DOT COVID-19 Drug & Alcohol Testing Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals and Service Agents

April 4, 2020; updated June 17, 2020; updated September 22, 2020

On March 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) provided guidance about the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency on DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements for employers, employees, and service agents.  On April 4, 2020, ODAPC provided supplemental information specific to performing remote evaluations by Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) and the re-qualification timelines for collectors, Medical Review Officers (MRO), Screening Test Technicians (STT) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT), and SAPs.  As published on April 4, 2020, this statement was effective through June 30, 2020.  On June 17, 2020 the guidance was extended to September 30, 2020.  As of September 22, 2020, ODAPC has extended the statement and it continues to be effective through December 31, 2020.

SAP Assessments and Evaluations

Under 49 CFR §§ 40. 291, 40.293, and 40.301, the SAP must conduct a face-to-face assessment and evaluation of an employee who has violated DOT drug and alcohol regulations.  DOT has always maintained that the “face-to-face” assessment and evaluation must be done “in person” and is essential to the SAP process.  ODAPC recognizes that conducting face-to-face assessments and evaluations during the COVID-19 public health emergency may not be possible or advisable for certain individuals. ODAPC will allow SAPs to conduct a remote “face-to-face” evaluation and assessment while this policy is in effect.

The flexibility to conduct remote assessments and evaluations is voluntary, and SAPs may continue to conduct in-person face-to-face assessments and evaluations as appropriate.  ODAPC recommends that, when a SAP conducts assessments and evaluations remotely, the format of the assessment be documented in the final report for reference.

ODAPC realizes that performing evaluations remotely may not provide as much information to the SAP as a face-to-face evaluation would, but believes remote evaluations are preferable to not performing the evaluations at all.  While ODAPC will not prescribe the exact manner in which the remote evaluations should be conducted, SAPs who choose to conduct initial assessments and evaluations and follow up evaluations remotely should consider the following parameters:

  1. The technology you use should permit a real-time two-way audio and visual communication and interaction between you and the employee.
  2. You should determine if the quality of the technology (e.g., speed of the internet connection, clarity of the display, application being used, etc.) is sufficient for you to gather all the visual (e.g., non-verbal physical cues) and audible information you would normally observe in an in-person face-to-face interaction.
  3. You may only utilize the technology if your State-issued license authorizes you to do so and within the parameters of that authority.

ODAPC will not consider an evaluation or assessment performed remotely as an act of serious non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect. 

Re-qualification Timelines for Certain Service Agents

Under 49 CFR §§ 40.33(e), 40.121(d), 40.213(e), and 40.281(d), collectors, MROs, STT/BATs, and SAPs are required to maintain their DOT required qualifications to continue to act as service agents in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program.  Specifically, collectors and STT/BATs must complete refresher training every five years, MROs must complete requalification training every five years, and SAPs must complete 12 professional development hours every three years.

DOT realizes that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, these service agents may find it difficult to find the necessary resources (e.g., exam location or personnel to conduct mock collections, etc.) to meet their re-qualification requirements. If a service agent is unable to meet their re-qualification due date while this statement of enforcement discretion is in effect, DOT will not consider it a non-compliance for purposes of starting a public interest exclusion proceeding against the service agent.  DOT is providing this flexibility for service agents who cannot meet their re-qualification requirements by their respective due dates due to restrictions imposed by Federal, State and local authorities, and health agencies related to the COVID-19 public health emergency (e.g., facility closures, State or locally imposed quarantine requirements, or other impediments).  DOT will consider these service agents qualified per Part 40 to continue providing the Part 40 required services while this policy is in effect.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with the current DOT drug and alcohol regulations. Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free DOT/FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Speeding most cited violation during Operation Safe Driver Week


Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officials issued more than 71,000 citations and warnings to drivers during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

From July 12 to July 18, law enforcement officials throughout the United States and Canada were on the lookout for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors such as following too closely, not wearing a seat belt and distracted driving, while placing added emphasis on speeding, CVSA states in a Sept. 2 press release.

Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common among both groups of drivers. Commercial motor vehicle drivers received 2,339 citations and 3,423 warnings for speeding, while passenger drivers accounted for 14,378 citations and 11,456 warnings.

Rounding out the top five citations issued to CMV drivers: failure to wear a seat belt (1,003), failure to obey a traffic control device (617), texting or using a handheld phone (269), and improper lane change (122).

The next most common citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers were failure to wear a seat belt (932), possession/use/under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (452), failure to obey a traffic control device (399), and improper lane change (273).

“Although CVSA is a commercial motor vehicle safety organization, it was important that passenger vehicle drivers were also involved in this annual weeklong driver safety enforcement initiative,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “When commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles collide, no matter who was at fault, the results can be catastrophic, especially for the smaller and lighter passenger vehicle. Preventing crashes from happening requires every driver – commercial and personal – to be aware of how to safely share the road with other types of vehicles.”

The rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019 – despite a 17% drop in the number of miles driven – according to preliminary estimates released Sept. 15 by the National Safety Council.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Traffic fatalities in Arizona reached a 3-year low in 2019

Crashes involving distracted drivers fall 11.8%

PHOENIX – Traffic crash fatalities on Arizona roadways in 2019 fell to their lowest total in three years, according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report published Tuesday, June 30.

Total traffic crash fatalities was one of several key measurements that decreased in 2019 from 2018. The 2019 report also tallied fewer pedestrian fatalities, alcohol-related fatalities, fatalities of those not wearing seat belts and distracted drivers involved in crashes compared to the previous year.

The Arizona Department of Transportation produces the annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts Report, which is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided by law enforcement agencies around the state. The report reflects crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.

While the total number of fatalities decreased, the total number of crashes in Arizona rose by 1.6% from 2018 to 2019. In the same timespan, Arizona saw the total number of licensed drivers increase by 1.3% to 5.38 million.

Reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries can’t be solved by state agencies alone because 68% of crashes occur on roads other than state highways. In fact, real change must begin in the driver’s seat because driver behavior is a factor in more than 90% of collisions. Some of those behaviors saw better results in 2019 than recent years, but there are still too many preventable crashes, fatalities and injuries occurring on Arizona’s roads.

The report shows that at least 10,491 drivers involved in collisions during 2019 engaged in “distracted driving behavior.” This is an 11.8% decrease from 2018, when the figure was 11,898. In April 2019, when Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2318, it became illegal for drivers to talk or text on a cellphone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode.

Arizona continues to see fewer deaths related to drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased for the third straight year, falling 21% since 2017, and the 256 fatalities in 2019 is the lowest total since 2010. The number of people killed not wearing seat belts fell for the fifth year in a row – from 258 in 2015 to 211 in 2019 – but unbuckled occupants still account for about a fifth of all traffic fatalities.

Pedestrian fatalities fell to their lowest total since 2016, with 220 in 2019. Most pedestrian fatalities occur on surface streets in urban areas, and pedestrians should cross streets only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see them.

Crashes involving bicyclists and motorcycles continued a years-long downward trend. The 1,275 total crashes involving bicyclists in 2019 are the fewest since at least 1991 – crashes involving bikes peaked in 2012 with 2,146. Crashes involving motorcycles declined for the third straight year and reached their lowest total (2,676) since 2004. Yet, despite the decrease in crashes for these categories, each saw a year-over-year increase in bicyclists and motorcycle operators and passengers killed in vehicle collisions.

The full 2019 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.

 

Temporary increased truck weight limits extended through July 30

Eased limits are for commercial loads with critical supplies

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation has extended through July 30 the temporary higher weight limits for commercial trucks hauling critical supplies and goods during the current public health situation.

In response to a national emergency declaration, and to align with the temporary increase in truck weights by neighboring states, ADOT in early April raised the gross weight limit for commercial vehicles to 90,000 pounds without the need for an overweight permit, up from the normal 80,000 pounds. That temporary measure, previously extended to June 30, will now remain in effect until July 30.

For more information, visit azdot.gov.

COVID-19 pandemic: DOT to provide more than 15 million cloth facial coverings to essential workers

truck-driver-with-face-mask.jpg

Photo: andresr/iStockphoto

Washington — The Department of Transportation has announced it will distribute about 15.5 million cloth facial coverings to transportation workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified transportation workers as essential and among those in “critical infrastructure” occupations.

“Transportation workers are on the front lines of keeping our transportation systems operational during this public health emergency and their well-being and safety is paramount,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a May 28 press release.

Distribution of facial coverings by industry is as follows:

  • Mass transit and passenger rail: 4.8 million
  • Aviation: 3.8 million
  • Maritime: 2.4 million
  • Freight rail: 2.2 million
  • Highway and motor carrier: 2.1 million
  • Pipeline systems: 258,000

FEMA secured the facial coverings, which are expected to be distributed via the U.S. Postal Service “over the coming weeks.”

Operation Safe Driver Week is July 12-18 With a Focus on Speeding

CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week will go on as scheduled, July 12-18. Law enforcement personnel throughout North America will be looking for drivers who are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors on our roadways. Identified drivers will be pulled over by law enforcement and may be issued a warning or citation. CVSA selected speeding as the focus area for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week to address the alarming trend of increased speeding on our roadways during the pandemic. Read More»

CVSA Supports the Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act of 2020

CVSA applauds Senators Wicker, Cantwell, Thune, Fischer and Duckworth, as well as the Commerce Committee, for their support of this legislation and urges passage by the full Senate. The Alliance has been advocating for relief for commercial motor vehicle safety programs to provide states and territories with needed flexibility as a result of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. Read More

Operation Safe Driver Week slated for July 12-18

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Photo: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officers are expected to keep an extra sharp watch for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors July 12-18 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

Officers will be looking for drivers who are texting, following too closely, not wearing seat belts or maneuvering in otherwise unsafe manners, while placing added emphasis on speeding.

A May 12 CVSA press release cites recent findings from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing that state highway officials nationwide “are seeing a severe spike in speeding” as traffic volume has decreased as a result of quarantines and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that, in March, the rate of motor vehicle deaths in the United States was 14% higher than in March 2019 despite fewer drivers being on the road.

CMV and passenger vehicle drivers in North America received nearly 47,000 citations and around 88,000 warnings during last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, per data collected from law enforcement personnel. Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common, with CMV drivers receiving 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings, and passenger vehicle drivers receiving 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings.

“It’s essential that this enforcement initiative, which focuses on identifying and deterring unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, go on as scheduled,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “As passenger vehicle drivers are limiting their travel to necessary trips and many [CMV] drivers are busy transporting vital goods to stores, it’s more important than ever to monitor our roadways for safe transport.”

ADOT Safety Message Contest finalists announced

Vote for your favorite at azdot.gov/signcontest

PHOENIX – Need a fun distraction for a few minutes? The Arizona Department of Transportation has you covered.

2020 ADOT Message Contest Voting GraphicIt’s time to vote for your favorite in ADOT’s fourth annual Safety Message Contest. From Monday, May 11, through Sunday, May 17, you can pick your favorite from among the 12 finalists and vote at azdot.gov/signcontest.

“In these unprecedented times, we can all use a distraction that makes us smile, even if it’s just for a moment, and taking a look at the best of the contest’s message entries can, hopefully, do that,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said.

Arizonans submitted more than 4,000 messages that covered a variety of traffic safety topics, including, texting and driving, impaired driving, blinker use, tailgating, seat belts, child safety seats and more. The two finalists that receive the most votes will be displayed on Dynamic Message Signs statewide.

ADOT began displaying unconventional safety messages on overhead signs in 2015 as part of an effort to encourage drivers to make better decisions behind the wheel. According to national traffic statistics, more than 90% of vehicle crashes are caused by driver decisions, including choosing to speed and to drive distracted, impaired or recklessly.

“For the past four years the safety message contest has generated tremendous engagement with the public, and it’s wonderful to see,” Halikowski added. “We want to see people thinking and talking about safe driving, and the contest helps further that effort.”