Are You Ready for Trucking 2012?

November 1, 2011

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CSA has had and is having a tremendous effect on carriers and drivers.  In just the past 30 days I have had three carriers call my office out of the blue with just one request; HELP!  These three carriers have 354, 303 and 44 power units and each has CSA issues that are catching the eye of their shippers.

Each carrier has received or is expecting to receive their third “CSA Alert” and their shippers are backing off shipping with them or demanding them to resolve the Alert promptly or risk losing their business.  Each carrier’s Alert is related to Hours of Service or Vehicle Maintenance, however every carrier should be watching their own CSA scores and taking measures to prevent their score from going over in any of the basics CSA monitors.

OK, call me a cynic.  Call me skeptical. Call me concerned, but never call me afraid or unprepared for what trucking will be in 2012.  And I suggest you adopt my thinking as a foundation for your continued survival for this next year.

Regulations are on their way.  Many of the new regulations will be issued only to find their way into lawsuits before they take place.  I speak of Hours of Service and Electronic On Board Recorders specifically, but also others are subject to lawsuits.  Regulations can be worked with and around so they do not kill trucking.  I think trucking can and will survive the regulations, but only the good carriers and drivers will survive.

Let’s talk about Hours of Service (HOS) violations and how a carrier/driver can reduce or eliminate those violations.  My experience shows me that carriers and drivers that are currently using Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBRs) to monitor HOS are finding that their violations are just about non-existent.  How can that be and how does that work.

EOBR’s take the driver out of the 19th Century paper and pencil and into the 21st Century electronic logs which greatly reduce or eliminate the majority of HOS violations which are 395.8 Log violations (general/form and manner) which is 2 points.  This form/manner violation often results in the officer selecting one of the following sub-paragraphs of 395.8 such as 395.8(a) which is No Drivers record of duty status and is described as an incomplete/wrong log and is 5 points.

395.8(e), False report of driver record of duty status described as False Log is 7 points.  You can also look at 395.8(f) (1) which is the Drivers record of duty status not current described as Incomplete/Wrong log which is 5 points or even the 395.8(k) (2) which is Driver failing to retain previous 7 days’ logs described as Incomplete/Wrong Log and is 5 points.  All HOS violations apply to both carriers and drivers scores, however one exception to the HOS applying to the driver score is 395.15(i)(5) which is Onboard recording device does not display required information and is described as an EOBR Related issue and is 1 point to the carrier only.

All the HOS violations suggest to me that a carrier should get EOBRs into their trucks as quickly as possible and drivers should seek to drive for carriers with EOBRs in their trucks.  I say this because the HOS issue almost completely disappears with EOBRs and because HOS is one of the main reasons for a complete audit of the carrier and can carry significant fines for the carrier if they are failing to comply with HOS.

Remember, both the carrier and the driver are controlled by the HOS in effect right now and subject to change at any time.  HOS is not going away so you must make sure you are doing everything possible to protect yourself so you can continue to drive and the carrier can continue in business.  I say this is important because of the coming driver shortage in the very near future as CSA removes bad drivers and bad carriers from our highways.  When this happens, drivers will be paid much more than they are today and carriers will be able to charge higher rates because there will be fewer drivers and carriers available to haul all the freight.

Let’s talk about vehicle maintenance, in particular tires.  Most violations for carriers and drivers for tires carry 8 points such as 396.3A1T which is Tires (general) and described as Tires with 8 points.  393.75 tires/Tubes (general) violations are 8 points and include 393.75(a) Flat tire or fabric exposed; 393.75(a)(1) tire ply or belt exposed; 393.75(a)(2) tire tread or sidewall separation; 393.75(a)(3) tire flat; 393.75(b) front tread depth less than 4/32 inch.  All of these should be caught on the 392.7  pre-trip inspection which has 4 points for violation.

As you can see, the officer can add a list of these issues on the same stop and cost you and the carrier many, many points.  I say this because last week my office received an inspection with thirty-one, that’s right folks, 31 violations in the same stop and each was an offshoot of the same or similar charge such as 395.75 general tires 8 points, 393.75(a) flat tire 8 points, 393.75(a) (1) tire belt exposed 8 points, 393.75(a) (2) tire tread separation 8 points.  One blowout caused a flat tire, tire belt exposed; tread separation which the officer wrote up as separate violations.  The officer also found other same/similar violations and continued to use the same over charging for the one violation.  Needless to say there was something else at work here and the driver did confess to bothering the officer during the inspection.  In his own words he said he “dog cussed the SOB”.  My advice on “dog cussing” is never doing it to anyone with a gun and a badge, ever.  Limit your “dog cussing” to your dog; even then it is not the right thing to do.

If you want a better paying job, then you need to make sure you follow the rules and regulations every day as currently written and as they change in the future.  Know the rules and regulations and know how many CSA points you have by asking your carrier.  2012 is going to flush out many bad drivers, don’t you become one.

Jim C. Klepper is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation’s commercial drivers.  Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Jim is also president of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates.  Jim, a former prosecutor, is also a registered pharmacist, with considerable experience in alcohol and drug related cases.  He is a lawyer that has focused on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking and life over-the-road and has his Commercial Drivers License.
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