Tips For New Drivers Rushing To Become Owner-Operators

Start a Trucking Company in XX Steps

Truckload rates for flatbeds, refrigerated and dry vans are at record highs right now and are expected to remain historically high next year as we ease out of pandemic and online shopping stays at record levels and businesses are stocking back up.

This demand, as well as drivers getting out of the independent contractor mess, has led to a record 59,000 authorities being applied for by new motor carriers in 2020 and this year looks no different as around 51,000 motor carriers have already received carrier authorities.

Tips For New Drivers Rushing To Become Owner-Operators

Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president-trucking, who presented findings during a company webinar last week, said “the applicants were not driver newbies, but company drivers who have gone out on their own or owner-operators that had been working under a lease arrangement with larger carriers but became fully independent either voluntarily or after being cut loose during 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the nation’s economy.”

While many of these new carriers have driving history, going on your own brings a new set of complications to become successful.

How To Start Off On The Right Foot

To receive your authority, you must have insurance on file. To avoid paying for insurance coverage you do not yet need, talk to your insurer to have it become effective approximately two weeks into the start-up process.

Getting your own operating authority is usually a straightforward process but there are many steps needed before and after you get your authority, which will take 21 days or more to get approved. We can assist you with each step individually or as part of a full compliance program which we will discuss more in a moment.

The following are some if the items you will need to complete:

When you are ready to start moving freight, cash flow is often a problem because it may take 45 to 60 days before getting paid for your first load. It is best practice for new carriers to have operating capital to sustain your business for up to two months.

As a new entrant, it is required to follow Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations and they will want to see some established records and processes during your New Entrant Safety Audit that will happen within the first 12 months of operation to complete the New Entrant Program.

Motor carriers should not delay responding to the DOT auditor because ignoring their requests—especially the “no contact letter” or “demand letter” for scheduling an audit—could lead to fines of up to $10,000 and/or suspension of their operating authority.

Compliance Navigation Specialists is an industry leading compliance company that will help you stay in compliance and help provide records you will need to keep your commercial insurance rates as low as possible.

Our safety management programs are perfect for combining multiple services and focuses 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

Do you still need commercial trucking insurance?

It never hurts to get a quote and try saving money on your insurance premiums. Give our sister company Norther Insurance Specialists a call anytime to discuss getting a quote.

Before we can get you an estimate, we are going to need some information.

Fill out a complete quote or quick quote to get started.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 800.724.5523 or email info@northernprotects.com.

Staffing Shortages at Labs Causing Turnaround Delays for Drug Screens

i3screen is reporting that there are turnaround delays on drug test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

As the nursing shortage hits the healthcare system, escalating due to COVID burnout, the laboratory community is facing not enough medical technologists to properly staff the nation’s laboratories.

i3screen is reporting that there are turnaround delays on drug test results due to staffing shortages at several laboratories, affecting both Quest and LabCorp.

Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night from couriers and lab technicians, review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information, and perform a Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) test on samples with trace amounts of drugs during the initial screen.

With staffing shortages affecting the largest drug screening labs across the country, the delays in turnaround will be most visible if there are chain of custody form flaws or drugs potentially found in the specimen.

This is because when it is determined that a chain has a correctable flaw, the lab sends a memorandum of record (or affidavit) to the collector to be completed and sent back to the lab for the technicians to verify again.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF and requests an affidavit to be fixed. The lab cannot proceed with testing the sample until they receive the completed memorandum, which delays the overall resulting times.

If there is any trace of drugs in that initial screen’s sample, it goes through a GCMS test once or multiple times (after breaking down the urine sample further) until the test produces an affirmative negative, positive, negative-dilute, or positive-dilute result.

Since a batch of drug test samples gets processed once every 24 hours during the GCMS testing, the staffing shortage is likely to backlog these processes further.

For our clients, as soon as a result is reported to the MRO team, we will get the results out as soon as possible.

Drug and Alcohol Services

At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

Our experts ensure that all DOT rules and regulations are followed, including the implementation of random drug tests for you and your drivers, updating your company drug testing policies, record retention and document purge management.

We take all the necessary steps and precautions to keep you and your drivers compliant with the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements.

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

Where The Infrastructure Plans Stand And Their Impact On Trucking

Infrastructure Plans And Their Impact On Trucking

As we have discussed in our previous articles, there are two bills moving at the same time that are separate from each other, but still connected under Biden’s infrastructure hopes.

First, there is the bipartisan “physical” infrastructure plan that is estimated to cost $1 trillion, down from the $2.3 trillion proposal.

The infrastructure bill is focused primarily on what senators consider “core” infrastructure, including repairing roads, bridges, waterways and airports, as well as expanding access to things like broadband and electric vehicle charging stations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will force a vote next Wednesday on advancing the bipartisan infrastructure package before the August recess. It is not clear whether 10 Republicans will vote to advance the bipartisan bill.

Second, there is the recent partisan budget agreement spending deal that is expected to be around $3.5 trillion that will include much of the $1.8 trillion “human” infrastructure American Families Plan.

The American Families Plan will use about $1 trillion in investments and $800 billion in tax credits over a decade, paid by the richest Americans who make over $400,000, aimed toward children and families. The Biden administration maintains that under the new plan, no one making $400,000 a year or less will see their taxes go up.

Senate Democrats cannot lose a single vote on the reconciliation bill in a Senate split 50-50 by party.

 

How will the infrastructure plan affect the trucking industry?

While the bipartisan plan has not been fully written out yet, Biden’s original proposal can give us a clue.

Transportation = $621B

  • $115B will go towards bridges, highways, roads, and $20B for road safety
    • Will address about 20,000 miles of roads
    • Replace the top 10 most economically significant bridges, and
    • Repair around 10,000 bridges
  • $85B for Public Transportation for new rail cars and transportation to connect cities within and into cities
  • $80B for Amtrak
  • $25B for Airports
  • $17B for Ports, waterways, and ferries

 Electric Vehicles = $174B

  • This will include tax incentives and rebates to push buying American-made cars
  • An estimated 500,000 charging stations by 2030, and
  • Electrifying buses and federal vehicles

 Electric Grid = $100B

  • Make grid more resilient
  • Includes 10-year extension and phase down of an expanded refundable investment tax credit and production tax credit for renewable energy generation and storage
  • Higher labor standards
  • 100% carbon pollution free power by 2035
  • $16B will go towards abandoned mines and gas wells

 Corporate Tax Hikes to include:

  • 15% minimum tax on corporate profits (to prevent businesses like Amazon who may have zero tax on profits currently)
  • Increase corporate tax rate to 28%

Workforce = $100B

  • Workforce development, including apprenticeships and assistance for those who have lost their jobs
  • Create hundreds of thousands of jobs across multiple industries

A recent study on Biden’s infrastructure plan found that commercial truck driver jobs are forecast to make some of the biggest gains from the 15 million infrastructure jobs created or saved over 10 years.

“Transportation and materials moving” make up 60% of the infrastructure related occupations either created or saved by Biden’s plan while jobs for commercial drivers of heavy trucks and light truck/delivery drivers would account for 20% of the 15 million jobs estimated in the report.

The report also forecasts that the infrastructure jobs created or saved would be spread across the country with roughly 20% of the infrastructure jobs would be in Midwestern states and 22% going to states in the Southeast.

 

Change happens. How can I stay compliant?

If these bills get passed, there will be a boom in trucking jobs and freight demand, as well as a rise in new venture trucking startups.

This means carriers will need to smoothly manage the compliance requirements in DQ files, ELD management, drug testing, and more.

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 To Prepare For A Comprehensive FMCSA Safety Audit

How To Prepare For A Comprehensive FMCSA Safety Audit

Did you receive an email or phone call requesting an FMCSA safety audit or comprehensive compliance review?

What is an FMCSA Safety Audit or Compliance Review?  

A safety audit or compliance review is an examination of a motor carrier’s records in all categories of safety compliance by a safety investigator from the FMCSA. 

Any motor carrier can be selected for a compliance review at any time, but generally selections are based on multiple BASIC stats being over threshold or as the result of a serious accident or complaint. 

While there are many different types of audits a carrier can face, the mindset and procedures are similar when preparing for any audit and the best defense is knowledge about what happens in an audit.

Let us look at the comprehensive review process, common violations auditors look for, and eight best practices when preparing for an FMCSA audit.

Scheduling an FMCSA Compliance Review

Regardless of the reasons you were selected for an FMCSA audit, the DOT officer or state representative will contact you to schedule the compliance review, primarily by phone, and then email.

Motor carriers should not delay responding to the DOT auditor because ignoring their requests—especially the “no contact letter” or “demand letter” for scheduling an audit—could lead to fines of up to $10,000 and/or suspension of their operating authority.

When you are scheduling the DOT audit date, carriers should plan for two weeks to one month to prepare, but should understand that audits can be scheduled with only 48-hours of notice.

Note: In certain situations, like after a serious crash, the compliance review audit could happen without any prior notice.

After scheduling the review date, the auditor should provide the carrier a list of items they want you to provide along with a current list of carriers and vehicles that have operated in the previous 12 months.

How to prepare for the FMCSA audit

Generally, carriers only have about 2 weeks to prepare for an audit. However, following audit preparation best practices and staying organized on a regular basis will prevent any last minute scrambling.

All carriers will inevitably be subject to some type of audit, so it is never too early to prepare, and going above and beyond the DOT compliance requirements will only make this process smoother.

Impressing the DOT auditor and keeping them in a good mood throughout the audit goes a long way.

There are 9 steps of a comprehensive compliance review, which are:

  1. Opening Interview
  2. Driver Qualification Files
  3. Hours of Service
  4. Drug and Alcohol
  5. Maintenance
  6. Financial Responsibility
  7. Accident Review
  8. HAZMAT, if applicable
  9. Close Out Review

While all recent files must be made available for the auditor to review, they will only look at a sampling of the files and look for the commonly missed items.

However, they will likely start by reviewing drivers that have a red flag violation on file and look closely at every area that has had a previous violation on record. 

This is where paying attention to details can mean the difference between passing and failing an audit.

Below are common issues inspectors look for in each step of the compliance review.

Driver Qualification (DQ) Files

When it comes to DQ files, the most common items missing are:

  • the annual motor vehicle record,
  • a list of violations from the drivers, and
  • a record of the annual driver review

Hours of Service (HOS)

For hours of service, auditors will request all supporting documents, such as bills of lading, fuel receipts, weight tickets, lodging, and more.

If carriers withhold any supporting documents, the violation is weighted the same as having a false log. This is a common area where non-compliant carriers think they can hide information that could prove hours of service violations, but inspectors know what to look for.

Drug and Alcohol

The most common documents missing from drug and alcohol files are:

  • pre-employment test results for each driver
  • reasonable suspicion testing results

Another common issue are carries diluting the random drug testing pool by having non-CDL drivers in a CDL-only pool. While this may be an innocent mistake, this reduces the chances of required drivers being randomly selected for a drug test.

Maintenance

There are five areas in a maintenance review, which are:

  • annual inspections
  • preventative maintenance schedule
  • random or repair maintenance
  • daily vehicle inspection reports
  • DOT roadside inspections

The auditor will look for any vehicle that was operating with an out-of-service maintenance condition by comparing when a maintenance issue came up and when the repair was fixed.

Best practices when preparing for a DOT audit

Now that you understand the common violations found in an FMCSA safety audit, how can you prevent these violations from happening to you?

There are 8 best practices every carrier should prioritize:

  1. Maintain good record-keeping procedures – keep all documentation current and accurate
  2. Good company policies – Focus on hiring, work, and discipline
  3. Proof of consistent Hours of Service – monitoring, auditing, and corrective actions for logbook violations
  4. Maintain good vehicle maintenance records  – DVIR, annual inspections, and preventative maintenance
  5. DO NOT wait until the last minute to get files ready
  6. Establish a voluntary “Cooperative Safety Plan” – file it with the FMCSA to address any underlying issues that have or could potentially lead to safety issues and improve its performance
  7. Conduct Mock DOT audits – Third-party experts can go through the audit process to identify issues that need correcting
  8. Act quickly to fix any problems discovered – Pay special attention to high-risk issues

Are you being reactive or proactive?  

The best tip we can provide carriers is to exceed, and not “just meet” the DOT regulations.

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.

What Are The Most Common Triggers That Prompt A DOT Audit?

What Are The Most Common Triggers That Prompt A DOT Audit?

Any time a driver is placed out-of-service at roadside, it increases the chances of a company audit.

While a safety audit can occur at any time, there are many red flags that trigger the FMCSA to review a company’s operation.

Part of being prepared for a compliance review is knowing what can trigger an audit and how to prevent them from happening.

We will cover five common triggers that could prompt a DOT audit, which include:

  1. High CSA scores
  2. Crashes
  3. Roadside Out-of-Service Violations
  4. Failing a new entrant audit
  5. Complaints

High CSA scores can trigger a DOT audit

The FMCSA created the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program as a method of identifying high-risk commercial motor carriers, as well as the Safety Measurement System (SMS) which uses data from state-reported crashes, roadside inspections, and investigation results from the last two years.

Poor CSA scores will increase your chance of an audit because there are certain “Intervention Thresholds” the FMCSA uses to prioritize interventions.

Interventions are based on the number of percentiles a carrier has at or above the established BASIC Intervention Thresholds.

Being at or above these threshold limits will likely trigger a comprehensive compliance review:

BASIC Intervention ThresholdsGeneral HazmatPassenger
Unsafe Driving, Crash Indicator, HOS Compliance65% 60%50%
Maintenance, Controlled Substances, Driver Fitness80% 75%65%
HM Compliance80% 80%80%

Crashes can trigger a DOT audit

While a single crash could trigger an audit, the severity of the accident will increase your chances and possibly trigger a compliance review without any prior notice.

When it comes to the Unsafe Driving/Crash BASIC indicator, too many violations could trigger an audit.

To reduce the chance of violations in this area, carriers should:

  • Avoid hiring drivers with a history of speeding
  • Eliminate or minimize in-cab distractions like texting and eating
  • Ensure drivers always wear seat belts; and
  • Encourage drivers to avoid tailgating or change lanes without signaling

Out-of-service violations at roadside inspections can trigger a DOT audit

Any time a driver is placed out-of-service at roadside, the chances of a company audit increase.

To prevent drivers from being pulled in for a roadside inspection, carriers should focus on keeping the ISS score and out-of-service ratings as low as possible, especially below the national average.

  • ISS Score
    • 1-49 = Passing
    • 50-74 = Optional
    • 75-100 = Inspect
  • Driver Out-of-Service national average = 5.5%
  • Vehicle Out-of-Service national average = 20.7%

While inspections do happen at random, there are common things that roadside inspectors look for when determining what drivers will be pulled in for inspection.

For example, if you have a headlight out, inspectors may assume the driver did not do a good pre-trip inspection and there could be other maintenance violations they will want to check in more detail.

Additionally, if your truck is dirty, inspectors may assume the driver is not taking care of bigger problems, like brakes or suspension.

Failure of a New Entrant Audit can trigger a DOT audit

While investigators understand that the new entrant audit is a learning curve for many new carriers, the FMCSA will monitor those who did not pass their first audit.

This is where having a firm grasp on the regulations is critical.

A lack of basic safety management controls or failure to comply with any one of the following 16 regulations will result in a notice to revoke your USDOT new entrant registration unless immediate action is taken:

  1. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or controlled substances testing program
  2. Using a driver known to have an alcohol content of 0.04 or greater to perform a safety-sensitive function.
  3. Using a driver who has refused to submit to an alcohol or controlled substances test required under part 382.
  4. Using a driver known to have tested positive for a controlled substance.
  5. Failing to implement a testing program for alcohol and/or random controlled substances.
  6. Knowingly using a driver who does not possess a valid CDL.
  7. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing an employee to operate a commercial motor vehicle with a commercial learner’s permit or commercial driver’s license which is disqualified by a State, has lost the right to operate a CMV in a State or who is disqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  8. Knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing someone to drive who is disqualified from driving a commercial motor vehicle.
  9. Operating a motor vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility coverage.
  10. Operating a passenger carrying vehicle without having in effect the required minimum levels of financial responsibility.
  11. Knowingly using a disqualified driver.
  12. Knowingly using a physically unqualified driver.
  13. Failing to require a driver to make a record of duty status.
  14. Requiring or permitting the operation of a commercial motor vehicle declared ‘‘out-of-service’’ before repairs are made.
  15. Failing to correct out-of-service defects listed by driver in a driver vehicle inspection report before the vehicle is operated again.
  16. Using a commercial motor vehicle not periodically inspected.

Complaints can trigger a DOT audit

Finally, anyone who finds out that a motor carrier or truck driver is engaging in negligent behavior can file a complaint with the FMCSA within 90 days from the time they learned about the behavior.

To file an FMCSA complaint, they can either call the agency at 888-DOT-SAFT or fill out an online complaint form.

Once the complaint is submitted, it becomes part of the trucking company’s permanent record in the National Consumer Complaint Database and will eventually prompt the FMCSA to investigate, especially if there are multiple recent or serious complaints.

Proactive Safety 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.

Beyond DQ files, our safety management programs are perfect for combining multiple services and focuses 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.

Future of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and Exemption Requests

fmcsa cdl clearinghouse annual queries

The CDL Clearinghouse program took effect on January 6, 2020 stating that all trucking companies with an operating authority—including owner-operators—are required to register in the clearinghouse and conduct a yearly query on each driver and store their violation history.

According to the April 2021 CDL Clearinghouse report, drug and alcohol violations are pacing around 60,000 each year, consistent with 2020 Clearinghouse data of 56,000 violations.

With over 5.1 million drivers under the authority of FMCSA, the annual positive rate would be 1.12%, likely delaying the random drug testing rate drop from 50% to 25% until 2025 or later.

With the Biden administration still in their first year, DOT priorities are being outlined and changes to the CDL Clearinghouse are likely coming.

But what changes are on the horizon? 

 

Biden nominates a data-centric regulator to head FMCSA

Meera Joshi, a New York City taxi regulator who pioneered the use of data tools to weed out unsafe drivers and devised a pay protection program for drivers working for app-based services, has been serving as deputy and acting FMCSA administrator since January.

She has been nominated to lead the FMCSA.

If she is confirmed, a full plate of issues await her, including the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Program, proposals to lower the legal age for commercial truck drivers, autonomous vehicles, and the impact of the new drug and alcohol test clearinghouse.

Most notable is a proposed rule that would revise the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. According to the abstract listed with the rule, the proposal would “streamline and improve error-correction procedures, queries and consent requirements.” As of right now, the notice of proposed rulemaking is expected in February 2022.

 

FMCSA Clearinghouse Exemptions

Other likely changes coming to the drug and alcohol Clearinghouse are exemption requests.

Last year, the Motion Picture Compliance Solutions (MPCS) exemption to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule has been granted after stating that it did not fit their industry’s model.

According to the FMCSA, MPCS specifically requested “an exemption from the requirement that an employer must not employ a driver who is subject to drug and alcohol testing to perform safety-sensitive functions prior to conducting a full query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.” Instead, the MPCS would conduct a limited query of the Clearinghouse before an employer can hire a driver for a project.

In March, the transportation company FirstGroup requested a similar exemption from FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse pre-employment full query because it is costing them “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The company applied for the exemption on behalf of three of its subsidiaries, First Student, First Transit, and First Mile Square and is the largest provider of home-to-school transportation in North America with a fleet of 43,000 yellow school buses.

FirstGroup says the full query requirement is “hindering its ability to hire at the speed and level needed to keep pace with the demands of the contracted school and transit transportation industry.” The company added that the delays and administrative costs stemming from full query has resulted in “hundreds of thousands of dollars of increased costs.”

Like the MPCS exemption, First Group is requesting FMCSA to allow it to conduct a limited pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse. If the limited query indicated that information about the driver existed in the Clearinghouse, the company would then conduct a full query with the consent of the driver. As part of the exemption request, FirstGroup also would conduct a second limited query within 30 to 55 days of the initial limited query and conduct multiple limited queries on all its’ CDL drivers each year.

As one commenter on the request noted, if approved, this would “open the flood gate that will surely result in additional carriers applying for the same exception.”

Regardless of the outcome to this exemption request, more exemption requests are likely to come as hiring pressure builds and inflated costs continue to burden larger carriers.

Whether or not the exemptions are approved is yet to be seen and will depend highly on the situation of the particular carrier requesting the exemption.

 

Need Clearinghouse and Compliance help?

It is important to note that effective January 6, 2023, the FMCSA clearinghouse will become the sole query source for employers to meet the requirement to identify prospective drivers with drug and alcohol violations.

Right now, carriers must request previous employment for drug testing history and query the Clearinghouse database.

Carriers must also perform a clearinghouse query on all drivers annually. If non-compliance surfaces in a compliance review or safety audit, a carrier faces a fine of up to $2,500 per offense.

CNS offers a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).

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

New DOT Drug Testing CCF Form Required August 30, 2021 Or Cause Delays

New 2021 DOT CCF form

After August 30, 2021, using the old DOT CCF form will cause affidavits and result in delays. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the updated and revised Federal Custody and Control (CCF) for DOT drug testing is available now and must be used by August 30, 2021. This is a required component of the DOT drug testing program.

If an old Federal CCF form is used after August 30, 2021 a memorandum for record (MFR), or an affidavit will be required by laboratories before DOT urine specimens are tested, which will ultimately cause delays.

Laboratories receive thousands of specimens each night and lab technicians review all chain of custody forms to make sure each chain does not have missing information. When it is determined that a chain is not complete, the lab then determines whether the flaw is correctable or fatal.

If one of the seven fatal flaws are committed, the test is canceled and reported to the MRO as a fatal flaw.

One example of a fatal flaw is when the collector does not print their name and sign the chain.

In the case of a correctable flaw, the lab sends a memorandum of record (or affidavit) to the collector to be completed and sent back to the lab.

An example of a correctable flaw is when the lab receives an old CCF and requests an affidavit to be fixed. The lab cannot proceed with testing the sample until they receive the completed memorandum, which delays the overall resulting times.

Some common questions surrounding the New CCF Form

Who do these form changes affect?

  • Employers
  • Consortia/Third Party Administrators (C/TPAs)
  • Collection sites
  • Laboratories
  • Medical Review Officers (MROs)

How do I know if I have the old DOT CCF form or the new DOT CCF form? 

The easiest way to know the difference is that Copy 1 Lab copy in Step 2 has information about ORAL FLUID testing.  The old form does not mention Oral Fluid.

Is Oral Fluid testing now authorized? 

No. DOT has not yet authorized Oral Fluid testing, do not collect oral fluid using these new DOT CCF forms. 

What should I do with the old CCF forms? 

As soon as you have the new DOT CCF’s, throw away the old DOT CCF’s, this is critical.

Where can I find official information on this? 

Go to: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/workplace/2020-fed-ccf-proof.pdf

Where do I get the new CCF forms? 

Whoever manages your drug testing account, Lab or TPA can assist you so that you receive the new DOT CCF form before August 30, 2021.  Many labs are saying to order the new forms in July.

Another option is to work with a third-party administrator (TPA) that can provide you with electronic ordering (eCCF) with no paper drug testing forms.


How can I stay compliant with this change?

Our Compliance Specialists can assist you with any questions you might have.

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

 

PennDOT Extends Expiration Dates for Apportioned Vehicle Registrations to June 16, 2021

PennDOT Approves Tolls for Bridges in Funding Model

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that the expiration date for apportioned vehicle registrations for Pennsylvania registrants that were set to expire between May 31, 2021 and June 16, 2021 are now extended through June 16, 2021.

Customers in need of apportioned registration renewals now have until on June 16, 2021 to complete the renewal process.

Apportioned registrants should mail their apportioned renewal applications or invoice payment to the Department for processing, or it may be dropped off at the Riverfront Office Center in Harrisburg, 1101 S. Front Street, Harrisburg.

Apportioned invoices may be paid in person by cash, certified check, cashier’s check or money order made payable to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Invoices can also be paid via wire transfer, please visit our website at www.dmv.pa.gov for more information.

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

FMCSA Medical Review Board Advances Plan for Drivers with Monocular Vision

FMCSA vision exemption program and Drivers with Monocular Vision

Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Medical Review Board approved a proposal to eliminate the exemption process for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers with monocular vision.

When finalized, the amendment would permit an individual who cannot meet either the current distant visual acuity or field of vision standard or both, in one eye to be physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce under specified conditions.

Currently, a driver who does not have a correctable 20/40 vision in both their left and right eyes, by wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, would be disqualified from operating a CMV in interstate commerce unless they received a vision exemption.

Specific automatic medically disqualified conditions can be found under 49 CFR Part 391.41.

The current standard requires drivers to have:

  • A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses.
  • A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without
    corrective lenses.
  • A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye.
  • The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red,
    green, and amber.

FMCSA vision exemption program

The current FMCSA vision exemptionprogram is for monocular vision.

The waiver currently in place has been granting drivers with vision in only one eye since 1998 and is estimated that over 2,500 interstate drivers hold an FMCSA vision exemption.

The vision exemption is issued for a maximum of 2 years and is renewable. Provisions of the vision exemption include an annual medical exam and an eye exam by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.

At the annual recertification exam, the driver should present the current vision exemption and a copy of the specialist’s eye exam report. The medical examiner will certify the qualified driver, usually for one year, and issue a medical exam certificate with the vision exemption marked on the form.

The driver is responsible to carry both the vision exemption and the medical exam certificate while driving and keeping both current and up to date.

What is changing with the FMCSA vision exemption program?

An alternative vision standard would involve a two-step process for physical qualification.

  1. A prospective driver seeking physical qualification would obtain a vision evaluation from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. The findings would provide specific medical information and opinions on a proposed Vision Evaluation Report.
  2. A medical examiner would perform an examination and determine whether the individual meets the proposed vision standard along with FMCSA’s physical qualification standards. If the medical examiner determines that the individual meets the physical qualification standards, the medical examiner could issue a Medical Examiner’s Certificate for a maximum of 12 months.

With some limited exceptions, individuals initially physically qualified under the alternative standard would be required to complete a road test by a prospective employer motor carrier before operating a CMV in interstate commerce.

The approved proposal would grandfather provision for drivers currently operating under the vision waiver study program.


Why choose CNS for my DOT physical?

CNS offers DOT physical exams on-site at our Lititz, PA location with our Certified Medical Examiner (CME). For more flexibility, we offer mobile DOT physicals to companies that qualify. Find out if your company qualifies now.

We are efficient in scheduling appointments and respect your time, preventing you from having long wait times in crowded waiting rooms. We also have competitive rates, and we understand your budget and operating costs as a driver and/or company.

The CNS Occupational Medicine staff is experienced and friendly, and our CMEs are professionals that will effectively evaluate your status.

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

How To Pass 2021 CVSA Brake Safety Week Set For August 22-28

DOT Audit | DOT Compliance Services | CNS

Last year’s CVSA Brake Safety Week found 12% of the 43,565 commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related violations and were placed out-of-service.

The annual CVSA Brake Safety Week enforcement blitz is scheduled for August 22-28, 2021.

Enforcement officials will inspect commercial motor vehicles during this time and place vehicles out-of-service (OOS) until any critical OOS brake or other violations are corrected. Vehicles that pass may receive a passed-inspection CVSA decal.

“Brakes are one of the most important systems in a vehicle,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Failure of any component of a brake system could be catastrophic. Routine brake system inspections and component replacement are vital to the safety of commercial motor vehicles.”

2020 CVSA International Roadcheck and Brake Safety Week Results

According to the US federal regulations and the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, if your brake system efficiency falls below the minimum of 43.5%, your vehicle will be put out-of-service.

Brake system and brake adjustment violations during last year’s International Roadcheck inspection accounted for 38.6% of all OOS conditions. That was more than any other vehicle violation category.

“Brake system” was the third most cited vehicle-related factor in fatal commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle crashes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” report.

Last year’s Brake Safety Week found that 12% of commercial motor vehicles inspected had brake-related violations and were placed out-of-service.

The dates for Brake Safety Week are shared in advance to remind motor carriers, drivers, and commercial motor vehicle mechanics/technicians to proactively check and service their vehicles.

What is covered in a roadside brake safety truck inspection?

Inspectors will be paying special attention to brake hoses and tubing, which must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks, appropriately flexible, and free of leaks, corrosion, and any other type of damage.Top of Form

At roadside, brake inspections include visual checks as well as an air brake test using a performance-based brake tester (PBBT) in the 14 jurisdictions where it is available. The performance-based air brake test measures the slow speed brake force and weight at each wheel and uses those measurements to determine the efficiency of the braking system.

As long as the brake system efficiency stays above 43.5%, the vehicle will not be placed out-of-service, unless another critical OOS violation is found.

How can I prepare for a truck inspection of my air brakes?

If you know your brake system you are more likely to know if there is an issue. You should know what size and type of air brake chamber you have and learn how to properly identify it.

Check out our industry library resources of 15 videos, 2 ebooks, industry links, and CNS In The News content.

Most air brake chambers will have a marking on them, letting you know what type and size it is. If you know the type of chamber you have, you will also be able to determine the maximum allowable push rod travel for that brake chamber and whether it is in or out of adjustment.

You should inspect your air brake system and all brake components regularly during your pre and post-trip inspection to keep your vehicle in safe operating condition.

The list below covers some items you can visually check on a regular basis to ensure they are securely attached, leak-free, and free of damage, such as corrosion and holes.

  • Air brake chamber
  • Brake hoses and tubing
  • Cotter pins
  • Clevis pins
  • Slack adjuster
  • Air lines

The CVSA has answered some frequently asked questions about your air brake system and inspection and have also provided an air brake inspection checklist, which is a great way to be sure you are prepared for your roadside safety inspection.

In addition to being prepared for a brake inspection, it is even more important to be prepared for a complete truck inspection.


Vehicles Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance costs can be a huge line item for fleet companies and at times, hard to keep under control. Routine maintenance of your vehicles is a necessity to ensure that your biggest assets always stay on the road.

An experienced and knowledgeable vehicle maintenance partner can make all the difference.

CNS can effectively manage your vehicle maintenance to meet your specific driving demands. We effortlessly handle an unlimited number of preventive maintenance schedules for all the vehicles in your fleet.

Serving your customers is your business; maintaining your fleet should be ours. Depend on CNS to keep your vehicles on the road and benefit from our expertise and gain a partnership that is dedicated to your success.

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