HOS Changes and What This Change Means For You

As of July 1, 2013 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted the new Hours of Service (HOS) rule. The change directly affects the schedule and hours of many truck drivers in the United States.

2013 CVSA Roadcheck Enforcement Program

Annually, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) holds a three day Roadcheck enforcement program working in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration. This 72 hour focused Safety Blitz will be held June 4-6 throughout all parts of the United States. Approximately 1,500 inspection locations will be set up to inspect both commercial trucks and buses.

During last year’s Roadcheck event, over 70,000 inspections were completed, with approximately 20% vehicle failure rate.  Don’t let your inspection adversely affect your CSA scores this year. Remember, all violations become part of a motor carrier’s CSA record.

CVSA has created a couple of resources for drivers and fleets to help you prepare for Roadcheck 2013:

Prepare ahead for CVSA’s June 4-6 2013 Roadcheck event and ensure that you are DOT compliant.  Here are a few solutions that can help:

Compliance Corner: CSA Changes: Flatbed Carriers Get Less Scrutiny, Hazmat Carriers Get More Scrutiny

After nearly a nine-month preview and two official notices in the Federal Register, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has gone ahead with possibly the most significant update to the Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program so far. FMCSA implemented 11 changes to CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS), which FMCSA says will enhance the agency’s ability to identify and take action against trucks and buses with safety and compliance concerns.

A new Hazmat (HM) BASIC includes regulation violations relating to packaging, transporting, identifying, and communicating hazardous materials information. More than 100 new hazmat violations were added to the list of hazmat violations that already existed in the previous Cargo-Related BASIC, bringing the total to almost 350 hazmat violations being tracked in CSA’s SMS. Motor carriers and law enforcement can view the HM BASIC right now, but the HM BASIC won’t be available to the general public for at least a year.

Other changes to the SMS include:

  • Moving non-hazmat cargo securement violations that were previously contained in the Cargo-Related BASIC to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. Cargo securement violation severity ratings were lowered as well.
  • Counting intermodal equipment violations that drivers should have found during pretrip inspections.
  • Removing speeding violations that are 1-5 miles over the speed limit in order to be consistent with speedometer regulations, which require that speedometers be accurate within 5 mph. This change was also applied to the prior 24 months’ worth of data in the SMS. A few other violations were dropped as well.
  • Changing the name of the Fatigued Driving BASIC to the Hours-of-Service (HOS) Compliance BASIC to more accurately describe violations contained within the BASIC.
  • Using the same severity weighting for paper and electronic logbook violations to be consistent.
  • Not recording and scoring in the SMS vehicle violations discovered during “driver-only inspections” and driver violations discovered during “vehicle-only inspections.”

Other changes included refinements to the definitions of passenger carrier and hazmat carrier for purposes of the CSA program, using more descriptive words for terms like “insufficient” and “inconclusive,” and separating out injury and fatality crashes in the Crash BASIC.

Let’s go a little further into the hazmat and cargo securement changes.

Hazmat Transportation

Transporters of hazardous materials got the brunt of the changes in CSA’s scoring methodology. First of all, FMCSA eased up on the definition of an HM carrier. In order to be held to the tighter HM carrier standards in CSA, two HM roadside inspections must have taken place, with at least one having taken place in the last 12 months. Also, HM inspections must account for at least 5 percent of the carrier’s inspections. An inspection is considered an “HM inspection” if the vehicle was transporting an amount or type of hazardous material that required placarding.

The new HM BASIC uses HM violations, which are time and severity weighted, and HM inspections to calculate a carrier’s BASIC Measure. That BASIC Measure is then compared to other carriers’ HM BASIC Measures to arrive at the carrier’s score in the HM BASIC.

Guide to Roadside Inspection Levels

Roadside inspections are a way to enforce motor carrier safety laws and to help ensure an overall safe highway environment. There are six different levels of these on-the-spot safety check-ups that we define below. References to inspections can be found in Section 395.13 and Section 396.9 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

North American Standard Driver/Vehicle Inspection Levels:

Level 1 – North American Standard Inspection – The most comprehensive inspection, the first level includes an examination of compliance with important parts of both driver and vehicle regulations.
Level 2 – Walk Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection – This is similar to the first level of inspections, but the inspector will not check any items that would require them to get under your vehicle.
Level 3 – Driver/Credential Inspection – This is an examination of only those documents pertaining to the driver and hazardous materials (if applicable). Your commercial driver’s license (CDL), medical certificate, logbook and hours of service, and documentation of the yearly vehicle inspection are all part of this examination.
Level 4 – Special Inspections – Usually this is a one-time examination of a particular item, which is made in support of a study or to verify or refute a suspected trend.
Level 5 – Vehicle Only Inspections – This inspection follows the vehicle portion of the level 1 inspection and may take place without the driver present. These types of inspections often take place at a carrier’s place of business during a compliance review. 
Level 6 – Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments – This type follows a higher inspection standard than the North American Standard Inspection and is used only on select shipments of radioactive materials.

New Rule to Require Use of Certified Medical Examiners

Beginning in early 2014, interstate commercial drivers who need a medical exam will be forced to turn to a centralized database of government-approved healthcare providers.

Under new regulations, medical examiners who wish to be listed in the database — known as the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners — will first have to meet strict new training and testing standards to ensure they are qualified to perform drivers’ medical exams.

Examiner training and testing began last summer, and certified examiners are now appearing in the Registry. The Registry is available online at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov.

The new rule says interstate drivers and motor carriers will have to begin using the Registry to find certified medical examiners beginning on May 21, 2014. Examiners who are not on the Registry will not be allowed to perform DOT medical exams after that date.

Medical certificates will get a new look as well. All certificates issued after May 21, 2014, will have to include the examiner’s National Registry number.

Motor carriers will have to ensure that their drivers’ exams are being performed by certified examiners, and will have to place a note into each driver’s qualification file indicating that they did so.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the new rule — as required by Congress — is part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers and preventing crashes, injuries, and fatalities. The agency estimates that the rule will prevent over 1,200 crashes each year.

States are not required to adopt the new rule for in-state use, and in-state-only (intrastate) drivers will be allowed to use medical examiners who are not in the federal Registry, assuming the state allows that.

The new rule also responds to four recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has long sought comprehensive training for medical examiners and tracking of driver medical certificates.

The new rule will require examiners to send the FMCSA a monthly list of drivers who were examined, including their names, driver’s license numbers, and whether they were medically certified. The FMCSA says it will not routinely collect or store medical examination reports.

“Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”


Despite industry concerns that the rule could make it tough to find an approved examiner in rural areas, the FMCSA says it expects to certify about 40,000 examiners and “even half that number … would be sufficient to provide comprehensive national coverage.”

Though examiners will not be evenly spread across the country, “coverage should be sufficient to ensure reasonably convenient access in all but the most remote areas of the nation,” the FMCSA wrote.

The agency acknowledges that exams may become costlier in rural areas and some drivers may have to travel farther than they do today to find an approved examiner.


The new rule does not prescribe how long training has to last, as long as it covers FMCSA regulations and guidelines and the mental and physical demands of driving. The agency estimated that those topics could be covered in one day, but at least one training provider said it could take a whole week of classroom instruction to cover the topics thoroughly.

The rule also requires periodic re-certification at five-year intervals, and examiners will have to re-take a certification test every 10 years. Those who fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry.

Training providers will have to register with the FMCSA and will be listed on the Registry website along with the mandatory training and testing standards. Organizations approved to administer the certification test will have to undergo a site visit by the FMCSA.

“Truck and bus drivers deserve highly-trained medical examiners that think safety first,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “By holding medical examiners accountable to high standards of practice, we raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety.”

Medical examiners perform approximately three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. The exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver’s medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision, and hearing.

The types of examiners allowed to perform exams today will not change with the new rule. That list includes medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, and chiropractors.

All commercial drivers must pass a DOT medical exam at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their commercial driver’s license, and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Cargo Securement and the 10-foot Rule

If you haul cargo — especially on a flatbed — you’ve undoubtedly heard of the 10-foot rule: You need at least one tiedown for every 10 feet of cargo, plus an extra if the cargo is not placed against a bulkhead.

Although this “10-foot rule,” found in §393.110, addresses only how many tiedowns you need, it is generally understood to be a directive about where to place your tiedowns as well. That is, most drivers believe you must have a tiedown situated within each 10-foot section of the load. As discussed below, that belief is not necessarily true.

Cargo Securement Rules:

First, let’s examine the rules themselves. In general, the North American Standard Cargo Securement Rules require you to use enough tiedowns so that their combined working load limit (WLL) is equal to at least one-half the weight of the cargo (or, the full weight when using “direct” tiedowns). Then, you may need additional tiedowns based on the cargo’s length and weight, and whether or not the cargo is placed up against a bulkhead. As indicated in the following chart, you need at least one tiedown for every 10 feet of cargo length:

If the cargo:

and it is:

then use at least:

Is NOT prevented from moving forward by a bulkhead or other front end structure

  • 5 feet (1.52 m) or shorter, AND
  • 1,100 pounds (500 kg) or lighter

1 tiedown.

  • 5 feet (1.52 m) or shorter, AND
  • over 1,100 pounds (500 kg)

2 tiedowns.

longer than 5 feet (1.52 m) but is 10 feet (3.02 m) or less, no mat­ter the weight

2 tiedowns.

longer than 10 feet (3.02 m)

2 tiedowns, plus 1 additional tiedown for every additional 10 feet (3.02 m) or part thereof.

Is prevented from moving forward by being placed against a front-end structure

1 tiedown for every 10 feet (3.04 m) or part thereof.


So how is the 10-foot rule enforced? Historically, the rule has been open to interpretation, with some officers claiming that tiedowns must be positioned every 10 feet no matter what, and/or that you must have two tiedowns within the first 10 feet if you don’t have a bulkhead.

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard and GHS

Guest author Robert Ernst has been an Associate Editor in the area of workplace safety at J.J. Keller & Associates for 12 years. He focuses on OSHA standards, workplace safety issues, right-to-know compliance and first aid, among other topics. At Keller, Bob is responsible for providing content for online and print products and is a frequent speaker and presenter at professional events. He also answers technical and regulatory questions from Keller customers.

On March 26, 2012, OSHA’s final Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was published in the Federal Register. The HCS is now aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals, as well as harmonizing U.S. hazard communication rules with those used internationally.

What is the Globally Harmonized System?

The GHS is an international approach to hazard communication, providing criteria for classification of chemical hazards, and a standardized approach to label elements and safety data sheets.

The GHS provides harmonized classification criteria for health, physical, and environmental hazards of chemicals. OSHA does not address environmental hazards in the HCS.

What are the major changes to the Hazard Communication Standard?

The three major areas of change are in hazard classification, labels, and safety data sheets.

  • Hazard classification: The definitions of hazard have been changed to provide specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures. These specific criteria will help to ensure that evaluations of hazardous effects are consistent across manufacturers, and that labels and safety data sheets are more accurate as a result. OSHA does not include environmental hazards in the HCS.
  • Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
  • Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.

New ISO 17712:2010 Standard Impacts Type of Bolt Seals

There is a new version of the high security ISO /PAS 17712 standard, which will impact the type of bolt seals used in accordance with the C-TPAT program.  This new standard will replace the 2006 version starting March 1st, 2012.

The C-TPAT program requires the use of bolt seals that are considered to have a “high security” rating.  The new 2010 standard provides new requirements on how to qualify bolt seals (or cable seals) with this “high security” rating in order to be compliant with C-TPAT.

Some key ISO /PAS 17712:2010 requirements include:

  • Bolt seals will be required to have a minimum 18mm diameter pin head and locking body.  In the other words, the minimum diameter for both metal components (male and female) have to be no less than 18mm in diameter.  This does not include the plastic cover that is sometimes added to the locking body (female).
  • In addition to the tests in the 2006 standard, the new 2010 standard will require that high security seals undergo a new ‘tamper test’ that will test a seals ability to indicate evidence of tampering.  Testing must be conducted by an independent accredited test lab.  The tamper evidence test certification also goes into effect March 1st, 2012.

C-TPAT compliant seal

Example of a C-TPAT compliant seal that meets the 18 mm requirement of ISO 17712:2010[E].