FMCSA requires background checks for hazmat CDL endorsement


Hazmat CDL endorsement and Background Checks


Two rules that have been in place since 2003 and 2005 were recently finalized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and went into effect on November 1, 2019. The rules concern the passing of a mandatory background check for truck drivers interested in adding or renewing a hazmat endorsement on their CDL.

As mentioned above, the background checks are mandatory and are administered by the Department of Homeland Security, with two exemptions, including state drivers with a valid transportation security card or Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC).

Rule #1: Hazmat background check

A provision to the final rule was published in 2003 prohibiting states from issuing, renewing, transferring or upgrading a CDL with a hazmat endorsement for truck drivers that have not successfully passed a background check by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that clears them as a security risk.

Rule #2: Background check notice

In 2005, another provision to the final rule was published, reducing the amount of required notice a state must provide a truck driver that a background check will be performed for a hazmat endorsement renewal.

For example, if a driver’s hazmat endorsement is up to expire in the coming year, a state must notify the driver of the required background check at least 180 days, or 6 months, before the date of expiration for the CDL or hazmat endorsement.

Do you already have your hazmat endorsement?

Current drivers need not worry about the finalization of these rules as it has no bearing on current drivers or carriers, since the rules have been in place since 2003 and 2005.


Hazmat and DOT Training

We are fully capable to handle your HAZMAT compliance training or other DOT training.

There are many rules, regulations and requirements in each state for authorities to keep track of when it comes to hauling hazardous material. If you are not DOT compliant, it could be detrimental to your company, as fines and penalties can be upwards of $180,000.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Short-haul trucking and ELDs


The ELD mandate deadline is December 16, 2019 and approaching quickly and many short-haul trucking companies and drivers are taking that seriously, even though they may not have to.


As mentioned, even though some drivers may not necessarily need an ELD, some FMCSA hours of service rules still apply, including a time limit of no more than 11 hours and driving restrictions after 14 on duty hours.

Although short-haul drivers are not required to maintain a detailed log of their duty status, they are required to record their on-duty time and ELDs make that process much easier. With there always being a possibility of exceeding the FMCSA limitations, ELDs can protect you if you exceed the driving time limit or distance.

Short-haul drivers, fleet managers and/or company owners need to consider ELDs and the reasoning behind so many short-haul fleets installing ELDs.

First, you need to know if you are a short-haul driver, which is covered below. However, if you need a more detailed breakdown of short-haul exemptions, review our post on HOS short-haul exemptions.

Are you a short-haul driver?

The FMCSA rules and regulations state that you are a short-haul driver, if:

  • Start and return to the same location within twelve (12) hours of duty time.
  • Maintain your time-clock function.
  • Do not drive for more than eleven (11) hours.
  • Have ten (10) consecutive hours in off duty between shifts.
  • Operate within a 100 air-mile radius from your starting location (CDL driver)
  • Operate within a 150 air-mile radius (non-CDL drivers)
  • Does not drive through a state that requires a CDL for the vehicle they drive

Exceeding the short-haul limitation

A driver may violate the short-haul limitations by going over the radius limit or exceeding the time it takes to return to their reporting location.

If this happens, drivers are required to maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS) for 8 days or less. After 8 days drivers must maintain a RODS according to the 8-day rule.

The 8-day rule is one of the biggest issues for any short-haul fleet because they are unable to determine if they will hit that 8-day limitation.

3 other reasons why short-haul trucking companies install ELDs

As mentioned above, remaining DOT compliant is the most important and biggest concern for short-haul trucking companies or any trucking company for that matter.

However, there are other reasons to install an ELD, including automatically calculating your air-miles, monitoring your driver’s driving habits and tracking driver’s idle-times.

1. Calculate 100 Air-Miles with ELDs

What is the 100 air-mile radius?

It can be difficult for drivers to calculate air-miles when they are on the road and an ELD eliminates this issue by automatically recording the distance covered.

This allows drivers to know when they will exceed 100 air-miles without calculating it, allowing them to stay completely focused on driving.

ELDs automatically record the distance covered and help drivers calculate how many air-miles they have driven.

2. Monitor driving habits and driver scorecards

Some ELDs, such as Pedigree ELDs—an electronic logging device solution we are partnered with—allows fleet managers to track and pinpoint drivers who have unsafe driving habits.

ELDs give you the ability to monitor reckless drivers by tracking driving behaviors, such as aggressive cornering, braking and acceleration.

Overall, the benefit is the improvement your company’s safety level and ultimately safety rating through less accidents, penalties, and liabilities.

3. Track driver idle-times

Many short-haul trucking fleets are interested in tracking a drivers’ idle-time due to the impact it can have on fuel savings throughout the year.

The US Department of Energy estimates that a long-haul truck idles for approximately 1,800 hours per year. With a fuel cost of $3/gallon, one truck could potentially consume over $5,000 in fuel each year by idling.

An ELD will allow fleet managers to locate drivers who idle too often or for longer periods of time, which could save short-haul trucking fleets thousands of dollars each month.


ELD solutions

We offer ELD devices for truckers to avoid all of the issues mentioned above. At CNS, we believe that taking a proactive stance on DOT compliance is the key to a successful long-haul or short-haul trucking company. Remember that the ELD mandate deadline is on December 16, 2019.

Also, knowing all Hours-of-Service rules and exceptions will allow you to stay DOT compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and compliant and we partner with Pedigree Technologies for this exact reason.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Short-haul exemption: 100 air-mile radius


Are you 100 air-mile exempt?

What is an air mile?

An “air mile” is a nautical mile measuring a straight distance between two points, excluding any twists or turns.

What is the short-haul exemption?

If you are a short-haul driver or fleet, in addition to time restrictions, there are two types of short-haul exemptions related to distance, the 100 air-mile exemption and the 150 air-mile exemption.

  • 100 air-mile exemption

The exemption applies to CDL drivers and to qualify they must remain operating within a 100 air-mile radius, return to the same work reporting location, go off duty within 12 hours and keep time cards with their start times, end times and total hours worked for the day.

  • 150 air-mile exemption

This exemption is slightly different in that it applies to non-CDL drivers and instead of the operating radius being 100 air-miles, it is 150 air-miles. Similarly, drivers are required to keep timecards, return to the same work reporting location, and they do not drive through a state that requires a CDL for the vehicle they drive.

Exceeding the short-haul limitation

A driver may violate the short-haul limitations by going over the radius limit or exceeding the time it takes to return to their reporting location.

If this happens, drivers are required to maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS) and more importantly, if they maintain a RODS for more than 8 days in a 30-day period, they must have an ELD because the mandate exemption does not apply after that 8 days.

The 8-day rule is one of the biggest issues for any short-haul fleet because they are unable to determine if they will hit that 8-day limitation. It is important to note that it is nearly impossible to implement an ELD on short notice, therefore, many questionable short-haul fleets are beginning to install ELDs.

Verifying compliance?

If you have drivers that exempt, it is imperative that you check time records to verify compliance with time and distance restrictions.

If a driver is in violation, you must also verify that they followed proper procedure by taking a 30-minute break and submitting their daily log.

If your company is audited and you or your drivers are found to be misusing these exemptions, you will be cited for each violation every day it occurred which can lead to a rather large fine.

ELDs and short-haul exemptions

In most cases, a driver that qualifies for the 100 or 150 air mile radius is exempt from the upcoming ELD mandate, but there are exceptions.

The final regulation says if you are running short haul, you are not required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS) and, therefore, do not need to log your hours with an ELD, unless you break the rule more than eight (8) times in a 30-day rolling period.

If you do break the rule more than eight times, you will need an ELD to log your hours until you get back to the number of eight or fewer in a 30-day period.

Although not always required, ELDs can be an excellent resource for a short-haul fleet. Constant awareness of a driver’s distance, eliminating any concerns of going beyond the radius limit, and monitoring driver scorecards are just two of many benefits.

Do you still need an ELD? We can help you out!


Stay DOT compliant

Knowing these rules and regulations will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe, compliant, and on the road.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

HOS short-haul exemptions and HOS compliance


What are short-haul exemptions?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed several Hours-of-Service rules and regulations with a goal for these HOS rules to minimize driver fatigue and improve road safety for everyone.

However, the FMCSA has created certain exemptions giving drivers and carriers flexibility, depending on their situation. Different rules apply to passenger-carrying drivers, property-carrying drivers and drivers of hazardous materials.

Considering all of the potential HOS changes and so we are on the same page, we will discuss a few important Hours-of-Service rules, including the 14-hour rule, the 11-hour rule and the 30-minute break.

What are 3 important hours-of-service rules?

  • The 14-hour rule?

The 14-hour rule disallows a property-carrying driver from driving longer than 14 consecutive hours after starting duty. The driver cannot continue driving until they have taken ten (10) consecutive hours off-duty.

Passenger-carrying motor vehicles are limited to 15 cumulative hours. This differs from the 14 consecutive hours of property-carrying drivers.

For both property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicles, off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

  • The 11-hour rule?

The 11-hour rule states that property-carrying drivers are allowed a maximum of 11 hours of drive time after 10 consecutive hours off duty, if they stay within the 14-hour window.

On the other hand, passenger-carrying drivers can drive up to 10 hours after eight consecutive hours off duty.

  • The 30-minute break rule?

According to the 30-minute break rule, drivers can’t log driving time if eight hours have passed since the last off-duty period of 30 consecutive minutes. Drivers can perform non-driving tasks after eight hours without taking a break, but they cannot drive.

Are you a short-haul driver?

The FMCSA rules and regulations state that you are a short-haul driver, if:

  • Start and return to the same location within twelve (12) hours of duty time.
  • Maintain your time-clock function.
  • Do not drive for more than eleven (11) hours.
  • Have ten (10) consecutive hours in off duty between shifts.
  • Operate within a 100 air-mile radius from your starting location (CDL driver)
  • Operate within a 150 air-mile radius (non-CDL drivers)
  • Does not drive through a state that requires a CDL for the vehicle they drive

The 16-hour short-haul exemption – Do you qualify?

The FMCSA implemented a hours of service exemption allowing short-haul drivers to extend their 14-hour driving window by two hours each week.

This could apply to you if you are a short-haul driver and report back to the same work location each day, you might be able to take advantage of the 16-hour short haul exemption.

The exemption doesn’t extend the 11-hour daily driving limit but does provide you with up to 16 hours to complete your workday.

ELDs and short-haul exemptions

In most cases, a driver that qualifies for the 100 or 150 air mile radius is exempt from the upcoming ELD mandate, but there are exceptions.

The final regulation says if you are running short haul, you are not required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS) and, therefore, do not need to log your hours with an ELD, unless you break the rule more than eight (8) times in a 30-day rolling period.

If you do break the rule more than eight times, you will need an ELD to log your hours until you get back to the number of eight or fewer in a 30-day period.

Learn why ELDs can be an excellent resource for a short-haul fleet.

Do you still need an ELD? We can help you out!


Stay DOT compliant

Knowing these rules and regulations will allow you to stay compliant and plan your operations more efficiently.

All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe, compliant, and on the road.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Ray Martinez leaving FMCSA at end of October


DOT recently announced that the current FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez, will be leaving his position; his last day will be October 28th.

Mr. Martinez has been heading up the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) since March 2018 and has been a very active and involved leader, with initial intentions of settling differences between the agency and the trucking industry. Martinez regularly attended trade shows and conferences to talk to industry leaders and discuss updates on FMCSA work.

How will current FMCSA projects be affected?

Since he started in March 2018, Martinez began work on two major projects, the overhaul of the hours of service regulations and the pilot program for younger interstate drivers.

With this change occurring in the middle of these programs, the major question most trucking professionals have is, will this effect or prolong these programs from being completed? The answer tot his question is unclear, however, there is a good chance that these programs will see a delay.

The move is a result of an ongoing desire to be closer to family in Massachusetts, where he will manage a DOT construction project at the Volpe Center. After switching positions with the current deputy administrator—Alan Hanson (new DOT chief counsel)—Jim Mullen will temporarily replace Ray Martinez until President Trump nominates a permanent replacement.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT drug test: Who, what, when and how


As directed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT), all CDL drivers and their employers are required to follow the rules related to DOT drug tests.

Who is given a DOT drug test?

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to take a drug test and their employers must ensure their drivers are tested before operating a CMV.

Below is a full list of those required to be tested.

  • employers of CDL drivers operating CMVs on public roads
  • CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads
  • interstate motor carriers
  • intrastate motor carriers
  • federal, state, and local governments
  • civic organizations (disabled veteran transport, boy/girl scouts, etc.)
  • faith-based organizations

What substances are tested?

The DOT requires testing of alcohol and five drug classes, including:

  1. Marijuana
  2. Cocaine
  3. Opiates
  4. Amphetamines or methamphetamines
  5. PCP

Alcohol tests will identify alcohol in the system at .02 BAC and more.                      

Motor carriers can also implement a separate testing program in addition to, and distinct from, the required DOT testing program, under which they are able to test for other drugs.

What types of DOT drug tests are there and when are they given?

DOT drug and alcohol tests are given in several different scenarios, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver and operating a CMV
  2. post-accident – drug and alcohol tests may be required after an accident depending on the circumstances. Learn when post-accident drug tests are required.
  3. random – random testing programs are required by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an area in which supervisors must be trained in identifying.
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

What is the DOT drug testing process?

The DOT has a strict process for administering drug tests and the steps are the same for all six types.

  1. Go to the collection site with a valid ID and provide a sample before leaving.
  2. Provide your urine sample in the designated collection area. The collection process will be private unless required, as in a return-to-duty or follow-up test.
  3. When finished with the sample, provide the container to the collector and observe as they split the sample into two containers, seal them with tamper-evident tape and allow you to sign the tape before you leave.
  4. Provide your contact information and verify your name and date of birth so the Medical Review Officer (MRO) can get in touch with the results.

Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

DOT post-accident drug test requirements


As a DOT-regulated motor carrier, it is extremely important to ensure all CDL drivers are in top physical and mental condition while operating these highly complex and powerful commercial motor vehicles. Driver awareness of post-accident drug test requirements is also crucial.

Although we do everything possible to prevent accidents, there are times when circumstances are beyond our control, making the post-accident steps one of the most important pieces of knowledge for a CDL driver. A driver’s responsibilities do not stop at the site of the accident.

What are the different types of DOT drug tests?

There are several situations in which a DOT drug test is required, including:

  1. pre-employment – before starting work as a CDL driver
  2. post-accident – applies to certain situations following an accident
  3. random – random testing program require by law for all DOT-regulated motor carriers
  4. reasonable suspicion – if a driver appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  5. return-to-duty – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law
  6. follow-up – required of drivers who tested positive, refused, or violated the law

When is a post-accident drug and alcohol test required?

Drug and alcohol tests are not required after every accident. A CDL driver is required to take a post-accident drug test if:

  • the accident results in one or more fatalities
  • injury was incurred that required medical treatment away from the scene and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)
  • any vehicle is towed, and the driver received a citation (Note: no citation = no drug and alcohol test)

Also, it is important to note that a driver is still liable to take a drug and alcohol test if a citation issued within 32 hours of the accident. If a citation is issued after the 8 hour mark, the motor carrier must make a note saying “a citation was not issued until this time, which was after the 8 hours for alcohol testing.”

How much time do I have to get a post-accident drug test?

A driver has 2 hours in which an alcohol test should be completed, however it must be completed within 8 hours. If the driver goes over the 2-hour mark, they must provide an explanation as to why there was a delay and the motor carrier must provide a written explanation and keep in their company files.

A drug test needs to be completed as soon as possible; however, it must be completed within 32 hours. At times there might be a delay in the issuance of a citation, however as long as the citation is issued with 32 hours, a drug and alcohol test is required.

Drivers often run into issues with meeting these timeframes because they will be kept at the scene of an accident for several hours or an investigation must be completed to determine if the driver was at fault.

What if I miss the maximum time frame allowed?

If a driver does not get his post-accident drug test before the maximum allowed time, the company needs to make a note in their files as to the reason why, however it is too late and the company will be out of compliance and face fines and audit penalties, so completing the drug test within the allowed time is imperative.

What about on-site tests, such as a DUI test or breathalyzer?

If an officer conducts a DUI test or a breathalyzer at the scene of an accident, a driver is still required to follow protocol and get an official drug and alcohol test within the allotted time frames. An on-site test by an officer will not fulfill the required DOT post-accident drug test as these tests do not follow DOT rules and regulations.


Drug and alcohol testing

Where does a driver get a DOT drug test?

Compliance Navigation Specialists works with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing, whether it is necessary after an accident or for a pre-employment screening.

For post-accident alcohol testing, CNS will coordinate a location for you.

We also offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA) for companies that are regulated by Federal and State government.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Approaching AOBRD deadline will require use of ELDs


The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, which was put into action almost two years ago, will take full effect on December 16, 2019, which is the AOBRD deadline.

When the ELD mandate was introduced, an April 1, 2018 deadline was set to switch over to an ELD. The only exception was for those carriers that were using automatic onboard recording devices, also known as AOBRDs, on or before December 17, 2017.

Many have either started the switch or already made it long ago, however if you have not started, you should start now as the process is not as seamless as one might think.

Why is it important to switch from AOBRD to ELD now?

Carriers that have not updated their AOBRDs may run into some challenges, including training drivers to use ELDs and teaching office employees how to transfer logs.

Certain parts of the process can take longer than expected, as well as the potential for suppliers to run low on ELDs or take longer to fix glitches if too many attempt to switch at once.

It may also be difficult to get all drivers into a training class or webinar at the same time. In addition, it will not be a one-time training session. ELD training will need to be ongoing for all drivers, as mistakes will be made, and issues will arise.

Any difficulties may be answered on the FMCSAs ELD rule FAQ section.

What issues are drivers having?

Continuous education of drivers will be necessary. One area that drivers are running into problems with in the switch from AOBRDs to ELDs is unassigned drive time.

The issue comes in when a driver on the road rejects the unassigned drive time, which causes it to enter into the unassigned driver account in the admin system. This forces the company to assign it to a specific driver or explain why it couldn’t be assigned, with no other option.

With AOBRDs, users could create a generic driver account for road tests or yard moves; pretty much all the odd miles that show up in a fleet.

How do you install and train truck drivers on ELDs?

ELD install tips

If you need to manage the installation of ELDs on a large fleet of trucks, some good steps to follow include:

  1. Run a daily report and determine which trucks were in the yard and which ones are coming to the yard.
  2. Then, send a firmware update from your computer to a specific ELD unit.
  3. Then, go out to the truck, allow the firmware to download.
  4. Follow the automated installation steps on the tablet.
  5. Reboot the tablet two or three times and cycle the engine a few times.
  6. Test drive the truck ensuring everything was downloaded properly and you are finished.

ELD training tips

Drivers will need to be trained on ELDs, so a few tips in training them to make the process more seamless are to:

  1. train drivers one-on-one as often as possible.
  2. ensure drivers know how to log into the system.
  3. point out any visual changes and emphasize the sensitivity of the ELD.
  4. emphasize that—before doing anything with the truck—the driver must know how long they have been off duty, as well as how many hours they will be working that day and week.
  5. perform daily log audits and contact and train drivers with issues.
  6. be repetitive.

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

What ELD should you use?

We searched high and low for a partner in the ELD industry, testing over 20 ELD systems, before we decided to choose Pedigree as our preferred ELD.

A few reasons why we chose Pedigree include:

  • their excellent price point that we at CNS could stand behind.
  • their dedicated team of technicians looking to improve efficiency and streamline the customer’s operation.
  • their knowledge on DOT rules and regulations to keep you and your ELD running smooth.
  • their “OneView” platform and infrastructure was far greater compared to the competition.
  • the ability to manage our client’s use of ELDs and offer them customer support directly.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

Utah increases International Registration Plan fees


As of January 1, 2020, Utah’s International Registration Plan (IRP) fees will increase for vehicles with a registered weight ranging from 0 to 80,000 pounds.

The registration fee for vehicles with a registered weight of 0 to 12,000 pounds will increase from $45 to $46. Vehicles with a registered weight of 12,001 to 80,000 pounds will have an increase of $1.50.

The fee change goes into effect at the beginning of 2020 and will apply to all supplements, renewals, new accounts or any account activity after the effective date of January 1, 2020.

International registration plan fee increases were also announced for Wisconsin, Nevada and North Dakota in August 2019.

Audit services

The long list of rules and regulations involved with the International Registration Plan (IRP) can be difficult to follow. Failure to stay up to date with your registration fee or changes to those rules and regulations can lead to the failure of an IRP audit.

All of our services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and DOT compliant, which is why we offer mock audits and management that help avoid these types of issues.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.

FMCSA proposes fee reductions for Unified Carrier Registration


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a proposed rule that would reduce Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) fees for 2020 and 2021.

The reduction in annual UCR fees applies to motor carriers, private motor carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies that are paying fees to their respective state.

What is the Unified Carrier Registration fee reduction?

The UCR fee reduction would be for 12.82% in 2020 and 4.19% in 2021, based on the rates paid in 2018, however the Unified Carrier Registration vice chairman of the board of directors stated that the rates are expected to decrease by another 1-2%.

As an example, a carrier with a fleet of two or more trucks paid $69 in 2018 and $62 in 2019, but after the fee reduction, they would only pay $60 in 2020 and $66 in 2021.

How are the UCR fees calculated?

Fees are calculated based on collections of the second year prior, which would be 2018 right now. Based on federal law, requests for fee adjustment are required when the annual revenue exceeds the maximum allowed and the board estimates that by the end of 2019 the total revenue will exceed the maximum by $3.08 million.

If there are excess funds after other costs are covered, such as payments to the states and administrative costs, they are retained and fees for the following year are reduced.

Based on the board’s research, the fee reduction includes a reduction in the amount of the administrative cost allowance from $3.5 million to $3.2 million for the 2020 and 2021 UCR Agreement registration years. They have also determined that the administrative cost allowance needed for the 2020 and 2021 registration period should be $3.2 million for each registration year.

The agency reviewed the board’s formal recommendation and concluded that its projection of the total revenue received for registration year 2018 is acceptable.

Licensing services

We offer many different services related to licensing, including assisting with your Unified Carrier Registration (UCR).

All of our services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe and DOT compliant.

If you have any questions, call (888) 260-9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.