If a driver fails or is not recertified for a DOT Medical Certificate?

What are the rules, if a driver fails or is not recertified for a DOT Medical Certificate, due to the particular type of medicine he is on?

A Medical Examiner’s Certificate, which is also known as a DOT Medical Card, is required for every Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver. The card is issued by a DOT Medical Examiner after a “DOT physical examination.” A driver is asked to fill out a form called a “Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination,” also known as the “long form” which details the driver’s medical history and lists all current medications. To show that the driver is “fit” or medically qualified to drive, the card is required to be carried by all CMV drivers (and CDL drivers until at least January 30, 2015). This information will become part of a driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) when the CDL driver “self-certifies” or updates the information at his Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Carriers and organizations should retain a copy of the card for the driver’s qualification file (QF). For most drivers, this card is valid for a period of two years. Before the expiration date of the card, the driver should recertify with another DOT examination.

If there is a change in a driver’s health status, the driver may be medically unqualified to drive and the card would become invalid. Here are a few actual situations concerning a driver’s health status:

Example 1:
A CMV driver had a “sleep study” at a sleep clinic and left for a two week trip. When he was 351 miles from home, he was informed that he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He informed his dispatch of the results of the sleep study. The driver was told to secure and clean out the truck, then load his personal belongings on a Greyhound bus and return home. The driver was off work for four weeks waiting for a sleep study appointment, then getting his CPAP machine. He was on the CPAP for 7 days before a DOT Examiner certified and released him to return to work as a CMV truck driver.

Example 2:
A CMV driver had a mild cold. He did not see a doctor or take any medication or over-the-counter cold medication, as he felt he did not need it and the mild cold did not impair his driving. As such, his medical card was in effect and no other action was required.

Example 3:
A CMV driver with a chronic medical condition was issued medication with the warning on the bottle saying “DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY EQUIPMENT.” When the driver began taking the medication, he was not medically qualified to operate his truck and the medical card became invalid. The driver should see a medical examiner for a new card, if his medical condition improves and that particular medication is not needed.

Example 4:

A CMV driver was helping a friend on the weekend do a roofing job. His ladder slipped as he started to climb, he was knocked out and taken to the hospital. In his state, “a loss of consciousness” means “loss of all driving privileges” for six months. The driver should see a DOT Examiner for an examination after the mandatory six month period.

If a driver experiences a change in his health status, he may be medically unqualified to operate a CMV. He should consult with appropriate medical professionals before resuming to drive a CMV.

CSA EFFECTS

A DOT medical card (Part 391) violation falls under the Driver Fitness SMS BASIC Category in CSA. Violations in the Driver Fitness BASIC are the cause of 9% of DOT Interventions/ Investigations according to Patti Gillette of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association. There are 30 Driver Fitness violations that can affect your CSA scores according to the Table of Driver Fitness BASIC Violations.

A driver cited for failure to carry a medical card (Part 391.41) adds 3 points to the CSA score (1 point times a CSA Time Weight of three = three points). Violation of 391.41A No Medical Card in Possession continues to be a top violation year after year. Best Practice: keep a photocopy of the card in the truck.

A driver with a history of driving without a valid medical card (no card in possession or an expired card in possession) may be placed Out Of Service (OOS), which would add another six CSA points (2 points times a CSA Time Weight of three = 6 points), as of April 1, 2012, according to the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria (OOSC).

CSA points follow carriers for 24 months, but fall off over time:

Time Weights (Carriers)
0-6 months old = 3
6-12 months old = 2
12-24 months old = 1

SUMMARY

CMV drivers need to carry or keep a copy of a valid DOT medical certificate with them when driving (CDL drivers until at least January 30, 2015), and recertify their certification before their current DOT Medical Certificate expires. CDL drivers need to make their medical certification a part of their CDL driving record.

 

Light & Medium Truck is now called Truck Fleet Management

Truck Fleet Management Magazine

New Name, Bigger Footprint

After 26 years, Light & Medium Truck is no more. In its place, under the moniker of Truck Fleet Management, is a publication that bills itself “The Magazine for Commercial and Vocational Fleet Managers.” It is one of the publications of the American Trucking Association.

The first issue is out and has a new look and feel to it. Truck Fleet Management will cover everything from pickups up to Class 8 trucks (tractor-trailer size) because more vocational (work) fleets need Class 8-sized trucks to get the job done. No other magazine is dedicated to vocational fleet management.

Good business decisions need to be based on good information. Stay informed.

Subscribe to either the digital or paper edition:
FYI: It’s free . . . https://subscribe.truckfleetmgt.com/lim/?f=new

Carriers Identified and Prioritized for CSA Interventions by BASIC

 

Will you “qualify” for a DOT Audit?

Here’s the scoop: a bad collision or crash can trigger a DOT Audit. But so can a series of crashes. How many? Says the DOT:

“These crash rates were calculated by the FMCSA on a national scale and do not indicate or predict a crash rate for an individual carrier. The crash rate is the number of crashes per 100 vehicles. The national average for all carriers is 3.43 crashes/ 100 vehicles.”

Example:

Carriers targeted for enforcement, due to their Vehicle Maintenance BASIC, the fourth bar in the graph, had a average of 5.65 crashes per 100 trucks and/or buses.

Crash Rates per BASIC:

  • Driver Fitness 3.11
  • HAZMAT 4.49
  • Drug/Alcohol 4.61
  • Maintenance 5.56
  • Hours of Service 6.26
  • Accidents 6.34
  • Unsafe Driving 6.61

If your BASIC is flagged and your company has had a higher than average crash rate, then expect some sort of response from the DOT, up to and including an audit. Audits may be unannounced.

Note: most fleets don’t have hundreds of vehicles. One or two crashes may be enough to trigger a DOT intervention for a smaller fleet.

Source: From The Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS)Effectiveness Test by Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) report, dated January 2014.

 

Using the 100 Air-Mile Radius Exemption

Under the “100 air-mile radius exemption,” the rule states that the driver must be out and back within a 12-hour period. What if a driver goes over that 12-hour period for one day? J.E.

All drivers are required to make a Record of Duty Status (RODS), or a log, or log sheet of their activity (or status) during each 24-hour period. About half of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operation are local or under 50 miles of their origin. Under 395.1(e) Short-haul operations, a CDL driver is exempt from the logbook requirements (but not any other of the Hours-of-Service rules — the 11-14-60/70 hour rules). Specifically, the exemption allows simplification of the paperwork form of Hours-of-Service documentation, for short-haul operations:

(e) Short-haul operations—(1) 100 air-mile radius driver. A driver is exempt from the requirements of § 395.8 if:

(i) The driver operates within a 100 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location;

(ii) The driver, except a driver-salesperson, returns to the work reporting location and is released from work within 12 consecutive hours;

(iii)(A) A property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver has at least 10 consecutive hours off duty separating each 12 hours on duty;

(B) A passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver has at least 8 consecutive hours off duty separating each 12 hours on duty;

(iv)(A) A property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver does not exceed the maximum driving time specified in §395.3(a)(3) following 10 consecutive hours off duty; or

(B) A passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver does not exceed 10 hours maximum driving time following 8 consecutive hours off. A CDL short-haul driver can use the above exemption for any of “the three overs,” if he goes:

  • 1. Over a 100 air-mile radius;
  • 2. Over 12 hours from the start of work or the shift;
  • 3. Stays Over-night, or away from his starting location.

#3. Drivers must leave and return to the same work reporting location to qualify for the exception. If not, they should have log sheets for the day they left, and any day(s) they have not returned to their regular reporting/starting place of work. Note: some states (i.e., Texas), have what is called “tolerance” to the Hours-of-Service rules and may allow a 150 air-miles radius, or a longer work-day, for local, short-haul, or in-state operations.

DOT Interpretation & Guidance: Question 20: When a driver fails to meet the provisions of the 100 air-mile radius exemption (section 395.1(e)), is the driver required to have copies of his/her records of duty status for the previous seven days? Must the driver prepare daily records of duty status for the next seven days?

Answer: The driver must only have in his/her possession a record of duty status for the day he/she does not qualify for the exemption. The record of duty status must cover the entire day, even if the driver has to record retroactively changes in status that occurred between the time that the driver reported for duty and the time in which he/she no longer qualified for the 100 air-mile radius exemption. This is the only way to ensure that a driver does not claim the right to drive 10 hours after leaving his/her exempt status, in addition to the hours already driven under the 100 air-mile exemption.

Non-CDL drivers have some other rules under Under 395.1(e):

(2) Operators of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles not requiring a commercial driver’s license. Except as provided in this paragraph, a driver is exempt from the requirements of §395.3(a)(2) and §395.8 and ineligible to use the provisions of §395.1(e)(1), (g), and (o) if:(i) The driver operates a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle for which a commercial driver’s license is not required under part 383 of this subchapter;(ii) The driver operates within a 150 air-mile radius of the location where the driver reports to and is released from work, i.e., the normal work reporting location;(iii) The driver returns to the normal work reporting location at the end of each duty tour;(iv) The driver does not drive:(A) After the 14th hour after coming on duty on 5 days of any period of 7 consecutive days; and(B) After the 16th hour after coming on duty on 2 days of any period of 7 consecutive days;(v) The motor carrier that employs the driver maintains and retains for a period of 6 months accurate and true time records showing:(A) The time the driver reports for duty each day;(B) The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day;(C) The time the driver is released from duty each day;(D) The total time for the preceding 7 days in accordance with § 395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

What is required on the exemption sheet form?

(v) The motor carrier that employs the driver maintains and retains for a period of 6 months accurate and true time records showing:

  • (A) The time the driver reports for duty each day;
  • (B) The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day;
  • (C) The time the driver is released from duty each day; and
  • (D) The total time for the preceding 7 days in accordance with §395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

Breaks

Short-haul property-carrying CMV drivers are not required to take the mandatory 30-minute break within eight hours of starting work. Drivers exceeding the distance or time limits that qualify them as short haul drivers, however, are subject to complying with the break requirement:

Question 33. If a driver using either
short-haul exception in § 395.1(e) finds
it necessary to exceed the exception
limitations for unforeseen reasons, is the
driver in violation of the § 395.3 rest
break provision if more than 8 hours
have passed without having taken the
required rest break?
Guidance. No. A driver using a
§ 395.1(e) short-haul exception who
finds it necessary to exceed the
exception limitations for unforeseen
reasons, is not in violation of the § 395.3
rest-break requirements if 8 or more
hours have passed at the time the driver
becomes aware of the inability to use
the short-haul exception. The driver
should annotate the record-of-duty-
status to indicate why the required rest
break was not taken earlier, and should
take the break at the earliest safe
opportunity.
Issued on: December 12, 2013.

If a driver is claiming the short haul exemption, is there any type of documentation required in the vehicle?

No, the driver only has to say to the inspector is that he is claiming the short haul exemption.

Summary

Hours-of-service rules, if certain provisions are met, allow the use of an exemption sheet (sometimes called a time card), in lieu of a RODS or log sheet. If a driver goes over that 12-hour period for one day, over 100 or 150 air-miles or does not return to his normal work reporting location, then the driver:

  • (1) needs to make and attach a RODS or log sheet for the respective day or days the provisions are not met;
  • (2)  take the mandatory 30-minute break at the earliest safe opportunity; and
  • (3) annotate the record-of-duty- status to indicate why the rest break was not taken earlier.

See part380.com for specific Hours of Service guides and information.

Rumormill: About a Homeland Security Survey?

Q. One of my driver’s had a question, based on information given him by a doctor or nurse in one of those medical facilities at Pilot: If a driver does not complete a survey from Homeland Security, would they have their CDL status dropped?

New Medical Certification requirements as of January 30, 2012 (no later than January 30, 2014) require that all CDL drivers need to provide information to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operation they drive in or expect to drive. CDL drivers who are required to have a ”certified” medical status, and fail to provide and/or keep their medical examiner’s certificate current with their SDLA will become ”not-certified” and may lose their CDL. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) holders became subject to the same requirement as CDL drivers (that a medical examiner’s certificate be provided to the SDLAs so that this information will be available on record for CLP holders), beginning on July 8, 2015.

Most states are compliant with this new rule (RIN: 2126–AB71). Compliance Check: If you run the driver’s MVR, you should see the required information on the MVR report. As of a January 14, 2014 modification, CDL drivers are required to carry their paper medical certificate until January 30, 2015. Carriers and organizations should retain a copy for the driver’s qualification file.

Here’s the new updated regulations form the Federal Register:

FMCSA has decided to again extend for another year, until January 30, 2015, the date after which sole reliance on such driver records will be required for another year. The necessary amendments to 49 CFR 391.23(m), 391.41(a) and 391.51(b)(7) to accomplish this extension are set out below. (Note: keeping the paper documents is the only change; the remainder of the regulation is NOT postponed or delayed.)

In § 391.41, revise paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:

§ 391.41 Physical qualifications for drivers.

(a) * * *
(2) CDL/CLP exception. (i) Beginning January 30, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial driver’s license under part 383 of this chapter, and who submitted a current medical examiner’s certificate to the State in accordance with § 383.71(h) of this chapter documenting that he or she meets the physical qualification requirements of this part, no longer needs to carry on his or her person the medical examiner’s certificate specified at § 391.43(h), or a copy for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification.

(ii) Beginning July 8, 2015, a driver required to have a commercial learner’s permit under part 383 of this chapter, and who submitted a current medical examiner’s certificate to the State in accordance with § 383.71(h) of this chapter documenting that he or she meets the physical qualification requirements of this part, no longer needs to carry on his or her person the medical examiner’s certificate specified at § 391.43(h), or a copy for more than 15 days after the date it was issued as valid proof of medical certification.

(iii) A CDL or CLP holder required by § 383.71(h) of this chapter to obtain a medical examiner’s certificate, who obtained such by virtue of having obtained a medical variance from FMCSA, must continue to have in his or her possession the original or copy of that medical variance documentation at all times when on-duty.
* * * * *
4.In § 391.51, revise paragraph (b)(7)(ii) to read as follows:
§ 391.51 General requirements for driver qualification files.

* * * * *
(b) * * *
(7) * * *
(ii) Exception. For CDL holders, beginning January 30, 2012, if the CDLIS motor vehicle record contains medical certification status information, the motor carrier employer must meet this requirement by obtaining the CDLIS motor vehicle record defined at § 384.105 of this chapter. That record must be obtained from the current licensing State and placed in the driver qualification file. After January 30, 2015, a non-excepted, interstate CDL or CLP holder without medical certification status information on the CDLIS motor vehicle record is designated “not-certified” to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. After January 30, 2015, a motor carrier may use a copy of the driver’s current medical examiner’s certificate that was submitted to the State for up to 15 days from the date it was issued as proof of medical certification.

* * * * *
end regulatory text
Issued under the authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.87 on: January 8, 2014.

How does “Homeland Security” fit into this?

In some states Homeland Security may be part of the licensing bureau or DMV. For example, in Tennessee,  the State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) is called the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS).  TDOSHS will be adding CDL driver’s medical certification status and the information from Tennessee drivers’ medical certificates to the federal Commercial Driver’s License System (CDLIS) record.

Obiter Dictum

Napoleon uttered the famous observation, “Order, counter-order, disorder.” With so many recent changes to DOT regulations, a little ‘disorder’ and confusion can be anticipated until everyone is on the same page. Please bookmark this blog for additional compliance insights and to stay current on recent regulatory changes and issues.

 

If rehiring a driver who failed a drug test . . . ?

If rehiring a driver who failed drug test in 2011, then completed his SAP program and aftercare (I have two letters from the SAP confirming this), other than the release for prior testing history, need I obtain anything else? Or have to do anything going forward? I have not ever rehired anyone who has went through a SAP program.

A CDL driver is disqualified to drive any commercial motor vehicle (over 10,001 pounds GVWR or requiring a CDL to drive), or preform any safety-sensitive functions (loading, inspecting, etc.), until he or she re-qualifies by attending a program set up by a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

The SAP has to require at least six follow-up tests.
The driver must also be in a random testing program.
Random tests do not count as follow-up-tests.
An employer cannot exceed the SAP’s recommendations.

The regulations say in § 40.297:

Does anyone have the authority to change a SAP’s initial evaluation?

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no one (e.g., an employer, employee, a managed-care provider, any service agent) may change in any way the SAP’s evaluation or recommendations for assistance. For example, a third party is not permitted to make more or less stringent a SAP’s recommendation by changing the SAP’s evaluation or seeking another SAP’s evaluation.

Bottom Line: Follow the SAP’s return-to-duty report exactly. One employer had a driver who was suppose to do a follow-up test within the first 30-days but the driver missed the test by two days because of a delay on the trip. The employer was later fined by FMCSA.

Federal DOT Auditors look at any positive tests or refusal to undergo drug or alcohol testing for the previous five years when they conduct any investigation, so make sure you always follow the SAP’s requirements and federal regulations for any positive tests or refusal to test, as the DOT will carefully examine these records.

What if rehiring the driver from another company?

The testing schedule set by the SAP will carry over with the employee. Even if he or she were to go work with another company, the SAP’s requirements follow the driver.

Summary
A driver who has failed a drug or alcohol test needs an SAP evaluation and release. Before performing any safety-sensitive functions, the driver must undergo a return-to-duty drug test, and then at least six more follow-up tests, as specified in the SAP’s evaluation.

Must all flatbed trucks or trailers have a header board?

I just got a phone call from one of our drivers, who said that by January 31st all flatbed trucks or trailers must have a headboard. Has anyone else heard of this?

The header board or bulkhead, if present, is found at the front part of a trailer. Sometimes there may be a “headache rack” attached to the tractor, behind the cab. The rule requiring a “headache rack” changed about ten years ago; the tractor-mounted barrier is no longer a requirement. The purpose of this safety barrier, according to the CDL manual is to “protect you from your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the front-end structure is in good condition. The front-end structure should block the forward movement of any cargo you carry.”

What should a driver look for to determine if the header board “is in good condition?”

“Header board is adequate, secure,” says the California CDL Manual. This does not say much.

Inspection of the header board should include checks for missing rivets, damage (forklift damage, corrosion — beyond surface rust or corrosion — broken welds, or cracks). The structure should be upright — not leaning or bent on an angle, forwards or backwards.

The Regulations stipulate the minimum basic construction at § 393.114 What are the requirements for front end structures used as part of a cargo securement system?:

(a) Applicability. The rules in this section are applicable to commercial motor vehicles transporting articles of cargo that are in contact with the front end structure of the vehicle. The front end structure on these cargo-carrying vehicles must meet the performance requirements of this section.

(b) Height and width. (1) The front end structure must extend either to a height of 4 feet above the floor of the vehicle or to a height at which it blocks forward movement of any item or article of cargo being carried on the vehicle, whichever is lower. (2) The front end structure must have a width which is at least equal to the width of the vehicle or which blocks forward movement of any article of cargo being transported on the vehicle, whichever is narrower.

(c) Strength. The front end structure must be capable of withstanding the following horizontal forward static load:(1) For a front end structure less than 6 feet in height, a horizontal forward static load equal to one-half (0.5) of the weight of the articles of cargo being transported on the vehicle uniformly distributed over the entire portion of the front end structure that is within 4 feet above the vehicle’s floor or that is at or below a height above the vehicle’s floor at which it blocks forward movement of any article of the vehicle’s cargo, whichever is less; or(2) For a front end structure 6 feet in height or higher, a horizontal forward static load equal to four-tenths (0.4) of the weight of the articles of cargo being transported on the vehicle uniformly distributed over the entire front end structure.

(d) Penetration resistance. The front end structure must be designed, constructed, and maintained so that it is capable of resisting penetration by any article of cargo that contacts it when the vehicle decelerates at a rate of 20 feet per second, per second. The front end structure must have no aperture large enough to permit any article of cargo in contact with the structure to pass through it.

(e) Substitute devices. The requirements of this section may be met by the use of devices performing the same functions as a front end structure, if the devices are at least as strong as, and provide protection against shifting articles of cargo at least equal to, a front end structure which conforms to those requirements.

What if no header board is present?

The header board is considered part of the cargo securement system. The regulations at § 393.110 say:

(b) When an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a header board, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least:

(1) One tiedown for articles 5 feet (1.52 meters) or less in length, and 1,100 pounds (500 kg) or less in weight;

(2) Two tiedowns if the article is: (i) 5 feet (1.52 meters) or less in length and more than 1,100 pounds (500 kg) in weight; or (ii) Longer than 5 feet (1.52 meters) but less than or equal to 10 feet (3.04 meters) in length, irrespective of the weight.

All tiedowns must be adequate for their intended purpose. These are the regulations in effect at this time.