Trucking and the Coronavirus
With the world focused on the fear of illness and global spread of this year’s coronavirus (COVID-19), trucking companies brace for a secondary threat as well, as the freight market slows.
Prior factors affect the trucking industry
Businesses had already stuffed their warehouses with imported goods at the end of 2019, trying to get ahead of the tariffs placed against China. Then, as concerns over the virus itself grew, this slowed import shipping. Trucking companies with work in and around ports have felt the impact already.
Current factors add burden
Currently, several factors are impacting the trucking industry and putting the brakes on freight. First, the national shift for many businesses to encourage their employees to work from home. Secondly, consumers have drastically reduced their daily activities, without choice in most states.
Each state has implemented some sort of guideline to follow, each on a different level, but with the same end goal, to create social distancing. Most states are closing schools, preventing operation of non-essential businesses and even preventing gatherings of 50, 25 and even 10 people.
With a number of major events being cancelled, such as the Mid-America Trucking Show and sporting events (eg. NCAA tournament), the trucking industry has taken a big hit as well, since the need for truckers to carry the necessary supplies to these events has vanished.
Transportation market follows industry market
Garrett Bowers, President of Bowers Trucking in Oklahoma commented to Transport Topics news outlet: “If industry is stifled, transportation will follow.”
Trucking companies can expect to find themselves pinched tightly between all these factors. And, of course, layered on top of these concerns is the well-being of their drivers as they send them out across the nation, where they could be more susceptible to contracting the Coronavirus.
Many companies are now conducting pre-shift screenings and temperature checks to further protect their employees.
Some companies, mostly those immediately affected near the ports, have begun reducing capacity and laying off independent owner-operators in response to the downturn.
But across the country, companies feel the hit of this pandemic. Fleets have been absorbing a cost burden from being unable to return empty containers, as well as administrative costs.
Hoping for a rebound
There is definitely potential for a rebound in the trucking industry once shipping from China and other countries resumes normal pace. However, this potential rebound will have a delay that can impact many companies.
Companies should anticipate and plan not only for reduced rates and capacity, but also for difficulties at the loading docks. If shippers must reduce their own workforce due to coronavirus-related illnesses or quarantines, loads may not be ready when truckers arrive.
Companies should prepare for a double-headed approach to address both the current slow-down and the eventual recovery when shipments begin to surge to make up for delays.
Trucking Startups, Hiring Drivers and CDL Training
No matter what your current situation is in the trucking industry, we have a service that would be valuable to you, like CDL training, starting your own trucking business or hiring new, qualified drivers.
If you have been laid off, this might be a good time to start training to get your CDL. There will be a need for more drivers as businesses and events resume normal operation in the coming months.
If you are already a driver in the trucking industry, this may be the perfect time for you to start your own trucking company. Securing loads will not be an issue once the economy bounces back.
If you are a trucking company, you will most likely need to be hiring qualified drivers in the near future, and you will need to get good, qualified drivers very quickly, as well as manage all of the files for those drivers.
Study to reduce trucking accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are an unfortunate by-product of driving and fatal crashes among large trucks have risen steadily in the past decade.
The FMCSA seeks to reverse this trend by conducting a study aimed at identifying and reducing factors that contribute to these fatal truck accidents.
Previous crash study findings
In a 2001-2003 Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study (LTCCFS), the FMCSA gained vital information on crash factors. The study found that, when fault was assigned to the large truck, the cause of a vast majority of crashes were driver related. In these cases, it was determined that either driver action or inaction resulted in the crash.
Following this 2001-2003 study, fatal crashes decreased, hitting a low in 2009. However, since 2009, fatal crashes began to increase at a steady rate. By 2018, large truck crashes with at least one fatality or evident injury had increased by 52.6% compared to the 2009 figures.
This continued increase in fatal large truck crashes has the FMCSA seeking answers and calling for a new study to be conducted in an effort to reduce crash factors.
Industry changes may impact crash statistics
It’s been fifteen years since the original crash study. Technology has changed. Driver behavior has shifted. Roadways have been redesigned. And vehicle safety guidelines have been revised. Any one or all these changes could affect driver performance.
Because there are so many potential factors, a new study is needed to determine which factors are indeed contributing to fatal and injurious crashes. The new in-depth study is intended to evaluate crash factors, identify trends and develop safety improvement policies.
Potential new crash factors that need to be assessed in this proposed study include:
- cell phone and texting distractions
- driver restraint use
- in-cab navigation systems
- fleet management systems
- automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems
Data collection through driver assistance systems
The previous study was conducted via data collection by a two-person team through interviews and investigations of up to 1,000 elements of a crash. One goal of this new study is that the current driver assistance systems installed in many fleets will provide additional useful data.
FMCSA calls for proposals to conduct new study
The FMCSA seeks industry input in designing their new study and are currently accepting submission of comments and related materials so they can plan how to design and conduct this new large truck crash factor study.
Visit www.regulations.gov and follow the instructions to submit any suggestions.
Per the FMCSA request for information, submissions should answer these questions:
- Should FMCSA pursue a nationally representative sampling approach or can convenience sampling serve the needs?
- What type of study are you recommending (e.g., nationally representative vs. convenience sampling), and what are the pros and cons of this approach?
- How important is it for the new study results to be comparable with findings of the original LTCCS?
- What other sources of data can enrich the new study? How can they be identified and included?
Submissions are open until March 16, 2020.
Use Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2019-0277 when submitting proposals, comments, and materials.
Submit via the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking portal: Visit www.regulations.gov and follow the on-line instructions for submissions
- Mail: Docket Management Facility; US Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001
- Hand delivery or courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays
- Fax: 1-202-493-2251
Hopefully, with enhanced data collection, and the support of submissions from the industry, the sobering upward trend of fatal large truck crashes can be reversed and reduced to create a safer roadway for everyone.
Safety is our priority
Safety is the most important thing when it comes to truck driving. We offer a long list of DOT related training for all levels of experience, including full new driver training, defensive driving, accident procedures, full CDL driver training and so much more.
In any of our DOT training programs, safety is our priority.
On February 7, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will place new CDL requirements on entry-level driver training (ELDT).
Individuals wanting to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), upgrade their current license from a Class B to a Class A CDL or receive driver training for a passenger, school bus or hazmat endorsement. Requirements are also changing for instructors offering CDL training.
Is it difficult to get a CDL license?
As of February 7, 2020, entry-level CDL trainees will have much stricter requirements for obtaining their CDL. For anyone planning to become a truck driver, you can attend a CDL school and get your CDL license before changes go into effect in 2020.
The new rules require an entry-level driver to complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction provided by a school or other entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) before taking the CDL test.
What are the new requirements to obtain a CDL license?
- CDL school requirements: The minimum standards and requirements for CDL schools will be set at a federal level, as opposed to being set by each state.
- Department of Transportation (DOT) management: CDL schools must record and report hours behind the wheel (no federal minimum) to DOT.
- Schools must register and self-certify: Schools can self-certify instructors. Individual instructors may have to register with the DOT depending on the state.
- CDL driving instructor requirements: Driving instructors are required to have a minimum of 2 years driving experience, a clean motor vehicle record and a medical certification for classroom, on the road and private range instruction
- Increase in curriculum mandates:
- DOT requires 31 theory course topics instead of the original four knowledge topics, which will be accompanied by 19 mandated behind-the-wheel (BTW) skills, that will be tested with vehicle inspection skills at the state department of motor vehicles.
- The new Training Provider Registry (TPR) will require CDL schools to apply to join, starting February 7, 2022.
Elaine L. Chao, US Transportation Secretary, said “Today’s action demonstrates the Department’s commitment to reducing regulatory burdens and addressing our nation’s shortage of commercial drivers” in reference to the FMCSA announcing today a final rule reducing costs and simplifying the process to upgrade a Class B Commercial Drivers License to a Class A CDL. By adopting a new Class A CDL theory instruction upgrade curriculum, the rule will save eligible driver trainees and motor carriers across the United States over $18 million annually.
FMCSA Administrator, Raymond P. Martinez, called the final rule “common-sense” and committed the FMCSA to “strategically reform burdensome regulations to improve the lives of ordinary Americans by saving them valuable time and money – while simultaneously maintaining the highest level of safety.”
FMCSA is amending the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations published on December 8, 2016 detailing the ELDT rule requires the same level of theory training for individuals obtaining a CDL for the first time as for those who already hold a Class B DEL and are upgrading to a Class A CDL. FMCSA recognizes that because Class B CDL holders have prior training or experience, they should not be required to complete the same level of theory training as individuals who have never earned a CDL.
As a result of the Federal Commercial motor vehicle Safety Act of 1986, Pennsylvania established a Commercial Driver Licensing Program. This program has been developed to improve driver quality, ensure commercial drivers have the skills needed to operate commercial vehicles and to prevent drivers from having more than one driver’s license. The program requires you to have a CDL if you operate or plan to operate any of the following Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs):
- A combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
- A school bus designed to carry 11 passengers or more, including the driver.
- Any size vehicle, which transports hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with federal regulations.
- Any size vehicle used in the transportation of any material that requires hazardous materials placards or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR 73. Federal regulations through the Department of Homeland Security require a background check and fingerprinting for the Hazardous materials endorsement.
To get a CDL, you must pass knowledge and skills tests.
This manual will help you pass the tests. This manual is not a
substitute for a truck driver training class or program. Formal
training is the most reliable way to learn the many special
skills required for safely driving a large commercial vehicle
and becoming a professional driver in the trucking industry.
Figure 1.1 helps you determine if you need a CDL.
Exemptions: You do not need a CDL to drive military equipment while in military uniform; certain fire and emergency equipment owned by a fire company; or recreational vehicles; implements of husbandry; or
certain motorized construction equipment.
This section examines the requirements of the CDL and how you can get your CDL.
As part of the motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended
the Federal motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to require interstate commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders,
subject to the physical qualification requirements of the FMCSRs, to provide a current copy of their medical Examiner’s
Certificate (also known as the U.S. DOT Physical card) to their State Driver Licensing Agency.
Interstate is defined as trade, traffic or transportation in the united States:
- Between a place in a State and place outside of such State (including a place outside of the united States); or
- Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the united States; or
- Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.