Comment period extended for updated DOT medical handbook

Updated Sep 14, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022:

FMCSA extends comment period on proposed Medical Examiner’s Handbook

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is extending the comment period for its notice of proposed regulatory guidance relating to the draft Medical Examiner’s Handbook, which includes a stricter sleep apnea screening protocol.

The agency received comments from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and two individuals requesting an extension of the comment period and agreed to extend the comment window through Oct. 31.

Commenters noted that the draft MEH is 122 pages long “with highly detailed and technical information,” and said more time was needed to “thoroughly review the updated MEH and develop meaningful feedback.”

The current draft of the proposed MEH is included in the docket of the latest federal notice and can be seen here. Comments on the proposal can be made here.

[Related: FMCSA releases draft of DOT docs' handbook with advisory link to stricter sleep apnea screening protocol]

Florida individual pleads guilty in moving company conspiracy

On Aug. 23, Serghei Verlan pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to conspiracy in a racketeering enterprise -- valued at between $1.5 and $3.5 million -- to defraud more than 1,800 individuals throughout the United States.

From April 2013 through July 2018, Verlan owned and operated various moving companies that defrauded, extorted and stole from customers who hired the companies to move their household goods, according to the Department of Transportation Office of inspector General.  

Verlan allegedly provided or directed materially false statements to federal regulators and third-party companies to further the scheme, and to customers in conducting affairs of the moving enterprise. Verlan was indicted in July 2018.

To obtain customers, Verlan’s companies provided low binding estimates and promised to beat their competitors' prices, OIG said. After loading customers' goods, they increased their price of the move and held the goods hostage until customers paid the inflated prices. Some loads were not delivered at all. The enterprise also charged customers for moving more cubic feet of household goods than were actually loaded.

When customers complained, OIG said the enterprise would shut down the latest iteration of the moving company and open a new one, falsifying information about the owners' identities in order to fraudulently receive operating licenses from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

New web-based dispatch tool for small fleets

The Five Star Services company announced availability of their subscription-based Five Star Dispatch web software tool, following a limited release in March. The full-service dispatching tool allows carriers to manage all aspects of their transportation business operations, complementing the company's mission to support historically underserved segments of transportation. 

The product is the result of a well-developed “understanding of the needs of trucking clients and our technology-first approach to designing solutions that will make a true difference with their business,” said Raye Ackerman, company vice president, and appropriate for companies "looking to get started, grow or simply stay in business.”   

It's a web-based dispatching offering that seeks to streamline tracking and managing trucks, loads and the finance functions of the business in real time from an easy-to-read dashboard. Five Star Dispatch provides detailed and personalized reporting of the status of the business, but also includes accounting features, such as the ability to generate reports needed for IFTA filings and QuickBooks integration. Through a strategic alliance with the eCapital company, clients using Five Star Dispatch can submit invoices for factoring directly to the eCapital portal.  

There are two different subscription-based options, unique to the size of the carrier’s operations. A 1-3 trucks subscription comes at an introductory $39.99 price, 4+ trucks at $59.99. Carrier-broker dual functionality is available at $75. Each option provides unlimited users, requires no contracts, and includes free support when needed. The new tool is part of the Five Star Services suite of products and joins the company's load board.