Tag Archives: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

What Are Trucking Industry Employers Looking For?

You’ve heard plenty about the truck driver shortage. And yes, it is still ongoing. This means that there are jobs out there for anyone looking for a fun, sable and potentially lucrative career in trucking. But do you know what to look for?

As a professional truck driver, you would be the face of your company. This means that trucking companies are going to look for someone who fits with their company’s image when they are hiring. They also look for candidates who are qualified based on specific federal regulations and trucking company policies.

What Are the Regulations?

Specifically, Parts 383 and 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) specifically address truck driver qualification and disqualification.  According to section 391.11 of the FMCSRs, you must pass a physical exam, be in possession of a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and be able to pass a road test.

The fleet that hires you will be required to maintain a driver qualification file on you. The regulations surrounding how the file is to be maintained, from drivers’ logs to drug and alcohol testing, can be found in section 391.51 of the FMCSRs.

Once you become a CDL holder, certain offenses can disqualify you from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), whether they are committed in the CMV itself or in a passenger vehicle. They could include anything from reckless driving to drug and alcohol offenses.

What Are the Job Qualifications?

When a fleet recruiter is looking for a truck driver, they aren’t looking for just anyone. There is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with operating a Class 8 big rig.

When a recruiter is looking for someone, they generally look for the following:

  • A general knowledge of the types of vehicles used in the trucking industry;
  • A basic understanding of different vehicle systems and components;
  • A cursory understanding of the paperwork and regulatory requirements required in trucking;
  • The ability to safely operate a CMV;
  • A basic understanding of how to handle cargo, and;
  • A basic understanding of the techniques and skills associated with operating a CMV.

Though not as critical, but just as important, an employer is looking for someone who has a positive attitude and shows an active interest in the job. They want someone who is mature, enthusiastic and not quick to shoot from the hip. After all, safety is about more than just CSA scores.

What is the Company Policy?

All motor carriers operate under federal and state regulation, but they also have their own specific company policies that operators must follow. Some of these policies may vary from carrier to carrier, but always remember that you must operate your vehicle both safely and legally.

It is illegal for an employer to compel you to operate in such a way that would violate federal, state or local laws or regulations.

When considering what to look for in a trucking company policy, keep the following things in mind:

  • Work hours;
  • Pay;
  • Benefits;
  • Safety rules;
  • Inspection and maintenance requirements;
  • Road trip rules, and;
  • Customer relations.

Can I Advance?

There are always opportunities for advancement in the trucking industry. Experience plays a big part in the hiring process, but as you put in both time and a safe driving record, opportunities make themselves apparent.

Completing a full truck driver education program is the first step in reaching your truck driving career goals. Many an experienced truck driver will tell you their first job was in the yard and not in the cab. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom as you work your way to the top.

Always be the first to put your best foot forward, show enthusiasm and strive to do a good job, and a career in trucking may be just what you’re looking for.

An Intro Into Preventative Maintenance For Trucking Companies

Welcome to the introduction to what will be a long-running series here at the QuickTSI blog. We want to take a comprehensive look at preventative maintenance. Because in order for a safe and efficient operation to exist, fleet vehicles must be inspected and maintained on a regular basis.

As a professional truck driver, a successful preventative maintenance program requires your involvement. In fact, your participation is key. It is you who is often the first one to spot a problem or notice in issue. You are, after all, working with the vehicle day-in and day-out.

So let’s dig a little deeper into what constitutes preventative maintenance. There are primarily three kinds of preventative maintenance:

  1. Routine servicing;
  2. Scheduled preventative maintenance, and;
  3. Unscheduled maintenance and/or repairs.

Routine, Scheduled Preventative Maintenance and Unscheduled Maintenance

Routine servicing is described as times when you may need to add oil or coolant to the system, or perhaps drain moisture from the fuel or air systems. You don’t want to overlook routine maintenance items, lest you run into larger problems down the road.

Scheduled preventative maintenance (PM) is governed by Section 396.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and requires a fleet to carefully and systematically inspect, repair and maintain all of the vehicles within its stable of operations. In other words, if you operate as a commercial motor carrier, you are required to have a preventative maintenance program in place.

You can arrange PM schedules in various ways, depending on your scope of operation. Mileage, engine hours, and time are all factors in the timing and frequency of your PM schedule.

Since worn, failed or incorrectly adjusted components can lead to major problems, including accidents and other safety issues, you need a PM program in place to prevent your CSA scores from taking a hit. Preventative maintenance combined with periodic inspections helps to prevent failures from happening while your rubber is on the road.

Unscheduled maintenance is anything that pops up as an unexpected expense. Some examples would include items noted on your driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR), or incidents otherwise noted as accidents or breakdowns.

What Are You Responsible For?

When it comes to keeping your vehicle in safe operating condition, you are ultimately responsible. You are a professional truck driver, and as so, it is incumbent upon you to ensure your vehicle’s operating components are in good working order.

The best way to stay in compliance and ensure safe operation is to:

  • Detect maintenance and repair needs as you travel.
  • Immediately refer maintenance and repair needs to the correct place for handling.
  • Always conduct a thorough pre- and post-trip inspection.
  • Never take shortcuts when inspecting pertinent components.
  • Ensure your annual vehicle inspection is always conducted on time.
  • If you think there may be a potential problem with your vehicle, immediately stop and check it out.

If you ever do discover problems on the road, remember to never get back behind the wheel if you aren’t satisfied with the results of your inspection. Both federal and state regulations mandate that you do not drive your vehicle if you are not satisfied it is in 100 percent safe operating condition.

What You Risk

If you don’t immediately report defects and deficiencies as soon as they are discovered can result in serious consequences, from a simple violation to a terrible accident. Do you want to risk it?

Breakdown costs encompass more than the mere repair. Every minute the truck is out of service, it isn’t being used to generate revenue for the fleet.

Here are just some of the costs associated with unnecessary breakdowns:

  • Towing costs;
  • Operator wages, meals, and lodging;
  • Rental vehicle costs;
  • Late delivery costs;
  • Lost customers, and;
  • Potential cargo transfer fees.

All of these impact your profitability. If a defective part winds up causing an accident, you can add insurance rates and potential litigation to those costs. Perhaps even citations and medical costs are a part of the equation. Could your operation survive it? Best not to take the chance and ensure you have a preventative maintenance program firmly in place.

How To Effectively Audit Truck Drivers’ Logs

A false log found itself in the tenth spot out of the top twenty truck driver violations in 2015. By mid-December over 31,500 violations had been reported. Motor carriers are liable for false logs filled out by truck drivers. As such, they need to have the means and methods in place to detect violations.

The best way to identify a false log is to compare it with related documents. If you examine Section 395.8(k) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), you’ll see that fleets are actually required to keep some “supporting” documents for at least six months.

What’s The Motive?

The question is: Why would a truck driver falsify a paper log in the first place? There are a few reasons:

  • Not enough time was given for them to make an on-time delivery.
  • They were delayed somehow and they are trying to make up for lost time.
  • If they are paid by the mile, they may want to maximize their mileage.
  • They are behind on paperwork.
  • They are anxious to get home.
  • They made an honest mistake.

Auditing a log for violations is critical, but the auditing process shouldn’t stop there. Although looking for a falsification is a tedious process, it must be integral step.

What Do You Need?

A Department of Transportation (DOT) interpretation of “supporting” documents include the following:

  • Fuel or toll receipts or billing statements produced during the trip.
  • “Check calls” produced during any loading or unloading times.
  • Bills of lading or specific pick or delivery receipts.
  • Dispatch records or relevant call logs.
  • Financial or payroll records.
  • Expense receipts, I.E. lights, scales, permits, etc.
  • Vehicle repair or maintenance receipts.
  • Roadside inspection reports.
  • Scale clearance records.
  • Tracking or other electronic communication records.

By properly studying the materials listed above, you can easily detect incorrect or falsified log entries.

What’s The Process?

First, locate the time and date on whatever supporting document you have chosen. Then, take the truck driver’s log for the day and see if the location matches with the time. They should correlate.

Sometimes you may have to do a deeper interpretation of the numbers. Toll receipts are on example, as they do not have an on-duty time associated with them. As such, you would have to look at the time when the truck driver hit the road and review the time and distance all the way to the toll location.

Another way to check for log falsification is to check “point-to-point” mileages. Using supporting documents that can clearly be tied back to on-duty time, such as roadside inspection or customs clearance paperwork, is a far easier proposition.

By using this process, you are able to find red flags through the use of supporting documents. It’s a simple matter of checking on-duty status for a short change in duty status, and at what time. Of course, don’t forget to account for any time zone changes.

Also remember that in some situations you may need to give a little leeway if the time on the supporting document cannot be validated. There will sometimes be instances where matching supporting documents to logs doesn’t at up.

Which Logs to Verify

One of the main problems with auditing truck driver logs is that the process is very time consuming. As such, it may not be possible for you to check all of the logs, so you must have a process in place to determine which ones merit your attention.

In those situations, consider the following criteria:

  • Truck drivers who have been involved in an accident.
  • Truck drivers who have had hours-of-service violations.
  • Truck drivers who, for any reason, have been placed out of service.
  • Truck drivers with a history of hours-of-service violations.
  • The previous month’s “top performing” truck drivers.
  • Anyone who has never been audited before.
  • A truck driver who has been previously disqualified.
  • A random selection.
  • New truck drivers.

Finally, if you are using some sort of auditing system or automated process, make sure you are absolutely sure of what the system or process is checking. If you need to add manual steps to ensure you are doing a thorough job without being unfair, do it.

Welcome To The Trucking Industry

Here at QuickTSI, we want to take a long term look at the basics of the trucking industry, how it is regulated, what sort of qualifications you must meet, and the various terms that you must understand if you want to get into the industry. This is going to be a long term project and we are going to bring it to you right here.

We are going to provide you with a wealth of information, all laid out in a blog series; short training snippets that are easy to digest and quick reads. As we go through every aspect of the trucking industry, you will learn everything you need to know about it. We will lay it out in understandable, actionable terms.

Are you ready? Here we go.

What is Trucking?

We all know one thing: Without trucking, commerce wouldn’t exist. Trucks deliver everything, from raw materials to completed products. They haul freight to and from warehouses, retailers and even your home. Whether it is crude oil or olive oil, chances are at some point in time it is moved on a truck or in a trailer.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), in 2013 9.7 billion tons of freight was transported by a truck. It’s a whopping number, and it represents over two-thirds of shipped domestic tonnage.

And it’s not only shipping that trucking has a major impact on. It’s also employment. In 2012, seven million people worked in jobs relating to the trucking industry. Over three million of them were employed as truck drivers. So when you ask what trucking is, we can tell you. It’s the heartbeat of commerce.

Types of Trucking

There are two main types of trucking. Motor carriers can run operations in interstate commerce, intrastate commerce, or both. While it may seem trivial, in light of specific compliance regulations, it is important to understand what each term means.

Interstate Commerce: If you are driving freight from state-to-state, from overseas, or across U.S. borders in a commercial motor vehicle, you are hauling interstate commerce. The same applies if you are hauling interstate cargo within a state.

Intrastate Commerce: If you are driving freight in a commercial motor vehicle and it never crosses state lines, you are participating in intrastate commerce. The cargo’s trip must begin and end within the same state and cannot cross a state line in any form, whether it be by truck, rail, ship or air.

No matter what type of trucking you embark on, you have to understand that this is a highly regulated industry. It is also important to remember that different states regulate their industries differently, so you need to know a state’s specific regulations before operating within its borders.

Rules and Regulations

The trucking industry is governed by governmental regulation. This is intended to ensure safety and create an umbrella for fleets to work under – where regulation is concerned. So if you want to be a professional truck driver or operations, you need to know how your industry is regulated.

The trucking Industry is overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The FMCSA issues and enforces most of the regulations that interstate fleets and truck drivers must follow. These regulations are called Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs were created to establish basic safety rules and measureable standards for fleets, truck drivers, or employers of motor drivers. The FMCSRs cover everything from driver qualifications and disqualifications, how long they are on the road, the commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards, how drug and alcohol testing is carried out, and how vehicles are inspected and what type of condition they should be in.

Join us next time when we finish out this section with an explanation of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). Then we will get into the details of CDL licensing. Are you ready for trucking? Well then join us in our next installment, because trucking is ready for you.

Understanding The First Two Factors In A DOT Audit

We’ve been spending some time lately covering certain regulatory requirements, from proper filings to preparing for a Department of Transportation (DOT) audit. Today we want to take some more time delving into DOT audits in greater detail.

As we outlined before, if the DOT initiates an audit of your business, there are several factors they may look into. Those factors include:

  1. General
  2. Truck Driver
  3. Operational
  4. Vehicle
  5. Hazardous Materials
  6. Accidents

Each of these factors is reviewed independently, and comes with its own set of specific documents and procedures that must be reviewed. Let’s go over the first two.

Factor One: General

This category covers the basics of operating a motor carrier. You will be required to show documentation supporting proper liability coverage. See section 387.9 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) for a complete schedule of the limits.

You will need to have forms MCS-90 or MCS-82 on the ready (section 382.9). One way to tell if you have the right forms is that they will be countersigned by an insurance provider rep.

A general review will also include a request to see your company’s accident register. Anything that meets the definition of an accident, per 390.5, or “DOT recordable accidents” will need to be in the register.

A review of the register is meant to ascertain whether the carrier is maintaining an accurate record of an accident. The record must contain the following information:

  • Date of the accident
  • Location (city and state)
  • Driver’s name
  • Number of injuries (if any)
  • Number of fatalities (if any)
  • Hazardous material spills other than fuel from the affected vehicles (if any)

If you do have a DOT recordable accident on the registry, it must remain there for up to three years from the date of the incident. Even if you haven’t logged a DOT recordable accident, you are still required to maintain an accident register for potential review.

You can also expect your vehicle markings to be checked. Always keep in mind that commercial vehicles must always be marked on both sides with your legal or single-trade name. You must also have your DOT-assigned number on display.

A general review will also include a look at your training records. A key thing to note here is that regulations require fleets to train more than just the truck drivers. Anyone involved in regulatory compliance must be trained on the applicable regulations.

The best way to make sure you display a good level of management control is to keep detailed records of any transportation related training materials. Records of classes and participants are also important.


Factor Two: Truck Driver

When covering factor two, the DOT will want to see all commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), driver qualifications and drug and alcohol testing information. The CDL should also match the vehicle class and endorsements. A carrier will also be required to demonstrate that it has a means for tracking the license expiration dates.

A verifiable drug and alcohol testing program will be reviewed. Section 382.601 requires a motor carrier to have a written policy in place covering the testing program. Each truck driver should have a signed copy in their file.

The drug and alcohol testing file should be separated into four categories:

  • Pre-Employment Testing
  • Post-Accident Testing
  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing
  • Random Testing

If an employee is terminated for testing positive, make sure the records include a substance abuse professional evaluation. If rehab, return to duty, or follow-up testing was initiated in lieu of termination, all of those steps must be properly documented.

The truck driver qualification file is a very big part of factor two. Since we’ve covered what should be in that file, we won’t touch on it again here, but be sure to have everything in it completely up-to-date.

Once you’ve got the first two factors down, it’s time to move on to the next two, which we will cover in the next installment.