WHAT CAN A MOTOR CARRIER DO?
I strongly recommend that you follow the FMCSA’s “CSA Safety Management Cycle for Unsafe Driving.” In reality, this identifies six (6) areas where a safety investigator will systematically explore to discover what “Safety Management Processes” are broken or not in place.” For example, under the “Policies and Procedures” section, each carrier is to “develop a written, progressive disciplinary policy comprising warning letters, suspensions and fines, and ultimately leading to termination, focused on taking corrective action to ensure that drivers comply with unsafe driving-related rules and company policies. This policy should also specify consequences for any carrier official who knowingly and willfully allows unsafe driving violations.”
Back in 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires that CEOs and CFOs certify each financial report. By signing the financial report, the officer is certifying, among other things, that he/she has reviewed the report, that it contains no material omissions, and that it fairly represents the financial position of the business. Any officer who willfully certifies an untrue report faces fines up to $5 million and up to twenty (20) years in prison. What the FMCSA is saying is that any carrier official (owner, president, CEO, CFO, vice president of safety, etc.) could be punished for allowing unsafe driving violations.
To ensure a low score on this FMCSA Compliance, Safety & Accountability Program you should: 1) Ensure you are compliant; 2) Check your MCS-150; 3) Review your data; and, 4) Educate yourself, your employees, your officers and your drivers.
NO EXCUSE FOR NOT TAKING A RANDOM
It happens all the time. You tell a driver that he or she has to go for a DOT random test, and the driver claims something came up and he or she can’t go at that time. Most supervisors have heard such excuses as child care issues, car trouble, previous plans or work appointments, family emergencies, and driver illness. Even though some might be legitimate reasons why the driver is not available, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations clearly state that once a driver is notified, he or she must immediately proceed to the collection site. To do anything other than that is a refusal to be tested, including work-related activities or just going later.
The DOT issued an interpretation of 382.305 on the most severe “unforeseeable” circumstances: Question 21: If a driver has been notified of his/her selection of random drug and/or alcohol testing and the testing cannot be completed because of some “unforeseeable obstacles” at the collection site (i.e. collection site closed, collector not available when driver shows up, emergency such as a fire, natural disaster, etc.), what is the carrier’s responsibility? Response: In accordance with 382.305(i)(3) & 382.305(l), each driver selected for testing shall be tested during the selection period; and upon notification of selection for random alcohol and/or drug testing proceed to the collection site immediately. In instances of “unforeseeable obstacles” the driver shall immediately contact the employer’s DER for instructions to an alternative collection site. These “unforeseeable obstacles” do not negate the employer’s responsibility of ensuring that the required test be administered.
It is important that during the issuance of educational materials (382.601) that drivers understand the definition and consequences of a refusal to be tested. If they understand that it holds the same ramifications as a positive test, they will be quick to act when told to go to the collection site. There have been some misconceptions by many drivers and supervisors that drivers can go at the end of the shift after they’ve been told, or that they have an allotted time frame to make it to the collection site, such as one hour, two hours, etc. These myths about drug testing should be addressed when a driver enters your program and when a supervisor becomes the designated employer representative.
Notifying a driver at the end of his or her scheduled shift could set your driver up for failure. If he or she really has appointments after work or children to pick up, you might find a reliable driver refusing out of necessity, not alcohol or controlled substance use.
By notifying the driver during the course of his or her normal working hours, the driver will have no reason to refuse, especially if the notification is early enough that any wait time at the collection site still places the driver within his or her shift. Be sure to check off any personal time requests before sending the driver. If he or she is leaving for an appointment or taking a half-day of vacation, it might be wise to set the notification aside and surprise the driver during another shift. You have until the end of the testing cycle to complete the test, so you won’t have to feel rushed if it is early in the period.
Another policy that can pose problems, although allowable under the FMCSRs, is the off-duty drug test notification. If you have such a policy, alerting a driver on a day off or during a leave of absence could result in a refusal to test due to the driver’s other commitments or lack of transportation, child care, and so forth.
NEW ENTRANT SAFETY PROGRAM REVIEWED
The office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating an audit of the FMCSA’s response to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations to improve the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program. The objective of this audit, which is the result of a 2008 motor coach crash in Texas, is to reduce the risk of “reincarnated” or “chameleon” carriers. They want to be able to detect and deter those carriers who try to evade enforcement, to identify and track motor carriers whose vehicles are not in compliance, and make any needed changes to the rules to ensure sufficient statutory authority over these new entrants.
~ NTA is a name and organization you can trust. Not only is our website (www.ntassoc.com) an official US DOT Internet Training Site, but we are also the administrators of a Nationally Accredited Drug and Alcohol Program. If you have any questions, call me at (562) 279-0557 or send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Until next month, “Drive Safe – Drive Smart!”