The big news on the regulatory front in the Transportation Industry is the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA 2010), which is currently in a pilot program and will go into effect nationwide this summer. As an employment screening provider endorsed by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), HireRight works closely with the ATA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to monitor changing regulatory and compliance issues including CSA 2010 and the new FMCSA Driver Pre-employment Screening Program using data from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
Under CSA 2010, carriers will be rated in seven Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs): unsafe driving, fatigued driving (hours-of-service), driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo related issues, and crash history. The ratings in these categories will cover the previous 24 months and be based on roadside inspections, including all safety-based violations, state reported crashes, and the federal motor carrier census. The ratings will be weighted for different types of violations, and recent violations will be weighted more heavily than older infractions. For example a crash involving a fatality will be weighted more heavily than a cargo issue, and a recent cargo issue will be weighted more heavily than a cargo issue from 18 months ago. The weighted ratings will then be combined into a single BASIC score for the carrier, which will trigger various actions and interventions by the FMCSA.
“The CSA 2010 program gives the FMCSA more flexibility in monitoring carriers and taking corrective action,” says Kent Ferguson, HireRight Director of Transportation Solutions. “Under the old system, if a carrier had a lot of accidents or other violations, the FMCSA would schedule a generalized onsite Compliance Review. Under CSA 2010, FMCSA intervention can be more focused and may take place onsite or off-site. The FMCSA feels that this system will be less resource-intensive while more specifically targeting the real safety issues.”
CSA 2010 also includes a rating system for individual drivers. However, there is as yet no definite timetable for implementing this phase of the initiative. “I have sat in on a number of meetings regarding CSA 2010,” says Kent, “and my feeling is that the individual ratings will probably not be implemented before 2011.”
Whether or not individual drivers are rated, the performance of each driver contributes to the carrier’s BASIC score, and, in the same law establishing CSA 2010, Congress provided carriers with another valuable background check tool by ordering the FMCSA to provide individual driver performance records from its Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). Previously carriers could only access MCMIS data regarding their own fleet, but now an employer can access up to three years of roadside inspections data and up to five years of DOT-recordable accident data for a prospective employee.
The FMCSA awarded NIC Technologies a contract to develop a system for carriers and third parties like HireRight to access this data. “We’ve done business with NIC for years on the DMV side of our product offerings,” Kent explains, “and we are working closely with them to be part of the development process. NIC expects to have a prototype of their system operational sometime in early January, and we will help them test it. At the same time, we are working with our customers to determine which of the many data fields in the MCMIS record are most important to them.” Look for more information on how to access MCMIS data through the NIC system once it is more fully developed.
A number of changes impacting drug and alcohol testing are either in effect or in the works. Since August 31, drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol must have direct observation of their specimen collection for return-to-duty or follow-up tests. Other changes to DOT-required drug testing are expected to take effect in May, including testing for MDMA (Ecstasy), lower cutoffs for amphetamine and cocaine levels, and establishing another laboratory type for testing.
So far there has been little action on the Safe Roads Act National Drug Test Clearinghouse, which will close a loophole that allows a driver who has tested positive to move to another carrier, test negative, and be hired without the new employer knowing about the previous test. As Kent points out, “We have been providing the same kind of information since 1998 with our drug and alcohol database. We will keep our customers informed on the progress of the Act.”
Finally, the ATA is working with the House Transportation Committee to replace the annual MVR requirement with an automated Employer Notification System (ENS). Currently, HireRight’s Driver Violation Alert (DVA) provides this type of service in 30 states and there are also various state-sponsored programs.