CVSA workshop: English language enforcement, medical card

Doug Morris, OOIDA security operations director, attended the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance 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.

In his report to the OOIDA Board of Directors, Morris said that English language proficiency, which is currently part of CVSA’s out-of-service criteria, resulted in 101,280 violations in 2014, but only 4,036 of those drivers were placed out of service.

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

“Unless they’re bilingual, you 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.”

CVSA members did go ahead and vote to no longer put English proficiency violators out of service, in spite of FMCSA retaining the regulation on the books.

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

Morris represents OOIDA at CVSA meetings along with Director of Regulatory Affairs Scott Grenerth, OOIDA General Vice President Woody Chambers, and Kip Hough of the Business Services Department. Their committee involvement includes driver/traffic, vehicle, size and weight, information systems, plus several other committees and numerous ad hoc committees. LL