CVSA workshop: English language enforcement, medical cards

By Land Line staff | 5/7/2015

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held a workshop April 12-16 in Jacksonville, Fla., to discuss regulatory and other enforcement issues. Among the big issues up for discussion was the organization’s petition to remove the English language proficiency standard from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a request that was denied.

CVSA is an international not-for-profit organization composed of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials, and industry representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Doug Morris, OOIDA security operations director, attended the event and said that language proficiency, which is currently part of CVSA’s out-of-service criteria for safety inspections, resulted in 101,280 violations in 2014, but only 4,036 of those drivers were ordered out of service.

Morris said having commercial vehicle drivers who don’t understand English can pose a safety hazard.

“Unless they’re bilingual, you may have drivers not understanding the commands of officers,” he said. “Message boards with warnings not to proceed, folks aren’t going to understand.”

Morris said CVSA petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to have the whole regulation taken out of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, but the agency denied that request because “it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed.”

Another topic discussed by the group was the changes to the DOT Medical Certificate program. Morris said a number of states are “not in compliance” with the mandate to electronically upload driver medical cards to a nationwide database. He said problems include information being uploaded incorrectly or not at all, causing commercial drivers’ licenses to be downgraded in some cases.

“In some states, the license can be canceled altogether (without proof of a valid med card),” he said. “In some states, you can’t go back and fix it, the state makes you take the whole CDL test all over again. (Enforcement) should be consistent, FMCSA should’ve been on top of it, and now they’re trying to integrate it.”

Morris also said that FMCSA officials advised the group that they will be issuing new guidance later this year on using trucks as personal conveyance.

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