I was reading an article in Landline Magazine about a Massachusetts carrier named J & J Transportation. On February 25, 2016 the FMCSA ordered them to cease all operations due to their failure to show adherence with FMCSR’s during a compliance review that resulted from a single vehicle accident in which their driver was killed.  As I read the article outlining all of this carriers failures, I kept saying to myself, “Thank goodness that will never happen to Duncan & Son Lines!”

I think most drivers understand the concept that a Safety Department is supposed to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries. But drivers also think that we unnecessarily nag about “little things” as well.

This carrier in Massachusetts was not shut down because they were involved in a fatal accident. They were shut down because they failed to do the “little things”.

The company was unable to produce vehicle maintenance records, including proof of a service schedule.

This is why Duncan’s Safety Department works so closely with our Shop Department. Although the shop is responsible for scheduling and performing services, the Safety Department holds themselves accountable to monitor which vehicles have services coming due and reaches out to drivers on a weekly basis to make sure that those drivers contact the shop to schedule services and bring their vehicles in before they become “past due” for service. The departments also work closely together to make sure Annual Vehicle Inspections are performed on time as well.

The company was unable to produce evidence that drivers performed federally required pre-trip and post-trip safety inspections.

Duncan has programmed their Elogs (electronic hours of service records) to require both inspections. The system reports missed inspections as a violation.  Drivers failing to make sure these inspections are documented on their Elogs are provided remedial Elog training and documented counseling until they do so.  All inspections with defects are automatically saved, reviewed and when necessary, action is taken to correct the defect.

The company was unable to provide evidence that defects identified on past roadside inspections had been corrected.

All Duncan drivers are required to turn in roadside inspections within 24 hours. These inspections are reviewed and defect corrections are verified.  If it is unclear whether or not a defect was cleared, the Safety Department makes immediate contact with the driver to ascertain if and what steps must be taken.  Driver’s failing to take action to correct defects and violations issued on roadside inspections are subject to documented disciplinary action.

 The company failed to maintain proper and up to date information in each Driver Qualification File, thus dispatching many drivers with invalid licenses, suspended licenses and expired medical exams.

The Safety Department pulls motor vehicle reports each year to make sure their drivers not only have valid licenses, but that they have reported all citations and that their driving record still meets Duncan’s criteria. We start reaching out to all drivers a month in advance of all upcoming license expirations, medical exam expirations and HM retraining due dates. This contact does not cease until requirements are met and drivers are never permitted to operate a vehicle with an expired or suspended license or expired medical exam.

The company was unable to produce records of duty status (logs) for its drivers or supporting documents, such as fuel and toll receipts.

The reason FMSCA wants fuel and toll receipts is because they want to cross reference the date and time of these documents against a drivers record of duty status to make sure the driver is being honest in his hours of service recordkeeping. It is a carrier’s responsibility to make these cross reference checks as well.  The Safety Department at Duncan has a bigger challenge!  Our drivers have trailer interchanges!  Approximately 960 interchanges per week!  And although we can’t check every one of them, it is our duty to randomly check as many as we can to make sure log falsification and hours of service violations are kept in check.

The company was unable to provide poof for the majority of their drivers, that they performed pre-employment controlled substance tests prior to allowing drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Duncan’s Drug and Alcohol testing for drivers goes above and beyond what is required by FMCSRs. By this I mean, FMCSA states that 10% of all commercial drivers must be randomly tested for alcohol each year.  We do that.  Prior to December 21, 2015, FMCSA stated that 50% of all Commercial drives must be randomly tests for controlled substances each year.  After December 21, 2015, FMSCA lowered this requirement to 25%.   2 years ago we had 2 positive drug tests.  So we increased our random rate to 75% each year to insure that our fleet was drug free and that it stays drug free!  And that is where it remains today.

I hope that we never experience an accident with a fatality in the years to come. But if we do, I feel confident we are prepared.  We are prepared not because federal regulations dictate that we are, but because we WANT to be a safe carrier.


Julie Smith

Safety Manager