Many businesses requiring pre-employment or random drug testing are seeing delays in drug tests across the country.
We understand the frustration to get these employees working as quickly as possible. As we continually reach out to labs to check the status of the specimens for our client’s, below are what we are seeing causing the delays.
Shipping delays in drug screen specimens arriving at the lab
These shipping delays are due to heavy package volume caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 business closures, staffing shortages, weather, and other service disruptions.
There is also an especially large volume of specimens at end of each quarter as companies and consortiums need to meet the minimum DOT testing percentage requirements.
At least 50% of DOT governed employees in a testing pool must be randomly tested for drugs while 10% must be tested for alcohol by the end of the testing year. These minimum testing requirements are managed on a quarterly basis.
If these numbers are not met for any pool, every company that has drivers in that pool is out of compliance with the DOT.
Other shipping delays may occur due to the timing of the courier pickup. For example, a specimen collected at 4:50pm might miss the collection site’s courier pickup and would not get to the lab for an extra day. A specimen collected at 8:30am will ship at the same time as every other specimen collected that day (often around 3-5 pm). Also, a specimen collected on a Friday, might not be tested at the lab until Monday.
These delays are affecting the entire US, not just isolated areas. However, in some isolated cases, specimens are taking up to 7 days to arrive at the lab.
Lab turnaround delays
With lab turnarounds being an issue, it is important to note that labs are experiencing the same staffing shortages as other businesses.
In July, i3screen reported that there are turnaround delays on test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.
Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night from couriers and lab technicians, review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information, and perform a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test on samples with trace amounts of drugs during the initial screen.
If there is any trace of drugs in that initial screen’s sample, it goes through a GCMS test once or multiple times (after breaking down the urine sample further) until the test produces an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute, or positive-dilute result.
Since a batch of drug test samples gets processed once every 24 hours during the GCMS testing, the staffing shortage is likely to backlog these processes further.
For our clients, as soon as a result is reported to the MRO team, we will get the results out as soon as possible. CNS is not experiencing any delays within the MRO department and results that come in from the lab that can be released to the client are sent out within 2 hours.
Collection site error delays
Errors made by the employer or collection site may require affidavits to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again before they will even run the test.
With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible with these chain of custody form flaws.
An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF, missing signatures, etc.
In addition, certain affidavits/items are legally required by the MRO team before results can be released such as: DOT upgrades and downgrades, MRO copies of the CCFs, missing temperatures, etc.
These types of errors cause significant delays.
Drug and Alcohol Services
CNS offers 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.
UCR officials look to collect unpaid fees as UCR Registration opens October 1 for the 2022 UCR registration year (fees will remain the same as 2021).
The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) plan was created in 2005 to collect fees from interstate motor carriers, private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies to offer more than $100 million in safety enforcement programs annually to the participating states.
The program requires ALL carriers (private, exempt, or for-hire) to register their business with a participating state and pay an annual fee that is based on the size of their fleet. Brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies also are required to register and pay a fee, unless they are also operating as a motor carrier.
Out of the 44,000 motor carriers who have not registered or paid fees with the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) plan, there are an estimated 35,000 unregistered carriers from the nine nonparticipating states, which include:
- New Jersey
These states that do not participate in the program must enforce UCR requirements for carriers domiciled in those states with DOT numbers.
The UCR board authorized three pilot projects that call for hiring a private contractor to contact, attempt to register and collect unpaid fees to raise funds for the plan.
Avelino Gutierrez, executive director of the UCR Plan, “the plan is to have one contractor full-time equivalent contact the motor carriers — about 50 a day — starting with those with the highest number of power units and moving to those with lower numbers of power units, to be more efficient in our return.”
The three pilot programs to collect fees include:
- focusing on around 5,600 new carrier entrants in nonparticipating states who have failed to register, which could raise up to $383,000
- targeting motor carriers who have received a violation for not registering, which is around 3,500 motor carriers each year
- contacting motor carriers that report power units that contradicts the number of power units declared on their MCS-150
Currently, none of the new pilots would be focused on brokers or freight forwarders, officials said.
We are a trustworthy UCR Filing Service
After the UCR fees are released, all interstate motor carriers will need to update registrations before the deadline. So, while you should wait until the official fee levels are released, plan to use a filing service that knows our industry.
This is where Compliance Navigation Specialists can help you. Our UCR filing service processes your new UCR or your renewal, quickly and accurately. We will file the paperwork and determine the fees, so you can stay focused on your vision for your carrier business.
Visit our UCR filing page to find out more about which states will need a UCR and how we can help you file or renew your UCR accurately.
All interstate and intrastate commercial motor carriers traveling on public highways in New York are required to have a highway use tax (HUT) permit and decal for their vehicles, not to be confused with the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT).
This is a license tax number if the carrier will be driving in the State of New York with a gross weight over 18,000 pounds.
There is an option to use an unloaded weight method which requires a certificate for any truck with an unloaded weight over 8,000 pounds and any tractor with an unloaded weight over 4,000 pounds.
Carriers subject to the NY HUT must keep records of the miles traveled each day in New York by each vehicle subject to the tax, which is determined by the weight of the commercial vehicle.
The NY Highway Use Tax (HUT) Certificates of Registration and decals expire December 31, 2021. Get ready now to make sure that you receive your decals in time to place them on your vehicles before January 1, 2022.
NY Fuel Haulers: AFC certificate of registration
An AFC certificate of registration is required for any commercial motor carrier transporting automotive fuel and having a gross weight over 18,000 pounds.
If the truck already has a HUT certificate of registration, that vehicle does not need a separate AFC certificate.
When the unloaded weight method is used, an AFC certificate of registration is required for any truck with an unloaded weight of more than 8,000 pounds.
Automotive fuel includes:
- diesel motor fuel (No. 1 diesel fuel, No. 2 diesel fuel, biodiesel, kerosene, fuel oil, or other middle distillate and also motor fuel suitable for operating a diesel engine); and
- motor fuel (gasoline, benzol, reformulated blend stock for oxygenate blending, conventional blend stock for oxygenate blending, E85, fuel-grade ethanol that meets the ASTM International active standards specification D4806 or D4814, or other product that is suitable for use in the operation of a motor vehicle engine).
Know the Highway Use Tax (HUT) States
If traveling in New York (NY), Kentucky (KY), Oregon (OR), and/or New Mexico (NM) you need to apply for individual HUT Permits before traveling in those states.
Each state refers to it in their own way, which you will see below, but in general they are all Highway Use Taxes.
Depending on the states you plan to transport in and through, you may need some additional authorities:
- State PUC or Certificate Numbers: These number allow you to haul product in certain states.
- KYU Number: This is a license tax number if the carrier will be driving in the State of Kentucky over 59,999 pounds or more. (The carrier will need to keep and file separate tax records on a quarterly basis.)
- NM HUT: New Mexico Weight Distance Tax ID Permit is required for any carrier 26,000 pounds or greater traveling highways in New Mexico. (The carrier will need to keep and file separate tax records on a quarterly basis.)
- Oregon Weight Receipt and Tax Identifier: Permanent or temporary paper credentials are needed for out-of-state-based truckers to operate in Oregon.
Why choose Compliance Navigation Specialists for your licensing and permitting needs?
Compliance Navigation Specialists has been licensing and permitting trucking companies for over 30 years. DOT licensing and permitting is where we started, so our team knows the nuances making everything easy and smooth for your company.
No matter what state you are in, your fleet size, or the complexity of your operation, we can assist with all DOT compliance and licensing needs, including:
- DOT medical services
- DOT audit services
- DOT safety rating upgrades
- IFTA fuel tax reporting
- Trucking Startups
- and more
Call one of our DOT Compliance Specialists at 888.260.9448 to discuss your options or you can request more information in the form below.
Get Help With Highway Use Tax
Unpredictable weather systems can happen anytime, however snow often begins sticking to high-elevation routes in Colorado as early as mid- to late September.
According to Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), from Sept. 1 through May 31, all commercial vehicles traveling on I-70 between the Dotsero exit (mile point (MP) 133) and the Morrison exit (MP 259) must carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law.
For drivers and the public’s safety, it is important to use chains in compliance with Colorado’s chain law for commercial vehicles fitting into one of the following categories:
- Vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds, inclusive of a towed unit, which has a gross vehicle weight-rating of more than 10,000 pounds
- Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, or
- Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
The fine for not carrying chains on I-70 between mileposts 133 and 259 from September 1 to May 31 is $50 plus a $17 surcharge. Statewide, the fine for not chaining up when the chain law is in effect is $500 plus a $79 surcharge. The fine for not chaining up and subsequently blocking the highway is $1,000 plus a $157 surcharge.
At a minimum, the CDOT will notify the public of the travel restriction with erected static and electronic variable message roadway signs. Additionally, CDOT may utilize radio channels, the official CDOT travel website (www.cotrip.org/), phone message system, email, text and other automated personal notification systems.
Driver Training: Free EstimateContact us with any questions. Our specialists are here to help you maximize your driver training.
Tire Chains Allowed in Colorado:
Metal chains must consist of two circular metal loops–one on each side of the tire–connected by not less than nine evenly spaced chain loops across the tread. Commercial vehicles that have four or more drive wheels must chain four wheels and dual tire chains are acceptable.
Alternate Traction Devices
Approved Alternate Traction Devices (ATDs) in Colorado are:
- wheel sanders, which carry enough sand to get the vehicle through the restricted area
- pneumatically driven chains, which spin under the drive wheels automatically as traction is lost, and
- textile traction device (TTD), a fabric boot which encompasses the tire. Currently, the only TTD that has been approved for use on Colorado state highways is the AutoSock.
With only two exceptions, Colorado chain law rules do not permit tire cables as alternate traction devices.
The exceptions are:
- tire cables with high strength steel cross member rollers 0.415″ or greater in diameter, which can be used on all commercial vehicles except single drive axle combinations; and
- on a tandem power drive axle commercial vehicle, where any type of cable can be used only if there are chains on the two outside tires of one of the power drive axles and cables on two or more tires of the other power drive axle.
Colorado Chain Law Levels
There are two levels for chain laws in Colorado—Level 1/Code 17 and Level 2/Code 18—and each level has specific conditions in which it can be implemented.
Chain Law Level 1/Code 17:
All single-drive axle combination commercial vehicles must chain all four drive wheels; cables are not permitted as ATDs. All other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains.
Level 1/Code 17 may be implemented any time there is snow covering any part of the traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade.
Chain Law Level 2/Code 18:
All commercial vehicles must chain up. Single drive axle combination and tandem drive axle commercial vehicles must chain four drive wheels.
Auto-transports must comply to the extent possible without causing damage to hydraulic lines. Buses must chain two drive wheels to be DOT compliant.
Level 2/Code 18 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the entire traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade, or when driving conditions dictate that this level is necessary to protect safety and to minimize road closures.
All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:
- driver training that is ongoing and consistent
- driver education, and
- driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws
All of this will help prevent being targeted by the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.
The latest FMCSA extension, which was previously set to expire on Aug. 31, extends the hours of service for COVID relief haulers through November 30th.
However, there is a new requirement where carriers will report their use of the exemption within 5 days after the end of each month by accessing their portal accounts (Portal.FMCSA.DOT.gov/login). After logging in, carriers will need to access “Emergency Declaration Reporting” under the “Available FMCSA Systems” section of the page.
The waiver is for the following categories only:
- Livestock and livestock feed
- Medical supplies and equipment related to testing, diagnosis, and treatment of COVID-19
- Vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores
- Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol
- Supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency)
The FMCSA said it decided to extend the declaration because “the presidentially declared emergency remains in place and because, although the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline in the U.S. following widespread introduction of vaccinations, the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates reversed that downward trajectory and have resulted in a rapid rise in infections and hospitalizations around the country.”
Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19 are exempt from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
According to the FMCSA, “Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”
CNS will assist with DataQs
Incorrect violations can be challenged and our DataQ process and our DOT consultants are well-versed in the FMCSA rules and regulations, with specific knowledge on what officers are required to note in their report. We are able to challenge one DataQ or schedule a monthly review of all roadside inspections and report on which violations can be challenged.
Our DOT Compliance Specialists can help with DataQs. Call one of our DOT Compliance Specialists at 888.260.9448 to discuss your options or you can request more information in the form below.
In 2019, FMCSA data shows that nearly half of the 54,000 DataQs were filed for inspections/crashes assigned to the wrong carrier or driver (for example, duplicate records in the system).
While it is often said “knowledge is power”, really it is “understanding of the knowledge” that is real power.
Too many motor carriers do not have the time or resources to make sense of their CSA data and is the reason why fleets end up not knowing that non-preventable crashes are harming their CSA scores.
If you notice incorrect information in your PSP report or the CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS), the DataQ process is there to help companies and drivers fight and remove these records that could be keeping your scores or insurance rates high.
FMCSA says thousands of incorrect information-type DataQs are corrected each year. Just imagine how many incorrect data is left unchecked and hurting your CSA scores right now.
Why You Need Help With The DataQ System And Process
Violation challenges are the number one reason owner-operators utilize the DataQ system, but they are the least-successful category of challenge where only 39% were successfully changed, according to the FMCSA.
The problem with the DataQ process is that navigating the system can be challenging and dealing with state departments’ decisions that are often complex or end up as a single judgment call by the original inspecting officer can be frustrating.
Oftentimes, getting the DOT officer to admit they were wrong is half the battle, but it may take multiple appeals by the carrier to get an in-depth review.
Navigating the system itself can be one challenge, but the most common hurdle is gathering enough evidence to make a convincing case.
Before starting a DataQ process, challengers should make sure they have the officer’s report number for the record being challenged, a police accident report, and any other required or relevant evidence for the case.
Even with clear evidence, fixing errors in the system can be difficult and time consuming when a filing gets rejected.
That whole time, which can take months, the violation is in the CSA score system and damaging your CSA score, insurance rates, and ability to do business.
For crash-related information, only 43% of driver challenges were overturned while carrier service providers, like CNS, have nearly a 60% success rate.
While larger fleets may be able to afford hiring a compliance expert to manage the DataQ process, using a third party to organize a DataQ challenge, review your CSA scores, pull PSP reports, or manage compliance reviews will help you make sure your records are fair and accurate.
What can CNS do for me in the DataQ system?
Actively managing your safety measurement system (SMS) scores and PSP reports is crucial to the success of Motor Carriers.
As compliance experts, CNS staff are basically doing law enforcement’s job to prove they made a mistake.
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.
When filing a challenge, CNS can help you use language that shows intent to be thoughtful, clear, and concise in describing what the error is believed to be.
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
- Contest citations with associated violation
- Contest violations assigned to wrong motor carrier or driver
- Identify issues, such as crash duplicates, missing records, or crash reports containing incorrect information
- Establish a crash preventability program
Call one of our DOT Compliance Specialists at 888.260.9448 to discuss your options or you can request more information in the form below.
“We need to find ways to expand the pool of safe truck drivers, and ATRI’s preliminary research indicates that safe, younger drivers can be found, “said Joyce Brenny, Brenny Transportation, Inc. CEO.
ATRI, American Transportation Research Institute, released results of the Phase 1 Beta Test of its Younger Driver Assessment Tool exploring if an assessment tool to identify the safest 18-20 year old drivers is possible.
This is a critical step in expanding interstate CDL eligibility to younger drivers as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) have the driver shortage topping 100,000 by the year 2023 based on projected freight growth, industry retirements, and competition from other industries.
What is the trucking industry doing to attract younger drivers?
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.
Additionally, the proposed infrastructure bill includes initiatives to grow the trucking workforce with an apprenticeship program for drivers younger than 21 to work in interstate commerce, addressing the growing truck driver shortage across the country.
However, one of the concerns with opening the labor pool to younger drivers is that young people are more likely to engage in higher risk driving behaviors.
How will the trucking industry measure young driver safety risk?
Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) indicate that individuals under 24 years of age represented 18.4 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 while representing just 11.8 percent of the licensed driving population that year.
The beta test findings for the Younger Driver Assessment Tool provided limited support for the idea that low risk commercial truck drivers can be identified based on behavioral indicators in their Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) safety records.
In general, and counter to expectations, cognitive functioning was not reliably associated with histories of violations or crashes in the group of 16 drivers used during initial testing.
In the small sample, the truck driving safety profiles of current truck drivers—as measured by motor vehicle records and pre-employment screening data—can be differentiated based on personality traits, physiological characteristics, and aspects of mental health.
With expanded statistical validation, this methodology may be successfully applied to the assessment and selection of new entrants into the industry’s workforce, including younger drivers.
Ultimately, the goal of the assessment tool would be to secure younger drivers with the cognitive and mental attributes of mature, experienced drivers, which based on data implies that they are more likely to be safe drivers.
ATRI’s Phase II assessment will focus on a larger sample of young drivers by recruiting individuals in the 18- to 25-year-old age range from commercial driving schools.
On May 4-6, 2021—as part of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck—40,000+ truck inspections were conducted, removing 6,710 commercial vehicles and 2,080 drivers from roads across the US and Canada.
The International Roadcheck is conducted annually and is meant to remove unsafe commercial motor vehicles (CMV) and drivers from roads. During this 72-hour inspection, 16.5% of vehicles and 5.3% of drivers were placed out of service. In comparison, last year’s Roadcheck in late September 2020 had a vehicle out-of-service rate of 22.2% and a driver out-of-service rate of 5.3%.
The basis for violations comes from the CVSA North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria.
What are the levels for CVSA Truck Inspections?
There are eight different levels of inspection that the CVSA follows, however the truck inspections in this roadcheck were only subjected to the North American Standard (NAS) Level I, II, and III Inspections.
- NAS Level I Inspection—includes a 37-step procedure examining the driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.
- NAS Level II Inspection—includes anything that can be inspected without getting under the CMV.
- NAS Level III Inspection—includes a review of driver requirements, such as the license, cargo and vehicle documentation, record of duty status, seat belt usage, etc.
There were over 23,135 Level I Inspections conducted, removing 5,048 vehicles (21.8%) and 1,200 (5.2%) drivers from roadways.
There were over 9,410 Level II Inspections conducted, removing 1,593 vehicles (16.9%) and 549 (5.8%) drivers from roadways.
There were over 6,836 Level III Inspections conducted, removing 331 (4.8%) drivers from roadways.
What was the focus of CVSA Truck Inspections?
For 2021, CVSA truck inspections focused on violations related to hours of service and lighting, which resulted in identifying:
- 1,203 hours of service violations or 41.5% of all driver out-of-service violations
- 1,367 lighting violations or 14.1% of all vehicle out-of-service violations
What are the CVSA International Truck Inspection Results?
The results for inspections are summarized below and include out-of-service vehicle, CMV driver, seatbelt, hazardous materials/dangerous goods and motorcoach violations.
There were 9,691 vehicles placed out-of-service with the top violation being for braking systems (26.5%). The list below summarizes the remainder of recorded vehicle violations.
|Vehicle violation category||Number of violations||Percent of out-of-service violations|
|Tires and wheels||1804||18.6%|
There were 2,898 drivers placed out-of-service with the top violation being for hours of service. The list below summarizes the remainder of recorded driver violations.
|Driver violation category||Number of violations||Percent of out-of-service violations|
|Hours of Service||1,203||41.5%|
|Wrong Class License||565||19.5%|
Stay DOT compliant
Knowing what your CSA score is and how it affects your company and all of the requirements to pass inspections, whether it be for brake safety or suspension and steering, will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.
PennDOT relies on gas tax to fund 78% of its’ revenue needs, far more than neighboring states
With major gas-powered automakers transition to manufacture electric vehicles by 2035 and people driving less during the pandemic, PennDOT officials say the gas tax is no longer able to generate the money that is needed to keep the state’s transportation network in good repair.
PA Governor Tom Wolf charges the Transportation Revenue Options Commission to come up with ideas to phase out the state’s gas tax that is around 53 cents a gallon, the second highest in the nation.
With that in mind, the commission proposed phasing in an 8.1-cent-per-mile user fee over a five-year period, doubling the state’s vehicle registration fee, higher sales tax on vehicle purchases, an electric car fee, and a goods delivery fee taking advantage of online buying and delivery.
As we wait for TROC’s final draft, they hope it would begin at the time of the governor’s budget presentation in February 2022 with the goal of acting on it by July 1, 2022.
Rebecca Oyler of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association said the trucking industry would oppose the proposed doubling of vehicle registration fees, which will make the commonwealth have the second-highest truck registration fee in the nation.
What is a Vehicle Mileage Traveled (VMT) tax?
A VMT tax has become a popular option because it makes the taxes on road use fair across all vehicle types. Instead of paying gas taxes at the fuel pump or high registration fees, drivers would pay based on how much they actually drive and would capture electric vehicles that do not fill up at a station.
A vehicle miles traveled tax (VMT) charges motorists based on their road usage measured in mileage using an onboard vehicle telematics device to capture the distance driven by a vehicle through GPS.
A recent study in the Journal of Public Economics found that implementing a vehicle mileage traveled tax is a more efficient policy than raising the gas tax as VMT tax is designed to increase highway spending $55 billion per year and increases annual welfare by $10.5 billion or nearly 20% more than a gasoline tax does.
In Oregon, where their experiment with a vehicle-miles-traveled fee has been hailed nationally as a bold step toward what may eventually become a reality, lawmakers are considering a bill that would require owners of new, fuel-efficient cars and trucks to pay a fee for every mile they drive beginning in 2026.
Oregon has estimated its highway fund, of which 40% comes from gas tax revenues, will be insolvent by 2024 without significant action.
However, current gas taxes are simple to administer at the pump and can be adjusted using existing mechanisms while a VMT tax would require installing new telematic devices in all personal and commercial vehicles to track distance traveled.
Many assume that this would require every vehicle owner to periodically (or automatically) report distance tax and create a new bureaucracy auditing these reports, which could eat up any gains in tax revenue.
The Oregon House Bill addresses these concerns as the fee would apply only to owners of new 2027 vehicles that don’t use gas or get 30 miles or more per gallon of gasoline and drivers would be able to opt out of tracking their mileage and pay a flat annual fee of $400. However, the flat fee provision would expire in 2030.
California and Washington are considering linking a drivers’ VMT fee to a formula that factors in the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, which Tesla—the electric vehicle company—testified as their suggestion, as well as this “provides an incentive for people to buy more efficient vehicles and to drive them more efficiently.”
We will have to wait to see what happens in Pennsylvania, but the discussion is heating up and there is pressure to solve the lost gas tax revenues quickly.
Need help with your Fuel Tax Reporting?
CNS is a full-service tax provider that can manage the entire process for you from start to finish and offers custom simple solutions for companies of all sizes.
Our fuel tax specialists will work with you to collect your data, ensure your fuel and mileage match, prepare your filings, and even file the paperwork for you directly.
The total number of DOT audits and off-site audits are expected to increase 50% in 2021, compared to last year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its’ state partners have struggled to physically audit a significant number of motor carriers each year. This led them to develop the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and Safety Management System that evaluates the safety of the estimated 500,000 active motor carriers it regulates.
As this program continues to evolve, with the delayed Item Response Theory (IRT) approach to identifying at-risk carriers for intervention, the FMCSA has been experimenting with off-site audits for eligible new entrant motor carriers.
While the first operational test of these off-site audits began nearly a decade ago, there has finally been more off-site audits than on-site audits in 2020. While off-site audits were ramped up during the COVID pandemic, the last few years has seen significant trends and they will only continue to increase moving forward.
Off-Site audits rise as FMCSA expands off-site comprehensive reviews
Last year the FMCSA performed nearly 11,500 audits with 5,750 of them being performed off-site. As of the end of May 2021, they have already conducted close to 3,500 off-site reviews and approximately 4,000 on-site reviews over that same period. At this pace, the agency’s investigators are on track to perform nearly 8,500 off-site audits by the end of the year, and around 18,000 audits overall.
While off-site audits were reserved for less intensive circumstances, such as new entrant safety audits and focused reviews which involved a lower volume of paperwork, the off-site review process has become more streamlined and reliable.
This has led to the FMCSA to publish a final rule last month that includes a path to rely more heavily on comprehensive off-site audits.
The amendments, by removing the word ‘on-site’ from the definitions of Compliance review and Roadability review in § 385.3, allows FMCSA and State personnel to conduct off-site compliance reviews of motor carriers following the same safety fitness determination criteria used in on-site compliance reviews.
How do you prepare for digital off-site reviews?
While one of the biggest benefits of off-site audits to both the FMCSA and carriers is the paperwork reduction, you need to be prepared to upload compliance documentation to the agency on short notice.
This includes your:
- driver qualification,
- drug and alcohol testing,
- vehicle maintenance files,
- proof of insurance,
- accident register, and
- other compliance documents.
In off-site audits, the FMCSA requires carriers to upload records through their Safety Measurement System account. This means that if you maintain hard copies of the requested records, you will first have to digitize them to transfer them to the investigator.
Large carriers and owner-operators alike should store these files electronically, instead of the traditional filing cabinet or paper binder, and keep them up to date and compliant.
As the FMCSA continues to rely more heavily on off-site audits, carriers need to adapt. This may mean having an outside representative perform a mock audit to reveal any DOT compliance gaps you may have.
The best tip we can provide carriers is to exceed, and not “just meet”, the DOT regulations.
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 the more common when considering affordability and the comprehensiveness of 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