Proposed hours of service changes sent to White House

Changes to the federal regulations that govern how many hours truckers may drive each day have taken a step closer to being changed.

Speaking at the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention in Kissimmee, Florida Tuesday, March 3, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Acting Administrator James Mullen announced the final rule was sent last night to the White House Office of Management and Budget. By law, the OMB has 90 days to rule on the proposed regulation, but there’s a provision that allows that to expand to 120 days.
“While I can’t go into the specifics of this final rule, please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers,” Mullen told the filled ballroom at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Talking to reporters after his speech Mullen said he would not and could not attempt to guess how the OMB might react to the proposed changes.

FMCSA’s proposed hours of service reforms, published last August, called for several changes to existing hours of service regulations, all of which then Administrator Ray Martinez said would provide greater flexibility to drivers. Chief among them was the ability for drivers to pause their 14-hour on-duty clock one time and go off-duty for up to three hours. It also provided the option for drivers to extend their 14-hour clock by two hours if they face adverse conditions such as traffic or weather.
If the OMB approves the rule, the next step would be for FMCSA to publish the rule in the Federal Register and set an implementation date.
In his address to TCA, Mullen emphasized the importance of the hours of service changes. He said, “It’s my priority, it’s the priority of the Secretary (of Transportation Elaine Chao), it’s the priority of this Administration to get these modifications finished.”

Mullen also touted the success of the agency’s recently opened Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. He said more than 680,000 drivers have been entered into the database, and that 9,000 drivers who have failed or refused testing have been identified. He said this is critical to highway safety.
The former Werner executive also touched on the success of the mandated electronic logging device regulation. Since becoming mandatory, there has been a 52% reduction in hours of service violations and that during roadside inspections less that one percent of drivers are non-compliant with ELD use.

info: https://www.truckersnews.com/

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FMCSA Issues Temporary Final Rule That Continues Entry-Lev-el Driving Education Rules.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a temporary final rule providing for a two-year delay in implementing the final agency rule of December 8, 2016, “Minimum Requirements for Training Entry-Lev-el Commercial Vehicle Operators,” the latest ELDT rule.

The provisional final rule extends the date the rule is observed from February 7, 2020, to February 7, 2022.

A notice posted in the Federal Register says that a delay in the compliance date will provide FMCSA with additional time to complete the development of a Training Service Provider Register (TPR). The Extension will allow training providers to independently confirm that they meet the training requirements.  The TPR will further provide an electronic interface, which will receive and store (ELDT) certification information from training providers and transmit this information to state driver licensing authorities (SDLA).

For participants in the US automotive market, the notification of the Federal Register was not a surprise, since FMCSA announced at the end of November that it was preparing a notification, but did not know when it would be published.

This ELDT rule is in the interest of everyone’s safety. In turn, CVTA will continue to push for ELDT implementation before the 2-year delay.

This extension applies to all requirements established in the December 2016 final rule, including:

  • The date by which the training service providers should start uploading the training certification information for a specific driver to TPR, an electronic database that will contain ELDT information;
  •  The date by which the 5DLA must confirm that applicants for Commercial Driving License (CDL) have complied with ELDT requirements before passing a specific knowledge or skill test;
  •  The date by which training providers wishing to provide ELDT must be indicated in the TPR;
  • The date by which drivers seeking CDL or approval must receive the necessary training as indicated in the final ELDT rule.

 

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Owners of Trucking Company Guilty of Forcing Drivers to Falsify Safety Records

On Monday September 16, the owners of CDE Corporation and Winsor Hill Hauling and Recycling Corporation, based in Rhode Island, were sentenced to 12 months of probation and fined $1250 for instructing employees to falsify federally mandated United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) so their trucks, needing repair, could remain on the road.

The owners, a married couple, Leslie Cucino and Robert Cucino, Jr. admitted to threatening their drivers to report “no defects” on the DVIR reports otherwise they will be fired. The drivers knew of serious defects but falsified records to keep their jobs. 

Although both Companies are closed down now the scheme went on for years. In multiple cases officers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts issued inspection reports, citing many defects such as faulty brakes. The couple plead guilty to the charges.

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FMCSA Seeking Public Feedback on IL Emblem Petition

On January 20, 2012, Allerton Charter Coach, Inc. submitted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requesting the agency review the Chicago Ground Transportation Tax, which applies to interstate motor passenger carriers, in the FMCSA’s jurisdiction.

The tax requires providers of vehicle passenger transportation in Chicago to pay a fee that varies by the capacity of the vehicle and display an emblem on their windshield as evidence of payment. The tax applies regardless if the vehicle is registered in the state of Illinois and failure to comply results in a fine. The FMCSA prohibits states from requiring interstate CMV’s to display any form of identification other than the ones required by the Secretary of Transportation. However, Chicago found a way around the rules. 

The emblem display is exempt under U.S.C. 14506(b)(2), stating, “The statutory exceptions cited by Chicago are, respectively, credentials required under the International Fuel Tax Agreement or applicable State law and State law rendering motor vehicle licence plates or other displays that the Secretary determines are appropriate.” In 2012, when Atterton first submitted the petition, Chicago opposed and counteragrued that Allerton didn’t demonstrate a live dispute, and proved that the display is exempt. 

Now, seven years later the American Bus Association (ABA) requested the FMCSA republish the petition for an opportunity of additional public feedback. As during the original petition from Allerton, the FMCSA only received five comments. The comment period will end on October 3, 2019. If you’d like to leave a comment, go here.

Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/notices/2019-18983

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FMCSA Warns Drivers of Scams Requesting Payment for Biennial Filing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires trucking companies and corresponding businesses to update their information every two years, even if the information hasn’t changed. The required information on the biennial update form (Form MCS-150) includes the name and location of business, operational information, number of vehicles and drivers.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT),  issued a warning on Friday, August 30, as well as the FMCSA following up with a social media post warning truckers of scams requesting money for carriers to file their DOT biennial update. 

The scams are sent out via email and letters which include threats of fines for failure to pay. These emails and letters containing links to websites requesting money is not associated with the DOT or WisDOT. 

More information about the FMCSA’s biennial updates can be found here. While companies are required to renew their USDOT number ever two years, filing is free on the FMCSA website, here.

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FMCSA Exempts Transco, Inc. From The 30-Minute Rest Break

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On August 27, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted Transco, a large grocery retailer, their request for 30-minute rest break exemption. 

Transco filed a request in October 2018, which the FMCSA has now granted. However, the exemption allows the drivers, “to comply with the 30 minute break requirement while performing on-duty not-driving tasks.”

In Transco’s request for exemption, the company told the FMCSA their drivers are at a higher safety risk with the 30-minute rest break because they operate at lower speeds, make frequent stops, and have set driver schedules. 

The FMCSA noted that, “in most cases Transco relies on team drivers who alternate during shift deliveries. Total trip time averages 17.2 hours. However, total driving time for both drivers combined averages just 9.1 hours. Each driver spends, on average, only 4.55 hours or 32.5% of their shift engaged in driving.” Transco argued that the 30 minute rest break actually decreases their drivers safety.

In addition, the FMCSA stated 3,580 drivers who make wholesale deliveries to grocery and convenience stores are eligible for the 30-minute rest break exemption. 

The exemption is valid for five years.

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State of Emergency—Tropical Storm Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is making its way towards Florida, and is expected to reach a category 4 storm before it hits land. President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency and ordered federal assistance for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has also issued an emergency declaration for the states and territories that are expected to be effected by Hurricane Dorian.  

Florida is preparing for what could be the most powerful storm in 27-years. Governor Ron Desantis, of Florida, issued an executive order on Wednesday, declaring the following counties in a state of emergency, suspending HOS for drivers providing aid: Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Volusia and Union.

The FMCSA’s declaration states, “This emergency declaration addresses anticipated emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment, fuel and persons and provides necessary relief.” Precisely, the FMCSA’s notice allows exemption from parts of 390-399, of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), which cover parts and accessories needed for safe operation, HOS and longer combination vehicles. Drivers aren’t exempt from requirements relating to CDL, drugs and alcohol, hazmat, size, weight and registration requirement. 

The declaration issued by the FMCSA applies to the following states and territories: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/emergency-declarations

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New 7 Mile Truck Route Opening Next Month

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced the Starke Truck Route, a four lane truck route implemented to reduce traffic congestion on U.S. 301, will open sometime in September this year.

The Starke Truck Route started construction in August 2016, located on the west side of Starke, Florida. The $90 million, 7.3 mile long, route is constructed between County Road 227 and County Road 23. Which is expected to provide additional capacity for future growth in the area and improve safety. 

The route is estimated to carry over 25,000 vehicles per day in 2020, and increase to over 31,000 per day by the year 2040. Despite mixed feelings about the project from the locals, after hearing concerns that the route will negatively impact local business the Florida Department of Transportation assured “the new road was constructed with the safety and needs of residents and businesses alike in mind”. 

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FMCSA Will Charge $1.25 for Every Driver a Carrier Hires

Starting next year the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will require trucking companies to pay $1.25 per employee, prior to hiring them. In addition, carriers are still required to pay a yearly fee for pre existing employees, as part of the FMCSA’s new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule.

Beginning January 6, 2020 carriers will be required to report drug and alcohol violations and check their employees records if prohibited from performing certain functions. The database will provide the necessary information for the past five years. The FMCSA stated they’ll charge carriers to access the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a flat fee of $1.25, and carriers can purchase bulk query plans but they’ll still be priced at $1.25 each. 

The agency offers two types of queries; The first is “limited”, which checks for the presence of information in the queried driver’s Clearinghouse record. Second, is “full”, which provides employers with detailed information about any resolved or unresolved violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record. The carrier must obtain the drivers consent for both queries. 

The Clearinghouse will be implemented to replace the old process of calling a driver’s previous employer to retrieve drug and alcohol records. Once the Clearinghouse goes into effect on January 6, 2020, carriers must comply with both the old and new rules until 2023 when the old method will discontinue.

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Missouri Truck Drivers Want to Ban Driverless Trucks

In fear of losing their jobs, truck drivers rallied at the state capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Tuesday, to raise awareness of the impact self-driving semi trucks will have on the trucking industry. 

The drivers also showed their support for Rep. Mike Moon, who greeted his supporters at the capitol building and invited them inside to listen to their concerns. Moon created a bill that could ban driverless truck technology in the state of Missouri. Moon argues driverless trucks will not only rob good people of their jobs, but they’re also a safety risk to the public. 

The event was organized by veteran owner-operator Bill Bogar, who stated he fears the impact driverless technology will have on his job. Bogar explained, “This is my job… once these things come in, I’m done; I’m out. Most of these people coming in today are literally a week out of being out of business.” Bogar continue to say many companies are lining up to join automated trucking because there’s numerous grants available.

Additionally, participants voiced their concerns about HR 1511, which would require drivers to provide barriers on their trailers to prevent under-ride crashes, which are rare. Furthermore, the type of skirts legislation wants to require are too expensive for operators.

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