DataQs for errant violations, crashes: Minnesota's appeals process, national reform efforts, and how to work the system

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Updated Nov 7, 2021

In today's edition of Overdrive Radio, we’ll hear more from Captain Jon Olsen of the Minnesota State Patrol, one of many sources for Overdrive's reporting about the federal DataQs system that went live earlier this week. Overdrive Editorial Director Max Heine and I dug into the FMCSA's data around the DataQs system, doing scads of interviews over the last several months as well, and Olsen's state of Minnesota was one of two states that emerged as a model for a potential national reform effort in early stages as we speak.

When a DataQs challenge cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the carrier, Minnesota offers the chance for an appeal to a review panel that includes not only supervisory staff from the State Patrol itself but also outside representatives from industry, introducing a measure of fairness that has been uncommon for DataQs routed back to the issuing state jurisdiction. In this podcast, Olsen describes the state's full process as well as offers more general advice to motor carriers on succeeding in their DataQs challenge efforts. Take a listen: 

Also in the podcast: Save the Date – February 25, 3 p.m. Central time, we’ll be hosting a live discussion with former Kansas Highway Patrol Captain Chris Turner, who’s now with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, and former owner-operator Christopher Haney, who’s now safety and human resources director for 130-truck end dump puller Payne Trucking, out of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Both men are fountains of knowledge around DataQs – Chris Haney’s got a so-far unblemished record in his DataQs efforts, for instance, and both he and Turner will offer plenty in the way of helpful tips on succeeding in DataQs challenges. 

You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions of them, too. And you can help me prep for the talk by sending those questions in advance directly. Drop a comment on this post or reach me via our podcast message line at 530-408-6423 and let me know your question about violation or other challenges in DataQs. I’ll be sure to get it answered. 

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Follow this link, too, to register for the live discussion to find out just where it will take place online. Hope to see you there next week. 

Just how disruptive has the Texas weather been this week? 
And not only Texas, of course – reports of blocked-up roadways and water and power disruptions have extended well across the Southeast and Southern plains and elsewhere this week. If you've had to endure power and water outages at home or on the road this week, by this point it's looking like there's some light at the end of the tunnel, at least according to Sergio Hernandez, safety director for DialVan, a 70-unit fleet operating out of Laredo, Texas. Answering the question in my subtitle here, though, Hernandez noted as much as 80 percent of the city was out of power for the better part of four days this week. 

That didn't include his and other trucking fleets' offices in the industrial north part of the city, he said, though it for sure included a large number of the company's drivers. "We only had two drivers to go out" this week, he said, "out of 70 going out every week. ... It’s a big hit" to all involved. 

Thankfully, though, Hernandez added, the city had much of the power and water back functional as of last night, he said, and he was hopeful for freight flowing soon on the company's trucks, potentially in support of direct-assistance efforts now exempt from hours restrictions if in that direct support role. As has been advised during past such emergency-assistance efforts – make certain all parties on the load view it as such, and keep a copy of the emergency declaration, active in 33 states, in-cab to educate any potentially unwitting officer. Download a copy via this link.