May 15, 2020 – Safety and Compliance

FMCSA to Distribute One Million Face Masks to Drivers.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is assisting in the distribution of one million protective masks to the nation’s commercial truck drivers.

FMCSA has been working with states, industry stakeholders, and motor carriers to distribute one million protective face masks for truckers which were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The masks are being distributed in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, New York and Texas.  Exact locations and times for distribution are at the link.  Dates and times for the distribution of masks will be updated as they are established.

GAO Report Updates Recommendations to FMCSA.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report updating its recommendations for improving the workings of Department of Transportation programs.  Several of the priority recommendations involved the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In 2014, GAO recommended that FMCSA revise the Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology to better account for data accuracy and sufficiency limitations in drawing comparisons of safety performance information across carriers.  Although DOT “does not agree with [GAO’s] conclusions,” and has requested that GAO close the recommendation as not implemented, GAO still asserts that “implementing this recommendation will improve the reliability of data used to assess carriers that pose the greatest safety risks.”

In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences conducted a federally mandated evaluation of SMS, including the system’s data accuracy and sufficiency, and made several recommendations to improve FMCSA’s ability to identify high-risk carriers. In June 2018, FMCSA issued an action plan in response to the NAS recommendations and is developing data improvements and a new methodology, as described in the action plan, to better identify unsafe motor carriers.

FMCSA has recently developed and tested a new methodological approach that could potentially account for the limitations GAO has identified.  FMCSA officials indicated they hope to deploy the new methodology sometime this year.

FMCSA Proposes Rule to Link CDLs to Drug and Alcohol Violations.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a proposed rule to prohibit State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) from issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring a commercial driver’s license, or commercial learner’s permit, for individuals prohibited under current regulations from driving a commercial motor vehicle due to drug and alcohol program violations. 85 Fed. Reg. 23670 (April 28, 2020). 

The CMV driving ban is intended to keep these drivers off the road until they comply with return-to-duty requirements. FMCSA also seeks comment on alternate proposals establishing additional ways that SDLAs would use information, obtained through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, to increase compliance with the CMV driving prohibition. Further, the agency proposes to revise how reports of actual knowledge violations, based on a citation for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in a CMV, would be maintained in the Clearinghouse.

According to FMCSA, this proposal would establish how, and when, SDLAs would access and use driver-specific information from the Clearinghouse to keep CMV drivers who violate drug and alcohol use testing rules off the road until they complete return-to-duty requirements.

Until now, the prohibition on driving a CMV after a drug or alcohol violation was largely self-enforcing; FMCSA relies primarily on drivers themselves, and their employers, to comply.  49 CFR 382.501 states that no driver may perform safety-sensitive functions, including driving a CMV, and no employer may permit any driver to perform safety-sensitive functions; including driving a CMV, if the driver has violated the drug and alcohol rules.

 Before the Clearinghouse was established, the FMCSA did not have real time access to drug and alcohol program violations of CDL holders. The Clearinghouse final rule addressed that information gap so that, based on violations reported to the Clearinghouse, FMCSA can now provide certain State enforcement personnel real-time notice of the driver’s prohibited driving status. However, the information gap still exists with regard to the SDLAs taking action against a driver’s CDL or CLP for drug or alcohol violations.

Annual Hazmat Registration Now Open.  The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has announced that registration is now open for hazardous materials carriers and shippers for the 2020-21 registration year.  Registration and payment of fees is due by July 1, 2020.

The annual fee for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations for registration year 2020-21 and the following years will remain at $250, (plus a $25 processing fee for each registration form), and $2,575 (plus a $25 processing fee for each registration form) for all other registrants.

FMCSA to Make Crash Preventability Determination Program Permanent.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on Twitter that the agency’s Crash Preventability Determination Pilot Program will be made permanent. The program will not count a crash in which the motor carrier was not at fault when calculating the carrier’s safety measurement profile.

The program was begun in July 2017 to evaluate the preventability of eight categories of crashes through submissions of Requests for Data Review to the FMCSA’s  national data correction system known as DataQs.  In 2019 the agency streamlined the procedure for submitting crashes and expanded the categories of crashes eligible for consideration.  It also  modified the Safety Measurement System to exclude crashes with not preventable determinations from the prioritization algorithm and noted the “not preventable” determinations in the Pre-Employment Screening Program for drivers.

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