DOT adjusts civil penalty amounts for inflation

Original article published by Safety+Health

Photo: USDOT

Washington — The Department of Transportation has revised civil penalty amounts for violations to adjust for inflation.

Published in the Federal Register and effective Jan. 6, the increase is 1.07745% for DOT agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The adjustments for FMCSA penalties are detailed in Appendices A and B to 49 CFR part 386. A chart of the affected penalties is published in Section D of the final rule.

Under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, DOT is required to adjust civil penalty levels for inflation each year. DOT determines yearly adjustment rates via the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.


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DOT Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals

Original article published by USDOT

The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance is issuing a Statement of Enforcement Discretion for Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP) that is effective January 1, 2023.  The document authorizes SAPs to conduct remote assessments and evaluations for employees with drug and alcohol violations.

You can view the guidance document at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/statement_of_enforcement_discretion_SAPs


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A Notice for Federal Drug Testing Collection Sites & CDL Employers Regarding FMCSA Regulated Employees

First published by FMCSA

DOT | FMCSA Logo Banner with bottle of prescription drugs

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has regulations governing drug and alcohol testing for certain transportation industry employees. These regulations help ensure that the traveling American public can feel safe in their day to day journeys. Part of the effective execution of these regulations relies upon drug testing collection sites. For Federal drug testing programs to operate efficiently and effectively, collection sites play an integral role in making sure the right individuals are administered the right tests.

There are several modes under DOT that have regulations about how employees in their specific part of the transportation industry should be tested. For the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), one of the modes under DOT, only commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, or drivers that should have either a CDL or CLP should be given a DOT drug test with FMCSA specified as the DOT Agency on the custody and control form (CCF). Administering Federal drug tests to anyone other than these groups under FMCSA regulations creates an unnecessary administrative burdens on everyone in the Federal drug testing arena including, employers, drivers, medical review officers, third party administrators, and Federal staff. It is for this reason that FMCSA put together the, “Collection Site Notice” linked below. This notice provides important information for both collection sites and employers to use when determining who should be given what type of test.

Employers:  Please keep this notice handy and make sure that anyone involved in drug and alcohol testing at your company has a copy of it.

Collection Sites: Please review the attached notice with your staff. Also, we encourage posting the second page of the notice in your collection site, particularly in places where collections are actively taking place.

DOT and FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations make it safer for everyone in the United States to get around. This notice will help ensure that these regulations are implemented properly.

Collection Site Notice

FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Program Website

FMCSADrugandAlcohol@dot.gov


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DOT proposes use of electronic forms for drug and alcohol testing

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — The Department of Transportation is requesting public comment on a proposed rule that would allow the use of electronic forms and signatures for drug and alcohol testing.

According to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Aug. 5 Federal Register, DOT seeks to “provide additional flexibility and reduced costs for the industry while maintaining the integrity and confidentiality requirements of the drug and alcohol testing regulations.”

Currently, “employers and their service agents must use, sign and store paper documents exclusively, unless the employer is utilizing a laboratory’s electronic Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (electronic CCF) system that has been approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.”

In the ANPRM, DOT asks for responses to 14 specific questions, including:

  • What are the practical impacts of authorizing a fully or partially electronic system?
  • What are the economic impacts of authorizing a fully or partially electronic system?
  • How would confidentiality and system security be maintained to prevent against data breach and data loss?
  • How many levels of authentication should be used to ensure the reliability and security of the signatures of program participants?
  • Are there any lessons learned or shared best practices available related to paperless non-DOT regulated testing?
  • Are there any limitations in either a paperless or electronic environment that impact program efficiency?
  • What measures need to be established to ensure, when documents are transmitted to multiple parties, each party is able to properly access and use the electronic system?

Comments are due Oct. 4.


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Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Information Session

First published by FMCSA

Photo property of FMCSA

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP) will open its application portal for participation on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program acknowledges that safety is the highest priority for truck drivers. SDAP will help individuals between 18 – 20 explore interstate trucking careers and assist trucking companies in hiring and training new drivers through rigorous training standards – pairing each young driver with an experienced mentor. For more information, please view the SDAP Public Information Webinar  that covers training qualifications, participation requirements, and instructions about the application process.

Please contact safedriver@dot.gov with any additional questions.


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CVSA Releases Results from 2022 Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative

First published by CVSA

DOT's Counter-Trafficking Initiative

Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation

This year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) launched its new annual three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative. All three of the Alliance’s member countries – Canada, Mexico and the U.S. – participated in this awareness and outreach effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about human trafficking.

Taking into consideration each country’s existing human trafficking awareness dates, CVSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative was set for different dates in each country. In the U.S., the three-day initiative took place Jan. 11-13. In Canada, it took place Feb. 22-24. And in Mexico, it was March 15-17.

CVSA jurisdictions recorded human trafficking awareness and outreach data and submitted that data to the Alliance. For the 2022 North America-wide Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative:

  • 35 jurisdictions participated.
  • 2,460 individual law enforcement officers/troopers/inspectors participated.
  • There were 163 reported events (possible indicators of human trafficking or documented cases).
  • 13,274 wallet cards were distributed.
  • 6,355 window decals were distributed.
  • 1,818 presentations were delivered.
  • There were 640 media contacts.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world, including North America. Human traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.

After a successful launch year and input from jurisdictions during the CVSA Human Trafficking Prevention program committee meeting at the CVSA Workshop, the CVSA Board of Directors voted to extend the initiative from three days to five days next year. Next year’s Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is scheduled for Jan. 9-13, 2023, in the U.S.; Feb. 20-24, 2023, in Canada; and March 13-17, 2023, in Mexico.

“The fight to end human trafficking does not end now that the three-day Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative has concluded,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “We remain fully committed to educating the public, every day of the year, about the crime of human trafficking, the signs to look for and what to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked. Our ultimate goal is to eradicate human trafficking entirely.”

Truckers Against Trucking (TAT) collaborated with CVSA on the launch of the human trafficking education and awareness campaign. Training materials were developed and available for industry and law enforcement use. In addition, CVSA worked with TAT to provide an online order form for jurisdiction members to order TAT wallet cards and/or window decals, which are now available year-round.

To find out what your local jurisdiction is doing to increase human trafficking awareness throughout the year, contact the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety within your state, province or territory.


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Lawmakers push DOT to update female crash test dummies

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
crash-test-dummies.jpg

Photo: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Washington — Concerned by what it calls “an often-overlooked inequity in the area of vehicle safety,” a coalition of House members is asking the Department of Transportation to require the use of “accurate, up-to-date” female crash test dummies in vehicle safety testing.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) and 65 other lawmakers sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. In it, they urge DOT to protect female drivers by directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to use test dummies that are more representative of the average woman in the United States as part of NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program and in determining Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

The lawmakers cite recent research and NHTSA statistics showing that females make up more than half of licensed drivers nationwide. In 2019, 10,420 females died in motor vehicle-related crashes and a million more were injured.

Separate studies also show that buckled-up females are 73% more likely to be severely injured in frontal crashes and, overall, are 17% more likely to die in a crash.

These statistics “are in part attributable to the absence of (more accurate) female crash test dummies in the current crash test system,” the letter states. New requirements “would advance gender equity in auto safety regulations and save lives.”

NHTSA’s current female crash test dummies represent the fifth percentile of women in the 1970s, measuring 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 108 pounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says today’s average U.S. woman stands 5 feet, 3.5 inches tall and weighs 170.8 pounds.

Stanford University researchers say the dummies “are only scaled-down versions of the standard, mid-sized male” and fail to accurately reflect female geometry, muscle and ligament strength, spinal alignment, and dynamic responses to trauma.

The lawmakers also want female and male dummies used for testing in both driver and passenger seats. According to a press release from Lawrence’s office, the New Car Assessment Program’s five-star safety ratings don’t mandate testing for a female, driver’s-side dummy.

VERITY (Vehicle Equity Rules in Transportation) NOW, an advocacy group, is leading a campaign that encourages stakeholders to tweet at Buttigieg and call for action. “It is simply unacceptable that women suffer because NHTSA’s five-star safety rating program is still based on a 1970s stereotype that women don’t drive, ” VERITY NOW Co-Chair Susan Molinari said in the release.


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Safe truck parking: FMCSA’s Hutcheson says federal agencies will team up to ease shortage

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

trucks-rest-area.jpg

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation

Louisville, KY — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is “really feeling the urgency” to address a national shortage of safe parking spots for truckers who need to comply with federally mandated rest breaks, acting agency administrator Robin Hutcheson said March 24 during a media roundtable at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

report published on the same day in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Land Line magazine notes that Hutcheson called the issue “one of the top two or three” FMCSA hears about, adding that the message has “gone to the top of the U.S. government.”

Federal hours-of-service regulations require truck drivers to park and rest after being on duty for long periods. In a letter sent to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Feb. 18, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear and OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer call on the Department of Transportation to prioritize funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to address the issue.

“We know we need to work on this,” Hutcheson said during the roundtable, according to the report. “We know this needs to be addressed. We hear over and over again, ‘I would be a safer driver if I had a place to rest.’ That’s up to us to make sure we’re focusing on that and doing everything we can.”

She added that FMCSA will collaborate with the Federal Highway Administration to remedy the issue. She identified as first steps examining available funding for additional truck parking and ensuring state freight plans include truck parking needs.

During a March 2 hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Buttigieg testified that DOT is “very concerned” about the lack of truck parking, calling it an issue of convenience, safety and emissions. He suggested state DOTs might consider pursuing funding for truck parking from the:

In another update from the roundtable, reported March 28 by Overdrive magazine, Hutcheson said an apprenticeship pilot program that would allow commercial motor vehicle drivers younger than 21 to drive trucks across state lines won’t begin “until late summer, at the earliest.”

Hutcheson said the program, established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, needs a more secure “data collection methodology” before it can be implemented.


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

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DOT proposes oral fluid drug testing as an alternative method

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — The Department of Transportation has issued a proposed rule that would revise industry drug testing protocol by adding oral fluid testing as an alternative to urine testing for commercial motor vehicle operators and other safety-sensitive transportation workers.

In a notice published in the Feb. 28 Federal Register, DOT claims the proposal “will give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a more economical, less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals” of the transportation industry’s drug and alcohol testing program.

The proposed rule stems from a Department of Health and Human Services final rule allowing federal agencies to collect and test oral fluid specimens as part of their drug testing programs. Under the rule, effective Jan. 1, 2020, agencies must initiate individual rulemaking to begin the process of allowing oral fluid testing as an option.

“The advantage of every oral fluid collection is that it will be directly observed, as opposed to most urine collections, which are unobserved,” DOT states. “While directly observed urine specimen collections have long been the most effective method for preventing individuals from cheating on their drug tests by substituting or adulterating their specimens, directly observed urine collection may only be done in certain circumstances due to employee privacy concerns. Unlike directly observed urine collections, an oral fluid collection is much less intrusive on the tested employee’s privacy.”

The agency adds that it is not proposing to eliminate urine drug testing.

HHS is still considering amendments to proposed guidelines – issued in September 2020 – concerning the use of hair samples as a method for drug testing federal employees and safety-sensitive employees in federally regulated industries, the notice states.

Comments on the proposed rule are due March 30.


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CVSA Supports the U.S. DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy

First published by CVSA

Photo: CVSA

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the launch of its National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) to address the crisis on our nation’s roadways. Almost 95% of our nation’s transportation deaths occur on our roadways and they are on the rise.

“Those lost are our family members, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Americans deserve to travel safely in their communities. Humans make mistakes and as good stewards of the transportation system, we should have in place the safeguards to prevent those mistakes from being fatal. Zero is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries on our roadways.”

The NRSS incorporates the principles of an integrated Safe System approach with the goal of eliminating fatalities and injuries on our highways, roads and streets. The Safe System approach requires supporting a safety culture that places safety first and foremost in road system investment decisions. There are six principles that form the basis of the Safe System approach: deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable, humans make mistakes, humans are vulnerable, responsibility is shared, safety is proactive, and redundancy is crucial.

“The membership of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is comprised of commercial motor vehicle safety inspectors and officials and motor carrier industry representatives who are dedicated to transportation safety,” said CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney. “Our membership is committed to supporting the U.S. DOT in its commitment to zero fatalities on our roadways through the implementation of identified safety priorities and the Safe System approach.”

Some of the priorities identified in the NRSS specific to the commercial motor vehicle enforcement and motor carrier industry communities include:

  • Implementation of the October 2021 final rule that requires state driver’s licensing agencies to access and use information obtained through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and take licensing actions against commercial motor vehicle drivers who have drug or alcohol violations in the system and are not cleared to return to duty
  • Improved accuracy of commercial driver’s license (CDL) driver records and the identification of additional opportunities to use these more accurate records to take unsafe commercial motor vehicle drivers off the road more expeditiously
  • Increased highly visible commercial motor vehicle traffic enforcement targeting risky driving behaviors, especially speeding; the department identified speed enforcement, deployed equitably and applied appropriately to roads with the greatest risk of harm due to speeding, as a tactic that may provide significant safety benefits and save lives
  • The continued commitment to identifying high-risk companies and operators of commercial motor vehicles using a data-driven and performance-based approach, including roadside commercial motor vehicle safety inspections

The department’s renewed commitment to roadway safety encompasses priority actions in five categories: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds and post-crash care. The recent passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides substantial resources and tools to improve safety and save lives and is a prime opportunity to leverage the NRSS.

“As we embark on this reinvigorated effort, we are relying on our partners to also identify and commit to near-term actions that will help make our collective efforts to reach zero a reality,” added Transportation Secretary Buttigieg.

“On behalf of the Alliance, I’d like to thank Transportation Secretary Buttigieg and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their leadership and action in this undertaking,” said Mooney. “We look forward to working together toward our shared vision of zero roadway deaths.”


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