Preventable or not?

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FMCSA has withdrawn a notice of proposed rulemaking to set additional minimum federal standards for state-issued learner’s permits that allow drivers to be trained in the operation of commercial motor vehicles. The agency said the NPRM, issued in 1990, now is obsolete in light of initiatives and activities that occurred since it was published. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 2181.

First Advantage Corp. (www.fadv.com) said its Transportation Services division has added a full range of fleet management and driver screening services, including employment history verifications, CDLIS and motor vehicle records checks, criminal background checks, driver qualification programs, and drug
and alcohol testing and programs. The services complement the credit and payment history information on industry shippers and brokers offered by First Advantage’s CompuNet Credit Report.

J.J. Keller & Associates recently introduced Supply Chain Risk Report, a monthly 8-page newsletter intended to provide companies with compliance and security insights and strategies to help reduce the risk of supply chain disruption. Topics covered include trade law compliance, global regulations and initiatives, technology updates, industry information, security budget and program development, and disaster recovery and preparation. For more information, visit this site.

On a sunny spring Friday afternoon, John Doe was maneuvering his straight truck down Jefferson Boulevard, a one-way thoroughfare in Charlottesville, Va., daydreaming about his impending weekend visit to Virginia Beach where he planned to kick back on the sand and let the Atlantic surf soothe his overworked headache. Doe had just passed some parked cars on his right, and he was approaching the intersection with Main Street cautiously, keeping an eye on the traffic signal that, for the moment, remained encouragingly green.

Meanwhile, Cassidy Steele – a University of Virginia graduate law student who also was on her way out of town – had been driving behind the slow-moving Doe in her 2003 performance-tuned pink Porsche. Fearing that she’d be caught at the intersection by a red light, Steele became impatient and accelerated around the right side of Doe’s rig through a row of empty parking spaces.

Cutting back quickly in front of Doe, she lost control and ended up sideways, right in front of Doe’s bumper! The Porsche then smacked into the right front fender of an old, beat-up Volkswagen van piloted by second-year freshman Dude Kumarski, who’d been pacing Doe in the left lane! Next, Doe’s truck slammed into the side of Steele’s stationary, luckless sports car.

After Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was called upon to render a final decision. NSC immediately upheld the “preventable” judgment, noting that Doe should have kept an eye on his right-side mirror. Had he done so, he could have avoided smashing into the impatient Steele.


FMCSA appoints Medical Review Board
The Department of Transportation last month announced the five medical experts who will serve on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Medical Review Board (MRB). The board will help FMCSA provide science-based guidance as it considers updates to the physical qualification regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers. The five members are:

* Dr. Gunnar Andersson, senior vice president for medical affairs, Rush University Medical Center, and professor and chair of Orthopedic Surgery;
* Dr. Michael Greenberg, associate director for medical toxicology, Drexel University College of Medicine and director of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship Program;
* Dr. Kurt Hegmann, director and associate professor of Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Utah;
* Dr. Barbara Phillips, chair of the National Sleep Foundation and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Health in the Department of Preventive Medicine; and
* Dr. Matthew Rizzo, professor of neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

Board members are appointed to two-year terms and are eligible for reappointment based on FMCSA’s needs at the time. Criteria for appointment includes medical expertise in a medical specialty, an understanding of research methods, knowledge of transportation medical issues, experience on panels that develop medical standards, a record of scientific collaboration, professional service and experience developing teaching programs.


FMCSA reports progress on safety programs
A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report issued Feb. 17 indicates improvement in areas such as new entrant safety audits. Among the findings:

* Officials made 7,998 enforcement reviews in 2005, the FMCSA reported, 361 more than the previous year. Meanwhile, 4,593 state compliance reviews were conducted, 848 more than in 2004.
* The number of unsatisfactory or out-of-service orders increased from 415 to 596, while roadside truck inspections increased 1,153 to 2,950,640.
* The number of enforcement cases initiated dropped, from 5,192 in 2004 to 4,427 in 2005.
* The total number of new entrant safety audits increased from 25,316 to 34,121.
* The average time to upload a crash to the FMCSA database improved from 84 to 57 days.

The report is available at this site.


OIG: More needed to stop CDL fraud
Department of Transportation’s internal watchdog says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented a series of actions to discourage commercial driver’s license fraud, but more progress is needed, especially at the state level. FMCSA has not been tracking the status and disposition of suspect drivers or requiring the states to establish procedures to take action against suspect CDL holders, the DOT Office of Inspector General concluded in a Feb. 7 audit report.

The OIG’s office looked at information on drivers who obtained CDLs from 1998 to 2003. During that period, 31 states reported CDL fraud. Twenty-seven states provided specifics on 15,032 suspect CDL holders and took appropriate action, such as revoking privileges against 55 percent of them, the OIG said. The OIG noted in the draft report that it could not determine the status of the remaining 6,739 suspect CDL holders, 45 percent of the total, because of insufficient information from states. “As a result, unskilled drivers could be operating commercial vehicles on the nation’s highways, creating significant risks for death, injury and property damage.”

In a draft of the audit report submitted to FMCSA, the OIG provided the names of the remaining 6,739 suspect drivers and recommended that FMCSA direct the states to report on the final disposition. It also recommended that FMCSA ensure states establish adequate internal controls to track suspect drivers and counter fraud in the CDL program.

FMCSA responded to the draft by saying that it could not direct the states to report the disposition of all remaining suspect drivers unless direct evidence of fraud was present. But the OIG responded that it does not believe the factors cited by FMCSA would prevent it from requiring states to report the disposition of all suspect CDL holders. The final audit report, however, asserts that the state or FMCSA is not required to take action against a driver, such as retesting, if the facts of the case do not warrant it. The final report also reflects regulatory factors cited by FMCSA that must be met before states could be sanctioned for having insufficient controls against fraud.

The report is available in the Audits section at this site.