Coping with CSA: Love it, hate it, or ignore it

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By Mark B. Solomon - DC Velocity

The government safety initiative isn't going away, so those affected by the program need to make their peace with it.

CSA 2010, the federal government's far-reaching initiative to remove unsafe commercial drivers from the nation's roads, has rolled into its second full year of operation generating as much controversy, frustration, and hope as it did in its first.

Implemented by the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CSA uses a complex methodology to rate the nation's motor carriers on safety. Short for "Compliance, Safety and Accountability," CSA incorporates a "Safety Measurement System," or SMS, that assesses a trucker's on-road performance over the most recent two-year period and indicates whether the assessment should prompt the agency to dig deeper into the carrier's operational fitness.

The SMS includes seven "Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories" known as "BASICs." Embedded in the seven categories are more than 640 infractions that a driver and vehicle can be cited for. CSA replaces SafeStat, the government's prior safety measurement system.

The SMS database is populated by data generated from roadside inspections triggered by infractions such as speeding on an interstate or state highway. A speeding violation gives law enforcement "probable cause" to pull a truck over and conduct what is known as a walk-around inspection of the vehicle and driver. Any infractions that are then found will accumulate as points on a company's safety "scorecard," which is updated monthly.

Should the point total exceed the FMCSA's threshold for safety compliance, government inspectors will conduct an in-house audit of the company's operations. From there, a determination will be made if the driver is fit to continue behind the wheel... Continue reading...

Smith & Solomon Joins with CVTA to Support DOT's Commitment

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Contact: Tom Cosentino
iMedia Public Relations
609-514-2643 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Smith and Solomon Truck Represents Trucking Industry at Department of Transportation Photo Opportunity in Washington D.C.

New Jersey, January 30, 2012  - Smith and Solomon, a leading commercial driving school with nine schools located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, has joined with other members of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA), comprised of truck driving schools across the country, to participate in the Department of Transportation’s campaign to eliminate Distracted Driving.

On Thursday, January 27 in Washington D.C., a Smith and Solomon truck was parked in front of the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a special photo opportunity involving representatives of leading trucking organizations, such as CVTA and ATA, Smith and Solomon executives and Anne S.  Ferro, Administrator, U.S.  DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Deputy Administrator, William A. Bronrott.

At the event, Administrator Ferro praised the trucking industry for joining the campaign and agreeing to place “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” decals on trucks that will serve as billboards for the campaign across the country.

The Administrator then placed the decal (size 18.25”x28”) on the Smith and Solomon truck, representing what ultimately will be thousands of trucks to showcase the decal and bring national attention to the distracted driving campaign.

“We were so honored to be asked by the DOT to bring a truck to their headquarters in  our nation’s capital and represent CVTA and  our industry’s commitment to eliminating distracted driving,” said John Diab, Chief Operating Officer of Smith and Solomon. “We believe strongly in the Department of Transportation’s campaign as it reinforces the commitment we have already instituted throughout our training programs, to ensure our drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving.”

The US Department of Transportation is taking the lead in eliminating distracted driving nationwide. As part of this effort, FMCSA is working closely with other modes on a “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” consumer campaign. This campaign is targeted to the driving public and is designed to increase awareness about the dangers of using a mobile device while driving. FMCSA is asking the Commercial Motor Vehicle industry to embrace the effort to reduce distracted driving by displaying these decals on commercial vehicles.

Smith and Solomon operates nine training centers, including five in New Jersey: Bordentown, Cherry Hill, Edison, Linden and Lakewood, one school in New Castle, Delaware and three in Pennsylvania in Dupont, Norristown and Philadelphia.

For more information on Smith and Solomon, visit:
To learn more about the Department of Transportation’s efforts to eliminate distracted driving, visit

no texting

$826 Mil to Modernize and Repair the Nation’s Transit Buses & Facilities

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces More Than $826 Million to Modernize and Repair the Nation’s Transit Buses and Facilities, Highlights President Obama’s Call for Greater Investment as Part of an America Built to Last

Discretionary Funds Support State-of-Good-Repair, Sustainability Objectives for Transit

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $826.5 million in Fiscal Year 2012 discretionary funds to modernize and repair transit vehicles and facilities around the country and promote the widespread use of sustainable clean fuel. The funding commitment highlights President Obama’s call for investing in an America that’s built to last.

“An American economy that’s built to last must be built on a solid foundation, and when we have buses, transit facilities, and other equipment that’s in disrepair, we simply cannot afford to ignore them,” Secretary LaHood said. “The President knows that transportation projects like those we’ll fund from today’s announcement will help provide businesses and families with the safest, fastest, most efficient way to connect with opportunity.”

“Reliable and desirable transit systems enable hard-working American families to keep billions of dollars in their wallets rather than hand them over at the gas pump,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “These investments will ensure that transit remains a dependable option and advance President Obama’s goal for an America Built to Last.”

The notice of funding availability (NOFA) published in today’s Federal Register invites competitive proposals for three of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) top policy priorities through the discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities and Clean Fuels grant programs, all subject to funding availability, as follows:

  • State of Good Repair. Approximately $650 million available in FY2012 discretionary funds will bring the three-year total to $1.5 billion for over 300 projects aimed at replacing or rehabilitating transit infrastructure and for transit asset management. As transit ridership continues to increase putting even greater demand on our transit systems, FTA will also consider maintenance facility and equipment expansion requests to help address ongoing capacity constraints that limit a transit agency’s ability to maintain vehicles and equipment in a state of good repair.
  • Livability. Approximately $125 million is available for projects that will improve the quality of life through expanded transportation choices, new and better intermodal connections, reduced congestion, and/or services aimed at economically disadvantaged populations, including senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • Clean Fuels. Approximately $51.5 million is available to help communities meet national air quality standards that do not do so now. The program also supports the development and marketing of emerging clean fuel and advanced propulsion technologies for transit buses. This year, as in years past, FTA will consider expanding the eligible applicant pool by drawing upon additional discretionary Bus and Bus Facilities Program funds.

These discretionary funds are made available through FTA’s Bus and Bus Facilities and Clean Fuels Programs. The public announcement of recipients receiving funds will be likely be made in July 2012. A complete schedule of FTA’s upcoming discretionary programs, along with details on FTA’s FY2012 apportionments, may be found here.

New Regulations Added To SMS

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of January 17, 2012
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance


Regulations are an ever changing thing. This week, FMCSA has announced the addition of several recently created regulations, and their violation weights, to the SMS methodology.

As anyone familiar with the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system will surely know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ranks its regulations in order of the likelihood that violating the regulation would cause an accident. These scores, or ‘Violation Severity Weights’, give a carrier a good idea of how badly the violation will affect their CSA Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) scores at the end of the month.

Regulations, however, are an ever changing thing and every now and again, FMCSA is required to issue updates to the Safety Measurement System methodology. This week, FMCSA issued updates regarding the new cellphone use regulations.

New Weights

All of the new regulations were added to the Unsafe Driving BASIC so violating them will affect your Unsafe Driving score.

  • 177.804(b): Failure to comply with 49 CFR 392.80 - Texting while Operating a CMV - Placardable HM.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 177.804(c): Fail to comply with 392.82 - Using Mobile Phone while Operating a CMV - HM.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.80(a): Driving a commercial motor vehicle while texting.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.82(a)(1): Using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV.
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10
  • 392.82(a)(2): Allowing or requiring driver to use a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a CMV
  • Violation Severity Weight: 10

Heavy Penalties

As you may have noticed, all of these violations have been rated a 10: this is the maximum ranking in the system. This means that FMCSA have assessed that violating these regulations is very likely to cause an accident. You can expect that tickets issued for these violations, and the FMCSA investigations that result from them, are going to come with very heavy penalties.

February Report

These new violations were put into the SMS methodology in January so you should see their effect in your February report. Also in that report, FMCSA has broken down six Vehicle Maintenance violations into 22 separate violations. This was in an effort to paint a clearer picture as to who was responsible for the error, the carrier or the intermodal equipment provider.

If you have BASIC scores that were previously elevated because of violating these regulations, you may notice a change in that score in your February report.

Violation Weights

For those of you unfamiliar with how the CSA system works, and the importance of the weights, we have included a brief refresher course on how FMCSA judges as violation based on time and severity.

Under SMS, all violations are time and severity weighted. So, a violation for not wearing a seatbelt 18 months ago will impact a carrier’s ranking a lot less than a reckless driving citation from 60 days ago. Below are brief explanations of the two types of violation weights used in SMS.

Severity Weight: Violations are assigned a weight based on the likelihood that such a violation would cause a crash. The least likely culprits are given a score of 1, while the most likely are given a 10. FMCSA has published a table that lists severity weights for violations in each BASICs category. Open the PDF below to view severity weight by BASIC:

Time Weight: Under SMS, a violation is weighted based on the amount of time that has passed since the violation occurred. Violations committed in the last 6 months are given a 3. Violations committed between 6 and 12 months ago are given a time weight of 2. Violations committed between 12 and 24 months are given a weight of 1.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 723 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Fourth Round of Funding Under Highly Successful TIGER Program

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Fourth Round of Funding Under Highly Successful TIGER Program

Following President Obama's call in his State of the Union address for greater infrastructure investment as part of “An America Built to Last,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of funding for transportation projects under a fourth round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program. TIGER 2012 will make $500 million available for surface transportation projects having a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or region.

The previous three rounds of the TIGER program provided $2.6 billion to 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Demand for the program has been overwhelming, and during the previous three rounds, the Department of Transportation received more than 3,348 applications requesting more than $95 billion for transportation projects across the country.

“President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address that investing in transportation means putting people back to work, and that’s just what our TIGER program is doing in communities across the country,” said Secretary LaHood. “Americans are demanding investments in highways, ports, commuter rail, streetcars, buses, and high-speed rail. These kinds of projects not only mean a stronger economic future for the U.S., but jobs for Americans today.”

As in previous rounds, high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail projects remain eligible for funding. TIGER 2012 provides for the possibility of up to $100 million being used toward these projects. TIGER 2012 will also continue to encourage the development of transportation projects in rural areas, providing $120 million for rural transportation projects.

On November 18, 2011, the President signed the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, which provided $500 million for Department of Transportation infrastructure investments. Like the first three rounds, TIGER 2012 grants are for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are to be awarded on a competitive basis.

Projects will be evaluated on primary criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental sustainability, state of repair and short-term job creation.

Pre-applications are due February 20 and applications are due March 19. You can click here to view the Notice of Funding Availability.

Self-Certification/Medical Examiners Certification

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All Third Party CDL Skills Testers,

As you may know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently amended their regulations to require people who have, or who are seeking a commercial driver license, to self-certify the type of driving they engage in or expect to engage in to their state’s licensing agency. Additionally, all commercial driver license (CDL) holders, subject to the physical qualification requirements of the FMCSRs, must provide a current copy of their Medical Examiner’s Certificate to their state driver licensing agency. These provisions were signed into state law on January 27, 2012

Current CDL permit holders, Out-of State CDL transferees, and people seeking a CDL on or after Jan. 30 will be required to meet the provisions of the new law when testing, applying for a permit or transferring a CDL from another state.

Beginning Jan. 30, 2012, when submitting commercial test results to PennDOT for processing, please include a completed Self-Certification Form (DL-11CD) along with the DL-402CD and DL-403CD. In addition, drivers who self-certify on the DL-11CD that their driving type is “Non-excepted Interstate” or “Non-excepted Intrastate” are also required to submit a copy of their valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) along with the Self-Certification Form (DL-11CD). (Drivers will be required to continue carrying the MEC until 2014.) Unless the required information is submitted along with the commercial test results, the examinee will not be issued an upgraded CDL. If you have any questions relating to this updated process, please contact me via email or (717) 787-4219.

Additionally, PENNDOT will begin notifying existing CDL holders by letter in March of the requirements. Failure to complete and submit the self-certification form or to provide a copy of a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (if required) by the due date listed in the notice will result in their commercial driver license being downgraded, meaning that they will lose their commercial designation and only be authorized to drive non-commercial vehicles. Drivers who have their license downgraded will be required to go through the entire commercial learner’s permit process to regain their commercial driving privilege.

Attached is a Self-Certification/Medical Examiner’s Certification Fact Sheet regarding the new law, a copy of the Self-Certification Form (DL-11 CD), and the Notification Schedule for Existing CDL Holders. Further information is available on PENNDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services Web site,, by clicking on the “New CDL Law 2012” button.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Timothy D Schaffner | Manager
PA Department of Transportation
Bureau of Driver Licensing | CDL Third Party Testing
1101 South Front Street | Harrisburg, PA 17104
Phone: 717-787-4219 | Fax: 717-705-1131

Stevens Transport to Equip 2,000 Tractors with Qualcomm’s MCP200

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Stevens Transport, a Dallas-based refrigerated carrier, announced that it has selected Qualcomm’s Mobile Computing Platform 200 to integrate across its fleet of about 2,000 tractors to enhance its customer service while increasing efficiency and productivity.

“With the adoption of Qualcomm’s MCP200 and many of our key applications, Stevens Transport will be able to better optimize its fleet operations by leveraging important analytics and critical business information to increase productivity, run more loaded miles and generate more revenue, all while providing its customers with the best possible shipping experience,” says Norm Ellis, vice president of sales, services,and marketing at Qualcomm Enterprise Services. “We are committed to providing our customers with smooth, comprehensively managed operations that ultimately ensure success for their own customers... Continue reading...