Don’t Let Eagle Ford Drivers Be Put “Out-of-Service”

Carriers Can Be Put Out of Service For Operating Beyond the Scope of Registration
Drivers Daily Vehicle Inspection Report

Drivers Daily Vehicle Inspection Report – Copyright Mike Byrnes & Associates, Inc | Click to Enlarge

In trucking, “out-of-service” criteria define a set of physical conditions under which a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or commercial driver may be prohibited from operating. An out-of-service violation removes the driver and CMV from the roadway until the violation is corrected, which obviously means no work gets done and no one gets paid. In addition, out of service violations are sometimes punishable by fines.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is serious about getting unsafe trucks off our roads and penalizing drivers and owners who fail to follow the regulations. In recent years, there have been more trucking companies and passenger bus companies placed out of service than ever before. The MAP-21 highway funding law that went into effect doubled most fines for serious violations.

Sharing the Blame

New rules that went into effect Oct. 1, 2013, allows the agency to place an entire carrier out of service for operating vehicles “without or beyond the scope of registration,” according to the regulation, whereas previously only the unregistered vehicle itself could be placed out of service. Now both the carrier as well as the vehicle can be penalized. Carriers and drivers who fail to comply with the state and federal regulations can be more easily be prevented from operating.

You can imagine this puts an even greater emphasis on thorough vehicle inspections and preventive maintenance which would catch potential risks to safety before they can cause accidents. A diligently-performed daily vehicle inspection will disclose such potential problems as faulty brake systems and bald tires.

Out-of-service penalties can also be levied against drivers without proper licensing and training. A CMV driver without a CDL or one that has expired can be just a serious a safety liability as brakes that won’t hold or tires ready to blow.

Activity in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas has increased truck traffic tremendously and statistics show trucking related accidents are up 41 percent.

Keep Eagle Ford Roadways Safe

In November, 2013, Sergeant Villarreal with Corpus Christi Department of Public Safety (DPS) spoke at the National Association for Publicly Funded Schools Region 4 “Keeping Our Roadways Safe” Conference at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi. Sergeant Villarreal indicated that the top three violations DPS officers see when pulling a commercial vehicle over in the Eagle Ford Shale are:

  1. Vehicle Inspections performed improperly or not at all
  2. Log Book Violations
  3. Driving a truck without a valid CDL license.

Keep Eagle Ford Drivers Trucking

Now that carriers as well as vehicles can be put out of service, here are five tips to help keep drivers “in service” and safely on the road:

  • Repair broken equipment.
  • Hire qualified drivers that have been properly trained with a valid CDL.
  • Have a strict pre/post trip vehicle inspection policy and hold drivers responsible for conducting and reporting them.
  • Have a no tolerance policy on faulty log book violations.
  • Conduct weekly or monthly safety meetings and reward employees for good audit results and discipline drivers that do not.

Must-Know Items for Truck Drivers in the Eagle Ford

Invest in Adequate Driver Training

Earlier this year we wrote a series of stories about the federal government’s efforts to regulate the training of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators. For 28 years, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has attempted to standardize training requirements for entry level drivers (ELDT). [Read more…]

Truck Drivers – Watch Where You’re Going!

Getting Around in the Eagle Ford Shale With Modern GPS Systems
Tanker Truck on the Highway

Click to Enlarge

Remember maps? Those huge sheets of paper had colorful graphic representations of geographic areas and showed the locations of cities, towns, highways, streets, mountains, bodies of water and a host of other information for the traveler. Using the map scale, a driver could estimate the distance and time needed for a journey and elect to choose a route that went around a busy city or one that didn’t climb a steep mountain range. (The one thing that few drivers couldn’t do with a map was get it refolded to its original convenient glove-box size.) [Read more…]

Training to Drive Trucks in the Eagle Ford Shale

Part One of a Two Part Series
Tanker Truck on the Highway

Click to Enlarge

Truck drivers with commercial driver’s licenses are in high demand in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. However, getting that CDL license could get much more difficult in the near future. If you’re planning on getting, or offering, training, you need to keep an eye on the proposed regulations for entry level driver training (ELDT).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding ELDT. If this becomes a final rule, all CDL training programs will have to meet those standards.

[Read more…]

Good CDL Drivers Needed in the Eagle Ford Shale Play

Good Training Programs are Important in Making Sure Safe Drivers are on the Roads
18 Wheeler Side Shot Del Mar College

CDL Training Truck | Click to Enlarge

South Texas has had a huge CDL driver shortage even before Eagle Ford Shale. Currently there are 150,000 CDL drivers needed nationwide. The American Trucking Associations have predicted the driver shortage will jump to 300,000 by the year 2014. Many companies are finding it more and more challenging to attract experienced CDL drivers due to the huge demand. CDL holders are held to a much higher standard than regular licensed drivers and must keep their driving records in good standing.

Hiring good experienced drivers is very challenging because companies have to be especially strict about driving records, accidents and Department of Transportation violations. This is because of CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) scores. CSA was established to keep accurate statistics of accidents, DOT violations, unsafe equipment and driving habits. CSA scores the safety performance of both the driver and the driver’s company. If a driver receives an unsatisfactory vehicle inspection and receives a violation, it will stay on the individual’s CSA score for three years and the company  that employed the driver at the time for two years. Under CSA’s new system that score will travel with the driver to whatever company the driver may transfer to over those three years. Having a negative CSA score increases the chance of receiving a DOT audit and can be very costly to both the driver and the employer. [Read more…]

Pulling Eagle Ford Trailers Safely – Crack the Whip!

Combination vehicles require a more developed skillset

Pulling Eagle Ford trailers safely is no task for the faint at heart. Combination vehicles are usually heavier, longer, and require more driving skill than single commercial vehicles. This means that drivers of a vehicle combination like a straight truck with a trailer need more knowledge and skill than drivers of single vehicles. These drivers also need a Combination Vehicle Endorsement on their CDL. To get one, you have to take a written test and a skills test. You’ll have to demonstrate that you know how to handle two characteristics of trailers that make driving a combination vehicle more of a challenge than driving a single vehicle. These are:

  • rearward amplification and
  • yaw instability.

Eagle Ford Trailers – Rearward Amplification

In the busy production-driven environment of the Eagle Ford Shale oilfield, “crack the whip” usually means, “get busy, get to work!” For drivers of tractor-trailers, however, “crack the whip” has a different meaning. [Read more…]