Pennsylvania Preparing Aggressive Statewide Response in Advance of Weekend Storm

Harrisburg, PA – With an intense winter storm expected to bring heavy snow, high winds, sleet and freezing rain across the state through this weekend, Governor Tom Wolf today signed a state of emergency declaration to allow for increased assistance with storm-related needs. The commonwealth also will impose speed restrictions and a ban on all commercial traffic, including buses on most interstates and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. State officials urge motorists to use caution during the storm, postpone travel if possible, reduce speeds and be aware of the potential for rapidly changing weather and roadway conditions.

The commercial vehicle ban will be in place between noon Saturday and noon Sunday on all interstates and the Turnpike, except for Interstate 95 in southeastern Pennsylvania. The ban will also be imposed on the U.S. 22 expressway in the Lehigh Valley and the Pennsylvania Route 33 expressway in Northampton and Monroe counties. See a map of restricted roadways.

“We want to be aggressive in managing this storm, during which snowfall rates could exceed one to two inches per hour,” Governor Wolf said. “Our top concern is the safety of residents. If you do not have to travel during the storm, please avoid it. Please heed warnings from emergency responders and personnel, and remember to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly.”

The declaration of an emergency allows for additional help from neighboring states and standing up the Pennsylvania National Guard to ensure a swift response to possible changing priorities, and the vehicle bans will allow our snow plow crews to have a clearer route to keeping these interstates open despite the expected severe weather.

The governor’s emergency declaration authorizes state agencies to use all available resources and personnel, as necessary, to cope with the magnitude and severity of the storm’s impacts. The time-consuming bid and contract procedures, as well as other formalities normally prescribed by law, are waived for the duration of the proclamation.

It is important to note that the declaration does not restrict citizens from travel on commonwealth roadways, but motorists should be aware of any restrictions that are in place and heed the guidance of local authorities.

Speed limits will be restricted to 45 mph on the interstates and expressways as the storm progresses. The Pennsylvania Department Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Pennsylvania State Police have been coordinating their planning in advance of the storm and will be staffing the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center (CRCC) throughout the duration of the storm. “Travel will be very challenging this weekend with the combination of heavy snow, high winds, sleet, freezing and plain rain and then a rapid drop in temperatures on Sunday,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “If you must travel, please check 511PA for the latest conditions and be prepared in case extreme conditions trigger long delays on your route.”

Anticipating the storm’s severity, Amtrak has already cancelled the cross-state Pennsylvanian passenger train for Sunday and has cancelled six trains Sunday on the Keystone Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

To help make decisions regarding winter travel, motorists are encouraged to “Know Before You Go” by checking conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles, including color-coded winter conditions on 2,900 miles, by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information and access to more than 860 traffic cameras. Users can also see plow truck statuses and travel alerts along a specific route using the “Check My Route” tool. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

A vehicle emergency kit should be prepared or restocked with items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket, cell phone charger and a small snow shovel. Motorists should tailor their kits to any specific needs that they or their families have such as baby supplies, extra medication and pet supplies.

The CRCC at PEMA headquarters outside Harrisburg will be activated at 8 a.m. on Saturday and staffed with personnel from multiple state agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Fish and Boat Commission, Game Commission, General Services, Health, Public Utility Commission, Military and Veterans Affairs, Health, PA State Police, Human Services, Revenue, and PA Turnpike, as well as the American Red Cross and Civil Air Patrol. Other state agencies are on notice to report if needed.

PEMA works with county emergency management personnel to monitor unmet local needs during inclement weather affecting travel, utilities, and shelter. You are encouraged to monitor state agency social media accounts for the most up-to-date information on any emergency or weather-related situation affecting the state, in addition to any social media accounts for your local emergency management offices.

Motorists should be aware that all vehicles should be fully clear of ice and snow before winter travel. If snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of that vehicle could receive a $200 to $1,000 fine.

When winter weather occurs, PennDOT urges drivers to be extra cautious around operating snow-removal equipment. When encountering a plow truck, drivers should:

  • Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
  • When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
  • Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
  • Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see, and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
  • Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.

In addition to driving safely around plows, motorists are urged to drive according to conditions. If motorists encounter snow or ice-covered roads, they should slow down, increase their following distance and avoid distractions. Last winter in Pennsylvania, preliminary data shows that there were 440 crashes resulting in 221 injuries on snowy, slushy or ice-covered roadways where aggressive-driving behaviors such as speeding or making careless lane changes were factors.

To report an accident or other emergencies on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone. If there is an accident, move the car out of travel lane and onto shoulder, if possible, and stay in the vehicle. For more information about PA Turnpike conditions, follow the conversation by using www.paturnpike.com/travel/twitter. You may also see advisories by clicking on the travel ticker on www.PATurnpike.com.

PennDOT has created a Winter Safety media center, including social-media-sized graphics highlighting winter driving preparations and operations at www.penndot.gov in the “Media Center” under the “About Us” footer.

For more information on safe winter travel, an emergency kit checklist and information on PennDOT’s winter operations including a video, visit PennDOT.gov/winter. Additional winter driving and other highway safety information is available at PennDOT.gov/safety Follow the conversation by using #PAWinter on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PennDOTNews and visit the department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDepartmentofTransportation to view a winter emergency kit video.

Is your ABORD compliant?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released the following reminder about ABORD requirements.

If you are permitted to use an AOBRD, it must follow all Federal AOBRD regulations.

All AOBRDs must meet the standards outlined in 49 CFR 395.15 and must be operated with the following features at all times:

  • Integrally synchronized with the operations of the commercial motor vehicle in which it is installed
  • Record engine use
  • Record road speed
  • Record miles driven
  • Record date and time of day

If your AOBRD does not meet the standards outlined in 49 CFR 395.15, you are in violation of 49 CFR Part 395 and may be cited for 395.8(a)(1), failing to use the appropriate method to record hours of service data, and your driver placed out-of-service.

For more information on appropriate AOBRD use during this phase of ELD implementation, see the ELD Implementation Timeline or read the ELD Frequently Asked Questions.

To assist companies in transitioning to the ELD rule, FMCSA permits motor carriers that had automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) installed and in-use prior to the December 18, 2017, ELD Compliance Date to continue using these devices through December 16, 2019. If you are looking to be compliant with the ELD mandate and want a reliable ELD solution check out Pedigree’s Cabmate One.

Annual Thanksgiving I-40 Challenge

Troopers in California, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina are participating in the effort that aims to achieve zero fatalities along the 2,559 miles of interstate during Thanksgiving.

State troopers on I-40 from coast to coast will be out in force over the Thanksgiving holiday period as part of the annual Thanksgiving I-40 Challenge, an eight-state initiative to combat unsafe driving during one of the most heavily-traveled periods of the year.

Drivers should expect to see a trooper at least every 20 miles from Wednesday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 25.

According to AAA, 54.3 million Americans are expected to travel during Thanksgiving, an increase over last year’s numbers.

“Our mission is simple; reduce needless collisions in hopes of reporting zero fatalities statewide,” said Col. Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, in a statement.

Video Blog: New Venture Part 1

New Venture Part 1. If you are interested in obtaining your own authority, watch this clip outlining what you need to get started. Rob, an account manager for CNS, will give some pointers on what needs to be completed and in what order.

Part 2 will be with Ron Haws Northern Insurance Specialists agency director talking insurance for new ventures.

 

 

 

 

FMCSA Grants American Concrete Pumping Association HOS Exemption

The American Concrete Pumping Association has won a temporary exemption from select hours-of-service rules by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

According to a document published in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, the exemption relaxes the requirement that short haul drivers using the records-of-duty status exception return to their starting location within 12 hours of coming on duty.

FMCSA’s exemption will allow drivers operating concrete pumps to return to their starting point within 14 hours instead of 12. The exemption took effect Nov. 1 and expires Oct. 31, 2023.“FMCSA has analyzed the exemption application and the public comments and has determined that the exemption, subject to the terms and conditions imposed, will achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption,” the FMCSA states.

The industry organization, which represents more than 600 companies and 7,000 workers, compared it’s work to that of ready-mixed-concrete drivers whose perishable products necessitate time-sensitive hauls.

The association also stated that concrete pump operators spend little time actually driving. The average concrete pump operator spends 25-32% of his or her shift driving, and daily trips usually are less than 25 miles. The association said that the majority of operators’ time is spent waiting on ready-mixed concrete for them to pump.

FMCSA Military Driver Programs

A Winning Strategy for Service Members, Veterans, the Transportation Industry and our Nation

Washington D.C- As we recognize our veterans on this holiday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is proud to help experienced military drivers transition to commercial driving careers. These individuals offer a proven work ethic, personal discipline and invaluable training and skills. Leveraging their skills is a service to them and a gain for our nation’s commercial motor vehicle (CMV) industry.

We value the connection between service members and veterans’ capabilities, and their employment is at the heart of FMCSA programs for military drivers. To show appreciation of the training and experience gained by our military service men and women, below are FMCSA programs that make it easier, quicker and less expensive to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

  • The Military Skills Test Waiver Program exempts qualified military drivers from having to take the CDL skills test. More than 23,000 service members and veterans have taken advantage of this exemption.
  • The Even Exchange Program (or Knowledge Test Waiver) allows for qualified military drivers to be exempt from the knowledge test. When the exemption is used in conjunction with the Military Skills Test Waiver, this allows a qualified military driver to exchange his or her military license for a CDL.
  • The Under 21 Military CDL Pilot Program will soon launch. This study research program will assess the safety impacts of allowing qualified military drivers younger than 21 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.
  • The Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training Grant Program assists current or former members of the United States Armed Forces (including National Guard and reserve members) and their spouses in receiving training to transition to the motor carrier industry.

More information on these FMCSA military driver programs is available on FMCSA’S website.

Please help FMCSA support our country’s service members and veterans by spreading the word on these career transition programs.

Video Blog: Safety Rating Upgrade Frequently Asked Questions

Compliance Review, Conditional, Unsatisfactory, Notice of Claim

Frequently asked questions about the safety rating upgrade process at CNS! Chris, our VP of Business Development, interviews Hoyt Craver, our Safety Rating Upgrade Project Coordinator. We achieve incredible success with the FMCSA, learn more in this short clip.

 

2018 Brake Safety Week Results

Nearly 5,000 Commercial Motor Vehicles with Critical Brake Violations Removed from Roadways During Brake Safety Week

Greenbelt, Maryland (Nov. 6, 2018) – During Brake Safety Week, Sept. 16-22, 2018, enforcement personnel in 57 jurisdictions throughout Canada and the United States conducted 35,080 inspections on commercial motor vehicles and captured and reported data on brake violations. The majority of vehicles inspected did not have any brake-related out-of-service conditions; however, inspectors found critical vehicle inspection items in the brake systems of 4,955 (14.1 percent) of the vehicles inspected and placed those vehicles out of service until the condition(s) could be corrected.

Brake violations were the top vehicle out-of-service violation during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) International Roadcheck 72-hour enforcement initiative in June 2018. And according to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) data (snapshot as of Sept. 28, 2018), out of 2.38 million inspections, there were 1,045,335 brake-related violations in federal fiscal 2018, with a portion of those accounting for seven of the top 20 vehicle violations. In an effort to address brake system violations, jurisdictions throughout North America participated in this year’s Brake Safety Week.

The goal of this week-long brake safety enforcement and outreach initiative is to reduce the number of crashes involving brake-related problems by raising awareness throughout the motor carrier community of the importance of properly functioning brake systems and by conducting roadside inspections to identify and remove vehicles with critical brake violations from our roadways.

Brake Safety Week data also captured antilock braking systems (ABS) violations, indicating how well ABS are maintained in accordance with federal regulations. ABS help the vehicle to stop in the shortest possible distance under many conditions and to maintain steering control in situations when tires may slip. Many participating jurisdictions surveyed ABS compliance. ABS violations were counted when the malfunction lamp did not illuminate or stayed on, indicating an issue of some kind. The findings are as follows:

  • 26,143 air-braked power units required ABS; 8.3 percent (2,176) had ABS violations.
  • 17,857 trailers required ABS; 12.5 percent (2,224) had ABS violations.
  • 5,354 hydraulic-braked trucks required ABS; 4.4 percent (234) had ABS violations.
  • 651 motorcoaches/buses required ABS; 2 percent (13) had ABS violations.

Brake Safety Week deployed several strategies to help make our roadways safer:

  • Prevention – Since the dates of Brake Safety Week are announced well in advance, it gives motor carriers and drivers ample opportunity to ensure their vehicles are proactively checked and properly maintained and any issues found are corrected. Everyone wants the vehicles that are inspected to pass inspection. A vehicle that passes inspection increases overall safety.
  • Education – Brake Safety Week is an opportunity for law enforcement personnel to educate drivers and motor carriers on the inspection procedure with a focus on the vehicle’s mechanical components, especially the brake systems. Education and awareness are key in prompting preventative action to ensure each commercial motor vehicle is safe and roadworthy.
  • Action – Inspectors who identified commercial motor vehicles with critical brake issues during the inspection process were able to remove those dangerous vehicles from our roadways. If a vehicle has brake-related critical inspection items, it’s law enforcement’s duty and responsibility to place that vehicle out of service, safeguarding the public.

“Whether you’re driving a commercial motor vehicle or inspecting one, we all know the importance of properly functioning brakes,” said CVSA President Lt. Scott Carnegie with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. “It is essential that we – law enforcement, drivers and motor carriers – do all that we can through prevention, education, outreach and action to ensure only the safest commercial motor vehicles are being operated by professional drivers on our roadways.”

Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake Program in partnership with FMCSA and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.