Georgia-based Motor Carrier reduces FMCSA fines by 50 percent
For publication, HB NEXT will refer to the client as “Driver Co. (DCo.)”
Based in Georgia, Driver Co. (DCo.) is a leading innovator, manufacturer, and distributor in the polyurethane industry producing goods for bedding, furniture, medical packaging, and upholstery. DCo. strives to have close relationships with customers and supply them with high quality products. After realization of the everchanging and complex regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DCo. selected HB NEXT to aid as their outsourced DOT/ Fleet management partner. As a first step, HB NEXT integrated DCo. to its DOT/ Fleet Compliance Partner Program (CPP) and implemented its official driver safety policies, centralized its DQ files into HB NEXT’s DOT management software, and educated supervisors and drivers through driver safety training.
The Story of DCo.
DCo. was founded in the late 1970s with a vision: to develop close relationships with clients while providing the highest quality product. After decades of running the business, the founder’s two sons assumed leadership in the company to allow their father to retire. The new leadership wasn’t the only change to the company- new growth meant distribution to new markets across state lines and thus new regulations to comply with. DCo. was introduced to HB NEXT’s DOT/ Fleet consultants during a transportation compliance conference.
The Challenge of FMCSA Compliance
FMCSA, alongside other national regulatory agencies, was founded to establish accountability and enforce safety measures for the greater good of the workforce and the general public. DCo. is among the nation’s 1.9 million motor carriers- all expected to be knowledgeable and enforce the newest regulations, but more importantly distribute the information to employees in a simple and easy-to-understand way. As a DOT/ Fleet management partner, HB NEXT supports DCo. in the area of DOT/ Fleet compliance and allows them to focus on running its operations and logistics, and less on being well-versed on the hundreds of FMCSA code sections.
Why DCo. Chose HB NEXT
The company leadership saw the opportunity for HB NEXT to manage their compliance and training needs while the duo continued to focus on running its successful operations. Upon engagement, HB NEXT implemented the company’s official driver safety policy, hosted driver safety training, supported in roadside inspections and accident investigations. At this time, DCo.’s safety rating was below the national average. After selecting the DOT/ Fleet CPP Program, DCo. was assigned their personal Account Manager; and alongside HB NEXT’s DOT/ Fleet consultants, they performed an initial Mock DOT Compliance Audit. The onboarding process included implementing HB NEXT’s proprietary software: SafetyCloud for e-DQ file management and credential tracking. The CPP services that HB NEXT was providing did not include monitoring Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) when drivers crossed state lines. Unfortunately, this internally-managed task was not in compliance with FMCSA regulations. DCo.’s drivers were stopped and cited on the roadway for the missing ELDs- this raised the company’s safety and OOS rates above the national average.
An increased OOS rating is not a good sign for any company; it leads to more on-road inspections and fines assessed to both the driver and the driver’s employer. A good out of service or accident rating ranges below the national average. As a motor carrier’s rating trends above the national average, or concern for public safety increases, it triggers FMCSA to perform a full carrier audit.
How HB NEXT Responded
DCo. failed to act in lowering their rates which triggered FMCSA to commence the extensive audit process. DCo. had 48 hours after receiving written notice to reproduce the necessary records requested to avoid hefty penalties. In response to the urgent matter, DCo. contacted HB NEXT for immediate support. SafetyCloud’s robust reporting and data tools produced the audit requirements immediately to the relief of DCo. After the completion of the audit, DCo. was found to be deficient in four of the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). With assistance from HB NEXT’s DOT/ Fleet consultants, the company had two of the violations dismissed immediately. The remaining two violations, ELD monitoring and Drug Testing, were items not initially managed by HB NEXT.
Unfortunately, the company had been failing to administer pre-employment, random, and post-accident drug tests during the peak of the COVID pandemic. As the employer, the company was responsible for implementing and conducting these drug and alcohol testing programs even throughout this time.
As part of operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), the company also failed to maintain a true and correct record of duty status. The company failed to monitor ELDs on a daily operation by a supervisor to ensure that drivers were fully compliant with the hours-of-service regulations, inadvertently allowing their drivers to exceed the amount of time they are allowed to drive per day. CMV Drivers are not allowed to drive any longer than 11 hours and work more than 14 hours. The company was not knowledgeable in the process of the proper administration and compliance of the ELDs in the truck, which resulted in their inability to identify that drivers were technically running without a logbook.
This led to the company being assessed a hefty fine of $18,000. Shortly after, to their unexpected surprise, they received a letter from the FMCSA stating that they were to cease all operation. The company had 10 days to implement a fix to eliminate the 2 violations and improve their safety rating, or they would lose their authority to operate in interstate commerce.
The HB NEXT team quickly responded to this and was given temporary administrative access over DCo.’s ELD system to determine how these violations occurred and ensure that it would not happen again. Our team of professionals created an in-depth safety policy and process, resulting in expanded knowledge of the system and regulations for both the supervisors and drivers. In response to the drug testing administration violation, HB NEXT documented the company’s participation in a third-party consortium through SafetyCloud. HB NEXT was able to help reduce the overall fine of $18,000 down to $9,000 once compliance was shown. But most importantly, HB NEXT allowed the company to keep their interstate commerce authority.
How HB NEXT Can Serve Your Organization
HB NEXT is a leader in improving vehicle and driver safety and compliance. Our DOT/ Fleet professionals have spent decades in the industry learning and understanding the requirements of FMCSA and how to ensure that a program is compliant and safe. It is the goal of HB NEXT to leverage its technology to help companies comply with federal and state standards by streamlining company processes. Leveraging fleet maintenance and safety programs with HB NEXT has proven to reduce insurance costs, reduce hidden operational costs, and help lower the risk of an audit which could result in fines or even worse consequences. As discovered with DCo., HB NEXT was able to drastically reduce the monetary penalties and very quickly help comply with all state and federal transportation laws. HB NEXT can help your company do the same. Avoid the unexpected surprises of an FMCSA audit by proactively implementing a custom-tailored DOT/ Fleet compliance program for your operations. Request a complimentary DOT/ Fleet Assessment by HB NEXT professionals for a detailed report with your national safety rating.
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