Merry Christmas from all of us at Glostone Trucking Solutions and sister company CleanFleet!
From our family to yours, may this holiday season be joyous, safe and bring happiness and prosperity to the New Year.
CDL & Medical Card Merger Means Changes To Driver Qualification Files
As of Jan. 30, 2014, all CDL holders must have supplied information about the type of driving they do (self-certify) and the status of their medical certificate/card to their state driver’s licensing agency.
Not completing this self-certification process before the Jan. 30 deadline will mean the driver will have his CDL downgraded to a non-CDL class by his licensing state. Once downgraded, the driver will no longer be able to legally operate a commercial motor vehicle that requires a CDL. If downgraded, a driver may reestablish his CDL class through his/her state driver’s license agency but the process will be very time consuming and costly. The State of Washington alone has reported that they have on record, nearly 60,000 CDL drivers who have yet to self-certify their medical status as the deadline looms.
The motor carrier is responsible for making sure all drivers are fully qualified to operate the vehicles they are assigned to drive which means they must follow up to make sure their drivers have completed this process. Carriers that don’t implement a system for making sure their drivers are medically qualified are opening up themselves for steep regulatory violations that can be levied for using a non-qualified driver.
This new CDL requirement means that as of Jan. 30, 2014, drivers will no longer be required to carry their medical card, and motor carriers will not be required to maintain a copy in the driver’s qualification file. However, what the motor carrier will have to maintain in the driver qualification file is a copy of the driver’s motor vehicle record (MVR) showing the newly added medical qualification.
By Jan. 30, 2014, and then each time a medical certificate/card is renewed and turned in to the driver licensing agency by the driver, the motor carrier will need to obtain a new driving record that reflects this current information and place it in the driver’s qualification file. Once a driver turns in his/her medical certificate/card to the state licensing agency, the state has 10 days to enter this information into the driver’s driving record. While the state is updating the records, the motor carrier must obtain and keep a copy of the driver’s new medical certificate/card as temporary proof of medical certification. Regulations allow the motor carrier to maintain this certificate/card as proof of medical qualification for a maximum of 15 days from the date it was issued before the new, updated MVR is then required to be on file.
Should you need assistance getting MVR’s or establishing a follow up system for ensuring driver compliance with this new regulation, be sure to contact us at 503-607-1088.
CARB Considering “Relaxing” Regulations
The California Air Resources Board is considering relaxing emission regulations for trucks that don’t run a lot of miles in the state. The current regulation provides trucks operating 1000 miles or less in California an exemption for having to meet the diesel particulate filter or engine upgrade requirements. The proposed regulation amendment expands this low-use exemption program to include the following:
Truck owners would not need to comply with the Statewide Truck and Bus rule requirements to retrofit or replace engines until 2020, provided they don’t run more than 5,000 miles annually inside California. Registration with CARB and annual mileage repotting would be required.
The expansion to 5,000 miles which was introduced during the CARB’s October board meeting will likely be presented at the April 2014 board meeting. It’s estimated that 15,000 trucks that will not qualify for the exemption still need an emissions upgrade by the end of 2013.
State Use Tax Decision on Truck Fleets
COULD THIS HAPPEN IN YOUR STATE?
Most states assess a Use Tax or Sales Tax on truck and trailer purchases. Many states allow exemptions to paying this tax if the equipment will be used in interstate operations. States usually impose a percentage threshold of miles traveled outside of the state in order to qualify for the exemption.
In the State of Washington, this threshold is 25% meaning 25% or more of the miles that equipment travels must be outside of the state of Washington each year. If taking that exemption, Washington regulations require a 25% mileage test be performed on each piece of rolling stock annually. If a formerly exempt piece of equipment has been found not to meet the 25% test, the Use Tax is now due.
In a recent example, a Washington based carrier was audited by the Department of Revenue where they performed the 25% test. They found the tests had never been performed on the equipment going back many years and many that were tested, failed. While in most audit situations a statute of limitations is mandated limiting what the auditor can review, in this case the auditors ignored the normal 4 year statute of limitations, asserting that each new use of each piece of equipment restarted the statute of limitations. As you can imagine, the assessment, penalty and interest was quite substantial!
The point to remember is that all States are looking for money. Non-compliance audits are a relatively easy method for them to get money. If you are taking advantage of this tax exemption, know what the requirements are in your State and make sure to follow through to avoid very costly audit assessments down the road.
5 Things Drivers Never Should Do at the Scene of an Accident
The time to plan how you’re going to respond at the scene of an accident is before you are involved in an accident. How a truck driver responds on the scene has a major impact on the outcome of any claims that may follow.
Here’s a list of five things drivers should never, ever do at the scene of an accident:
1. Do not leave the scene.
Drivers should stay on the scene of an accident until police and emergency responders arrive and tell them they can leave. Sounds like common sense, but it happens.
2. Do not get argumentative or physical.
Picking a fight — verbal or physical — is a surefire way to make a bad situation worse. How the driver conducts himself on the scene can have a major impact on whether the bystanders become a witness for or against a motor carrier. The emotional response of those involved in the situation will have an impact on how they remember the “facts” — it’s just human nature.
3. Do not discuss facts regarding the accident with anyone other than your company and the police.
There will be people who show up on the scene and start asking questions. Some may be innocent bystanders, some may be ambulance chasers sniffing for a big dollar verdict. We’ve run into situations where people working for attorneys have approached a driver saying “I’m from your insurance company, can you explain what happened?” The only people a driver should discuss the situation with is his or her own company and the police.
4. Do not admit to liability at the scene or volunteer to make payments — allow your company to make that decision after full investigation.
It’s human nature to want to say “sorry” when something goes awry — but even saying “I’m sorry this happened” can be twisted by a prosecutor into an admission of guilt. While your driver will certainly feel bad, reinforce that who’s at fault and who has liability will be determined following a full investigation.
5. Do not delay reporting an accident, no matter how minor it may seem.
The quicker a driver reports an accident, the quicker you can be prepared to respond. Days, hours, and minutes matter when it comes to collecting evidence and gathering witness testimony. Even a fender bender that seems minor needs to be reported right away — we have seen several accidents that seemed small blow up when the motorist has time to stew over it.
In some cases, drug testing may be required following an accident, either by the DOT or your insurance company. Controlled Substance Tests must be conducted within 32 hours and alcohol tests must be conducted within two hours. If the test is not performed within these time frames, you must provide documents stating the reason.
Ensuring that your drivers are well trained on how to respond at the scene of an accident is vitally important. Take the time now to review these important steps with them!