Owner-Operator’s First Alcohol and Drug Clearinghouse Query Deadline Approaching

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule requires employers to monitor employees’ drug and alcohol violations. Employers must have drug and alcohol violation queries pulled from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse by Jan. 6, 2021.

The rule applies to employers and commercial driver’s license (CDL) drivers. The FMCSA considers owner-operators as both employers and employees, so they must conduct queries on themselves as well.

The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an online database that allows employers to conduct queries on prospective and current CDL drivers. Queries are electronic checks used to determine whether CDL drivers are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.

Clearinghouse Requirements

According to the FMCSA Clearinghouse fact sheet, employers must “report drug and alcohol violations and check that no current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CMV, due to a drug and alcohol program violation for which a driver has not successfully completed a Return-To-Duty (RTD) process.”

In turn, CDL drivers must “review their own records, provide consent to employers to access their records under the drug and alcohol program and select a substance abuse professional, if needed.”

Next Steps for Owner-operators

Initially, owner-operators will need to register on the FMCSA registration website to create a portal account, designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) and have the C/TPA conduct a query by Jan. 6. Failure to complete a query could expose owner-operators to a fine.

Thereafter, owner-operators must have their designated C/TPA run the queries annually.


Jan. 4, 2017

FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule went into effect.

Jan. 6, 2020

Employers should have started conducting queries.

Jan. 6, 2021

Owner-operators must have their first Clearinghouse query pulled by this date to avoid violation of the FMCSA regulations.

The FMCSA considers owner-operators as both employers and employees, so they will be required to conduct queries on themselves.


If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Hand-held Device Restrictions for CMV Drivers

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts the use of all hand-held mobile devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).

Under FMCSA rules, CMV drivers may not hold a mobile device to make a call, dial a mobile device by pressing more than a single button or reach for a mobile device in a way that puts the driver in an unsafe position. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only use a hands-free phone located in close proximity.

The FMCSA’S restrictions are based on research showing that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event, such as a crash, near-crash or unintentional lane deviation, are six times greater for CMV drivers who engage in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who do not. Dialing drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway for an average of 3.8 seconds. At 55 mph (or 80.7 feet per second), this equates to a driver traveling 306 feet, the approximate length of a football field, without
looking at the roadway.

What is the definition of using a mobile telephone?

The use of a hand-held mobile telephone means:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to make a call;
  • Dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button; or
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.

What does this rule mean to drivers and carriers?

The rule applies to drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle on a roadway, including moving forward or temporarily stationary because of traffic, traffic control devices or other momentary delays. A mounted phone is acceptable as long as it is mounted close to the driver.

Fines and penalties – Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a CMV can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving.

Disqualification – Multiple violations of the prohibition of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a CMV can result in a driver disqualification by the FMCSA. Multiple violations of state laws prohibiting use of a mobile phone while driving a CMV is a serious traffic violation that could result in a disqualification by a state of drivers required to have a commercial driver’s license.

What are the risks? – Using a hand-held mobile phone is risky because it requires the driver to reach for and dial the phone to make a call. Reaching for a phone out of the driver’s immediate area is risky as well because this action takes the driver’s eyes off the roadway.

Impact on Safety Measurement System (SMS) results – Violations negatively impact SMS results, and they carry the maximum severity weight.

Compliance recommendations

Make sure the mobile telephone is within close enough proximity that it is operable while the driver is restrained by properly installed and adjusted seat belts.

Use an earpiece or the speaker phone function.

Use voice-activated dialing.

Use the hands-free feature. To comply, a driver must have his or her mobile telephone located where he or she is able to initiate, answer or terminate a call by touching a single button. The driver must be in the seated driving position and properly restrained by a seat belt. Drivers are not in compliance if they unsafely reach for a mobile phone, even if they intend to use the hands-free function. 

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Condo Insurance

Condo (HO6) insurance, or condominium coverage, is a type of insurance policy that protects you, your stuff, and your unit.

What is condo (HO6) insurance?

Condo insurance is a type of property and casualty insurance. It protects condo owners from bad things that may happen to them, their family, their stuff, or their investment.

If you’re asking, ‘Why do I need condo insurance in the first place?’, read on.

What does condo insurance cover?

Your standard condo insurance policy (called an HO6 policy) provides the following 5 areas of insurance coverage:

  1. Dwelling (aka your unit) including improvements, alterations, additions, etc.
  2. Personal property, your personal belongings i.e. the stuff you own
  3. Loss of use providing additional living expenses when your place becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss.
  4. Personal liability aka liability coverage when you’re sued or accidentally caused harm to others
  5. Medical payments to others for covering any issues that arose at your place, or anywhere else

I thought the condo association purchased insurance?

Your condo association or trust has purchased insurance that protects the building or buildings, the liability of the entity that owns the building or buildings, and the liability of the entity’s officers and directors.  This policy is a commercial policy commonly referred to as a Master Policy and its coverage is built around the language that is found in the condo association By-Laws or Declarations.  These documents will detail and define the responsibilities of the Association as it pertains to their insurable interest.

So why do I need my own coverage then?

Master Policies can vary depending on the above-mentioned by-laws or declarations.  However, the following items are certain not to be covered.

  1. Your contents are NOT covered under the master policy.
    • Your personal belongings like clothes and furniture are considered contents and are not covered under the master policy.  An easy way to determine what your contents are is to imagine picking up your unit and turning it upside down, whatever moves from the floor to the ceiling is contents.
  2. Your personal liability is NOT covered under the master policy.
    • While the condo association may also be involved in a lawsuit that includes you as the unit owner, the master policy does not extend any coverage to you personally.  It is important to make sure that you have your own personal liability coverage.

I already pay association fees…how much more is this going to cost me?

Your unit owner policy cost can start for as little as $200 per year.  However, your personalized price depends in a variety of factors.  They include:

  • Your deductible
  • The age of your building
  • Your location
  • Your chosen coverage amounts
  • Additional coverage and endorsements based on master policy coverage
  • Scheduled items like jewelry or art

Talk to your independent insurance agent about what coverage is right for you.  Nothing is more expensive than an uncovered loss.



What other things do I need to worry about?

Since the Master Policy can vary depending on the by-laws or declarations it is important to review these documents and determine what additional coverages you will need to protect yourself.  You can request these documents along with the master policy from your condo association and review them with your attorney and independent insurance agent to determine what is best for you.  You may find you need additional coverage for some of the following areas.

  1. Dwelling: In some cases, the by-laws define you responsible for betterments and improvements, finish work, fixtures, etc.  This is commonly referred to as a ‘bare walls concept’ which means that the master policy covers the exterior of the units, community-held group areas like gyms, clubhouses, roofs, gutters, and common areas.  This leaves you responsible for everything on the inside of the bare wall.
  2. Large Deductibles: Some associations opt to save money on the master policy by increasing the deductibles and passing that cost onto the unit owners. It is important to determine what that deductible is and make sure that your policy has a limit that covers any cost you may be assessed by the association in the event of a loss.
  3. Loss Assessment: Your association can hold you financially responsible for costs they incur from on premise injury or building damage not covered under the master policy or exceed the master policy limit.
  4. Flood: Water damage caused by tidal or ground water is not covered under a master policy.  If you live in an area prone to flooding you may need to purchase flood insurance.

What do I do now that I know all of this information?

Talk to your independent insurance agent about finding coverage that’s right for your specific situation.

I don’t have an independent insurance agent…

That’s ok, you can call Anastasi Insurance Agency at (508)248-1440 and talk with one of our personal lines experts that will find you the best coverage at the lowest cost.


Presented By

Anastasi Insurance Agency

4 Brookfield Rd

PO BOX 1261

Charlton City, Ma 01508

Tel: (508) 248 1440

Fax: (508) 248 1447


Attracting and Retaining Commercial Drivers

Commercial fleets need to maintain a workforce of loyal, qualified drivers in order to succeed. But recently, increased demand for freight volume has highlighted an ongoing driver shortage that’s left many motor carriers operating under capacity.

In order to ensure that your business is attracting and retaining talented drivers, you need to evaluate how the shortage may be affecting you and the steps you can take to make your workplace appealing.

What’s Contributing to the Shortage?

The first step when attracting or retaining drivers should be to understand the underlying causes of the driver shortage:

  • Wages—According to the National Transportation Institute, drivers’ wages have lagged behind both inflation and minimum wage increases. Since 2006, for-hire drivers have seen wage increases of 6 percent compared to a 17 percent increase for private fleet drivers. However, inflation and the minimum wage have increased by 18 and 40 percent over that same period, respectively.
  • Age—The average age for a commercial driver is 55, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More drivers are retiring every day, and a federal law that prohibits drivers under the age of 21 from obtaining intrastate commercial driving licenses makes it difficult to attract younger replacements before they enter another industry.
  • Lifestyle—Commercial drivers often operate over long hours without breaks and are frequently away from home. Many motor carriers also assign new drivers to long or isolated routes, which can make open positions unappealing to prospects.
  • Growing economy—As the U.S. economy continues to grow, increased demand from retailers has led to record demand for trucking capacity, putting a strain on available drivers.

In-house Adjustments to Attract Drivers

Before you consider changing your pay models or workplace benefits, there may be some operational changes you can review to attract or retain drivers:

  • Offer flexible scheduling. Many prospective drivers are afraid of being away from home for long periods of time, and giving them the option to work closer to home can make your business more appealing.
  • Consider new fleet management procedures or technology to help reduce your drivers’ average length of haul. Although you want to keep your drivers on the road frequently to increase your capacity, reducing the average length of haul can help drivers improve their health and manage the balance between their work and home lives.
  • Adjust training programs to target other departments or industries. Prospective drivers may be intimidated by the amount of experience or legal requirements needed to obtain a commercial driver license. Simply adjusting your training programs can help your business integrate drivers from outside the industry.

Wage Considerations

One of the most effective ways to appeal to drivers is to increase wages. Although this can be done by simply giving drivers a set raise or bonus, there are alternative payment models and other considerations to keep in mind:

  • Bonuses—Many carriers now offer staggered bonuses that incentivize retention, such as $10,000 bonus that’s split into payments after a driver has worked for 30 days, 90 days and six months. However, some experts believe that these bonuses may also cause drivers to leave once they’ve collected all of their payments.
  • Hourly pay—Drivers aren’t frequently paid by the hour because it’s hard to prove when they’re on duty. But now, tracking technology like GPS and electronic logging devices can make it easy for carriers to know when their drivers are on the job.
  • Flexible models–Many businesses have started to incorporate multiple pay models into their operations to accommodate drivers. For example, drivers who are paid by the mile earn very little when slowed by traffic or unloading. Now, tracking devices can detect legitimate delays and switch to a different pay model during that time in order to make long or congested routes more appealing.

When considering raises, bonuses or other pay models, keep in mind that your drivers’ wages could impact your liability or workers’ compensation rates. Contact us at 508-248-1440 for more help addressing your specific concerns.

Workplace Benefits

Another way to make your business appealing to talented drivers is to offer a competitive benefits package and create a positive work environment. Besides 401(k) investment matching and comprehensive medical coverage, you should consider the following:

  • Paid time off to allow drivers to visit home or take a break while still making an income
  • In-house programs that reward successful drivers with priority at service stations, pay bonuses or new equipment
  • New equipment and vehicles to make drivers’ day-to-day operations easier and attract tech-savvy applicants

Additionally, an emphasis on respect can help your business attract and retain drivers. Experts believe that drivers may be turned away from the transportation industry due to a perceived lack of respect for the long hours they put into their jobs. Make sure to show drivers they’re respected by paying attention to their feedback, recognizing their accomplishments and staying involved in their personal and professional lives.

Finding Consistent Success

The driver shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, and you need to constantly review your operations to ensure you’re attracting and retaining a talented workforce. Get in touch with Anastasi Insurance Agency, Inc. today for more resources on driver training, legal requirements and transportation-specific news.