Notification of Expiration of Medical Certification

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.

Who is responsible to notify a CDL driver that his DOT physical is due to expire?

Responsibility = response + ability, or the ability to respond.

Due to the stringent DOT medical examination requirements, I recommend every driver renew his medical certificate at least 30 days before it is due to expire. Both the driver and his or her organization should have a reminder system in place so this gets done.

About one out of three men have sleep apnea, many times due to a buildup of fatty tissue in the neck. Testing or retesting may be required.

Rushing to do your medical exam (or drinking coffee, taking cold medication, etc.) can raise your blood pressure, resulting in a 90 day card, and another visit to the examiner.

For best results, plan well ahead of the due date, relax, do the exam and get your medical certificate. And don’t forget to take it to your DMV or Secretary of State, etc., so your federal records can be updated.

Can You Fuel and Pretrip — At The Same Time?

driver

Can a driver fuel and pre-trip at the same time?

Background facts:

Activities of truck drivers are regulated by DOT rules. When not driving, a driver is covered by OSHA rules.

OSHA rules require a safe working environment and incorporate NFPA Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.

Some municipalities have also enacted various rules against leaving your vehicle unattended while pumping fuel.

Question:
“Can a driver fuel and pre-trip at the same time?”

Simple answer — a driver may not — because even if not illegal, per se, to do so, he would not be in a position to attend to the fueling, if checking things out at the same time.

Specifically:
(1.) Most fuel pumps have signs posted — instructing fuel pump operators not to overfill gas tanks or leave them unattended while fueling.

(2.) Some local fire chiefs have issued fines for leaving a fuel hose unattended while fueling.

(3.) Even if there are no local rules prohibiting the practice, a company could be cited by OSHA for a “de minimis violation.” De minimis violations are violations of existing OSHA standards that have no direct or immediate relationship to safety or health. This is a kind of a warning.

A reasonable person should conclude by the above that a driver could: pre-trip and then fuel the truck.

Both practices are considered “on-duty” activities, so when filling out the logsheet, the driver may lump the two together and write in remarks: “Pretrip & Fuel.”

Company policy may differ from the above, so always follow company policy or the law, whichever is the higher standard.

Hauling Grain at Harvest Time

Grain truck

A certain contractor has their drivers log 15 minutes every time that they unload or load. Now loading time is fairly consistent. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to load a trailer; however unloading is way off.

Every time a driver pulls in to unload, an assistant is out the second they put on the brakes to start the unloading process and most drivers take less than 6 minutes from pulling onto the scale and pulling out empty. The drivers rarely have to even get out of their cabs as it is all handled for them.

Can the drivers legally log this as 15 minutes for one unload and zero minutes for the second?

Under Part 395.1(k) the rules might not apply during harvest time. Will harvest rules apply? (First Move Rule)

  • Is the move from the field directly to the farm or directly to the elevator? (First move)
  • Is the move from the farm (already in the grainy or storage) to the elevator or railhead? (Second move)

Check your state’s “Farmer’s Guide” or Farm Motor Carrier Guide for the exact rules.

The main principle in logging to always follow is to log accurately and truthfully. Use actual times, not “average” times.

If a Record of Duty Status (RODS) or log must be made, the drivers can “flag” anything under 15 minutes. Then it won’t matter much if something takes 5 minutes or twice as long.

Guidance: Short periods of time (less than 15 minutes) may be identified by drawing a line from the appropriate on-duty (not driving) or driving line to the remarks section and entering the amount of time, such as “6 minutes,” and the geographic location of the duty status change.

So to “flag” an activity under 15 minutes, draw a line down from the current status (example: driving) to the remarks section and note the time in minutes and location, such as an intersection or mile marker.

Activities over 15 minutes can be shown by a formal change in duty status (i.e., from driving to on-duty).

 

E-Signature Releases – What is DOT Acceptable?

circle check

What are the requirements for acceptability of e-signatures on drug & alcohol or safe driving records? We receive these from time to time and it is impossible to know if the “confirm” button or the check mark was really generated by the applicant (your previous employee) or a 3rd party TPA / CRA. I’ve researched the FMCSA regulation and asked for FMCSA guidance, but there is no clear direction on what is acceptable.

Step 1 – Make sure you have the proper release forms.

Blanket releases are unacceptable.

Written consent (a Part 40.25 release) must be:
employee-specific;
employer-specific; and
time-period specific.

The consent cannot be part of another DOT requirement such as: a motor vehicle check, credit history, or criminal background check.

The consent needs to be an original signed form for each identified DOT regulated employer needing to provide testing information.

If a carrier uses a service agent to obtain the information on their behalf, the service agent must also be identified on the release form — along with the employer identifying information.

Service agents maintaining testing information for DOT regulated employers
cannot disclose employee test information to other parties unless the employee
provides a specific written consent to do so (Part 40.331).

Step Two
Once you are confident that you have the proper forms, carefully examine the forms for the above information. Any e-docs have to be the functional equivalent of the paper docs they replace.

49 CFR Part 390.31 Copies of records or documents, governs electronic documents and signatures. (See guidance section).

While Third-party administrator / Consumer Reporting Agency (TPA/CRA) type agencies might be regulated, it doesn’t mean they necessarily adhere to DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing regulations. Fraudulently obtained releases (hiding or misrepresenting facts to get the signature) are invalid.

Acronyms 

TPA – Third-party administrator

CRA – Consumer Reporting Agency

FMCSA – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (an agency of the United States Department of Transportation or US DOT)