Tuesday, April 21, 2015

FMCSA says to take a selfie

If you’re shaking your head wondering what in the heck I could possibly be talking about after reading the headline, you’ll really be shaking it after you know.

This past week the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its spring meeting. The organization is composed of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The group attempts to provide uniformity in enforcement across North America. For example, this group sets the out-of-service criteria for roadside enforcement.

Anyone who isn't sure how to take a selfie could learn a thing
or two from Jami Jones' eldest son, Kade. Here he demonstrates
the power selfie. (Photo by Kade Jones, himselfie)
Currently, with recent changes to the medical certification requirements on truck drivers, there has been some confusion.

In December 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a final rule that requires drivers to present proof of medical certification to their state driver’s licensing agency each time they get their medical card renewed. The states are required to enter the certification into the Commercial Drivers License Information System – dubbed CDLIS – for law enforcement to access on the roadside.

That reg was supposed to go into effect in 2011. But there were states that weren’t ready to enter the certification information into CDLIS. So FMCSA delayed the requirement that states enter the information until Jan. 30, 2015, even though truckers still had to present their cards to the DMV.

Now that the state reporting requirement has kicked in, truckers are required to retain their medical card for only 15 days to give the states time to enter the certification into the mega database. But, given the patchwork of ways states handle accepting certification and what proof they provide, OOIDA recommends hanging onto the medical card anyway.

At the CVSA meeting, OOIDA representatives in attendance said problems with some states either not providing receipts or not entering the medical certification information into the database were brought up. It’s leaving drivers on the roadside unable to prove compliance with the regulation.

Seeking some sort of guidance or clarification from the FMCSA, the question was asked of FMCSA Associate Administrator for Enforcement and Program Delivery Bill Quade: What should drivers do to prove they went to the DMV and provided a copy of the medical certificate.

His response?

“Take a selfie,” he said, OOIDA reps report.

A selfie? Really?

What if, heaven forbid, you’re not a teenager who takes hundreds of selfies on a regular basis? What do you do then? Drag your kid along for help? Ask the clerk at the DMV to snap one of you under the sign holding your card?

Say you get this purported photographic evidence. Then what? Post it to Facebook and Tumblr. Maybe Tweet it out to @CVSA while you’re at it?

I know I’m stepping out on very novel and very thin commonsense ice here, but excuse me, FMCSA, why don’t you just work with the states to fix the problem?

A selfie.

To borrow another phone-era phenomenon, texting slang, I’m just going to leave this at SMH.*

*For those who don’t know, SMH means Shaking My Head.