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How to Ensure Carriers Stay Violation-Free – Part I

How to Ensure Carriers Stay Violation-Free – Part I

Have you passed an audit or roadside inspection this year without a violation? If so, then you’re in the minority. FMCSA data shows that only six percent of carriers have gotten through an audit or inspection without a violation in 2019. That means that 94% of audits and roadside inspections have resulted in at least one violation. And with an average fine amount of $7,109 so far this year, these fines can have a serious financial impact on motor carriers—as well as their CSA scores.

Further complicating the issue is the nationwide rollout of offsite audits this year, which is gradually replacing the traditional onsite audit process – and requiring motor carriers to be even more audit ready then they’ve been in the past. If you’re not yet familiar with the process, it works like this: instead of a DOT auditor showing up at your place of business to review your compliance programs, an auditor will contact you via phone and/or email and request that you send proof of your compliance to them electronically.

This could include a list of drivers, proof that drivers are enrolled in a drug and alcohol testing program and forms from your driver qualification files. With less preparation time than onsite audits, as well as the need to have all documents available to send in an electronic format, it’s becoming more and more important for motor carriers to have a system in place that keeps them fully compliant. As we’ll discuss later, making the switch from a paper to a digital system can also be very beneficial, as it will ensure all your documents are complete and audit ready when an auditor comes calling.

What You Need to Know

There are specific paperwork requirements you must adhere to. Even during an offsite audit, you will be required to produce certain documents to prove your compliance in the required areas. Here are the items you must have ready:

  • Application for Employment
  • Motor Vehicle Report
  • Certificate of Road Test
  • Medical Examination Report
  • Medical Examiner’s National
  • Registry Verification
  • Skill Performance Evaluation
  • Certificate Application
  • Record of previous employers contacted
  • Driver’s written authorization to release information
  • Electronic/Paper logs/Time records
  • Complete Driver’s Daily Vehicle
  • Inspection Reports
  • Periodic/Annual DOT Inspection Reports
  • Drug and Alcohol program certificate
  • Pre-employment drug test results
  • Random Drug and Alcohol Test results

Are you audit ready? Although many carriers believe that they’re operating compliantly, as we already showed, the numbers tell a different story. In today’s blog post, you’ll learn about the most common reasons that carriers received a violation this year, as well as what you can do to try and prevent the violations at hand.

Although this is by no means a comprehensive list of compliance issues, ensuring your company and drivers comply with the regulations outlined on the following pages will go a long way towards helping you avoid violations now and in the future.

Want to know what the most common violations of 2019 have been so far?

  • 383.37A Allowing Driver to Operate with a Suspended/Revoked/Etc. CDL
  • 395.8A1 Not Using the Appropriate Method to Record Hours of Service
  • 382.115A Failing to Implement an Alcohol and/or Drug Testing Program
  • 382.301A Using a Driver Before Receiving A Pre-Employment Result
  • 382.305 Failing to Implement a Random Controlled Substance or Alcohol Testing Program
  • 391.51B2 Inquiries Into Employment Record Not Kept in Driver Qualification File
  • 383.37B Allowing Driver with More Than One CDL to Drive a CMV
  • 395.8E1 False Reports Of Records of Duty Status
  • 387.7A Inadequate or No Financial Responsibility
  • 395.8K1 Retention of Driver’s Record Of Duty Status
  • 390.35 Requiring, Permitting or Making False Statements or Records
  • 382.215 Using a Driver Who Has Tested Positive For a Drug
  • 396.9C2 Operating an Out-of-Service Vehicle
  • 391.51A Failing To Maintain a Driver Qualification File on Each Driver
  • 391.51B7 No Medical Certificate in Driver Qualification File
  • 382.211 Using a Driver Who Refused to Take a Drug / Alcohol Test
  • 391.211 Using a CMV While Disqualified
  • 382.305B2 Failing to do Random Drug Tests at the Applicable Annual Rate
  • 391.11B41 Using a Physically Unqualified Driver
  • 383.51A Driving a CMV While Disqualified from Holding a CDL

Top Violations for the Year

Three of the top violations of 2019 are related to compliance issues with Part 383 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. These regulations are in place to protect the safety of the roadways by ensuring that all commercial motor vehicle drivers are properly licensed and have the knowledge and skills required of the job.

It probably goes without saying that a driver must have a valid license to operate a motor vehicle on public roadways. As the data shows, however, that doesn’t mean that drivers are always compliant with this law. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons for a violation, accounting for 34 percent of acute violations in 2019 so far.

Not only does operating with a suspended or revoked CDL result in an automatic out-of-service order, but it can result in hefty fines for the motor carrier, as well. According to an analysis of closed enforcement cases for 2019, the average amount settled for cases involving a violation of 383.37(a) was $8,951.

Part 383 of the federal regulations states that “No person who operates a commercial motor vehicle shall at any time have more than one driver’s license.” Although states are supposed to perform a check to ensure that a driver doesn’t have a CDL in another state prior to granting a driver’s license, the system isn’t perfect and drivers are sometimes able to secure a second, valid CDL. It happens frequently enough, that it was the fourth most common violation in 2019. The cost to motor carriers for drivers caught driving with multiple CDLs is $8,047 per case.

The third most common violation in Part 383 is driving a commercial motor vehicle while being disqualified from holding a CDL. The reason for disqualification may include a driver who was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, leaving the scene of an accident, using the vehicle to commit a felony, or making improper or erratic traffic lane changes. According to 2019 closed enforcement case data, the average fine amount for carriers who were found to have employed a driver who was disqualified from holding a CDL was $7,264.

Keys to Prevent Violations

The best way to ensure that your company complies with all areas of regulation Part 383 is to use third-party software that runs the following background checks. Keep in mind that because the following screens are consumer reports, they do need to be run by a third-party administrator. There are plenty of companies and vendors who offer this kind of software and support.

The best way to ensure that one of your drivers isn’t operating with a revoked or suspended CDL is to continuously monitor their motor vehicle reports. Otherwise, you’ll only get annual updates during the yearly MVR review, which could enable drivers to operate illegally for many months before you find out.

An MVR Monitoring program will monitor your drivers’ motor vehicle reports and alert you as soon as a change is detected. This ensures that you know immediately if a driver’s license is suspended, they receive a speeding ticket, or they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.

A search of the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) will provide important information about a driver’s current license status, as well as any additional licenses they’ve held in the past. It’s the best way to verify whether a driver has multiple CDLs before you let them on the road for your company.

There are few sections of the FMCSA regulation book that are as complex as those related to drug and alcohol testing requirements. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that many of the top audit violations had to do with problems in this area. Part 382 of the federal regulations lay out the testing process for motor carriers, including what tests are required, how tests should be performed and what substances drivers are prohibited from using.

Fortunately, we are going to cover how to prevent section 382 violations in Part II of our series. Want to learn more about how to protect yourself or your fleet from onerous violations? Join us next week, when we take a deeper dive into staying violation-free in this new age of the ELD and increased inspections and audits.

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