivers saw a decrease in the price of diesel, the entire country saw prices fall in every region except for California. In California, the price per gallon remained the same as it had been the week prior.

The area of the country where the lowest diesel prices can be found is in the Gulf Coast region, where the price per gallon is $2.782. The runner up for the nation’s cheapest diesel fuel is the Lower Atlantic region, where prices are at $2.871 per gallon.

So where can truckers expect to pay the most per gallon? California, where prices are $3.652 per gallon, with the next closest region being the Central Atlantic region, with prices at $3.221 per gallon of diesel fuel.

According to the DOE, below are what prices are like in other regions of the country:

·        Midwest – $2.899

·        Rocky Mountain – $2.903

·        West Coast/ Less California – $3.052

·        New England – $3.107

 

Contributed by Ryan Ward, CNS DOT Consultant & Account Manager

Marijuana remains off-limits for truckers, even as more states move toward legalization

As more states legalize the use of marijuana, questions continue to arise about whether drug testing rules and protocols will change for DOT-regulated drivers. More than half of the states in the U.S. have approved the drug for medicinal and/or recreational use to date, and many CMV drivers are wondering if they live or work in a state that has legalized pot, does that mean they can partake without any consequences?

The Department of Transportation says, “No.” Marijuana is still illegal under the federal law, meaning all employees who are subject to federally-mandated drug testing are still prohibited from using the drug. This group of employees includes anyone who operates commercial vehicles. The DOT has made it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program.

Even if you live in a state where marijuana is legal and you have been prescribed the drug for medical reasons, you are still prohibited under federal law to use the drug while employed as a CMV driver and will still be required to take DOT-mandated drug tests.

One of the many services offered at Compliance Navigation Specialists is the Drug & Alcohol Consortium Administration Services, available to companies that are regulated by Federal and State government. Our DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Compliance Services include: pre-employment screening; computerized random selection; regulatory review of compliance records; compliance management reports; administrative testing services; more than 10,000 collection site locations; statistical reporting; and more.

Contact us with your questions about drug and alcohol screening or if you’d like to learn more.

888-260-9448 or info@cnsprotects.com

 

Contributed by Shirley Burkholder, DOT Specialist at Compliance Navigation Specialists

 

 

Raymond P. Martinez Confirmed as Administrator of the FMCSA

The Senate confirmed Raymond Martinez as Administrator of the FMCSA late Tuesday, reports confirm.
Martinez was nominated in September by President Donald Trump, and testified before a panel of Senators in October. During his testimony, Martinez said he intends to uphold the agency’s electronic logging device mandate and institute data-driven reforms to the agency’s regulatory process and, specifically, the oft-criticized Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. “We need to be using sound science,” he said then. “The key thing is whether the data we use to compile these assessments are accurate, reliable and fair. If the data is unreliable, we lose credibility with stakeholders and the entities we regulate. And we do a disservice to the public.”
Martinez succeeds Scott Darling, who ran the agency in the final two years of President Obama’s term. Darling’s term ended when Trump assumed office, and FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson has headed the agency on an interim basis since last January.

Checking and Understanding Your CSA Scores

The Compliance Safety & Accountability (CSA) system is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program. The program was designed to improve safety and prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes, injuries and fatalities. CSA uses data from roadside inspections and crash reports from the last two years in determining scores, which are organized in 7 categories:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Hours of service compliance
  • Driver fitness
  • Controlled substance or alcohol violations
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Hazardous material compliance
  • Crash indicators

Using the 7 BASIC categories, the CSA groups carriers with the same range of safety events together. Carriers are ranked and assigned a percentile from 0-100, reflecting the percentage of trucking companies that are scoring better in that specific category. For example, a rating of 60 would mean 60 percent of companies in your rating group are scoring higher than your company. The scores are defined as:

  • 0-49 Satisfactory
  • 50-74 Conditional
  • 75-100 Unsatisfactory

The FMCSA has a website called SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records) where carriers can go to search their company by name or DOT number. Once inside the company profile, select SMS Results to see your company’s CSA scores. (Note: In order to see your company’s detailed CSA scores, a DOT pin is required. All carriers receive this DOT pin with their DOT number. If you forget or do not know your DOT pin, it can be easily obtained by contacting the FMCSA.)

Carriers should frequent this site. On the last Friday of every month the system is updated and carriers can see if trends for their company are moving in the right direction.

To learn more about SCA scores, visit:

https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/YourRole/Drivers

https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/

Contributed by DOT Consultant and Account Manager, Rob Duvall

Cheryl Irwin-Bass Joins CNS as President

Compliance Navigation Specialists (CNS) and it’s family of companies announce the hiring of Cheryl Irwin-Bass as President. As President, Cheryl is responsible for the planning and execution of strategic initiatives, as well as managing growth and business opportunities. She also contributes to the human resources, marketing, public relations and business development functions and monitors the overall performance of the family of companies.

 

“We are very excited to announce the hiring of Cheryl. She brings leadership and business experience that will guide us as we expand our services and business,” said John Irwin, Chief Executive Officer.

 

Cheryl’s background and work experience encompasses marketing, corporate communications, human resources, strategic planning, operations and executive leadership. She is also an adjunct instructor at Elizabethtown College in the Communications Department. Cheryl currently serves as a member of the board of directors of AAA Central Penn and heads up their strategic planning committee. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Millersville University and a master’s from Shippensburg University in Communications.

In October 2017, Cheryl began consulting for CNS and sister companies, Northern Insurance Specialists and Carolyn’s Notary Service. Cheryl was tasked with the oversight of the 2018 strategic planning and budget meetings in late 2017. Her insight and guidance provided a solid structure for the management team to move forward in expansion goals and new services in 2018.

 

The team at CNS and companies anticipate growth under Cheryl’s leadership in 2018 and beyond.

Things to Know About the FMCSA Clearinghouse

Things to Know About the FMCSA Clearinghouse

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is establishing a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This clearinghouse will create a database of information of Department of Transportation (DOT) violations directly connected to DOT drug and alcohol testing. The clearinghouse is a database that stores records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions in part 382. Violations stored in the database consists of positive drug or alcohol tests results, refusals and other drug and alcohol violations for drivers required to have a CDL and completion of return to duty process. The clearinghouse will be implemented on January 6, 2020.

All FMCSA regulated employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, consortia/third party administrators and other service agents will be required to report any clearinghouse information related to drug and alcohol violations in accordance to 49 Code of the Federal Regulations, Parts 40 and 382. This pertains to current employees as well as prospective employees.

Employers will be required to query the clearinghouse for all current and prospective employees before operating a commercial motor vehicle on public roads. Also, a query will need to be performed on all employees annually. Lastly, when renewing, transferring, issuing or upgrading a CDL, the state agency will be required to query the clearinghouse.

How does this help the employer?

The clearinghouse will provide employers with a tool to identify drivers who aren’t legally allowed to drive a CMV due to DOT drug and alcohol program violations.  Also, drivers who have violated the DOT drug and alcohol program rules can be given the appropriate treatment and evaluation to return to driving CMVs on public roads. Employers will be able to quickly and more easily locate violators using the clearinghouse system and not just rely on previous employer inquiries.

How long is a CDL holder on the Clearinghouse?

All drug and alcohol program violations will be available for a minimum of five years or until the violator has completed the necessary return to duty process, whichever is later. There are some driver exceptions, which can be found in part 382.719(c).

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/commercial-drivers-license-drug-and-alcohol-clearinghouse-frequently-asked-questions

Contributed by Director of Operations, Adam Galante