Safety Fitness Determination

Closeup shot of male hand in watches holding car steering wheel

A proposed federal rule that would give the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration another means to score and target unsafe carriers has cleared the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The so-called Safety Fitness Determination Rule cleared the OMB late last week and is now in the hands of the DOT, ready for publication as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking when it chooses.

Since this is the proposed version of the rule, there will be a public comment period, likely either 60 or 90 days, following its publication. FMCSA will then begin work on a final version of the rule and send it down the regulatory pipeline for publication, a process that could take several years to complete.

The DOT has been working on the rule since 2007. Few details are known about what it entails. According to the agency’s regulatory summary, it would give FMCSA a new system to “determine when a motor carrier is not fit to operate.” The safety determination, however, would be in part based on the BASIC categories in the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, and it’s unclear whether recent Congressional action to remove CSA rankings from public view will impact the SFD rule.

Language in the highway bill expressly prohibited use of SMS BASIC “alerts and the relative percentile for each BASIC developed under the CSA program” to be used for carrier Safety Fitness Determinations until FMCSA acts on the required revamp of the CSA program. The highway bill directed the agency to, within 18 months, commission a study by the National Academies to recommend improvements to the CSA SMS, with implemented changes then following before returning the SMS to public view.

The NPRM will likely be published before year’s end.

If you have questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact CNS.  It is important that you understand what this could mean for you and your business.

Medical Card / MVR Requirements

Requirements starting January 30, 2015

Beginning January 30, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial driver’s license, who has submitted a current medical examiner’s certificate to the State documenting he/she meets the physical qualification requirements, will no longer need to carry the medical examiner’s certificate (or a copy of the certificate) for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification.

Beginning, July 8, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial learner’s permit, who has submitted a current medical examiner’s certificate to the State documenting he/she meets the physical qualification requirements, will no longer need to carry the medical examiner’s certificate (or a copy of the certificate) for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification.

A CDL or CLP holder who obtained a medical variance from FMCSA must continue to have the original or copy of the medical variance documentation in his/her possession at all times when on-duty.

Driver Qualification Files

If the CDL issuing state motor vehicle record contains medical certification status information for the CDL holder, the motor carrier employer must obtain the motor vehicle records from the current licensing State and place it in the driver qualification file. The motor carrier has 15 days to obtain the MVR from the date stamped on the medical examination certificate.  The medical examiner’s certificate or a copy must be placed in the DQ file for the 15 day period (or until the CDL issuing state MVR is put there).  Without either the MVR or the medical examiner’s certificate (for the 15 day period), the motor carrier may not let the driver operate a CMV.

After January 30, 2015, a non-excepted, interstate CDL or CLP holder who does not have medical certification status information on the CDL issuing state motor vehicle record will be designated “not-certified” to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. A motor carrier may use a copy of the driver’s current medical examiner’s certificate that was submitted to the state for up to 15 days from the date it was issued as proof of medical certification.

Under a proposed rule issued May 10, 2013, the 15 day grace period will eventually be removed.  (78 Fed. Reg. 27349.)  If the proposed rule is adopted without change, carriers would be required to obtain the CDL issuing state MVR before letting the driver drive, and would not be able to rely on putting the medical examiner’s certificate in the DQ file.  The rule would require medical examiners to submit the results of their medical examinations on the same day as the examination, and for states to update their CDL issuing state MVR information within a day.  Because there would be no delay in the information being put in the CDL issuing state, here would be no need for a delay in carriers obtaining the information.

If you are under CNS Driver File Management program there is no need to worry! We have got you covered. We will pull your CDL or CLP holders record 15 day after the medical card expires. We will also keep informing you on when the CDL or CLP holder’s medical card expires.

Not enrolled in CNS Driver File Management program yet? Contact us today and learn how easy it is to enroll. Plus, we will get you 100% compliant with your driver files. Call 1-888-260-9448 today.