House Hearings on Fiscal 2018 & the FAST Act – What You Need to Know

A House hearing was held on July 17, 2017. A Quick overview is provided below:

Funding the CMV-related grants at the full FAST levels for fiscal 2018, which amounts to an increase over fiscal 2017. It’s not yet specified whether the bill will continue to the House floor on its own, or if the House Transportation Appropriations Committee will seek to roll it together with other spending bills prior to making it to the floor.

Additionally, updates on policy riders are as follows, directly from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA):
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• ELD Implementation – The committee report directs FMCSA to consider whether or not a partial or full delay in implementation of the ELD requirement is appropriate and report back to the committee within 60 days.
• ELD Exemption – The bill provides an exemption from the ELD requirement for motor carriers of livestock and insects.
• Weight Exemption – The bill adds North Dakota to Idaho’s current 129,000 lb. exemption.
• 30-Minute Rest Break Exemptions – The committee report also directs FMCSA to take into consideration drivers that make multiple stops throughout the day when considering 30-minute rest break exemption requests.
• Safety Fitness Determination – The bill prohibits FMCSA from moving forward with their SFD rulemaking until the Inspector General’s office certifies that the agency has made the changes recommended in the recently released study by the National Academies on the CSA program.
• Bus Lease and Interchange Rule – The bill directs FMCSA to publish a formal notice of proposed rulemaking to make changes to the agency’s Bus Lease and Interchange Rule.
• CSA – The committee report directs FMCSA to make SMS data available to motor carrier insurers and to expedite completion of the recommendations from the National Academies report on the CSA program, so that scores can once again be made available to the public.
• Automated Vehicles – The bill permits FMCSA to use $100 million in unspent funds from previous fiscal years to fund a highly automated commercial vehicle research and development program.
• WRI – While the bill itself does not include long standing language prohibiting FMCSA from moving forward with a wireless roadside, the committee report does direct the Secretary to monitor the program and to avoid creating conflicts with private systems.
• Truck Underride Guards – The committee report also directs NHTSA to move forward with a rulemaking to update truck rear impact guard requirements.
• Rest Break Preemption – The bill includes language that preempts the states from setting meal and rest break requirements for interstate carriers beyond those set by FMCSA.
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What does this mean for you and your drivers?

– The ELD Mandate may be delayed, pending reporting by the FMCSA.
– Exemptions are still in play: Livestock haulers may be exempt from the ELD Mandate.
– Your CSA scores may be made public again.
– The FMCSA may be granted $100 million to fund automated commercial truck research and development.

Would you like further clarification on the articles discussed? Call a DOT Consultant at CNS at 1-888-339-2490 to hear more about changes that may be coming your way and how to best prepare!

Prepare for CVSA Brake Safety Day

CVSA has announced Brake Safety Day on September 7th, 2017. This day-long inspection blitz is replacing the annual CVSA brake safety week-long blitz.
The Level 1 37-step inspections will include a concentration on the following:
– Brake system components
– Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
– Worn linings, pads, drums, or rotors
– Other faulty brake system components

In addition to preparing by checking out brakes independently, consult with an FMCSA Qualified Brake Inspector when in doubt about your systems.

Feel free to call a DOT Consultant at CNS with any additional questions.

DOT Allocates $10M For Emergency Repairs for I-85

The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued $10 million in emergency funds to the state of Georgia for repairs on the section of Interstate 85 that collapsed Thursday evening due to a fire.

A fire underneath an overpass on I-85 outside of Atlanta caused it to collapse, indefinitely closing both lanes of the major corridor. Through-trucks are required to use the I-285 bypass regardless, but now the state is diverting car traffic from I-85 to I-285, which could cause greater congestion on the bypass route.

The DOT has stated that the $10 million in “quick release”funding will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to the damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks.

Mentorship to Encourage Millennial Drivers in Your Company

In 2015, the American Trucking Association estimated that 890,000 new commercial truck drivers would be needed by 2025 to meet the rising freight demands. Currently, based on data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Baby Boomers” (ages 45-65) compose 49.4% of the drivers on the road, while “Millennials” (ages 21-34) make up less than 16%.

Why the shortage? What is inhibiting Millennials from pursuing a career on the road?
Several reasons are speculated by transportation industry professionals:
– An increase in load rates is needed to keep pace with the cost of living, or restructuring of way drivers are compensated. For Example, changing pay structures to hourly wages rather than a rate per mile.
– CDL holders must be 21 year of age or older for interstate travel. The increasing trend of post-high school young adults taking a “gap year” or two years before pursuing college or secondary education has allowed the transportation industry an opportunity that is squandered by federal regulation on interstate travel.
– Young drivers (under age 25) are costly to insure for trucking companies, and not desirable candidates for employment because of the financial burden they present.
And lastly:-
– Millennials do not view life on the road as attractive, exciting, or glamorous. Long haul opportunities are viewed as isolating and restrictive. Many are also unfamiliar with the complex regulations imposed by the FMCSA, and inexperienced with balancing communication between job requirements, company dispatchers, safety managers, and customers.

How can trucking companies better accommodate the needs of Millennials in the workplace, or on the road? Aside from the suggestion of pay increase or restructure, the impression of the isolated trucker must be addressed and reformed.
Like any industry, training is vital to a secure and enjoyable career. Although drivers are given adequate training on physically driving and maneuvering a truck, filling out a log book or operating e-log system, and communicating with a dispatcher.
A suggestion by our own president and CEO at Compliance Navigation Specialists is simply- “Mentorship”. At CNS, our consultants can guide you through the complex federal regulations and set you up for success in the trucking industry as an owner operator. However, the solitude of the road can be daunting. Having someone to talk to can make a big difference in your success.
“Mentorship programs at larger carriers, Swift for example, have proven effective at forging a relationship between an inexperienced driver and a veteran driver. In addition to knowledge gained by the inexperienced driver with a new CDL, it furthers the sense of community within the trucking industry.”
“A growing presence of young or inexperienced drivers, as well as driver’s spouses or families on social media proves that a sense of community is desired. It is time that companies follow suit to fulfill the benefit of inter-generational mentorships.”

June 6-8, 2017 Roadcheck

The annual International Roadcheck inspection blitz, put on by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is set for June 6-8, 2017 according, to CVSA’s website.
The CVSA blitz is undertaken by inspectors throughout North America. It is an annual 72-hour event when inspectors perform a very high number of inspections on commercial vehicles, to “conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives.”
While the CVSA has yet to announce the event formally, or what the inspectors will be focusing on, the dates have been published on it’s website. Tire Safety, as well as traditional Level 1 inspections, were the focus of last year’s event.
During last year’s event, there was a total of 62,796 inspections conducted. Of the 62,796 inspections performed, 42,236 of them were Level 1 inspections. A total of 9,080 trucks and 1,436 drivers were placed out of service during the blitz. The highest number of out-of-service violations for trucks was due to brakes. While the highest number of out-of-service violations for drivers was due to hours-of-service violations.

34-hour Restart

A new study’s results have confirmed that truckers’ 34-hour restarts will no longer require two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods and will not be limited to only once per week.

While the study has not been made public, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General has issued a letter confirming the conclusions of the report. To comply with a directive from Congress, the results from the study mandate for the removal of both the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. regulation and the once a week limit.

The 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. requirement and the once-weekly limit have been suspended since December of 2014, awaiting the results of the U.S. DOT’s study. As stated, by an OIG update issued last week, the provisions did not enhance safety, at least to a degree to justify them. The study found that truckers who did adhere to the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. restart, did not operate any safer than truckers who did not abide by those rules.

A spokesperson from the DOT says the department is in the “final stages of reviewing the study” before they will be required to submit a final report to Congress. On Thursday, the DOT’s OIG, sent a letter signing off on the DOT study to Congress, saying that they were, in agreement with the report’s findings and that the DOT adhered to Congress’ directives in completing the research.

The study was conducted by the FMCSA, along with Virginia Tech, and included more than 200 drivers who were studied for the DOT report. The drivers were split into two groups, one group following the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rule, the other group was given the option to use the restart whenever they wanted.

In July 2013, the more restrictive hours-of-service rules went into effect, receiving criticism from drivers and companies from all over the country for keeping drivers from returning to duty until 5 a.m. after a restart, even if the restart had consisted of a full 34 hours.

Main proponents against the new regulations, said that it forced more drivers into rush hour traffic, which then caused more safety and operational concerns. They also stated that the rules were put into effect by FMCSA with no scientific evidence to back up the restrictions.

In December of 2014, Congress cleared legislation to put the regulations on hold while requiring the FMCSA to perform the 34-hour restart study. Congress stated for the 2013 rules to go back into effect, the study must show significant safety and health benefits operating under the 2013 rules.

New OOS-Criteria Handbook

On April 1, 2017, new and updated out-of-service criteria will go into effect for commercial motor vehicles. The new and updated criteria have been put together by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance of Law Enforcement and Industry. A new edition of the OOS-criteria handbook, which contains all the new and updated criteria, is now available for $35 for CVSA members, and $45 for non-members.

There have been few significant changes made in the last few years, however new out-of-service conditions related to the up and coming electronic log mandate that goes into effect December 18, 2017 are included. Quite a few clarifications have also been added to help remove confusion regarding certain OOS violations, along with changes to out-of-service conditions related to Inactive U.S. DOT numbers.

I-95 North Lane Closures at Exit 13 Near Philadelphia International Airport for Five-Ton Commercial Truck Restriction

According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation:

King of Prussia, PA – Lane closures are in place on northbound Interstate 95 at Exit 13 (Interstate 76 West/Route 291/Valley Forge) near Philadelphia International in Philadelphia as part of the five-ton commercial truck restriction that is in effect for the Democratic National Convention.

Motorists need to allow more time for travel on I-95 north in this part of the city because traffic slowdowns will occur with traffic reduced to one lane. In addition, motorists traveling south on I-95 should anticipate possible delays approaching Exit 22 (Interstate 676) in Philadelphia due to intermittent lane restrictions for the enforcement of the five-ton commercial truck restriction.

Commercial trucks and other vehicles weighing more than five tons are being rerouted off I-95 between Exit 13 (I-76 West/Route 291/Valley Forge) and Exit 22 (I-676). The posted detours for drivers of vehicles over five tons to follow to return to I-95 once they exit the interstate are:

From I-95 north: Route 291 (Penrose Avenue) east, to 26th Street, to Interstate 76 west, to Interstate 676 east; and

From I-95 south: I-676 west, to I-76 east, to 26th Street, to Route 291(Penrose Avenue) west.

All interstate highways and expressways in the Philadelphia region remain open to passenger vehicles throughout the convention. Commuters and commercial truck drivers are advised to allow additional time for travel on I-76, I-676 and Route 291 over the next week because these highways will experience heavier traffic volumes due to commercial vehicles being diverted off I-95.

Among the types of commercial vehicles restricted from traveling on this nine-mile stretch of I-95 during the convention are delivery trucks, utility vehicles, parcel trucks, small dump trucks, buses, flatbed and stake trucks, refrigerated and box trucks, large delivery trucks, refuse trucks, cement mixers, buses, and all tractor trailer combinations including double trailers. Motor homes and recreational trailers operated for personal use and weighing more than five tons also will be restricted from using this part of I-95. Northbound and southbound entrance ramps to I-95 between Exit 13 and Exit 22 are closed to commercial vehicles over five tons. Commercial vehicles are directed to use arterial roads to reach either I-95 north or south beyond Exit 13 or Exit 22.

 

To assist residents and visitors before and during the convention, PennDOT launched www.511PA.com/DNC– a detailed travelers’ website. The site’s home page offers options to see information about real-time traffic conditions on highways in the Philadelphia region and lists street closures around the convention venue. This site is accessible from both desktop and mobile interfaces.

URS Implementation Dates Delayed

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delayed the final implementation of its Unified Registration System until Jan. 14, 2017, as the FMCSA updates its IT systems. Remarks from Dr. Kelly Regal, FMCSA associate administrator of research and information technology can be found here.

The Unified Registration system was scheduled to be implemented on September 30, 2016. The huge undertaking by the FMCSA, started in 2015, is streamlining the registration and renewal process online.

Existing carriers will have a 90-day grace period until April 14, 2016, to have their proof of insurance filed. New applicants will be required to provide proof of insurance on this date, as well.

The official memo from FMCSA here.

 

2016 CVSA Brake Safety Week September 11th – 17th

Law enforcement agencies across North America will conduct brake-system inspections on large trucks and buses to identify out-of-adjustment brakes, brake-system, and anti-lock braking system violations.

 

More than 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle out-of-service violations cited during roadside inspections were for brake-related violations, according to CVSA Roadcheck 2011 data.