The DOT Doctor’s Blog

October 23, 2014

Distracted Driving

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.

Source Story:  http://cdllife.com/2014/top-trucking-news/ntsb-recommends-fmcsa-place-stricter-restrictions-hand-held-devices

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October 22, 2014

Improving Your CSA Maintenance BASIC

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.

Read more: http://thedotdoctor.com/the_dot_doctor_speaks/view/1467

SOURCE:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141016125544-1358303-how-to-reduce-csa-maintenance-violations-by-75-percent-with-better-inspections

October 13, 2014

Fitness Determination for US Trucking Fleets

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?

Reference: http://www.ccjdigital.com/notice-of-new-fitness-determination-rule-in-front-office-fmcsa-safety-chief-says/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=10-13-2014&utm_campaign=CCJ&ust_id=bcb56a0182

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