Monday Morning Alert for Safety Professionals

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February 27, 2017

MANAGING POST-ACCIDENT ALCOHOL & DRUG TESTING ISSUES

 

Perhaps the most challenging requirement of the FMCSA's Alcohol & Drug Testing regulations is post-accident testing. The requirement, set forth at 49 C.F.R. §382.303, is straight forward enough: A trucking company must ensure that its driver submits to post-accident testing if the crash involves 1) a fatality; 2) bodily injury requiring immediate medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, but only if the driver receives a citation; and 3) one or more of the vehicles being towed from the scene due to disabling damage, but only if the driver receives a citation. Both alcohol and drug testing must be done "as soon as practicable" after the company learns the accident meets one of the three criteria. However, if the alcohol test is not administered within two hours of the crash, the company must "prepare and maintain on file a record stating the reasons for the delay. If the alcohol test is not administered within 8 hours of the crash, or the drug test is not administered within 32 hours of the crash, the company must "prepare and maintain on file a record" stating the reasons why the test was not administered. Drivers need to remain available for testing, and the failure to remain available for testing may be considered a refusal to test.

 

While the requirement is straight forward enough, logistic and communication issues immediately present challenges to the motor carrier. Accidents are by their nature unpredictable and may occur outside the normal working hours of the safety department and in remote locations. Many hours may pass before the trucking company can even confirm that the accident involves a fatality or meets the other criteria for post-accident testing. Communication with the driver may be very limited if not impossible, as the driver may be hospitalized or is being treated for injuries, or may be in the custody and control of law enforcement, even if the driver is not formally arrested.  

 

Trucking companies can do a couple of things to help meet these challenges and ensure compliance with the post-accident testing requirements. First, all companies should have established post-accident policies and procedures that set forth a driver's post-accident   responsibilities regarding conduct at the scene and communication with the company. Drivers should be well-trained on these policies and procedures, including the driver's post-accident testing obligations. Second, all companies should have an established point person, usually the safety director, to manage the accident and communications with all players, including the driver, law enforcement, insurers, and others. Third, all activities related to the accident need to be logged, with the date, time, location, names, telephone numbers, etc. and a description of the nature of the communication or activity.

 

If the accident involves a fatality or is otherwise significant, law enforcement may conduct their own post-accident alcohol and/or drug test. Such testing will meet the requirements of 49 C.F.R. §382.303 if the company obtains the results. Whether and when law enforcement will release the results varies widely depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the post-crash investigation. Therefore, it is recommended that the company conduct its own testing whenever possible, even if the company was told that law enforcement conducted a test.

 

Remember too, if for whatever reason the alcohol test is not performed within 8 hours or the drug test is not performed within 32 hours, the regulations require that you cease attempts to have the driver tested. A post-accident alcohol test conducted more than 8 hours after the accident and a post-accident drug test conducted more than 32 hours after the accident violate the regulations and are not FMCSA-sanctioned tests. If the tests were not conducted within the permissible time frames, your only option is to "prepare and maintain on file a record" stating why the test was not promptly administered. This record should provide specific detail on the efforts to have the driver tested and explain why those efforts were not successful. If you have kept a detailed log documenting these efforts then preparing the required record is rather easy.

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February 6, 2017

PROTECTING YOUR RECORDABLE ACCIDENT RATE

An important part of determining your company’s safety rating is its “Recordable Accident Rate.”  If during a Compliance Review your “Recordable Accident Rate” is found to be higher than 1.5, the best safety rating you can expect is “Conditional.”  If this Recordable Accident Rate is coupled with hours of service violations at a critical rate, your safety rating will be “Unsatisfactory.”

 

The Recordable Accident Rate is the number of “recordable” accidents per million miles.  A “recordable” accident is one involving a fatality, a personal injury treated away from the scene of the accident, or a one or more vehicles being towed from the scene due to disabling damage.  Its determined by multiplying the number of “recordable” accidents over the last year by 1 million, and dividing by the number of miles traveled over the last year.

 

Importantly, it includes all “recordable accidents” regardless of whether the accident was your driver’s fault.  If your “Recordable Accident Rate” is over 1.5 and will adversely affect your safety rating, you may ask the FMCSA’s Division Administrator for a “preventability determination” by submitting the official crash reports and other documents related to the accident.   

 

It is important too to make sure the FMCSA is using accurate annual mileage figures.  The mileage should include all transportation conducted under your operating authority.  Usually, the FMCSA will use the mileage reported on the last four quarterly IFTA returns.  Sometimes though, a company may have owner-operators or fleet owners that pay their own fuel taxes and report their mileage on IFTA returns separate from the company.  During an FMCSA audit the company would be wise to secure these IFTA returns and to make sure those miles are included in the recordable accident rate calculation. 

 

To the extent that IFTA is not used, the carrier should have some other reliable indicator the company’s annual mileage.  If there is a disagreement between the FMCSA and the company, it will be the company’s burden to prove their annual miles, so keep good records.

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January 23, 2017

TOP 3 - Pre-Trip Preventable Violations

 

The following are the top three pre-trip preventable violations found on roadside inspections. The FMCSA ranks vehicle violations discovered during roadside inspections while lights are the most often cited violation as a percentage of violations we present the top three ranked by percent that could've been detected and corrected during the pre-trip. If you see these violations your drivers are not conducting good, thorough pre-trip inspections, and may need additional training.

 

1 - 396.17C Operating a commercial motor vehicle without periodic inspection 

 

Drivers must understand part of the pre-trip is to make sure that the vehicle has the federal annual inspection sticker and the corresponding inspection report. The FMCSA's Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) as of 11/25/2016 reports 17,351 violations for operating a commercial motor vehicle without periodic inspection

 

2 - 393.75C Tread depth less than 2/32 of an inch

 

Providing your drivers with inexpensive tread depth gauges can reduce these types of violations.

 

The 11/25/2016 report listed 12,534 violations regarding tread depth ( 2/32 is for tires other than steering )

 

3 - 393.95A No/Discharged/Unsecured Fire Extinguisher

 

Unfortunately, the mounting for most fire extinguishers fails over time due to its proximity to the driver seat. An unsecured fire extinguisher that could roll underneath the foot controls of the truck is a serious safety concern. Make sure your drivers are aware that the fire extinguisher must be securely mounted in the mount should be inspected and replaced as necessary. The 11/25/2016 report listed 15,749 violations regarding the fire extinguisher.

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January 3, 2017

THREE 2017 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS FOR YOUR TRUCKING COMPANY

CTSE is very excited to be of service to the trucking and commercial driver communities in 2017.   To help you meet the challenges of the New Year and make 2017 your safest and most prosperous year ever, we are suggesting three New Years' resolutions:
 

1.         Develop And Implement Your ELD Strategy - By the end of 2017, which we all know will be here sooner than we think, Phase 2 of the FMCSA's Final Rule eliminating paper logs and requiring Electronic Logging Devices ("ELDs") or Automatic On-board Recording Devices ("AOBRD") for Part 395 compliance will be implemented. Now is the time to start planning. Who will be my ELD provider? When should I purchase the ELDs to make sure I am fully operational by the December 18, 2017 deadline? How much is this going to cost in hardware, software, driver and dispatcher training? How much training are my drivers going to need? What operational changes do I need to make? Companies that wait too long to start addressing these issues may find themselves confronted with ELD supply and service shortages, and inadequately trained drivers and dispatchers that will prevent them from being fully operational after December 18, 2017.      

 

2.         Develop The Professionalism Of Your Drivers - CTSE's philosophy has always been that the key to good CSA/SMS scores is having good, professional drivers behind the wheel of your trucks. But good, professional drivers are not created in CDL school any more than good lawyers are created in law school or good accountants are created in business school. Instead, like all professions, CDL school provides the basic skills needed to enter the profession, but those skills still need development through continuous training, supervision, and experience. Train your drivers, and give them the tools they need to become as good at what they do as possible   Treat your drivers like professionals, and you can demand in return that they act like professionals.

 

3.         Proactively Address Safety-Related Events - Examples of safety-related events are a vehicle or driver being placed out of service, any accident, or hours of service or other regulatory violations. Too many companies have safety-related events come to their attention every day but take no action whatsoever. When you have a safety-related event, resolve to do something about it. Conduct an honest evaluation of why it occurred and discuss how it can be prevented in the future. Hold people accountable, but remember that remedial action need not be punitive. A change in procedures or remedial training often goes a long way to correcting the problem and preventing its reoccurrence.

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December 19, 2016

ARE YOUR DRIVERS "FALSIFYING" THEIR DVIRS?

All trucking companies need to be aware that if your driver receives a roadside inspection that discovers safety-related vehicle defects, the driver's obligation to report those defects to the company goes beyond just turning in the roadside inspection report. Instead, the driver must also complete a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) listing those defects. As you may know, drivers no longer need to complete a DVIR after each day's driving as long as no vehicle defects were discovered by or reported to the driver. The FMCSA has been interpreting the language "discovered by or reported to the driver" in 49 C.F.R. §396.11(a)(2) as meaning that vehicle deficiencies reported to the driver during a roadside inspection must be listed on the DVIR, even though submission of the roadside inspection report serves the same purpose. FMCSA compliance officers now routinely request to see the driver's DVIR for the days the driver received a roadside inspection with vehicle defects. If the driver did not complete a DVIR, the carrier is cited for violating 49 C.F.R. §396.11. If the driver completed a DVIR but listed no defects, the carrier is cited for violating 49 C.F.R. §390.35 for accepting a falsified DVIR. Either violation can adversely affect your safety rating.


Training your drivers on the roadside inspection protocol and proper DVIR procedures is critical to obtaining and maintaining a Satisfactory safety rating. Please click below to see how CTSE can help.

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December 5, 2016

A CLEAN LEVEL I ROADSIDE INSPECTION IS NO LONGER THE EQUIVALENT OF A FEDERAL PERIODIC INSPECTION
 

Effective July 22, 2016, the FMCSA's interpretation of 49 C.F.R. §396.23, which provided that a clean CVSA Level I or Level V inspection was the equivalent to the federal periodic inspection required by 49 C.F.R. §396.17, was changed. The new interpretation provides that a clean CVSA Level I or Level V inspection IS NOT equivalent to the federal periodic inspection requirements.
 

If you are relying upon a clean Level I CVSA inspection conducted after July 22, 2016 to meet the federal periodic inspection requirements, you are in violation of 49 C.F.R. §396.17 and may be cited accordingly.


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