Questions about Driver Safety Scores and Haz-Mat Containers Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of November 2014)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on October 12, 2014
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SAFETY SCORES FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Q: Is there a CSA score for individual drivers? I know there isn’t one publicly available, but I seem to remember hearing there is an individual score that law enforcement can use during investigations, and it’s separate from the carrier score. Is there any truth to this? Thank you – Scott in Wisconsin
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: The answers to your questions are found on FMCSA’s website explaining CSA and PSP. As a driver, your safety information consists of two different records: (1) your State Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) and (2) your Federal Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) record. Your State MVR is the same system as before and has not been impacted by CSA. It includes your conviction information for traffic violations and only your state (not the federal government) may suspend your CDL based on the information on your MVR. Along with state conviction information, your MVR contains your identification information and licensing information. Your employer is required by federal regulations to check your MVR annually (49 CFR 391.25). To obtain your MVR, contact the State Department of Motor Vehicles that issued your CDL. The Federal Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) record is a tool that helps carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing electronic access to a driver’s crash and inspection history from FMCSA’s MCMIS database. Congress mandated that PSP be independent of CSA. A PSP record contains a driver’s most recent five years of crash information and the most recent three years of roadside inspection information. The record displays a snapshot in time based on the most recent MCMIS information uploaded to the PSP system (a new snapshot is uploaded about once a month). A motor carrier may order a PSP record solely for the purpose of conducting pre-employment screening and may do so only with your consent. There is no federal or state score, assessment or rating associated with PSP, and the PSP does not directly impact your CDL. Since this information is available to potential employers with your written permission, it’s important to make sure it is correct. FMCSA encourages you, and it is your responsibility, to check your information to ensure it is complete and accurate. You can obtain your record for a $10 fee by visiting the FMCSA website (www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov) or for free via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. State information, including citations and tickets, is included on your MVR, and might impact your CDL, so it’s important to make sure it is correct, too. If you believe your safety information is incorrect, you have two ways to request a review. For state information, you can contest citations and/or tickets issued in court in the state in which they were filed. For other incorrect information, you will need to contact the state that issued your CDL. For Federal information, you can submit a Request for Data Review (RDR) on FMCSA’s DataQs website (https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov). DataQs allows you to upload supporting documents, automatically forwards your request to the appropriate office for resolution, and helps you track the request. Motor carriers and third parties may also be independently evaluating your safety record. A third party is a company that is not FMCSA or a state partner, and is not a motor carrier. It could, for example, be a company that offers evaluation services, or an employment agency for the motor carrier industry. Third parties are not affiliated with the federal or state government – they are independent. Sometimes, third parties will use the available safety information to create a “score” which some call a “CSA driver scorecard” or a “CSA score.” Third-party driver scorecards or reports could include driver employment information or safety performance information. Hire Right’s DAC report and Vigillo’s Daylight Driver Index are both examples of third-party reports or scorecards. CSA “scores” or “driver scorecards” are NOT issued by the federal or state government.
HAULING EMPTY HAZ-MAT CONTAINERS
Q: I drive for an oil field chemical manufacturing company. Our product is hauled in drums, pails and 330-gallon totes. When the containers are full, there is no question about placards, but what if the drums or pails are empty but have some residue inside? Do I need to have placards when I’m returning back to the plant before the drums or pails have been cleaned? I also relieve the straight truck driver on some local loads from time to time. I usually run electronic logs in my big truck, but the straight truck does not have them. What is the maximum distance I can run and still not need to have a paper log, and how is the distance actually measured? Thank you – Jim in Texas
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: As for the Haz-Mat question, a lot is going to depend on the material you are hauling. If you will send another question with a list of the hazardous materials being hauled, I can answer that portion of the question. A good rule of thumb is to always keep the placards on – even when hauling the empty containers back. A driver is allowed to display placards when empty as long as the placards represent the last load carried, unless the containers were purged and cleaned – it’s called permissive placarding, Part 172.500. As for the question about the logbook, drivers operating in interstate commerce are allowed to be on the clock if they meet the following conditions: the driver has to (1) start and stop from the same location; (2) have a time record that shows starting time, ending time, and total hours worked; (3) cannot be on the clock more than 12 hours; and (4) stay within a 100 air-mile radius (this distance is calculated in a straight line or as the crow flies). For more details, see Part 395.1(e).
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on October 12, 2014.