Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

News

15 Mar

By

FMCSA Threatens Deactivation of USDOT Numbers of Motor Carriers Who Fail to File Biennial Report

March 15, 2014 | By |

Be Aware!  If this is your year to file your biennial report with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), do not be late or your USDOT number may be deactivated.

As a part of the Unified Registration System (URS), the FMCSA requires all motor carriers, even those whose information has not changed, have ceased interstate operations since their last update, or have not notified the USDOT that they are out of business, to update their information on a bi-annual basis.

Back on November 1, 2013, the FMCSA began issuing warning letters to motor carriers 30 days in advance of their biennial update and those letters included a note that motor carriers’ US DOT numbers would be deactivated and warning and noncompliance alerts would be posted in the FMCSA IT system if they failed to comply.  Here is a guideline to help determine the due date of your biennial report:

  • If the SECOND to last number in your USDOT is odd, you are expected to file every odd-numbered calendar year.
  • If the SECOND to last number in your USDOT number is even, you are expected to file every even-number calendar year, including 2014.

Your report will be due by the last day of the month.  To determine the month due, look to the LAST number of your USDOT number and see the listing below:

 USDOT ends in 1 = January

USDOT ends in 2 = February

USDOT ends in 3 = March

USDOT ends in 4 = April

USDOT ends in 5 = May

USDOT ends in 6 = June

USDOT ends in 7 = July

USDOT ends in 8 = August

USDOT ends in 9 = September

USDOT ends in 0 = October

 

To complete your update, visit www.saferfmcsa.dot.gov and click on the FMCSA Registration & Updates link.  You may also login to the FMCSA portal at http://portal.fmcsa.dot.gov/login.  There is no charge for the update, but a credit card and your USDOT PIN will be required.  If you have forgotten your PIN, a new one maybe requested online, using your credit card (again, at no charge.)  The new PIN will be mailed to you.  PIN requests can take the FMCSA 4-7 business days to process, plus transit time – so please plan accordingly.

Do you have any questions regarding your biennial report?  Call our offices at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782) today.  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.

 

18 Oct

By

Hours of Service Q & A:

October 18, 2013 | By |

Acuity Insurance Company recently published an article answer common questions regarding the new Hours of Service rules that took effect July 1, 2013.  With their permission, we are reprinting the article here for your reference:

 

The first phase of Hours of Service (HOS) changes mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) took affect February 27, 2012, adding new criteria for on-duty time and penalties for exceeding allowable time.  The second phase took effect July 1, 2013, and included more restrictive rules in two areas: mandating rest breaks and limiting “restarts.”

 

Here are the answers to some common questions about the new regulations:

 

30-Minute Rest Breaks Rule Summary:  If more than eight consecutive hours on duty have passed since the last off-duty period of at least half an hour, a driver must take an off-duty or sleeper-berth break of at least 30 minutes before driving.

 

Q: Why are these required?

A: The FMCSA found that breaks reduce risks, including accidents and safety lapses, cause by long driving shifts.

 

Q: Do I have to spend the break resting?

A: No, but you must be off duty.  For instance, a lunch break could count as your 30 minutes.

 

Q: Can the break be spent loading or unloading, as long as I’m out of the cab?

A: No.  Time spent loading or unloading is considered on duty in most cases.

 

Q: Do I have to break right at the eight-hour mark if my shift is longer than eight hours?

A: No.  You can break earlier, but you must not drive more than eight consecutive hours.  For instance, a 10-hour drive can be broken into two 5-hour shifts separated by a break.

 

Q: Is break time included in the 14-hour duty limit?

A: Yes.  The 30-minute break cannot extend the work day.

 

34-Hour Restart Rule Summary: Drivers can only use the 34-hour restart once every seven calendar days (168 hours) to restart the 60- or 70- hour clock.  In addition, the restart must include two nighttime periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., using the driver’s home terminal time zone.

 

Q: Why was this change made?

A: The purpose of the rule change is to limit work to no more than 70 hours a week, which is aimed at reducing fatigue, crashes, and driver health problems.

 

Q: Who will be affected by the two0night provision?

A: Only drivers who drive nights and work more than 60 or 70 hours in a week will be impacted.

 

Q: What is the minimum length of time a driver has to be off duty to get credit for the two nighttime periods?

A: The minimum period is 34 hours.  Most drivers driving daytime schedules will be able to obtain the two nights in a 34-hour restart, if needed.  Only drivers who regularly drive overnight and work more than five nights a week will need to take longer to restarts to obtain the two nights off.

 

Q: If a driver works 10 hours a night, six nights a week and takes the seventh night off, does he then have to take an extra night off?

A: No, the driver would be working 60 hours in seven days and would not need a restart to start working again on the eighth day.
Q: Are the two nighttime periods based on the driver’s terminal time or local time, when different?

A: Drivers’ logs are based on the time zone of their home terminal, so the two night periods are set by the time at the home terminal.

 

Note: These illustrations are not legal advice.  If you have a question about a specific scenario or are looking for an official interpretation related to these changes, please contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at (609) 275-2604.

06 Jul

By

EEOC Issues Guidelines Pertaining to Criminal Checks

July 6, 2013 | By |

Are you one of the many employers (some studies say up to 92%) who use criminal background checks as a part of the hiring process?  If so, you may wish to re-evaluate this process and proceed with great caution.  Many employers rely upon these checks to keep their clients, employees, resources and the general public safe.  However, recently adapted new guidelines, published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in April 2012, make clear that companies should be particularly careful when referencing criminal backgrounds during the hiring process.

While the EEOC does not include ex-offenders as a protected class under Title VII, they do include race and ethnicity.  And there is concern that because segments of these protected classes (specifically black and Hispanic males) have higher incarceration rates, it may follow that these individuals would experience disparate treatment or disparate impact as a result of reliance upon criminal background checks in the hiring process.

The new guidelines, found at www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/arrest_conviction.cfm outline those practices which would be deemed “suspicious” under Title VII and the process of investigating claims of discrimination.

Some highlights of the guidelines include:

  • Discouragement of using arrest records to exclude potential candidates, as there is a very big difference between being arrested for a crime and actually being convicted of having committed one.
  • Discouragement of employers from asking about convictions on employment applications and instead, only inquiring into conviction for crimes that might be related to the position they would be hiring for (i.e. felony embezzlement.)
  • Clarification that State laws will not supersede the EEOC’s guidelines and that compliance with State laws is not an acceptable defense to an EEOC charge, unless those State laws comply the EEOC’s guidelines, as well.

Important to note is that, if done with a sound policy that was developed in accordance with the law, conviction information can be referenced during the hiring process.  However, if your company intends to proceed in this manner, we highly encourage you to first develop a company policy after consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment law.  If you would like to be directed to an attorney, please contact our office at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible helpful and result oriented.

06 Jun

By

Michigan Now Using 20-Factor Test to Identify Independent Contactors

June 6, 2013 | By |

Motor Carriers, and other companies, operating in Michigan please take note:  Effective January 2013 Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Agency Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs began using the IRS’s “20-Factor Test” to determine if an individual is an independent contactor or an employee of an organization.

Employers must comply with state and federal employment and tax laws, including withholding certain taxes, contributing toward unemployment and providing workers compensation insurance for employees; requirements which would not apply to independent contractor’s whose services are being hired by the motor carrier.

It is vital that organizations who utilize the services of independent contractor’s familiarize themselves with the “20-Factor Test” and review any concerns with their attorney, accountant and insurance agent to ensure compliance.  States are and will continue to ramp up their efforts to identify those companies who are misclassifying workers, as they now have a greater financial incentive to do so.  When 2014 Fiscal Year budget was passed not only did it include continued funding to help states locate misclassified workers, but additional funds were made available to provide “high performance bonuses” for those states most successful at identifying and prosecuting employers who are misclassifying their employees.

A complete list and description of the “20-Factor Test” can be found here.  The 20 topics discussed include:

1.) Instructions

2.) Training

3.) Integration

4.) Services Rendered Personally

5.) Hiring, Supervising and Paying Assistants

6.) Continuing Relationship

7.) Set Hours of Work

8.) Full Time Required

9.) Doing Work on Employer’s Premises

10.) Order or Sequence Set

11.) Oral or Written Reports

12.) Payment by Hour, Week, Month

13.) Payment of Business and/or Traveling Expenses

14.) Furnishing of Tools and Materials

15.) Significant Investment

16.) Realization of Profit or Loss

17.) Working for More Than One Firm at a Time

18.) Making Service Available to General Public

19.) Right to Discharge

20.) Right to Terminate

Do you have questions concerning the classification of your employees or the handling of independent contractors?  Call us today at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be helpful, accessible and result oriented.

06 May

By

Jason’s Law

May 6, 2013 | By |

Jason’s Law

 

Recently out on the road I passed a truck with a sign posted on his truck that read, “I support Jason’s Law.”  Working so close to the trucking industry, I was a little embarrassed that I was not familiar with this law.  A quick Google search informed me that “Jason’s Law” is and initiative to provide increased safety for our hard working truck drivers while out on the road.  The bill was passed by the Senate on March 13, 2012 by a 74 to 22 vote.

For anyone unfamiliar, here is a run down of how the bill got its start and where it hopes to go:

1.)    It was created to honor Jason Riverburg, who was tragically robbed and murdered in March 2009 while staging for a delivery he was running early for.  Corporate policy made it impossible for him to park and wait to unload at the delivering location, so instead he stopped at an abandoned gas station twelve miles away; one he had heard another driver recently use.

2.)    The law aims to provide increased protection and safety for drivers who must stop in order to comply with JIT requirements or hours of service laws by requiring companies to allow drivers to stage inside safe facilities for up to twelve (12) hours before or after pickup/delivery.

3.)    The law proposes to create off highway “bullpens”, granting drivers a safe location to stage in the event a company is unable to comply with the requirement to allow on-sight staging.

4.)    Additionally, the law hopes to increase the availability and security of public rest stops.

5.)    After the law passed in March 2012, the Department of Transportation is now in the process of surveying the currently available parking facilities within each State to see if they are adequate for accommodating driver need.

6.)    This law is supported by the following organizations:

  1. American Trucking Association (ATA)
  2. Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA)
  3. National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO)
  4. American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)
  5. Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)

To learn more about Jason’s Law visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jasons-Law-HB-2156-SAFE-PARKING-FOR-TRUCKERS/192353475073, follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JasonsLaw or their website at http://jhlrivenburg.com/cgi/wp/.

06 Apr

By

The Importance of Maintaining and Accurate MCS-150

April 6, 2013 | By |

Do your company’s Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) percentiles on the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) look inaccurate to you?  It could be that you are in need of updating your company’s Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) and Power Unit (PU) data on your Motor Carrier Registration Form (aka: MCS-150.)

Accurate VMT and PU information is vital to properly asses your level of exposure.  If your VMT data is from 2010 or older, it was not used in your calculations for the January SMS snapshot.  Instead, the level of exposure defaulted to average power units over the last 18 months.  Obviously, this could impact your percentiles in the Unsafe Driving and Crash Indicator BASICs.

To update your MCS-150 with 2012 VMT and PU information, go to: https://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/PKG_REGISTRATION.prc_option.  Under the “Existing Registration Updates” section, choose the first option: “I need to update my USDOT number registration information or file my biennial update”.

You may wish to note that the SMS website is updated monthly, so your MCS-150 changes will not be reflected on that site until the next monthly update.  You can find the schedule of SMS updates at http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/InfoCenter/Default.aspx#question30897.

For questions regarding your SMS snapshot or MCS-150, please call our office at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  All of us at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency work hard to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.

06 Mar

By

FMCSA Hours-of-Service Enforcement Will Not be Delayed

March 6, 2013 | By |

On February 26, 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced that it will not delay enforcement of the new hours-of-service rules.  This was in response to the American Trucking Association’s request to delay enforcing the rules until three months following the ATA’s currently pending lawsuit is decided.

Currently the new hours-of-service rules are expected to go into effect July 1, 2013.  However, the ATA, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association have all requested that the implementation of the new rules be delayed until after the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has reviewed and made a ruling on the case requesting the new changes be overturned.  The argument is that by waiting until the court has made its decision, individuals who will ultimately be impacted, including shippers, carriers and FMCSA-funded state enforcement agencies, will not be forced to spend time and money on training and adaptation of the new system only to potentially have changes handed down by the court.

You can learn more about the hours-of-service regulations and final rule by visiting http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos/index.htm.

17 Oct

By

Changes in Michigan’s Mini-Tort Law Take Effect

October 17, 2012 | By |

We wish to make our Michigan clients aware that due to the recent passing of House Bill 5362, the Michigan Mini-Tort limit has now increased from $500 to $1,000.

For those unfamiliar, the mini-tort law (also known as limited property damage liability), was developed in response to Michigan’s no fault insurance laws.  No fault laws limit the instances in which an individual can be sued for being at fault in an accident.  The mini-tort exception allows individuals to sue the party who was 50% or more at fault in an accident to recuperate those physical damage losses not covered by the injured party’s insurance.

The recent increase from $500 to $1,000 reflects the growing trend among consumers to take on higher insurance deductibles.  While it is not mandatory that insurance carriers offer mini-tort coverages to their clients, most do as standard practice.  However, not all have increased their policy limit from $500 to $1,000 in time to meet the October 1, 2012 enactment of House Bill 5362.  This means in the event of an accident, consumers may (depending upon their insurance company’s position) be liable for an addition $500 in the event they are more than 50% at fault in an accident.

We have been discussing this recent change with the insurance companies we represent, and have received a number of different responses.  Some companies plan to automatically honor the increased limit for the remainder of the policy term at no additional premium and without issuing an endorsement amending the policy verbiage.  Others will be offering the increased limit, priced accordingly, at policy renewal once the endorsement has been filed with and accepted by the State.  And a number will be reviewing this development in the New Year.

If you have questions regarding this recent legislative change or wish to discuss your policy’s mini-tort limit, please call us at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  At the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency we work hard to be accessible, helpful and result oriented.

20 Jun

By

FMCSA Extends SMS System Review Period

June 20, 2012 | By |

On June 6, 2012 the FMCSA’s CSA Web Team issued notification that the SMS System review period has been extended until July 30, 2012.  This allows motor carriers additional time to address areas where improved compliance is necessary and provide the FMCSA feedback on the SMS System.  Following is the request in its entirety, including information regarding upcoming webinars that will help to explain the SMS improvements:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proposing changes to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) (http://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/) to improve the Agency’s ability to prioritize its workload. In keeping with its commitment to continually improve the SMS, and to do so in an open and transparent manner, FMCSA is now providing additional time for motor carriers to preview their data under the proposed improvements and to provide feedback.

Call to action: Motor carriers should log in and see where they stand based on the refined methodology. The SMS Preview gives motor carriers time to take the following actions:

  • Improve safety compliance by diagnosing issues and taking action to correct organizational problems, train drivers, or take other appropriate measures to improve safety;
  • Request corrections to any inaccurate data; in particular, motor carriers should focus on ensuring that information related to placardable Hazardous Materials inspections is correct; and
  • Provide feedback to FMCSA about refinements they think should be made before the changes are implemented.

The SMS Preview comment period has been extended to July 30, 2012. FMCSA will review comments and make any necessary changes prior to implementation. Carriers can access the SMS Preview through two FMCSA websites:

On the CSA Website’s Resources page, visitors can access a foundational document http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/Documents/SMS_FoundationalDoc_final.pdf) that provides additional information about this first set of SMS changes. A Federal Register Notice (https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-12634) outlining the changes is also available for review. Written comments regarding the changes can be filed to the Federal Docket Management System (http://www.regulations.gov/), Docket ID Number FMCSA-2012-0074.

Attend a webinar to learn more: Motor carriers are invited to attend a webinar that will help explain the SMS improvements and answer frequently asked questions. The webinar will take place on the following three dates:

  • Tuesday, June 26, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Wednesday, June 27, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time
  • Thursday, June 28, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

Registration is required to attend one of these sessions and interested parties should register as soon as possible through FMCSA’s National Training Center at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ntc/webinarinfo/CSA_Improvements_Webinar-FMCSA.pdf.

Questions or concerns: The CSA Outreach Website has technical assistants who can answer motor carrier questions about the SMS Preview as well as the CSA program itself. Questions can be submitted by email or phone (http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/CSA_Feedback.aspx).

We encourage you to take an active role in reviewing your company’s information for compliance and assisting the FMCSA in developing the new SMS improvements.  If you have any questions that we can help to address, please call us at (800) 596-TRUCK (8782).  All of us at the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency work hard at being accessible, helpful and result oriented.

08 Sep

By

Blog Launched

September 8, 2008 | By |

Welcome to the Official Blog of the Navigator Truck Insurance Agency. We will be up and running in no time at all! Come back to see how our Blog changes during this week.