The DOT Doctor’s Blog

November 6, 2014

State Legalization of Pot and Drug Testing at Work

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?

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December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays from The DOT Doctor

The DOT Doctor Newsletter is now in a new electronic format.  Please visit our newest page for electronic newsletters (http://thedotdoctor.com/newsletters).

 

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday!   May your 2011 be full of prosperity and a blank OSHA 300.

 

The DOT Doctor Team

December 2, 2010

Protect Yourself During CSA 2010 Lawsuits

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.

 

Want to learn more – http://thedotdoctor.com or info@thedotdoctor.com

November 18, 2010

FMCSA Posts Changes to CSA 2010 Calculations

Today the FMCSA released the following news brief.  CSA 2010 goes “live” in December.  The weighted calculation on cargo-related BASIC will be adjusted.  Severity of the violations are being reassessed and a new algorithm is being created.  Once done, the new algorithm will be run on that segment which will provided updated scorings.  Term changes in SMS Basic from “Deficient” to “Alert” will occur along with a color change of red to orange.

FMCSA Announces CSA Safety Measurement System (SMS) Improvements

On August 16, 2010, FMCSA began providing carriers with information about where they stand in each of the new CSA SMS’s Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) based on roadside inspection data and investigation findings.  Based on feedback and analysis from the Data Preview period, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will roll out the new SMS to the nation in December with the following revisions:

1.     Modify the presentation of SMS BASIC results

    • Change the term “Deficient” to “Alert” when a motor carrier’s score in one or more BASICs is above the FMCSA threshold for intervention.
    • Change the highlight color from red to orange.
    • Improve the language to clarify that BASIC results signify the carrier is prioritized for an FMCSA intervention.

Explanation: Feedback during the Data Preview indicate that the display of SMS results needs to clarify that BASIC percentiles above the FMCSA threshold signify the carrier is prioritized for an FMCSA intervention and do not signify or otherwise imply a “safety rating” or safety fitness determination.

2.     Modify Cargo-Related BASIC

    • Recalibrate the Cargo-Related BASIC by adjusting the cargo securement violation severity weightings based on input from subject matter experts (SMEs).
    • Modify the public display to show the SMS Cargo-Related BASIC violations only.  The percentiles and intervention status will not be on public display.

Explanation: Feedback during the Data Preview period identified a concern that the BASIC was over-representing certain industry segments and potentially creating a misleading safety alert warning.  The Agency conducted additional analysis and concluded that the Cargo-Related BASIC be recalibrated with SMEs providing input on the cargo securement severity weights.  The agency received SME input and will now adjust the severity weights and run the algorithm accordingly.

Also, the agency is conducting additional analysis to further understand the impact on the different industry segments of a carrier’s exposure in this BASIC.  During this analysis period, the BASIC results will continue to be an effective intervention prioritization tool for enforcement personnel based on sound safety principles.  Accordingly, the percentiles and intervention status will be accessible to the FMCSA enforcement community and motor carriers only.

To learn more about CSA 2010 subscribe to the DOT Doctor’s monthly newsletter.  Visit http://thedotdoctor.com/csa_2010 to schedule a consultation today.  The DOT Doctor is here to help.  We cure compliance and CSA 2010 ills!

June 26, 2010

CSA 2010

CSA 2010 is here! Know how to protect yourself and your company.

CSA 2010 is a new minefield that the government has created for truckers and trucking companies to traverse. This one can stop you dead in your tracts. So be prepared!

O/Os remember you are the carrier, the fleet, the driver. Remember DOT does not care if you have 1 truck or 1,000,001 trucks. As long as you have a DOT number, you are bound by DOT regulations and therefore CSA 2010 standards.

CSA 2010 claims to not directly rate drivers as to put them out of work. This is true and false at the same time. It will provide enhanced tools for Safety Investigators (SIs) to identify drivers with safety performance problems during motor carrier investigations. As a result, motor carriers and drivers will have the opportunity to correct the specific safety performance problems. (This is not an “opportunity” but a requirement. Drivers are noted, by name, as to their infractions.) CSA 2010 is designed to meet one overriding objective: to increase safety on the Nation’s roads. (If this were totally true, it will target all vehicles not just commercial vehicles.) Therefore, it is, by design, a positive program for drivers and carriers with strong safety performance records. Also, it will send a strong message that drivers and carriers with poor safety performance histories need to improve. (CSA 2010) In short, low scorers will have black boxes (On-board recording devices) put in their trucks for full monitoring by Big Brother.

CSA 2010 is the answer for allowing the government to “invisibly” ride along side you in the cab of your truck and your only recourse is to outsmart the DOT at their own game.

If drivers are not “directly” rated then explain – driver interventions and notifications.

1. Driver Interventions – Any driver violations identified and addressed during carrier investigations that are not corrected may result in a driver Notice of Violation (NOV) or Notice of Claim (NOC). These are the only driver interventions at this time.

2. Driver Notifications – Drivers will be notified by mail and may be contacted by a FMCSA investigator. Let’s demystify the CSA 2010 initiative. Learn how this new data collection system directly affects you as a driver or carrier.

Download this new paper directed at driver protection by the DOT Doctor. Available at: http://thedotdoctor.com/i/u/10035243/i/Debunking_CSA_2010.pdf

As always, questions and comments welcomed!

April 13, 2010

DAC FOR DRIVERS

Trucking companies have USIS or DAC as most drivers have come to know the report.  Trucking companies can write ANYTHING they want about you and use this a poor retention tool.  Companies low on the ethics scale will purposely falsify a DAC report in a desperate attempt to make a driver unemployable so they are forced to return to that company.

Smarter companies see through this facade.  Many companies have chosen to avoid this untrustworthy service.  The information is not reliable due to the allowed collection methods.  If DAC would take the time to verify the data entered by the companies, notify the driver and ask for their side of the story as well as proof from both the company and the driver; then the information may be more reliable.  At least an attempt for honesty and good faith on the part of USIS/DAC would be recognized.  Even credit reports require proof.  Why then is DAC a one sided street?

Correcting incorrect DAC reports may be possible however it is a long and complex process.  Just obtaining a copy of one’s DAC is a foreboding process.  Company’s bent on protecting their interests further impede the process by often telling the driver they will clean up their post and then order their “DAC reporter” to not do so or to wait until a protest letter arrives.  If DAC is a report of truth, why make it so hard?

Recruiters are paid to fill seats.  They will promise the world to do so.  Some even do this in good faith not realizing the real story that occurs once a driver passes through the door.  How can they not know?  Because many recruiters have never even visited the terminal.  They work from a remote or home office and have no real contact with the “real world” of the driver.

So what can a driver or O/O or even a fleet owner do to protect themselves?  How can you avoid a potentially bad company?  Research!  Right now the only way to find out if that new job offer is all it appears to be is to take the plunge or do some recon.  Talk to drivers.  Use Facebook or other social networking sites, take time at a truck stop or shipping/receiving location to search out and find drivers from your prospective new company.  Ask the questions that matter to you.  Remember each driver has their own agenda.  What is important to me may be meaningless to you.  Get the facts on what you care about finding in a company.

I once found a company by seeking out potentials in a truck magazine then looking to see if I found them in the area I was stuck in.  When I finally did not find the a potential company, I knew it was right for me.  Why?  Because I was stuck running in a location that I wished to be far from.  At orientation the owner came in and did the Hi, Welcome speach that any good company owner would do.  He then went around the room and asked why we came here and how we learned of the company.  I told my story.  He found it strange but was intrigued.  It was what worked for me.

Other alternatives are internet searches.  Find their Hover report, check Rip Off Report and search for that company on blogs.  Read all you can find.  Check Safer Stats.  Now, take what a driver says with a grain of salt.  We all complain when we are upset at a company.  But when you find bad report after bad report, year in and year out…you can see the pattern.  If you find excellent reports and then sudden groupings of poor ones, find out what changed.  Was the company recently bought out?  Did the kids take over?  What happened?  Take time to investigate.  Interview the company.  Don’t just jump ship and hope you land well.  Do your homework because they are doing their homework on you.

Would it not be easier if there was on place to find this information?  Well here is my proposal.  I propose a DAC type system for companies.  If companies can report on drivers as will, then drivers should be allowed their say.  Drivers and O/Os need a place to gather info on companies and their practices.

What I would like from my readers –
(1) List the company name and address (city, state is fine)
(2) List driver type (O/O, co, regional, local, etc…)
(3) Time in service at said company
(4) Tell your story.  Good or bad.  Share the pros and cons of the company.  List names, facts and dates.
(5) Try to hold opinions and stick to facts but feel free to express yourself.  Do limit the cursing please.
(6) Tell what you tried to do to reverse the issue and with whom you addressed the situation.
(7) What are you doing now?  Are you suing?  Did you file a BBB report?  OOIDA contact?  What avenues are you taking to gain justice?
(8) If experience was good – what type of driver would you recommend to this company?  Who should they contact?  What qualifications are needed?
(9) Anything else you feel is relevant.
(10) If you feel comfortable; leave your name or handle, location and email.  It would be great if other drivers could contact you for more info.  If not comfortable with that, that is fine.  This is all optional.

Let’s get this going on here at one location for us all.  Just leave a comment to this post and you will be heard.
If there is enough response, I am willing to pull Safer Scores and add them to your posts.  I will also expand these postings into their area or web site so we all can benefit.

Now it is all up to you!  Take the bull by the horns and let your words be heard.  Drivers unite!  It is time we fight back to the unjust ways of DAC.

Enter your comments under the DAC FOR DRIVERS BLOG at: http://thedotdoctor.com/the_dot_doctor_speaks

April 8, 2010

A National Intermodal Shift

A National Intermodal Shift
William B. Cassidy and John D. Boyd | Apr 5, 2010 4:00AM GMT
The Journal of Commerce Magazine – News Story
http://www.joc.com/government-regulation/national-intermodal-shift (sign-in required)
This cover article speaks of the DOT’s plan to move truck traffic to ocean and rail methods. Deputy Secretary Porcari told Congress “We want to keep goods movement on water as long as possible, and then on rail as long as possible and truck it for the last miles.” That is, let’s transform the trucking industry into drayage carriers for the railroads – just what Norfolk Southern CEO Moorman called for a couple of years ago. Secretary LaHood spoke recently of how well he has been able to work with railroads, which have received a great deal of DOT funding.

Moving truck traffic to the rail would slow the delivery time. Rails, while gaining in competition, are still not able to handle time sensitive freight. Today’s inventories are leaned and set to work on JIT delivery schedules. Rail and ocean cannot accommodate this type of system. In essence, the government is telling big business to change their method of operation. Companies are leaning inventory and stock to save money, space and general overhead charges. They have invested much in the last 10 years to achieve this new structure. I do not see them changing back to the old ways willingly.
JB and Schneider embraced the intermodal methods and changed their business methods accordingly. Driver miles were cut almost in half as long haul freight disappeared to the rails. This also meant a change in client base for these carriers. Swift, who happily grabbed up the Wal-Mart account, split their transport method between rail and ground freight (truck) for JIT customers. Automotive clients always required JIT service.
While a move to rail claims to be more environmentally friendly and can save up to 30% in transportation costs, time will always be the issue. Rail is limited in its area of service and ocean is even a slower option. Claims processing through these channels are a nightmare and one of the main reasons many companies avoid these options totally.
The government explains that this would help relieve the congestion on our highways, promote safety highways and reduce the cost of infrastructure. Highways that no longer have to support the weight of heavy truck traffic are cheaper to build. It is implied that in doing so, fuel cost can be lowered due to the reduced highway funds needed. I find this hard to believe since the government is already ear marking those funds for railway improvements.
If these were to happen, inventory costs would raise along with replenishment times. This would mean consumer costs would rise to compensate for the increase. Large cities may feel a slight relief in traffic but for Main Street America, I doubt much change on the highway will be noticed.

More info – http://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/455871-Logistics_news_Maritime_DOT_unveils_effort_to_expand_America_s_marine_highways.php?nid=4283&source=title&rid=14370409

April 3, 2010

Big Brother is OnBoard

Filed under: 49 CFR,CDL,DOT,DOT Compliance,Haz-Mat,logistics,safety — dotdoctor @ 9:24 pm

April 2 was no April fool when it came to pass that EOBR will now be required on all trucks who’s company has a 10% or greater violation rate of HOS.  This is one time 10%, not the twice 10% as first spoke of by the FMCSA.  Compliance begins June 4 and in full force by 2012.  Adding insult to injury, even O/Os with their own authority leased to a company falling upon this non-compliance statue will be forced to install an EOBR.

Drivers, O/O and trucking company owners; we must unite in a common effort to maintain workable conditions for the industry.  Safety has to be priority but who knows better what makes a safe driver than those of us in this industry.  The government only knows what it reads.  We must stand up for our rights.  We must unite for adequate HOS and enforcement not encroachment and infringements.   Rouge drivers need to be removed from our highways.  Education is needed.  Many violations are due to pure misinterpertation of the regulations due to their complexities.  While blantant violators brought the wrath of the government upon the industry, not carriers should burden the weight.

There are many good carriers, drivers and O/Os in our industry.  There are many new rules coming at us quickly.  One that springs to mind is the new sleep apnea testing.  This added to the blood pressure standards and other issues that arise from the required lifestyle of a driver, will place any experienced driver out of work.  Driver “life expectancy” behind the wheel will be reduced to under 10 years unless we do something NOW to curb these attacks from the government agencies.  Get involved now before it is too late.   Write your Congressman, join driver groups and take action to save your profession.  Our voices do count and we, as a group, can be heard.  Do not let the government push us all out until all that are left are yellow and orange trucks on the highway overseen by Big Brother.  Let us learn from what is happening in the car and bank industry.

Read more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Special_Reports/2010/Apr/040210-FMCSA-targets.htm

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: 49 CFR,DOT Compliance — dotdoctor @ 12:40 pm
Tags:
Merry Christmas!
Just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe New Year!

Thank you all for being a part of the DOT Doctor family and we look forward to our continuing relationship in the New Year.

I am sure you have all heard about the Arrow ordeal by now. (If not check out my Facebook page).  Awful!  But in all this, it was wonderful to see OOIDA, Schneider and all the other drivers and companies who stepped up to help out a fellow driver.  Great Christmas spirit!

Anyone celebrating – Happy Holidays, be safe and have a prosperous New Year!

September 2, 2009

Establishing Yucca Mt as America’s Nuclear Waste Dump

Filed under: 49 CFR,CDL,DOT,driver training,EPA,Haz-Mat,NRC,OSHA,safety — dotdoctor @ 9:46 pm

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