December 1, 2008
November 6, 2014
With the midterm elections over, we have the addition of three states that have legalized marijuana. DC, Oregon and Alaska have now joined the ranks of WA and CO to allow their residents to legally smoke and carry marijuana on their person. CA is slated as the next state to have this question on their ballot.
What does this mean in the workplace? CO Supreme Court is hearing a case regarding marijuana usage by a worker. It’s outcome should set the guidelines for how companies may proceed regarding non-DOT drug testing. CO has strict regulations that prohibit you from penalizing a worker in a random test found to have used marijuana unless they are in a safety sensitive function or the position has a bona fide occupational qualifications. Pr-employment and reasonable suspicion is still allowed. However, to fire an employee for marijuana usage, outside of these parameters, the worker basically has to be stoned or using on the job. If CO has this rule in place, you can be sure that the other 4 states have similar regulations or protections for the workers as well.
DOT required drug and alcohol testing supersede these state regulations. The concern is for companies who wish to implement an across the board testing program for all drivers or all workers. In many cases, their hands are tied. In an age where we are all pushing safety; this is quite the ironic twist.
Do you feel safe working next to a person who may be “stoned”? Do you want to be on the highway with someone in a vehicle next to you who is impaired? While that driver may be operating something under 26,000 lbs; it is still a vehicle in motion. While placing someone in jail for having a joint on their person is not practical; neither is allowing someone under the influence to be operating machinery.
I am anxious to see the outcome of the CO case. I know this is a hot topic with many different perspectives. How do you think that the spread of legalization of marijuana will affect workplace safety in the long term? Your comments are welcomed!
How have you made the roadways safer today?
October 23, 2014
Distracted driving goes beyond the vehicle class. It is an issue for all drivers but only CMV drivers, with these exceptions, are singled out and penalized. The train accident should not have happened. Following the driver’s “safety” patterns, or rather lack thereof, it was not the phone that caused the wreck but the driver’s habits. He does not pay merit to a train crossing and fudges on his med exams. It is likely this accident would have still occurred even if he had not been on the phone.
Cell phone usage, eating while driving, smoking with driving, laptop/iPad usage while driving and the 100 other things that can be on this list are all distractions. How often do you see someone multitasking while behind the wheel? They are applying makeup, shaving, having sex/performing sexual acts, changing clothes, reading a book and a myriad of other unthinkables while driving. This is a culture and attitude change that needs to occur by all drivers to make our roadways safer.
CMV drivers, due to the larger vehicle and weight size, come into focus more quickly. With D.O.T. regulations, we already have a means of governance over them so they are easier targets to point the finger upon. CMV drivers do not need more regulations. We need a nationwide attitude and accountability change for all drivers. For all persons!
We have become litigious society that blames the other guy. There is no personal responsibility taught any more. It is always someone else’s fault. People need to take responsibility for their own actions once again. Drivers need to have real training behind the wheel and in the classroom before obtaining a license. This is not just CMV drivers but everyone that possess the privilege to drive. Non-CMV drivers need to be schooled and educated on how to conduct themselves around a CMV. CMV drivers need to take pride in their profession and return to the Kings (and Queens) of the road that they once were. We all need to stop trying to doing 100 things at once and concentrate one doing one thing to the best of our ability at a time. This is how to make our roadways safer. This how to end so called ADD and other distraction aliments. We must again learn to concentrate instead of having the mindset and brain power of a gold fish.
Trucking companies are going to communicate with their drivers. If it is not via cell phone, then it will be via onboard devices (texting alert) or radio. Business people on the road are going to do the same. Our society have moved into this “must be connected at all times” state. The only way this will stop is if the phone manufactures place a block in the phones that render them unusable if in a moving vehicle. Doubtful they will as this shall cost them money.
Drivers who are concerned for safety can download apps like ‘I’m Driving’. This app informs your caller, automatically, that you cannot be reached at present due to being behind the wheel. Some of my drivers use to use this app or a similar one. While aggravating to the party trying to reach them; it is a welcome call to safety. The driver who chooses this route, is a driver focused on safety. To use this app effectively, it is a matter of learning to check the phone regularly when you stop for messages and missed calls. Instead of killing hours behind the wheel “yacking”; you make safe, direct calls during a stop. It is all about changing the mindset from frivolous to safety.
We do not need more regulations to achieve this goal. We need education. We need people who want to be safe. Ask yourself, “What are you doing today to improve roadway safety?” You don’t have to be a CMV driver to make a difference.
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October 22, 2014
Most maintenance violations are a direct result of poor PTI and/or lack of en-route checks. I would caution the rewrite of a DVIR unless it is to add items. Removal of certain items would actually invalidate the form as a “true” DVIR. Remember, § 396.11: Driver vehicle inspection report(s) outlines what must be checked. Adding items is fine but be sure to not remove any of the required items.
When I was GM for a Baltimore trucking company, we use to hide items on the truck and reward the drivers when these tokens were found in an appropriate time. Drivers who failed to find their hidden tokens were reprimanded. As usual, positive reinforcement worked better than negative.
The main issue I find as a Safety Consultant is that companies just do not take any of this seriously. They are operational driven and safety takes a back seat. Small companies are clueless as to the regulations and feel they do not pertain to them. Still many companies that I visit have no idea that the CSA site exists or what the numbers mean.
There is much more education to be had in the industry as a whole. Auto fail is not the answer but if we were move to a system where you had be certified to obtain your DOT number; I believe we would see change. The “I didn’t know” would be gone. You have to pass a test to be an electrician, plumber and so forth. Why not do so to be the holder of a DOT number? It is a privileged to have one and not a right. It is about safety; then let’s make it so.
October 13, 2014
What saddens me is what I experience when working with my smaller clients. They have some clients with small and even tiny fleets (usually under 50 trucks and some very tiny – <10 trucks). Many are localized and/or generally operate a vehicle that is not subject to roadside inspections. These fleets have little to no interaction with DOT inspectors. As such, they rarely have enough inspections to rank in any category. Yet we see these New Entry companies being shut down before they even get off the ground. Why? Because they had 2 inspections and one was “bad” thus placing them in a percentile above the 35% limit for OOS. This triggers an audit and/or it is New Entry review time and they fail due to their scores or rather lack of scores and evidence that are compliant.
I recall when the New Entry audit was a training process instead of a punitive process. Now with auto fail; the doors are closed for 60 days. A small company like this has no course of recoupment. In 60 days, their accounts will be gone to their competitors. Yes, they need to know how to comply with DOT regulations. Totally in agreement here. Either make these companies pass a test, like our Canadian neighbors do, prior to obtaining their DOT number or return to the training process. Up the audit to 6 months instead of 18 months but don’t close their doors unless they are egregious violators. We need to give small business a chance. I realize we also need to protect highway safety but we need to score a balance. We cannot allow one bad inspection from an untrained, non typical CMV driver to cost a business owner their livelihood.
I have worked with 3 clients in the past 2 months that fall into this category. Ironically, 2 of them, in opposite parts of the country, are being shut down for the same violation. They failed to connect a breakaway cable or it had come loose during transit. These are pickup truck operators, not CMV drivers for the norm. They come under scrutiny when they attach to a trailer, on rare occasions. As such a DOT number is required. Often, transport driving is the last of their qualifications. These are generally service professionals (e.g. technicians) that drive this vehicle as a means of transport to their job site. These are not commercial drivers per se. They are everyday folks that happen to be in a vehicle that occasionally become classified as a CMV due to it being used while they are generating revenue performing their skilled tasks (i.e. other than truck driving).
We all know that DOT regulations are geared towards the OTR company and the CDL driving professional. All other drivers try to fit into these rules and often with much difficulty. Yes, there are exemptions but they do not always fit either. It is this one size fits all mentality that causes non traditional use of CMVs such issues. It may also be these uses that skew the numbers. Perhaps they need a category all their own with rule sets that better apply to their application. This would allow peer group comparison against true peers and not just via size of fleet. I realize that mileage weighs into the algorithm but these non-traditional fleet (i.e. non trucking companies) need their own group(s). It would benefit fleets running locally or regionally to be thus categorized as well. Bottom-line, we need to move from this one size fits all mentality into real world scenarios. This is especially true when a person’s entire business is at risk.
I look forward to seeing the outcome of this new rating proposal. Perhaps it will address some of these issues. Perhaps it will not. We need more “real people” involved in these processes and not just bureaucrats or those industry representatives that have risen so far from their humble beginnings as to forget what it takes to be a small business start up. As your own stats read the other week; most companies with DOT numbers are not the trucking giants but the small business person. Is it not time we have rules and regulations that can relate to both distinct groups?
November 6, 2012
This sounds like a bad joke but it happened to me at the Voting poles.
An old lady/senior citizen, a middle aged lady (me) and 2 blonde guys walk into a church to vote. There were no real signs that this was the voting place and it took a bit of Googling or series of phone calls to learn where to vote for my district. Once inside; still no real signs of where to go in the church. A man exited a room that looked “official” and I asked. We were directed down the hall. You entered the room at the second door which seemed clumsy. There were 3 ladies sitting behind a desk; again no direction or signs. With enough questions you learned the process required to gain a voting booth. This was the first year for computerized voting in the area. I have been using paper ballots since I first voted in TX in 2004. These were not like the computer voting terminals I had previously used back East either. It was like a rotary phone that you dialed up what you wanted and then pushed enter.
Moving on, I finally gained my booth and was voting. The man behind me announced he was not registered but decided he wished to vote today. He was given a voter registration form and explained to that this was not possible. The man was a bit older than I so this was not his first election. This exchange was loud and the man was confused. The man with him, son or brother, had now gained the booth next to me. Here is where the fun began.
The man could not figure out this confounded computer thing as I hear most of the local older folks say when referring to any type of computer or computerized device. He was planning on voting with his father/brother at the table with a paper ballot so that the person that can read and has an opinion on how everyone is to vote can show the others what to check. This computer thing messed that idea all up. The man was not quite 100%. He had speech and walking issues, his hands did not function quite right and he was far from the sharpest crayon in the box. I am guessing son because he looked to be in his 30’s.
As we all know, there is no communication and especially no talking about candidates while in the voting 100 ft zone. This man had no concept of this. He just knew “daddy” was not next to him to tell him how to vote. The election official basically had to work the machine for him. He was totally confused! She helped him sign in and then tried to leave him to vote. He would not have it. He called her back and asked how to vote. She asked, “Party line or do you want to see names”. Yeah names. She showed him names; the 4 Presidential Candidates. He yells where Obama. Since it had his full name, he did not recognize it was the assumption from the loud conversation. She tried to show him and again questioned about party line. He asked what was that? She explained Democrat. That really confused the man. Nope, he wanted to vote for Obama not that. This went on for a bit until it sounded like the lady finally helped him vote for the party line and depart.
Ended up we all exited the building together as well. What a conversation that was on the way out!
Now I have to ask, “What debate did this man watch?” What news reports or newspapers or magazines did he read to help him make an informed decision? What did he do to prepare to vote for the most capable candidate? He could not even pick out his candidate’s name in a line up!
I know as US Citizens we all have the RIGHT to vote. We ban felons from voting even if they have advanced degrees and intelligence. We do not allow a person to make a will if they are not of “sound mind and body” or enter into any legal contract for that matter. Yet we let anyone vote. Should there not be a basic IQ test or some minimum level of schooling/intelligence factor one should possess before being able to help select the “most powerful man/woman in the world”? Not doing so just seems irresponsible.
This speaks volumes for the type of person supporting Nobama. I read a report today saying that most of his supporters are young adults that have not completed high school. Accordingly, they fall into the lower incomes as well. Lots of Americans in that situation these days but not all are unintelligible. In fact, a recent study I also read shows that most Americans (90%) are now completing High School.
Hard to believe that in this great land we have so many illiterates. Has the system failed them that badly? We really need to revisit the school system, the training criteria, school safety (e.g. anti-bulliesm programs), college scholarship programs and low income families who need their children to drop out of school to help support the family. We must educate our children and help them to become informed adults so that they can intelligently choose a leader and a future. If not, we are failing them and failing ourselves. In the end, we and the US will have no future if we do not invest in our children.
Ok, I know some of you are asking – would I be as outraged if this man voted for my candidate? Yes, I would. I was upset with the position he was putting the voting official in long before I learned his political views.
On a local positive note – lots of Republicans running unopposed for local offices. Go Republicans! Romney and Ryan are Right!!!!! Hoping for wonderful news as the results come in tonight.
June 7, 2012
June 3, 2012
It has been awhile since I signed into WordPress and created a blog. Perhaps it is time I take back up the pen and address you all again.
What are my current goals?
I am seeking a new opportunity in the logistics and/or transportation field. It must involve travel, ability for growth and be a position of responsibility. The DOT Doctor is a great organization. I truly have enjoyed creating and building her. While I intend to remain as a partner, my focus and dedication is to a new venture. Anyone with contacts or who knows of a company needing a subject matter expert in logistics and trucking; please think of me. Pass my contacts to the responsibility (firstname.lastname@example.org) and drop me a line. Please let me know how I may be of assistance to you in return.
Join on my LinkedIn and Facebook my friends. Let us grow our networks together.
December 17, 2010
December 2, 2010
Since deregulation no longer controls the industry and the unions have lost control, we move into a new era. For years, we have had the DOT punish the driver for the crimes of the company. This was a ploy to “teach” drivers to choose their company wisely. Did it work? Yes, and no but I feel mostly no. Drivers have greener grass syndrome and go with the flow. Others are happy just to be employable. Few know/knew how to grade/judge a carrier so most of these efforts were for not. The criteria drivers used was based on work of mouth not stats, therefore, these punitive efforts were useless.
Now we move into an era where companies are made liable for their drivers. Okay, that makes sense. You are the employer and you are responsible for the actions of your employees. With the change of HOS the other year, the idea was to raise awareness of regulations with shippers and carriers. Companies who are still dispatching with the notion of “just get it there” and not looking into available hours need to change their business mode. These are all attempts at doing so. Recall when there was talk about having shippers check the logbook to be sure the driver could run the load? Well this all of that the snowball coming together.
Real problem, the DOT/FMCSA does not have the power to enforce. Due to this, the policing of regulations are being passed in an outward spiral from driver to company to shipper to who knows next, receiver? When comes the day that if you sign for your package and don’t check the logbook to be sure it was delivered in a legal manner, then you are liable? If this is allowed to continue then there is no real end in sight.
What we can do to protect our position – shippers take an active role. Don’t say well I called my 3PL and now it’s their problem. Set criteria that your 3PL must follow on your behalf and write it into the contract. We, The DOT Doctor, have done this for a number of our customers. Then, at the warehouse level, have someone to check that the carrier you contracted is the name on the side of the door. If not, don’t load the truck. Want to go one-step farther, look over the logs or if e-logs, have the company send you the last 8 days to review along with the driver’s information.
This ends sub-brokering and allows each company the right to bid on a job instead of taking a giant’s crumbs. Who knows, this may in fact, lower the rates in the end. Of course, you will need those savings to pay for the extra hand you hired to check all this info at the dock.
Bottom-line, each of us plays a role in regulatory compliance. None of us is free and clear. Think of the person of steals the TV and then sells it to the pawnshop broker. They in turn sell it to a buyer who ships it to his kid for Christmas. Now each party is liable for the movement/handling of stolen goods. The pawnshop should have asked for a sales receipt or some proof of ownership. The customer should have asked for proof of ownership before purchasing. Substitute car for TV and now we are talking major felony. The point is, everyone is responsible for their own actions in business as in life. Accountability is what this is all about and always has been.
What score should I cut off the carrier at to protect my company, you ask. The government says 75% requires intervention. Well “A”s and “B”s kept mamma happy during school days. Why not protect yourself with an 80% cutoff for FAK? If you ship high value or hazmat, I would go for an “A”. Look not only at the scores but also at the OOS status and why. Perform a little analyzation on perspective carriers. Build a database of “approved” carriers. Re-check their standings at least every 3 months. Monthly would be better. Share this list with your 3PL as the only carriers who may haul your freight. Allow other carriers to “audition” to be on your list. Build personal relationships with your carriers and not just names on the side of a door.
I created a trucking matrix years ago that allowed my client to see the best rate vs. time of service on a designated lane. Carrier grading is now being incorporated into this matrix. The DOT Doctor customizes this list to your needs. We update it and maintain the database. This is a service we proudly offer but it is also one a good analyst who understands trucking and has a good working knowledge of Excel and database software (i.e. SQL, Access) could create in house. Taking the time to do so, helps protect your company and yourself. It is worth the cost and effort.
Even with this matrix in place, you still need a person to check the doors at time of loading. This is a two-part ordeal. Miss either piece and your protection factor is gone.
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