Fully Encompassing FMCSA Waiver Extending Renewals and More Until 2021

Truckers COVID-19 FMCSA Waiver | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

This waiver, effective October 1, 2020 and expires on December 31, 2020, will provide the same relief for CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers that was provided by the March 24 and June 15 waivers. 

After 6 months of the COVID-19 health emergency, most states that reopened their State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) have only resumed limited operations.

As a result, many commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learners permit (CLP) holders may be unable to renew their CDLs and CLPs or provide medical certificates to their state driver licensing agencies.

Similarly, many physical exam sites are dealing with limited operations or backlogs, preventing drivers from scheduling appointments for their federally required medical card physicals.

For this reason, the FMCSA has announced a waiver effective until the end of the year, that includes previous waiver extensions, for CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers transporting essential supplies and equipment.


What this fully encompassing waiver will do until 2021

  • Extends expiring Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) waiver until December 31, 2020 due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020
  • Extends expiring Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) waiver until December 31, 2020 due for renewal on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests
  • Waives the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test until December 31, 2020
  • Waives the requirement that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non- CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance that were issued for a period of 90 days or longer: 
    • If medical certification was valid on February 29, 2020 and expired on or after March 1, 2020 but before June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until October 31, 2020
    • If medical certification expired on or after June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until December 31, 2020
  • Waives the requirement that, in order to maintain themedical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance:
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020 but before June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until October 31, 2020
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until December 31, 2020
  • Waives the requirement that the SDLA change the CDL or CLP holder’s medical certification status to “not certified” upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance: 
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020 but before June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until October 31, 2020
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until December 31, 2020
  • Waives the requirements that the SDLA initiate a CDL or CLP downgrade upon the expiration of the medical examiner’s certificate or medical variance:
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after March 1, 2020 but before June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until October 31, 2020
    • Who have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after June 1, 2020, the requirement is waived until December 31, 2020
  • Until December 31, 2020, FMCSA continues to recognize the validity of CDLs issued by Canadian Provinces and Territories and Licencias Federales de Conductor issued by the United Mexican States  when such jurisdictions issue a similar notice or declaration extending the validity date of the medical examination and certification and/or validity of the corresponding commercial driver’s license due to interruption to government service resulting from COVID-19

The FMCSA also issued an Enforcement Notice, explaining that it will not take enforcement action against drivers and motor carriers that fall under the terms of the waiver. However, we have seen some roadside enforcement still give violations out when drivers are meeting the waiver guidelines.

DataQ Challenging

Our DOT Compliance Specialists can help with DataQ’s. You can 888.260.9448 to talk to a specialist or request more information in the form above.

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.

Regarding accident reporting, each employer must notify the FMCSA within 5 business days of an accident involving any driver operating under the terms of this waiver. For more information on accident reporting during the waiver, go to the FMCSA press release.

CNS collection sites and network of collection sites are open for DOT physicals and required drug and alcohol testing. Schedule a DOT physical or drug test by calling CNS today at 888.260.9448.

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers and Child Safety

School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers

School Bus Safety Driving Tips for Motorists

According to the American School Bus Council, students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a school bus compared to traveling by car.

School buses have been designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries and are the most regulated vehicles on the road.

Keeping students safe is the top priority, so let’s discuss some important school bus safety driving tips when near a school bus.


School Bus Safety Tip #1

What do the flashing lights on a school bus mean?

There are three main lights that a school bus has beyond headlights and brake lights and they are designed to help communicate to other motorists and keep children safe.

White strobe lights are used when there is low visibility, such as fog in the morning or severe rain so other drivers know the bus is there and that children are nearby.

Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. While yellow lights are flashing, motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles. With that said, the yellow lights are not a signal to motorists to speed up before the red flashing lights illuminate.

Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off.

Before driving again, motorists must stop their cars and wait until:

  1. the red lights stop flashing,
  2. the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and
  3. the school bus begins moving


School Bus Safety Tip #2

When do you need to stop for a school bus?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all States require the traffic in both directions to stop on undivided highways when children are getting on or off a school bus.

For multi-laned highways with a paved middle turning lane, generally traffic on both sides must stop for the bus. However, traffic in the state of Washington, for example, does not have to stop in the opposite direction when drivers are on a road with three or more marked lanes, and that includes roads with two travel lanes separated by a turn lane.

State law varies on requirements on a divided highway and what constitutes a divided highway. However, in all cases on divided highways, traffic behind the school bus must stop.

When facing a school bus with its flashers on at an intersection, traffic must stop and wait until the bus moves again.

Below is a simple graphic to depict these three situations and what is required for all lanes of traffic.


School Bus Safety Tip #3

How do you pass a school bus safely?

If you do want to pass a school bus, be sure to do so with caution. Children can be on any side of the roadway and can be unpredictable when the bus approaches, even with the flashing lights are not on yet.

Drivers always need to follow general road rules, such as not passing when there is a double yellow line.

However, there are additional rules when it comes to passing a bus. 

Drivers cannot pass a school bus while its’ flashers are on when traveling in the same direction. Similarly, traffic cannot pass the bus on the right where students are getting on or off.

Knowing your state laws becomes more important when it comes to passing or stopping when a school bus is turning around in a driveway or parking lot.

For example, in Pennsylvania, Maine and New York, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with red lights flashing on school property, on any undivided highway or parking area.

The bottom line is always be careful, watch your speed, and use common sense around buses, children near roadways, and school zones.

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

FMCSA suspends hours of service regulations for West Coast wildfire relief haulers

wildfire hours of service emergency

On Thursday, September 10, 2020 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an emergency declaration for Washington, Oregon, and California due to the current wildfires sweeping the West Coast, which will last the duration of the emergency or until October 19.

The Extension of the Emergency Declarations addresses ongoing emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, goods, equipment, fuel and persons that are providing necessary relief.

The emergency declaration grants relief from Parts 390 through 399, suspending hours of service regulations for carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the wildfire emergency region.


Low Air Quality Due To Wildfire Smoke

For the last 6 days, wildfire smoke stretches across most of the region and is expected to be hazardous or severe for the next few days.

The wildfire smoke is causing low visibility and poor air quality in the region, the worst in the world. It is important to wear masks if outside and to circulate air in the cab to prevent much of the smoke from entering the truck.

If ash is on the road, beware of harsh braking as it can be very slippery.

Emergency Declaration Restrictions & Limitations

Motor carriers and drivers must continue to comply with the following Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and conditions:

  • 49 CFR § 392.2 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with State laws and regulations, including compliance with applicable speed limits and other traffic restrictions.
  • 49 CFR § 392.3 related to the operation of a commercial motor vehicle while a driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the motor vehicle.
  • Motor carriers shall not require or allow fatigued drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle. A driver who informs a carrier that he/she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours before the driver is required to return to service.
  • 49 CFR §§ 392.80 and 392.82 related to the prohibitions on texting while driving and using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving.
  • A motor carrier whose driver is involved in a crash while operating under this Extension of the Emergency Declarations must report any recordable crash within 24 hours, by phone or in writing, to the FMCSA Division Office where the motor carrier is domiciled. The carrier must report the date, time, location, driver, vehicle identification, and brief description of the crash.
  • Drivers are required to comply with the portions of 49 CFR Part 395 related to the preparation, retention and accuracy of a driver’s record of duty status (RODS). Drivers are directed to note “Emergency Declaration” in the remarks section of the RODS to identify that their operation is in direct assistance to the emergency relief.
  • Nothing in the this Extension of the Emergency Declarations shall be construed as an exemption from the controlled substance and alcohol uses and testing requirements (49 CFR Part 382), the commercial driver’s license requirements (49 CFR Part 383), the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements (49 CFR Part 387), the hazardous material regulations (49 CFR Parts 100-180), applicable size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under 49 CFR § 390.23.
  • Motor carriers or drivers currently subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this Extension of the Emergency Declarations until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA in writing.
  • Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. (49 CFR § 390.23(b)). Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 390 through 399, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location without complying with Parts 390 through 399. When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operations, equals 14 hours.

Road Closures

Be sure to monitor traffic and road closures on your route that may increase your travel time.

There may be closures due to normal construction, as well as closures related to wildfires that may be meant to direct you away from high risk areas.

If driving through Portland, Oregon, a nine-day closure of the northbound span of the I-5 Interstate Bridge began Saturday, Sept. 12, with crews replacing mechanical parts that help lift and lower the I-5 bridge.

Taking COVID-19 Precautions at Truck Stops

COVID-19 Precautions at Truck Stops

For six months now, COVID-19 has been affecting the personal health and wellness of truck drivers who are literally in the front seat of this crisis as they travel the country delivering goods.

Long-haul truck drivers have close contact with truck stop attendants, store workers, dock workers, other truck drivers, or may be coming in contact with surfaces touched or handled by a person with COVID-19.

There are many factors putting truck drivers at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19, including:

  • nationwide travel
  • handling of overseas goods
  • exposure at truck stops for meals and showers
  • multiple facility stops

How can truck drivers limit COVID-19 exposure at truck stops?

Beyond wearing cloth facemasks when out of your truck, the most important step is to pre-qualify truck stops, rest areas, and hotels to ensure such facilities are open, supplied, and follow recommended COVID-19 safety practices, such as:

  • proper food handling and food service
  • cleanliness and disinfection
  • contactless payment

If you drive for a motor carrier, see what truck stops or rest areas they recommend or are pre-qualified for your route.

Interested in COVID-19 Services?

We can provide an estimate or suggestions specific to your company depending on your type of business and employees.

Proper food handling at truck stops

Drivers need to think about what food they are purchasing. If there are shared soups, salad bar, or buffet offerings, possibly consider grab-and-go options. Also, consider pre-packaged condiments versus condiment stations for your food.

When getting a drink or coffee,use a new disposable cup whether you plan to use the cup or refill your own personal cup or mug.

Increased cleanliness and disinfection at truck stops

Many truck stops, like Pilot Flying J, are keeping fuel islands, showers, and restrooms open. Pilot has continued cleaning protocols for showers, restrooms, dining areas, and driver lounges.

Beyond routine cleaning, make sure truck stops have available hand-sanitizing stations, or bring your own and prioritize truck stops with private showers.

Consider contactless payment options at truck stops

Where possible, drivers should use paperless, electronic invoicing for fueling, deliveries, and other routine tasks. Otherwise, clean and disinfect regulalrly after using frequently touched surfaces.


Are you concerned for your staff and/or drivers and their COVID-19 exposure?

We offer on-site pre-shift screenings, screening questionnaires and temperature screenings for your distribution site, terminal, construction site or office.

We also offer antibody testing, which  provides insight into employee exposure by determining whether or not they have developed COVID-19 antibodies.

If you think your business may be a candidate for prescreening temperature checks or antibody testing, you can contact us now or learn more about our COVID-19 services.


Colorado is the earliest chain law state, starting September 1

Colorado winter tire chain law

An unusually early September snowstorm is hitting the Rockies and Front Range through Wednesday from Wyoming to northern New Mexico, including Denver, Colorado.

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 Estimate

Contact 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.

Tire Cables
With only two exceptions, Colorado chain law rules do not permit tire cables as alternate traction devices.

The exceptions are:

  1. 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
  2. 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.

Be sure to review our complete guide on extreme weather and regulations affecting drivers this season.

DOT Training

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.

Our DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person or online training courses tailored to the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.

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

PennDOT Extends CDL, Commercial Learner’s Permits and HME Expiration Dates

PennDOT Extends CDL expiration

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced Tuesday that, in response to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts, expiration dates for commercial driver licenses and commercial learner’s permits will be extended for Pennsylvania residents through September 30, 2020.

This PennDOT extension now lines up with the Federal extension announced in June.

Expiration extensions will apply to the following credentials:

  1. Commercial learner’s permits: if scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020  – September 30, 2020
  2. Commercial driver licenses: if scheduled to expire from March 16, 2020 – September 30, 2020
  3. Hazardous Materials Endorsements (HME): for individuals who are a Pennsylvania-licensed commercial driver’s license holder and held a valid, unexpired HME with a determination of no security threat on or after March 6, 2020

The extension for deadlines related to expiring non-commercial driver license, photo identification cards, learner’s permits and camera cards is on August 31, 2020. 

For a list of open driver license and photo license centers and the services provided, as well as their hours of operation, please visit www.dmv.pa.gov.  

The CNS network of collection sites are open for DOT physicals and required drug and alcohol testing.

Schedule a DOT physical or drug test by calling CNS today at 888.260.9448.

DOT Compliance Services

Simplify the entire physical, drug consortium and DQF process

Our complete Proactive Safety Management (PSM) program has been organized to get you through an FMCSA audit by managing your driver qualification files, drug consortium, Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), vehicle maintenance and more.

Whether you are a large trucking company that is onboarding drivers quickly or a construction outfit with multiple trucks in your fleet, you need to stay aware of FMCSA regulations.

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

How to protect yourself from truck accident litigation with compliant driver files

compliant driver files

Every year, government auditors find hundreds of violations when reviewing DQ files for compliance.

A critical element in maintaining a safe carrier operation is monitoring driver qualifications files effectively and in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. 

When your driver files are not in compliance, the company faces risks of misplacing documents, filing inaccurately, incurring violations, or being hit with costly litigation.

Truck accidents are inevitable and more than 50% of these crashes are caused by driver fatigue and driver error, according to statements made by the Pennsylvania State Police motor carrier enforcement unit at the CNS and NIS Safety Conference earlier this year.

Litigators will look at the crash information and the driver files to find unsafe driver trends. If the company handles their hiring and driver qualification process well, there is a reduced chance of litigators finding unsafe driver trends that can harm the company with violations and heavy fines.  

So, what are driver qualification files?

Put simply, a driver qualification file is the driver’s personnel file and is required for anyone driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle as defined be the FMCSA in 49 CFR 390.5 or state authorities.

A DQ file is needed even if the driver is a mechanic quickly moving a vehicle, the company owner moving a vehicle, a part-time or temporary driver, or a driver who works for a private company.

After a job offer is extended to a driver, carriers need to build a driver file that includes:

  • driver’s licenses
  • employment application
  • previous employer inquires
  • motor vehicle records
  • credit history and background checks
  • drug test results
  • FMCSA Clearinghouse queries
  • medical certificates
  • and more

Driver File Management

Questions about Driver File Management? Fill out the form to get started

What information needs to be gathered in driver qualification files (DQF)?

The difficult part of the DQ File is that companies must know the driver qualifications file requirements to pass a safety audit. Every year, government auditors find hundreds of violations when reviewing DQ files for compliance.

Most of the time, violations occur for a few reasons, including:

  • companies taking shortcuts in the hiring process
  • staff managing the driver files not being trained in DOT regulations, or
  • companies not realizing they must meet these stringent driver qualification file requirements if their fleet is not focused on trucking.


Using driver files to protect yourself from truck accident liability

Sometimes companies may hire and retain employees who are not qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Other times, the driver’s history and record might be okay, but the company did not build a complete driver file to reflect this.    

The consequences of can be steep as companies face litigation and blame.

In a litigator’s eyes, driver qualification files reflect any kind of negligent hiring and retention claims and provide punitive damages against the carrier for continuing to employ someone they knew was dangerous or could hurt someone.

For example, if the employer failed to do a thorough background check on the driver, that can support a strong negligent hiring claim.

Similarly, if the driver had any previous violations, this is very important in terms of proving notice against the carrier to support a claim for punitive damages.

At a minimum, an annual review of driving performance and insuring driving credentials are valid can reduce unsafe drivers or pinpoint areas where further training could correct bad driving habits.

Driver information litigators look for after an accident:

  • governmental agencies responses to inquiries regarding driver records
  • driver’s past employment records and employers showing they contacted them (or repeatedly tried to) at the time of the driver’s employment
  • driver’s workers’ compensation file
  • medical evaluations of the driver
  • drug test results, including negative results
  • driver training testing documents and company safety meetings attendance
  • driver’s DOT file
  • prior violations
  • driver’s annual reviews
  • disciplinary records

Beyond these records, companies need to avoid these common driver file violations:

  • not having a current DOT medical card on file
  • not having the initial driving record on file (MVR)
  • not having a DQ file for each driver that needs one 

Proactive Driver Qualification File Management

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.

Our DOT Compliance Specialists will ensure all DQ files for your company will be ready to pass an FMCSA audit.

Start managing your DQ Files now

Combining multiple services?

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.

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

Learn more about our DOT Compliance Programs

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

How Nurse Triage Phone Lines Keep Drivers Safe And Injury Claim Costs Down

nurse triage phone lines

Nurse triage phone lines are quickly becoming the best solution for fleets and drivers to be treated quickly and safely if feeling sick or after a workplace accident.

Each year, millions of truck drivers spend thousands of hours behind the wheel keeping the economy moving.

These drivers not only face the chance of being injured if involved in one of the 116,000 annual crashes, but also face the unrecorded number of workplace injuries that occur as they do their job. 

These fears are compounded with the prevalence of COVID-19 and the approaching flu season leading to increased concern about sending drivers to a hospital for an illness or workplace injury.

Too often, truck drivers are pushing on through illnesses concerning themselves with their work schedules and loads instead of their health.

How do drivers know if what they have is a seasonal allergy, a cold or COVID-19? How can they get treated or checked out?

Nurse triage phone lines are quickly becoming the best solution for fleets and drivers to be treated quickly and safely if feeling sick or after a workplace accident.


What is a nurse triage?

A triage nurse is the first point of clinical contact for patients visiting an ER and is a registered nurse positioned in an emergency room or other facility that is responsible for assessing patients calling in and determining their level of need for medical assistance.

The criteria used to evaluate a patient include:

  • the type of injury, illness or cause for concern
  • severity
  • symptoms
  • patient explanation of emergency, and
  • vital signs

Responsibilities of a triage nurse include:

  • performing patient assessment
  • reassessing patients who are waiting
  • initiating emergency treatment (if necessary)
  • sorting patients into priority groups according to guidelines
  • communicating status of patients to doctors and nurses


How Nurse Triage Can Lower Your Claim Cost

The cost of an injury claim directly impacts the cost of worker’s compensation insurance. The faster an injury claim can be completed, the lower the costs of the claim will be.

To reduce lost time of reporting the injury claim, encourage your drivers to get the injury claim process going immediately by utilizing a nurse triage.

When an injury occurs, your driver calls the nurse triage phone number to speak with a trained nurse. From there, the nurse can direct the driver to self-administer first aid or recommend a designated medical care facility. 

At the conclusion of the call, the claim is immediately reported to the motor carrier, insurance company, and treating medical facility. 

Additionally, we recommend creating a strict guideline where injuries are required to be reported immediately as this can keep claim costs low.

Additional benefits of a nurse triage, include:

  • cutting down on reporting time to the insurer 
  • organizing evidence and documentation to prevent fraud
  • providing employers with a simple and affordable way to report injuries that occur from or during work
  • putting employees in insured networks and helping them avoid expensive ER visits
  • helping the carrier gather information and data regarding injuries and accidents


Have an illness and want to avoid busy Doctor’s offices or medical facilities?

Start your customized health plan to meet your business needs and keep your employees healthy and safe.

You can call the CNS’ Occupational Medicine team with questions about nurse triage phone lines and telemedicine or to schedule a CNS Telemedicine appointment at 888.260.9448.

Our goal is to get you or your employees well quickly and safely so you or they can return to work fully recovered.

Stricter OSHA Rule In Effect For Silica Exposure and Silica Respiratory Testing

silica respiratory testing

Worker’s exposed may not experience symptoms for 15-20 years but a chest x-ray can determine if there is lung damage.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 2.3 million U.S. workers are currently exposed to crystalline silica.

High levels of silica exposure can be found in:

  • cement/brick manufacturing
  • repair/replacement brick furnace lining
  • drilling, molding, sawing
  • removing paint
  • demolition
  • abrasive blasting
  • jack hammering
  • and more

In hopes to prevent lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease, OSHA finalized a rule in 2017 to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica in high risk construction and maritime industries.

Although crystalline silica dust particles are about 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, the safety risk is dangerous if exposed to high levels.

Worker’s exposed may not experience symptoms for 15-20 years but a chest x-ray can determine if there is lung damage.

Without assessing the severity of damage, the disease could eventually cause extreme shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, chest pain, or respiratory failure.


Regulatory timeline of OSHA’s silica respiratory testing requirements

Since 2016, OSHA has been creating new “respirable crystalline silica” standards, which is to be fully implemented by mid-2021 to protect workers.

  • Sept. 23, 2017: the construction industry saw OSHA’s crystalline silica rule go into effect with permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica at 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over 8 hours.
  • June 23, 2018: maritime and general industries, including hydraulic fracturing, went into effect.
  • June 23, 2020: “medical surveillance” or silica respiratory testing became twice as strict with workers exposed to the “action level” at or above 25 micrograms for 30 or more days a year (previously, medical surveillance was enforced at the “permissible exposure limit,” at or above 50 micrograms).
  • June 23, 2021: Obligations for engineering controls goes into effect as employers will put into place work practices to reduce and maintain employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica to or below limits

This does not apply where the employer has objective data demonstrating that employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica will remain below 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air (25 μg/m3) as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) under any foreseeable conditions.

Recordkeeping Requirements

There are three areas of recordkeeping required by companies with workers exposed to high levels of respirable crystalline silica.

Air Monitoring Data:

The employer is required to maintain records of all exposure measurements taken to assess employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

This record shall include at least the following information:

  • date of measurement for each sample taken
  • task monitored
  • sampling and analytical methods used
  • number, duration, and results of samples taken
  • identity of the laboratory that performed the analysis
  • type of personal protective equipment, such as respirators, worn by the employees monitored
  • name, social security number, and job classification of all employees represented by the monitoring, indicating which employees were monitored

Objective Data:

  • crystalline silica-containing material in question
  • source of the objective data
  • testing protocol and results of testing
  • description of the process, task, or activity on which the objective data were based
  • other data relevant to the process, task, activity, material, or exposures on which the objective data were based

Medical Surveillance:

The employer is required to maintain records for each employee covered by medical surveillance with the following information:

  • name and social security number
  • a copy of the PLHCPs’ and specialists’ written medical opinions
  • a copy of the information provided to the PLHCPs and specialists


Staying in compliance with silica testing OSHA rules

To ensure employers stay compliant with the stricter OSHA rules, CNS Occupational Medicine team provides comprehensive silica testing program that includes:

  • silica medical history and respirator questionnaire
  • physical exam with emphasis on the respiratory system
  • chest X-ray, with “B” reader TB skin test
  • respiratory fit test
  • Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) administered by a spirometry technician
  • testing for tuberculosis (TB)

Stop waiting at hospitals or urgent care clinics. Our knowledgeable examiners are focused on best-in-class customer service when it comes to treating workers and employers to create long term health and wellness.

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

Start a Trucking Company: How to Get Rolling in 10 Steps

Start a Trucking Company in XX Steps

If you’ve got the vision and desire to start a trucking company, now is the time to make that vision reality. Starting any new business can be expensive and time-consuming. You don’t want to get overwhelmed by the 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 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.

Our specialists can help you avoid getting bogged down in forms, because we take time to learn about your operation and help you become DOT compliant from the start. We won’t over-sell unneeded items or services that don’t ultimately help you get your business on the road.

Let us help you get started.

Step 1: Make a Detailed Financial Plan

A solid business plan will list expenses and revenue expected in your business. Be sure to include your own salary. Costs involved in a trucking startup include tractors, trailers, licensing, and registration costs. Also include the cost of insurance, and data tracking software and services.

The U.S. Small Business Administration website has downloadable templates to create your own business plan.

Step 2: Decide What Kind of Company You Want To Form

You may want a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited liability company. Each of these has pros and cons, which vary by state.

To own and run a private company in the United States, you’ll need to form a limited liability company (LLC). This is a business structure that combines pass-through taxation (like a partnership or sole proprietorship), with the limited liability of a corporation.

CNS can prepare and file your LLC application with your home state. Or if you want to start a partnership or sole proprietorship, click here.

Step 3: Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

This unique nine-digit number gets assigned to businesses in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service. Use this number to file your business tax returns.

CNS can obtain your EIN on your behalf. Click here to begin obtaining a Federal EIN. 

Step 4: Become Compliant with Trucking Safety Regulations

  1. Obtain a USDOT Number

First be sure you even need a USDOT number. Obtaining a USDOT Number can be confusing and costly. Here’s where CNS can help by getting your number quickly and accurately. Click here to learn more.

  1. Obtain a Motor Carrier Operating Authority

Companies are required to have interstate operating authority (MC Number) in addition to the DOT 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)

CNS can file for your MC Number at the same time we apply for your DOT Number.

  1. File a BOC-3

A BOC-3 is a required United States filing that activates your Motor Carrier Authority. This filing assigns legal agents in the event 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.

  1. Know the Heavy Use Tax (HUT) States

You may need to apply for further credentials if your company drives in the following states:

  • New York
  • Kentucky
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  1. Plan to File Heavy Highway Use Tax (2290)

A trucking startup needs to be aware of special tax codes and procedures in accordance with State, District of Columbia, Canadian, and Mexican law. When a vehicle has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more, the company has to electronically file a HVUT Form 2290.

Once this is filed, you will need to get a stamped copy of your Schedule 1. Companies are required to file all taxable highway motor vehicles registered in your name during the tax period when the truck first operated.

CNS can file your Schedule 1 with the IRS and provide you a stamped E-File copy. Click here to learn more.

  1. Secure a Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)

The Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) 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.

CNS can complete your UCR filing after you obtain your DOT number. Click here to learn more.

  1. Get an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Sticker

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.

  1. Obtain an International Registration Plan (IRP) Sticker

This registration gives reciprocity between the United States and Canada without the need for additional registrations. Under this Plan, only one license plate and one cab card is issued for each fleet vehicle.

Step 5: Become Compliant with the FMCSA

Great job! Taking these steps gives you DOT and Operating authority. Now you need to become compliant with the FMCSA. These items need to be maintained through the year.

CNS has reliable, cost-effective packages that keep you compliant and up-to-date.

Step 6: Obtain the Correct Insurance

Different types of insurance are available and often required to cover certain aspects of your trucking company.

  • Primary Liability – After applying for an MC Number, you will need to post liability insurance with FMSCA. You must carry at least $750,00 in primary liability coverage to cover damages or injuries from at-fault accidents.
  • Cargo Insurance – This insurance covers damage to the freight and/or theft.
  • Physical Damage – Provides coverage for truck damage when you are not liable.
  • Non-Trucking Use (Bobtail) – Covers liability in accidents that happen when you’re not hauling a load for someone else.

CNS partners with premiere truck/passenger insurance agencies to obtain the best coverage at affordable rates. Click here to learn more.

Step 7: Use a Driver Qualification File (DQF) Service

Trucking companies need to keep impeccable records in the event of an audit. Physical or electronic driver files allow you to pull an MVR report, look at previous employer inquiries, PSP reports and more.

CNS has solutions to keep your Driver Qualification Files up to date with regulations and ready to help you pass an audit. All of our driver files are monitored by actual DQF specialists to ensure documents don’t expire. We communicate personally about soon-to-expire materials to avoid computer overlooks. Click here to learn more.

Step 8: Join the Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Consortium

Anyone holding a Commercial Driver’s License needs to have a pre-employment drug test and be enrolled in a DOT drug and alcohol consortium.

CNS offers a low-cost, DOT-compliant service that covers DOT random testing through the year. Our service gives you a secure portal to track test results. We also have personal representatives to call when you have questions. Click here to learn more.

Step 9: Install a Compliant Electronic Logging Device

Per a 2017 Electronic Logging Device mandate, non-exempt carriers are required to install an FMCSA-registered and compliant electronic logging device.

Today’s ELDs can actually help you grow your business. ELDs offer many fleet management features like diagnostic tools and advanced reporting. With their reports, you can maximize your fleet efficiency and simplify your operations.

Step 10: Make Your Trucking Startup a Reality

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

Our services and compliance specialists are on hand to get you up and running as quickly as possible.