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Compliance, Safety, Accountability: The Importance of Maintaining A Good CSA Score

For professional drivers and motor carriers, their Compliance, Safety Accountability (CSA) scores ranks as one of the most important components of their business. In today’s market, customers are always on the lookout for the safest carriers and drivers. However, when crashes or other safety related incidents occur, insurance companies are quick to adjust rates. To avoid triggering an audit by the authorities, one must maintain a good safety score and be vigilant  when it comes to staying compliant with tax, registration and permit requirements. These incidents and adjustments can cause safety ratings plummet and can trigger an audit. To prevent an audit, it is key to maintain a good CSA score and maintain the proper records.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, like all federal regulatory agencies, has the authority to issue fines and penalties. Enforcement cases are initiated when compliance reviews, complaint investigations, terminal audits, roadside inspections, or other investigations indicate a high-risk, knowing or continuing pattern of unsafe or illegal behavior. Civil penalties can be levied against motor carriers and their employees, including drivers in certain instances, as well as against shippers, receivers, brokers and freight forwarders. They are based on violations of the FMCSA or Hazardous Materials Regulations.

Simply put, the purpose of civil penalties is deterrence. A quick glance at the Uniform Fine Assessment section of the FMCSA’s website will reveal how substantial that deterrence can be. Hours of service violations, for example, can bring a fine of up to $16,000 and the maximum civil penalty for a hazardous materials violation is $75,000.To maintain that level of deterrence, federal law requires federal agencies to annually adjust minimum and maximum civil penalty amounts for inflation. These increases are published without notice and comment and with an immediate effective date. The 2019 adjustments to FMCSA civil penalties, which reflect the increase in penalties, can be found in the Federal Register.

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For those subject to an FMCSA enforcement case, the Uniform Fine Assessment section above contains links to the appropriate Rules of Practice in dealing with the agency, as well as a calculator for possible penalties. FMCSA is not required to impose the maximum penalty per violation, especially when a settlement is reached, and the motor carrier commits to improvements in its safety practices.

The impact of unsafe practices carries on well beyond the moment you write a check to the federal government. Once an enforcement case is settled, it becomes a matter of public record. At that point, the details of the case on FMCSA’s can be reviewed by customers, insurers, drivers and general public.

Maintaining your CSA scores requires an unwavering commitment to safety and continued vigilance over every audit, investigation, inspection result, citation or crash. Every safety-related event offers a unique opportunity to analyze the systems you have in place and take action to keep your business safe and secure.

To learn more about how DOT Compliance Consultants and help provide your company with an additional layer of protection, contact us at 443-829-5937.


FMCSA Announces New Commercial Driver Panel to Provide Feedback on Critical CMV Issues and Initiatives

U.S. DOT SealSeptember 4, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator (FMCSA) today announced it will be launching a new panel to its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) comprised of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  This new panel will provide direct feedback to FMCSA on important issues facing the driving community—such as safety, hours-of-service regulations, training, parking, and driver experience.

“Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators are American heroes who have stepped up during the current public health emergency to keep our economy moving, so their input is essential to strengthening safety on the roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

This new panel is comprised of 20 to 25 drivers from all sectors of the CMV industry—tractor trailer drivers, straight truck drivers, motor coach drivers, hazardous materials drivers, agriculture haulers, and more. FMCSA’s goal with the new driver panel is to capture the wide array of viewpoints and experiences within the CMV community.

“The Department of Transportation and this Administration believe in listening to our drivers and hearing their concerns directly. We know that many of the solutions to the challenges we face don’t come from Washington—they come from the hard-working men and women who are behind the wheel all over our nation.  This new subcommittee to MCSAC will further help us hear from America’s commercial drivers,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.

During the Trump Administration, FMCSA has focused on hearing directly from commercial drivers and incorporating their opinions and concerns into the Agency’s safety initiatives.  The Agency continues to hold listening sessions and discussions with the motor carrier industry to gather feedback and shape FMCSA’s priorities.

In May 2020, FMCSA published updates to the hours-of-service rules that were based directly off the feedback the Agency heard from commercial drivers regarding the need for increased flexibility and improved safety.

To learn more about the MCSAC committee, visit: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/advisory-committees/mcsac/welcome-fmcsa-mcsac

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


DOT Compliance Consults, LLC Announces New Location In Crofton, MD

Troy Smith of DOT Compliance Consultants, LLC is pleased to announce the official opening the company’s new office in Crofton, Maryland. The new office, strategically located in the central business district of Delmarva region, brings the company closer to its clients in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, while strengthening the company’s overall presence.

“We are excited about our new office in Crofton, and we’re ready to enhance our offerings to the region.” —Troy Smith, DOT Compliance Consultants, LLC

Our team of experts is the region’s leading experts in the safety of commercial vehicles and drivers. We offer the commercial vehicle industry peace of mind in meeting all rules and regulations pertaining to FMCSA’s requirements. The services provided by our DOT Compliance Consultants, LLC will assure your company is maintaining the proper paperwork, meeting all trucking and driver safety requirements, and providing you with the most up-to-date information in rules and regulations. Our highly certified consultants have built a reputation as one of the leading agencies in the commercial vehicle industry.

For more information regarding the new Crofton office, contact us at 443-829-5937.


FMCSA Proposes New Under-21 Commercial Driver Pilot Program

U.S. DOT Seal

September 4, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that it is proposing and seeking public comments on a new pilot program to allow drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.

“This action will allow the Agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility, and possible economic benefits of allowing 18 to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce. Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers, and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Wiley Deck.

FMCSA’s Federal Register notice requests comments on a new pilot program that would allow younger drivers to operate in interstate commerce. The Agency proposes a pilot program to allow drivers to participate if they fall within two categories: 1) 18 to 20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate CMVs in interstate commerce while taking part in a 120-hour probationary period and a subsequent 280-hour probationary period under an apprenticeship program established by an employer, or 2) 19 and 20-year-old commercial drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for a minimum of one year and 25,000 miles. The study group drivers would not be allowed to operate vehicles hauling passengers or hazardous materials or special configuration vehicles.

Currently, 49 states and the District of Columbia already allow 18 to 20-year-old CDL holders to operate CMVs in intrastate commerce—meaning under-21 drivers may currently drive within state borders, such as from Houston to El Paso or from Miami to Tallahassee.

In July 2018, FMCSA announced the details of a Military Commercial Driver Pilot Program, which allows certain 18 to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

View this Federal Register Notice and learn more about the proposed pilot program – Click Here! 

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

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U.S. DOT Awards Record-Level Funding For Safety Programs

U.S. DOT Seal

August 20, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has awarded nearly $80 million in grants to states and educational institutions to promote commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety, the agency said today. The awards represent the agency’s highest ever funding level for safety grants.

The grants aim to improve CMV safety in three areas: general safety and technology-related programs; states’ efforts to achieve FMCSA compliance for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) standards and programs; and for CMV operator safety training programs at educational institutions. FMCSA made the following awards:

• $45 million in High Priority (HP) grants to enhance states’ commercial motor vehicle safety efforts, as well as advance technological capabilities within states.

• $32.7 million in Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation (CDLPI) grants to enhance efforts by states to improve the national commercial driver’s license (CDL) program.

• $2 million in Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) grants to 20 educational institutions to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Nearly 60% of FMCSA’s funding is provided to states and local communities through grant funding—all intended to enhance commercial vehicle safety, according to the agency.

To learn more about FMCSA grants, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/mission/grants.

United States Department of Transportation


U.S. Department of Transportation Modernizes Hours of Service Rules to Improve Safety and Increase Flexibility for America’s Truckers

May 14, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today published a final rule updating hours of service (HOS) rules to increase safety on America’s roadways by updating existing regulations for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

“America’s truckers are doing a heroic job keeping our supply chains open during this unprecedented time and these rules will provide them greater flexibility to keep America moving,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

“The Department of Transportation and the Trump Administration listened directly to the concerns of truckers seeking rules that are safer and have more flexibility—and we have acted.

These updated hours of service rules are based on the thousands of comments we received from the American people. These reforms will improve safety on America’s roadways and strengthen the nation’s motor carrier industry,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen.

First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s hours of service rules specify the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers. In 2018, FMCSA authored an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to receive public comment on portions of the HOS rules to alleviate unnecessary burdens placed on drivers while maintaining safety on our nation’s highways and roads.  Subsequently, in August 2019, the Agency published a detailed proposed rule which received an additional 2,800 public comments.

Based on the detailed public comments and input from the American people, FMCSA’s final rule on hours of service offers four key revisions to the existing HOS rules:

  • The Agency will increase safety and flexibility for the 30-minute break rule by requiring a break after 8 hours of consecutive driving and allowing the break to be satisfied by a driver using on-duty, not driving status, rather than off-duty status.
  • The Agency will modify the sleeper-berth exception to allow drivers to split their required 10 hours off duty into two periods: an 8/2 split, or a 7/3 split—with neither period counting against the driver’s 14‑hour driving window.
  • The Agency will modify the adverse driving conditions exception by extending by two hours the maximum window during which driving is permitted.
  • The Agency will change the short-haul exception available to certain commercial drivers by lengthening the drivers’ maximum on‑duty period from 12 to 14 hours and extending the distance limit within which the driver may operate from 100 air miles to 150 air miles.

FMCSA’s final rule is crafted to improve safety on the nation’s roadways. The rule changes do not increase driving time and will continue to prevent CMV operators from driving for more than eight consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute break.

In addition, FMCSA’s rule modernizing hours of service regulations is estimated to provide nearly $274 million in annualized cost savings for the U.S. economy and American consumers. The trucking industry is a key component of the national economy, employing more than seven million people and moving 70 percent of the nation’s domestic freight.

The new hours of service rule will have an implementation date of 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The complete final rule is available here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-service/hours-service-drivers-final-rule

Truckers have played a key role in getting America through the COVID-19 public health emergency. FMCSA has provided regulatory relief to commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food, and household goods to Americans in need. The nation’s truck drivers have been on the front lines of this effort and are vital to America’s supply chain. The latest information, declarations, and resources on FMCSA’s response to the COVID-19 are available at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/COVID-19

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


Extension of Compliance Date for Entry-Level Driver Training

January 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – FMCSA is amending its December 8, 2016, final rule, “Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators” (ELDT final rule), by extending the compliance date for the rule from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022. This action will provide FMCSA additional time to complete development of the Training Provider Registry (TPR). The TPR will allow training providers to self-certify that they meet the training requirements and will provide the electronic interface that will receive and store entry-level driver training (ELDT) certification information from training providers and transmit that information to the State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs). The extension also provides SDLAs with time to modify their information technology (IT) systems and procedures, as necessary, to accommodate their receipt of driver-specific ELDT data from the TPR. FMCSA is delaying the entire ELDT final rule, as opposed to a partial delay as proposed, due to delays in implementation of the TPR that were not foreseen when the proposed rule was published.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:  Mr. Richard Clemente, Driver and Carrier Operations Division, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001, (202) 366-4325, MCPSD@dot.gov. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Operations, (202) 366-9826.

Click to read or download the Extension of Compliance Date for Entry-Level Driver Training