This one comes by way of Jeff Davis, the Ohio-based proprietor of Fleet Safety Services. Davis helps carriers of all shapes and sizes through audits and other investigations. Speaking from the annual conference of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies today, Davis noted that since the electronic tie-in of drivers’ medical certification status with their CDLs, auditors have been paying closer attention to credentialing and records during compliance reviews. Some now view breakdowns in the process of making the marriage of an updated medical certification with the CDL as an acute violation in the audit process.
“What do you have to do when a driver gets a medical?” he asked the small fleet owners in the audience at his session. The answer: “Pull an MVR, showing that his medical” certification is up to date and, thus, the electronic marriage has occurred. “The motor carrier must obtain a motor vehicle record showing the state did their job putting the medical information electronically on the CDL.” Drop that in the operator’s qualification file within 15 days and you’re off to the races.
If small fleet owners aren’t doing this, that’s a problem in itself during an audit, but also there’s just no way of knowing for certain if any breakdown has occurred. Such breakdowns are where they can really get you. If the driver, for instance, doesn’t get his updated medical certification to the state licensing agency before the prior cert expires and “DOT discovers that during an audit,” Davis added, the driver “will be considered as driving without a CDL,” an acute violation that will most certainly contribute to the qualifications portion of the factors that make up the carrier’s safety rating.
Davis recommended adopting company policy of allowing drivers time off the road enough to get the medical exam well before the expiry date of the current certification — time enough, too, to deliver it direct to the state licensing agency in the same day.
“Trust me,” he added, “this has been a fertile field for the auditors.”