Trucking regulations in the United States are widely recognized as some of the strictest in any industry. The task of overseeing these regulations falls upon the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Data from FMCSA’s safety investigation summary report reveals that slightly over 95% of safety investigations conducted last year resulted in violations.
These violations can result in substantial fines and negatively impact your Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores. They can also increase your insurance rates and, in worst-case scenarios, lead to the closure of your trucking company.
Many of these violations have to do with drivers. Here are some common ways trucking companies fail to keep their drivers compliant and ideas for avoiding these missteps.
1. Letting drivers operate with a revoked or suspended CDL
This has been the chief violation in the industry for the past five years, and it accounts for more than 30% of acute violations last year. But why would a carrier risk allowing a driver with a compromised Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to continue driving for their company? The truth is CDL suspensions or revocations can happen without the employer’s knowledge, and unfortunately, they often find out when it’s already too late.
Even though carriers like yourself are required to conduct annual motor vehicle reports (MVRs) on their drivers, it’s a far better idea to proactively monitor your drivers’ records. This way, you can prevent any surprises in the form of sudden revocations or suspensions.
Looking for an easy way to track driver records? A truck driver compliance software solution can do this all for you. When you input all of the correct data, this software will keep you from ever assigning a load to a driver with expired documents. Let the trucking management software do the work so you don’t have to.
2. Failure to implement a drug/alcohol test program
In 2022, one notable violation that garnered attention was the failure of numerous operational motor carriers to establish a reliable drug and alcohol testing program, as mandated by 49 CFR Part 382 C of the FMCSA regulations. To put it simply, these carriers neglected to implement a comprehensive program that includes random testing for drugs and alcohol among their employees.
Motor carriers that operate commercial motor vehicles requiring commercial driver’s licenses are subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing requirements. Interestingly, unlike other areas of FMCSR, these testing requirements extend to motor carriers that operate exclusively within their home state.
Ensuring compliance with the mandated drug and alcohol testing is of utmost importance for motor carriers. By doing so, you not only adhere to regulations but also prioritize the overall safety of your operations.
Here again, you can automate this process with truck driver tracking software that can remind your office staff when someone needs to be tested and even send out automated reminders to drivers.
3. Failing to randomly test for alcohol and/or drugs
Neglecting random drug and alcohol tests puts carriers who manage drivers at risk. They are responsible for driver safety and compliance. Failing to implement testing protocols increases the chances of accidents, injuries, and legal liabilities. Regulatory violations may result in fines, penalties, or license suspension. Moreover, carriers’ reputations may suffer, leading to the loss of clients and business opportunities.
To avoid these consequences, carriers must prioritize robust drug and alcohol testing programs. Clear policies, regular random tests, and thorough documentation can help you comply with regulations while safeguarding your reputation in the industry.
4. Letting drivers with more than one CDL operate a CMV
Failing to conduct random drug and alcohol tests may not appear significant, but the FMCSA takes it seriously. In case of a violation, the federal agency can impose a fine of more than $5,000 on the motor carrier. While the state issuing a driver’s CDL should check the CDLIS, compliance and reporting can vary across states, making it unclear about a driver’s licensing history.
To safeguard your operations, it’s wise to conduct pre-employment CDLIS checks and regularly screen all employees. Partnering with a DOT background check provider can ease the administrative burden while ensuring compliance among your drivers.
A good trucking management software solution will have partner integrations to run background checks on the drivers. This simplifies your job and ensures greater accuracy and consistency with checks and screenings.
5. Using a driver who tested positive for a drug
Non-compliant drug testing programs have consistently been the top acute violations, comprising over 40% of all violations last year. The average fines for such violations exceed $8,000. To adhere to federal regulations, consider having random, pre-employment, follow-up, post-accident, and reasonable suspicion drug tests.
Additionally, investing in a DOT drug testing program is wise, considering potential upcoming changes, such as the inclusion of hair tests as an alternative to urine tests. If a driver tests positive for drugs or alcohol, remove them from duty to prevent risks to themselves, other drivers, and the business, while avoiding substantial fines.
The right partner can help you avoid audit violations
Avoiding violations and maintaining compliance with ever-changing FMCSA regulations can be a daunting task. The last thing you want is an audit that jeopardizes your CSA score, drains your finances, and damages your hard-earned reputation.
Look for trucking management software (TMS) providers that offer a range of trucking compliance and regulatory services. They can provide driver management software that manages driver qualification and compliance files. They can also manage insurance documents, truck maintenance, drug and alcohol testing and follow-up, and more.
By partnering with these providers, you can focus on running your business with confidence, knowing that you have expert support in maintaining compliance.