You Will Be Carded: Starting January 30, 2012, Oregon DMV will require commercial truck and bus drivers to submit a photocopy of their medical certificate to continue holding a commercial driver license. The new requirement is part of federal safety regulations aimed at making sure CDL holders are medically fit to operate commercial vehicles.
The federal regulations require that state DMVs withdraw commercial driving privileges for drivers who do not maintain medical qualifications for their type of commercial vehicle operation.
All commercial drivers will need to submit a photocopy of their valid medical card to DMV to obtain and retain a CDL or commercial instruction permit by January 30, 2014. Because medical standards for holding a CDL are dependent upon driving type, federal regulations also require drivers to certify the type of driving they do or might do.
Drivers with a CDL that expires before January 30, 2014, must submit a photocopy of their medical certificate when they renew their license. CDL holders whose commercial license expires after January 30, 2014, will receive a request from DMV to submit a photocopy of their medical card and certify their driving type. If a driver does not submit a photocopy of a valid medical card and driving-type certification when requested, DMV will send the driver a CDL cancellation notice that is effective 30 days later.
When a driver's medical card expires, the driver must submit a photocopy of his or her new medical card. DMV will send the driver a CDL cancellation notice if a medical card submitted to DMV expires before receipt of a new medical card. The driver can stop a cancellation from going into effect by submitting a photocopy of a valid medical card to DMV or by surrendering commercial driving privileges.
DMV recommends that the best way for commercial drivers to protect their driving privileges and avoid a potential roadside notification that their CDL has been cancelled is to ensure that DMV has a current mailing address, as required by Oregon law. This ensures that drivers receive all notifications from DMV.
Trucking companies that have a Record Inquiry Account with DMV and use the Automated Reporting Service will be notified when one of their employees has a pending CDL cancellation for failing to submit a medical card as required. However, employers should continue monitoring the expiration dates of employee medical cards for their own records.
Commercial drivers will be able to mail, fax or hand-deliver a copy of their current medical certificate to Oregon DMV. Due to privacy concerns and other issues, DMV cannot accept copies of the full Medical Examination Report in lieu of the medical card/certificate. Additional details will be found at OregonDMV.com before the regulations take effect in January 2012.
By the time all provisions are fully implemented in 2014, law enforcement and licensing agencies in other states will have electronic access to a driver's CDL medical status. The CDL medical status also will be available on driver records requested by employers. This will eventually eliminate the need for most drivers of commercial motor vehicles to carry a medical card and the need for employers to maintain a copy of the card in driver files.
DMV mailed a letter to CDL holders on October 28 to explain the new requirements. DMV also posted frequently asked questions about new CDL medical certification requirements at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/faqs/CDLMedCert.shtml.
Resting Rules Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a final rule that employs the latest research in driver fatigue to make sure truck drivers can get the rest they need to operate safely when on the road. The new rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revises the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers. "Trucking is a difficult job, and a big rig can be deadly when a driver is tired and overworked," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This final rule will help prevent fatigue-related truck crashes and save lives. Truck drivers deserve a work environment that allows them to perform their jobs safely."
As part of the HOS rulemaking process, FMCSA held six public listening sessions across the country and encouraged safety advocates, drivers, truck company owners, law enforcement and the public to share their input on HOS requirements. The listening sessions were live webcast on the FMCSA Web site, allowing a broad
cross-section of individuals to participate in the development of this safety-critical rule. "This final rule is the culmination of the most extensive and transparent public outreach effort in our agency's history," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "With robust input from all areas of the trucking community, coupled with the latest scientific research, we carefully crafted a rule acknowledging that when truckers are rested, alert and focused on safety, it makes our roadways safer."
FMCSA's new HOS final rule reduces by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver's work week to 70 hours. In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes. Drivers can take the 30-minute break whenever they need rest during the eight-hour window. The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit. FMCSA will continue to conduct data analysis and research to further examine any risks associated with the 11 hours of driving time. The rule requires truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights' rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most - from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule's "34-hour restart" provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their work week by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. The final rule allows drivers to use the restart provision only once during a seven-day period.
Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies that allow drivers to exceed the 11-hour driving limit by 3 or more hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.
Commercial truck drivers and companies must comply with the HOS final rule by July 1, 2013. The rule is being sent to the Federal Register today and is currently available on FMCSA's Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOSFinalRule
Angels Alert The Washington State Department of Transportation will close all lanes of Interstate 90 across Lake Washington several times from Thurs., Aug. 2 -Sun., Aug. 5, to accommodate air show practices and performances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels for this year’s Seafair festivities.
They include all mainline I-90 lanes between Interstate 5 in Seattle and Island Crest Way on Mercer Island, and the entire length of the I-90 Express Lanes. Also, the bridge will be closed to all pedestrians and bicyclists up to 30 minutes prior to posted closure times.
WSDOT reminds pedestrians that the on-ramps from East Mercer Way and West Mercer Way are currently construction zones. Pedestrians accessing viewing areas from these locations should use extreme caution and not enter areas protected by barricades or traffic barrels.
Whistle While You Work The U.S. Department of Labor has entered into a settlement agreement with Knoxville-based Heartland Transportation Inc., a contract mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, to resolve findings by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that an employee was terminated for complaining about defective vehicles, in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act.
"OSHA will continue to ensure that the whistleblower protection provisions of the STAA are properly and thoroughly enforced, while always keeping open the opportunity for settlement negotiations," said Cindy A. Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "In this case, we are pleased to enter into a settlement agreement that solidifies this commitment."
In August 2009, the employee was assigned to deliver a truckload of U.S. mail to a customer in Pontiac, Mich., when he found that his assigned trailer had a nonworking light. After he complained, the light was repaired and the delivery made. The employee had complained about such mechanical failures on a number of previous occasions, but the problems recurred. Accordingly, he informed his employer that he would not drive trucks with such failures in the future. Upon returning to the company's facility from Michigan, the driver found that his name had been removed from the driving schedule. He inquired about this development and was informed during a meeting to discuss the issue that his employment had been terminated. The employee then submitted a whistleblower complaint to OSHA, which conducted an investigation.
According to the settlement agreement, the company will pay the complainant $31,200, including $9,895 in back wages. Additionally, the company agreed to purge any personnel records regarding the involuntary discharge of the employee and provide a neutral reference to any prospective employers. The company also agreed to post a notice informing all employees of their right to raise safety concerns or conduct any other protected activity under the STAA without suffering retaliation.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the STAA and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor for an investigation by OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program. More information is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, http://www.osha.gov.
Finally In Focus The Transportation Security Administration has changed its focus at security checkpoints. TSA spokesman Kawika Riley visited the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport Tuesday.
The TSA has tried to make checkpoints faster for what Riley called "low-risk groups" like children and the elderly. Frequent fliers and other pre-certified passengers will also be able to skip security checkpoint practices like taking off your shoes and removing liquid items. Riley said every passenger still will be still be screened adequately.
"We can take resources and focus them more on other areas where they may be a greater risk. So, what we want to do is get away from that one-size-fits-all model and be smarter about how we approach security," Riley said.
Riley wouldn't comment whether the TSA planned to change security at small, regional airports. He said it was best to focus resources on more heavily-traveled hubs.