Category Archives: FMCSA

DOT Drug Test

drug testWhen you go in for your first Department of Transportation, DOT drug test, what will happen? And what should happen?

When you have a commercial drivers license, an A or B class, if you are a pilot, work on the railroad. you are required to have drug and alcohol tests. Listed are the categories of who is required to be in a testing program.

Aviation ~ FAA

Commercial Motor Carriers ~ FMCSA

Maritime ~ USCG2

Pipeline ~ PHMSA Operations,

Railroad ~ FRA

Transit ~ FTA

The first test you will have, when you are ready to go to work, is a pre-employment test. This will probably be your first encounter with the DOT paperwork and process.

When you arrive at the collection site, you are required to show your picture ID. The identification must be current. You can use your drivers license, passport or military ID.

Then you will be taken to a private area to begin the paperwork. You will be asked to provide your social security number.

You will be asked to empty your pockets, take off your hat and any outer wear, such as a coat or jacket. Your items will be stored n a locked area. Then the collector will ask you to wash your hands. This is to make sure there are no adulterants, or chemicals on your hands that could alter the test in any way. After you wash your hands you will be given a cup to urinate into. The collector will show you how much they need, the rest can go in the toilet.

This pre-employment test will not be a viewed test. You will enter the rest room alone and the door shut. Do not flush the toilet. When you are finished, do as you were instructed by the collector, to either put the specimen cup in an indicated location or hand it directly to the collector. You are required to watch the collector split the specimen, you will initial the seals on the 2 vials, and the collector will package your specimen for shipping. After that process, you may wash your hands and retrieve your items from the locked area. Your employer should have your drug test results in a few days.

The Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) has issued a handbook for employees, you can read it here.

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Electronic Logging

On March 13, 2014, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a rule requiring electronic logging for all 3 million interstate truck and bus drivers. 

On July 28, 2015 the rule was set to the White House for review. The electronic logging rule is set to be published on September 30, 2015. Estimates for the cost are somewhere in the $800. range per truck. The rule will allow about two years to complete the switch from paper logs. And there will be exceptions for short haul, maybe some others. We will update this story after the rule is published.

As a driver that has used electronic logging,I can speak with experience, they are not that bad. I used electronic logging for 2 years and found it to be easy after the initial learning curve. The system I worked with gave an alert when getting close to the end of the drive time, this was very helpful. This was in the late 90’s, so I am sure as fast as technology moves that the new systems will be very user friendly.

In an accident, the truck driver is always 10% responsible, automatically. Then it goes up from there. If there is a lawsuit, then attorneys start digging through receipts and log books. Their goal is to find a 15 minute error in the log book, so the lawyer can say, “this accident would not have happened if the driver had followed the rules” because the truck would not have been in that exact spot for the accident to happen. Electronic logs make it difficult to make a mistake. Being electronic based on GPS and the engine running, it seems that log book errors will be few.

Another component of the rule is a mute button. All electronic logging devices must be able to be muted. The worst thing is to be finally comfortable in the sleeper berth, ready to drift off to sleep and the thing beeps.

The market is full of electronic logging devices from an array of manufactures. Many of them sync to your smartphone making it simple to have and send copies of logs to dispatch, law enforcement or the payroll department.

Electronic logging is here to stay and its really not that scary.FMCSA Smartphone App

 

MRO Forgery

Medical Review Officer, or MRO forgery. Its hard to believe that a person could think they could get away with forging a doctors signature on a federal document. But here are two women that think its business as usual.

Elizabeth Pope dba Eastgate Laboratory Testing:

On December 10, 2014, the United States District Court of Western Pennsylvania sentenced Elizabeth Pope (dba Eastgate Laboratory Testing) to 4 years probation and to pay restitution ($109,000.00) to a Pennsylvania trucking company for her crimes.

Ms. Pope and her company, Eastgate Laboratory Testing, was operated as a Consortium/Third Party Administrator**. Starting in January 2006 and continuing through March 2012, Ms. Pope and her company forged the MRO’s signature and DOT drug tests. She sent the tests to the trucking company, who is responsible for keeping safe and substance free drivers on the road who believed they were receiving verified MRO  drug test results. She committed these crimes against the trucking company and the motoring public for 6 years!

Read the full decision and order here.

jail

Demetri (Mimi) Dearth dba ASAP (Advanced Substance Abuse Programs)

What is interesting is that we have the same type of case going on in California, with one exception. Dearth’s crimes were so heinous her case was turned over to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to ensure she receives the prosecution she deserves . ASAP,( Advanced Substance Abuse Programs) owned by Demetri (Mimi) Dearth, in Redding, CA has been indicted on similar charges…forging MRO signatures and forging federal drug test results.

Ms. Dearth is due in court early next year (2016). Read the press release from the Office of the Inspector General here. There were 80 trucking companies involved with her fraudulent business that have all been damaged by her greed,  80 companies that paid ASAP and Ms. Dearth and thought they were in compliance with federal regulations. Many of these companies didn’t even know about Dearth’s crimes until their Biannual Terminal Inspection by the California Highway Patrol.

How can you protect your business from this kind of fraud? Get references from other motor carriers or the Motor Carrier Division of your local Highway Patrol. Ask for the MRO’s name, address and phone number. Check the Specimen ID numbers from the labs with the records the MRO has on file. Ask about the labs, are they SAMSHA approved? Ask lots of questions! It’s your responsibility and your livelihood.

Glossary:

DOT – Department of Transportation

PIE – Public Interest Exclusion

NOPE – Notice of Proposed Exclusion

MRO – Medical Revue Officer (doctor)

SAMSHA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

.Consortium/TPA –  Third Party Administrator

** A consortium/third-party administrator is defined as, “[a] service agent that provides or coordinates the provision of a variety of drug and alcohol testing services to employers. C/TPAs typically perform administrative tasks concerning the operation of the employers’ drug and alcohol testing programs. This term includes, but is not limited to, groups of employers who join together to administer, as a single entity, the DOT drug and alcohol testing programs of its members. C/TPAs are not ’employers’ for purposes of this part.” 49 CFR § 40.3

Truck Parking

The DOT just confirmed that the nation has a truck parking problem. Wow, who knew!

I hope you noted the sarcasm there. DOT and FMCSA limit the driving time of truck drivers but the regulations do not take in to account the logistic nightmares drivers encounter.

As a driver, you plan your trip as carefully as you can, taking in to account what big city traffic delays at what times, the delivery time for your load, the hours to drive you have available, the fuel stops on your route. Then all it takes is a very common delay at the shipper. The load the driver was scheduled to pick up at 10AM won’t be ready until 2PM. So all that planning goes out the window. Already behind before even starting, the driver begins to think of where he will be when his driving time is up and he needs to park and sleep. There are stretches of this country where there are NO places to stop and park. Or parking is restricted. Or its full. Or its closed for repairs. Or its closed because that state ran out of money for maintenance. Or its a truckstop that charges you to park. Or its such a dangerous spot you can’t sleep if you do find a parking place.

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The survey was done in response to Jason’s Law. Jason’s Law, named after truck driver, husband and father, Jason Rivenburg. He arrived at his delivery location early, he was not allowed to park there so he drove to an abandoned gas station to take a nap. While there he was robbed of $7.00 and murdered. Read the story of the killers conviction here.

Its frustrating that 6 years after the murder, we are still talking about the parking problem. Read the article published in Trucking News here . This is a problem in every one of the 48 contiguous states.

The Department of Transportation and the National Coalition on Truck Parking are chating about the issue. We know its a problem, a big problem. Isn’t it time to stop talking, DOT, and start doing.

Trucking News also has a great article. Click here to read.