COVID-19 and challenges for truckers
Truck drivers face concerns whether coming or going in this fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Personal and economic challenges face the 1.8 million CMV drivers in America, because unlike other businesses, a driver cannot simply choose to work from home.
Drivers face personal risk during this outbreak
At the forefront, the personal health and wellness of truck drivers is at stake. Drivers are literally in the front seat of this crisis as they travel the country delivering goods.
Several factors put truck drivers at greater risk of being exposed and/or contracting the coronavirus, including:
- nationwide travel
- handling of overseas goods
- exposure at truck stops for meals and showers
- multiple facility stops
On the flip side, driving is mostly an isolated activity. Still, it’s difficult for a driver to practice the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drivers face greater risk of illness
Besides the greater risk of contact with the coronavirus, according to a 2014 study by the CDC, drivers may also be at greater risk of falling ill from the virus .
The study showed more than half of truck drivers smoke and are two times as likely to have diabetes as the rest of the population. These health factors put them in a higher risk category should they contract the COVID-19 virus strain.
The issue grows greater with the realization that 38% of drivers do not have health insurance (same CDC study). Furthermore, paid sick leave in the trucking industry is uncommon.
Many companies are now conducting pre-shift screenings and temperature checks to further protect their employees.
Drivers face economic uncertainty
Additionally, financial stability for drivers is threatened by the secondary fallout of the virus, economic downturn. Since between 350,000 and 400,000 of America’s drivers are independent owner-operators, they work freelance, without the benefits of regulations that protect workers from sudden wage loss.
For fleet drivers, however, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects workers by requiring companies with more than one hundred employees to give at least 60-days of notice before layoffs or closings, if it would affect 50 or more employees.
Still, companies can increase down days or slow line rates as needed when addressing a market downturn.
Waiting out the viral impact
It seems likely the coronavirus outbreak will amplify pricing and capacity swings in the US trucking industry in 2020. Logistics experts warn of a coming price shock for shippers. Downshifts in the trucking market capacity and shipping rates are expected to remain longer than normal. However, when freight volume rises, as is expected when quarantines lift, so will rates.
Factors that increase shipping rates include the following:
- short supply of trucks
- increase in freight demand
- produce season
- spring retail sales surge
- manufacturing increases
Each of these factors could result in greater truckload capacity, which would ease the pinch of the coronavirus impact to the trucking industry and drivers, specifically.
Trucking Startups, Hiring Drivers and CDL Training
No matter what your current situation is in the trucking industry, we have a service that would be valuable to you, like CDL training, starting your own trucking business or hiring new, qualified drivers.
If you have been laid off, this might be a good time to start training to get your CDL. There will be a need for more drivers as businesses and events resume normal operation in the coming months.
If you are already a driver in the trucking industry, this may be the perfect time for you to start your own trucking company. Securing loads will not be an issue once the economy bounces back.
If you are a trucking company, you will most likely need to be hiring qualified drivers in the near future, and you will need to get good, qualified drivers very quickly, as well as manage all of the files for those drivers.
Have you been selected for a compliance review?
Being selected for a Compliance Review (CR) as a motor carrier can bring a lot of stress and headaches. But much of this anxiety lies in being uninformed about the auditing process.
Let’s look at what a Compliance Review entails and how you and your company can prepare for one.
What is a Compliance Review?
A Compliance Review is basically a checkup to evaluate performance of the FMCSA regulations and record-keeping to determine if safety management controls are compliant.
It is important to “do your homework” in advance, in case you do get audited, which is very possible.
Two important things you should you know if you are being audited?
- Know the regulations you are subject to as a motor carrier
- Know which records an Auditor will expect to review
6 Inspection Categories of a Compliance Review
Each category is called a “factor,” and is rated as:
1. General requirements
- Documentation of proper liability coverage for the type of carrier and cargo. Refer to Section 387.9 of the FMCSR for details.
- Forms CS-90 or MCS-82, signed by an insurance provider representative.
- Vehicle markings: CMVs marked on two sides with the name listed on the MCS-150 form, and the DOT number preceded by “USDOT.”
- Training records: Keep detailed records of all transportation safety training. Be able to show training for any employee involved in compliance.
2. Driver qualifications
- Driver licenses must equal the vehicle class being driven and have the correct endorsements.
- be sure to track your employees license expiration dates.
- have a CDL Driver drug and alcohol testing program in place.
- written policy on your testing program is required. Distributed this policy to all CDL drivers and get a signed receipt from all drivers to keep in your files.
- if safety function duties require PART 40 Drug and Alcohol testing, then verify past three years of employment. Required tests include:
- Pre-employment drug test, Post-accident drug and alcohol, Random drug and alcohol, Reasonable suspicion
- Documentation for employees retained after a positive drug test result.
- Driver qualification file should be well-organized and include the following items:
- application for employment
- employment verification from previous three years with safety performance history and drug/alcohol test results, if applicable.
- Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) from past three years
- Road test and certification
- DOT physical certification from past three years
- entry-level driver training, if needed
- state agencies 3-year driving record inquiry
- annual written driver statement of violations
- signed annual reviews from motor carrier from past three years
- waivers (if any)
For a complete list of documents that should be included in the Driver Qualification File, print out this handy checklist. But the items above are ones required for an audit.
- 6 months of driver logs and supporting documents.
- motor carriers must comply with record-keeping requirements even when using a logging exception.
4. Vehicle requirements
- 12 months of vehicle maintenance file for any CMV under motor carrier control for 30 consecutive days. Include the following information:
- Motor carrier number (or license plate number)
- Model and year
- Vehicle identification number (VIN) or serial number
- Tire size
- Owner (if not the motor carrier)
- proof of periodic inspection (or approved sticker).
- certification of anyone performing CMV brake system work.
- 90 days’ worth of post-trip inspection reports, with mechanic signature that defects were corrected, signature of the next driver’s pre-trip inspection, and name of individual who accepted vehicle back into service.
5. Hazardous Materials
- Shipping papers and emergency response information (from shipper). Retain these for one year (three years for hazardous waste).
- Refer to 49 CFR Section 172.203 for full details of what must be on shipping papers.
- Accident register listing all accidents as defined by Section 390.5 of the FMCSR (a.k.a. “DOT recordable accidents”)
- Per Section 390.15, the register must include this information:
- Accident date and hour
- Location city, state, and address
- Number of deaths
- Number of non-fatal injuries
- Hazardous materials (not including fuel spills)
- Driver’s name
- Copy of State or Insurance Report
- Maintain records on the accident register for three years.
- View a sample accident register
Be ready for a Compliance Review at all times
Maintaining proper record-keeping and organization is key to being ready for a Compliance Review at all times.
If you maintain accurate records, and keep your files up to date, then the next time you see “You’ve been selected,” all the required materials will be at hand. No doubt, this will relieve stress and help you pass a Compliance Review quickly and without issue.
DOT Audit Services
CNS offers several different types of audit services, including:
- DOT Mock Audits
- New Entrant Audits
- DOT Audit representation
- IFTA Audit representation
- IRP Audit representation
All CNS services are geared toward keeping your trucking company safe, compliant, and on the road.