Raymond P. Martinez Confirmed as Administrator of the FMCSA

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

Checking and Understanding Your CSA Scores

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

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about SCA scores, visit:



Contributed by DOT Consultant and Account Manager, Rob Duvall

Cheryl Irwin-Bass Joins CNS as President

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


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


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

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


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

Things to Know About the FMCSA Clearinghouse

Things to Know About the FMCSA Clearinghouse

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

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

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

How does this help the employer?

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

How long is a CDL holder on the Clearinghouse?

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


Contributed by Director of Operations, Adam Galante

FMCSA grants ELD exemptions

The struggle to incorporate Electronic Log Devices into the trucking industry continues, resistance gains traction as the December 18, 2017 deadline draws near.

A brief outline of the recent exemptions granted:

– UPS’s (United Parcel Service) request that drivers be allowed to change duty status outside of and away from their vehicle has been granted by the FMCSA for a five year minimum. The change in status will be made via drivers’ mobile device-based ELDs.

– A second waiver allowing carriers to make multiple yard moves without numerous re-entries on a mobile device was also granted. It, too, will serve for a five year minimum. The FMCSA requires the ELD must be able to switch to “driving” mode when needed, when the truck exceeds 20mph, or when the truck exits a geo-fenced yard.

– However, an exemption requested by a water hauling fleet was refused due to the company’s lack of proof regarding lack of cab space. The company argued that the trucks rarely travel; the FMCSA countered that it had not seen a demonstration of how a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level achieved with an ELD would occur without one.

FMCSA interested in lowering carrier registration fees for two years

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a reduction in Unified Carrier Registration fees for the next two years for participating motor carriers, motor private carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders, and leasing companies. The potential reduction is due to total revenues from the UCR Plan exceeding the statutory maximum in 2016 by 4.55 percent, or $5.13 million. FMCSA reports that this is the first time the maximum has ever been exceeded.
To ensure that fees do not exceed the statutory maximum in 2018, a reduction of 9.1% is proposed below the current level. Current excess depository fees are also accounted for in the 9.1% drop. The following year, 2019, FMCSA has proposed a 4.55% reduction below current fees.

From the Government Publishing Office website:

DATES: Comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking must be received
on or before October 2, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Docket Number FMCSA-
2017-0118 using any of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001. Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Fax: 202-493-2251. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the “Public Participation and Request for Comments” portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for instructions on submitting comments, including collection of information comments for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Gerald Folsom, Office of Registration and Safety Information, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001 by telephone at 202-385-2405. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Services, telephone (202) 366-9826.

If you would like further information regarding Unified Carrier Registration system, see the FMCSA website here.

House Hearings on Fiscal 2018 & the FAST Act – What You Need to Know

A House hearing was held on July 17, 2017. A Quick overview is provided below:

Funding the CMV-related grants at the full FAST levels for fiscal 2018, which amounts to an increase over fiscal 2017. It’s not yet specified whether the bill will continue to the House floor on its own, or if the House Transportation Appropriations Committee will seek to roll it together with other spending bills prior to making it to the floor.

Additionally, updates on policy riders are as follows, directly from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA):

• ELD Implementation – The committee report directs FMCSA to consider whether or not a partial or full delay in implementation of the ELD requirement is appropriate and report back to the committee within 60 days.
• ELD Exemption – The bill provides an exemption from the ELD requirement for motor carriers of livestock and insects.
• Weight Exemption – The bill adds North Dakota to Idaho’s current 129,000 lb. exemption.
• 30-Minute Rest Break Exemptions – The committee report also directs FMCSA to take into consideration drivers that make multiple stops throughout the day when considering 30-minute rest break exemption requests.
• Safety Fitness Determination – The bill prohibits FMCSA from moving forward with their SFD rulemaking until the Inspector General’s office certifies that the agency has made the changes recommended in the recently released study by the National Academies on the CSA program.
• Bus Lease and Interchange Rule – The bill directs FMCSA to publish a formal notice of proposed rulemaking to make changes to the agency’s Bus Lease and Interchange Rule.
• CSA – The committee report directs FMCSA to make SMS data available to motor carrier insurers and to expedite completion of the recommendations from the National Academies report on the CSA program, so that scores can once again be made available to the public.
• Automated Vehicles – The bill permits FMCSA to use $100 million in unspent funds from previous fiscal years to fund a highly automated commercial vehicle research and development program.
• WRI – While the bill itself does not include long standing language prohibiting FMCSA from moving forward with a wireless roadside, the committee report does direct the Secretary to monitor the program and to avoid creating conflicts with private systems.
• Truck Underride Guards – The committee report also directs NHTSA to move forward with a rulemaking to update truck rear impact guard requirements.
• Rest Break Preemption – The bill includes language that preempts the states from setting meal and rest break requirements for interstate carriers beyond those set by FMCSA.

What does this mean for you and your drivers?

– The ELD Mandate may be delayed, pending reporting by the FMCSA.
– Exemptions are still in play: Livestock haulers may be exempt from the ELD Mandate.
– Your CSA scores may be made public again.
– The FMCSA may be granted $100 million to fund automated commercial truck research and development.

Would you like further clarification on the articles discussed? Call a DOT Consultant at CNS at 1-888-339-2490 to hear more about changes that may be coming your way and how to best prepare!

Prepare for CVSA Brake Safety Day

CVSA has announced Brake Safety Day on September 7th, 2017. This day-long inspection blitz is replacing the annual CVSA brake safety week-long blitz.
The Level 1 37-step inspections will include a concentration on the following:
– Brake system components
– Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
– Worn linings, pads, drums, or rotors
– Other faulty brake system components

In addition to preparing by checking out brakes independently, consult with an FMCSA Qualified Brake Inspector when in doubt about your systems.

Feel free to call a DOT Consultant at CNS with any additional questions.

DOT Allocates $10M For Emergency Repairs for I-85

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued $10 million in emergency funds to the state of Georgia for repairs on the section of Interstate 85 that collapsed Thursday evening due to a fire.

A fire underneath an overpass on I-85 outside of Atlanta caused it to collapse, indefinitely closing both lanes of the major corridor. Through-trucks are required to use the I-285 bypass regardless, but now the state is diverting car traffic from I-85 to I-285, which could cause greater congestion on the bypass route.

The DOT has stated that the $10 million in “quick release”funding will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to the damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks.

Mentorship to Encourage Millennial Drivers in Your Company

In 2015, the American Trucking Association estimated that 890,000 new commercial truck drivers would be needed by 2025 to meet the rising freight demands. Currently, based on data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Baby Boomers” (ages 45-65) compose 49.4% of the drivers on the road, while “Millennials” (ages 21-34) make up less than 16%.

Why the shortage? What is inhibiting Millennials from pursuing a career on the road?
Several reasons are speculated by transportation industry professionals:
– An increase in load rates is needed to keep pace with the cost of living, or restructuring of way drivers are compensated. For Example, changing pay structures to hourly wages rather than a rate per mile.
– CDL holders must be 21 year of age or older for interstate travel. The increasing trend of post-high school young adults taking a “gap year” or two years before pursuing college or secondary education has allowed the transportation industry an opportunity that is squandered by federal regulation on interstate travel.
– Young drivers (under age 25) are costly to insure for trucking companies, and not desirable candidates for employment because of the financial burden they present.
And lastly:-
– Millennials do not view life on the road as attractive, exciting, or glamorous. Long haul opportunities are viewed as isolating and restrictive. Many are also unfamiliar with the complex regulations imposed by the FMCSA, and inexperienced with balancing communication between job requirements, company dispatchers, safety managers, and customers.

How can trucking companies better accommodate the needs of Millennials in the workplace, or on the road? Aside from the suggestion of pay increase or restructure, the impression of the isolated trucker must be addressed and reformed.
Like any industry, training is vital to a secure and enjoyable career. Although drivers are given adequate training on physically driving and maneuvering a truck, filling out a log book or operating e-log system, and communicating with a dispatcher.
A suggestion by our own president and CEO at Compliance Navigation Specialists is simply- “Mentorship”. At CNS, our consultants can guide you through the complex federal regulations and set you up for success in the trucking industry as an owner operator. However, the solitude of the road can be daunting. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference in your success.
“Mentorship programs at larger carriers, Swift for example, have proven effective at forging a relationship between an inexperienced driver and a veteran driver. In addition to knowledge gained by the inexperienced driver with a new CDL, it furthers the sense of community within the trucking industry.”
“A growing presence of young or inexperienced drivers, as well as driver’s spouses or families on social media proves that a sense of community is desired. It is time that companies follow suit to fulfill the benefit of inter-generational mentorships.”