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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New Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The US Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a secure online database where employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement can access real-time information pertaining to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on CDL drivers drug and alcohol testing program. 

Carriers will be required to report drug and alcohol violations and check their employees records if prohibited from performing certain functions, including operating a commercial vehicle, due to a program violation which a driver has not successfully completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process.  

Canadian carriers who operate into the U.S. are required to register and comply with the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Registration for the clearinghouse will open this fall and go into effect January 2020.

All records of drug and alcohol program violations will remain in the clearinghouse for five years or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process. 

Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/commercial-drivers-license-drug-and-alcohol-clearinghouse

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Long Awaited HOS Changes

The FMCSA released the HOS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposal is designed to increase safety and not increase driving time. The FMCSA believes these changes will save an estimated $274 million for the U.S. economy and American consumers.

Based on public comments the FMCSA proposed to revise the following rules:

  1. 30-Minute Rest Break
    • Required after 8 hours of driving time. Previously was 8 hours on duty.
    • The break will be allowed while on-duty, not driving. Previously had to be off-duty.
  2. Split Sleeper Berth
    • 7/3 hour splits are permissible. Previously drivers were required to split 10 hours off duty into two periods. 
    • NPRM requests research on further splits
  3. Adverse Driving Conditions
    • On-duty time can be extended to accommodate 2 additional hours of driving during adverse conditions. 
  4. Short-Haul Drivers 
    • Short haul CDL drivers can now operate within 150 air-mile radius and up to 14 hours. Previously 100 air-mile radius and 12 hours. 
  5. 14 Hour Clock 
    • Drivers will be allowed to “pause” their 14 hour on-duty clock once, for up to 3 hours during their duty day. 

The FMCSA is currently seeking public feedback on the proposed revisions. If you’d like to leave a comment, click here

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City Issuing Truck Drivers More Fines

The Police Department of Shamokin Dam, Pennsylvania, has been authorized by the mayor to issue more citations to truck drivers for illegally driving on municipal roads. 

The Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee at the Greater Susquehanna Valley, said truck drivers ignore the roads weight limits and often get stuck in neighborhoods, “and police officers have to stop traffic to help them navigate out of the community,” according to committee chair McGranaghan. 

McGranaghan also suggested that officers “throw all you can”, implying to issue as many tickets and fines to truck drivers as they can, in hopes the area will gain a reputation they won’t tolerate such behavior. 

McGranaghan and engineer Art Thomas for Monroe Township, who claimed township has similar issues, both warned they’ll be in contact with National Beef Packing Company, LLC., in regards to their drivers being majority of truckers getting stuck on municipal streets.

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Cash Reward for Missing Truck

A Missouri based company, Prime Inc., sought help from their customers and social media page to find their missing truck. The vehicle was last seen on August 8th, in the Columbia, SC area. The company assured their customers in their Facebook post the driver is safe.

The company is offering a $2,500 reward for any information leading to the missing truck. The company also stated the truck may be missing decals to properly identify it.

Call Prime Inc, security department, at (417)521-3911 if you know any information that could lead them to retrieve their vehicle.

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Surprise Inspection Blitz Placed 1,600 Trucks Out of Service

On May 15, an unannounced break-focused inspection blitz placed over 1,600 trucks out of service in the U.S and Canada, in a single day. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced that the commercial vehicle inspectors conducted more than 10,358 inspections which placed 1,667 (16.1%) of those vehicles out of service. 

Inspectors paid close attention to break hoses/tubing. According to the CVSA, 996 trucks were issued violations for chafed rubber hoses, 185 trucks were issued violations for chafed thermoplastic hoses. Totalling, 1,125 violations for chafed rubber hoses and 124 violations for damaged thermoplastic hoses. 

CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson stated to the Arkansas Highway Police, “Brake hoses and tubing must be properly attached, undamaged, without leaks and appropriately flexible,” Thompson concluded, “because they are such an important part of the braking system, the failure of hoses or tubing can cause problems for the entire braking system.” 

Top five brake-related violations are:

  • Clamp or roto type brake out of adjustment
  • CMV manufactured after Oct. 19, 1994, has an automatic brake adjustment system that fails to compensate for wear 
  • Brake hose or tubing chafing and/or kinking 
  • No or defective ABS malfunction indicator lamp for trailer manufactured after March 1, 1998 
  • Inoperative/defective brakes

The CVSA will have another brake-focused inspection blitz next month, scheduled for September 15-21.

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FMCSA Proposed Permanent Crash Prevention Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s FMCSA proposed a permanent crash preventability determination program to receive additional data for recognizing possible safety risks. The program will examine the feasibility, costs, and benefits of determining and displaying the preventability of specific types of accidents.

The FMCSA conducted a survey in August 2017, where they reviewed over 5,600 accidents involving semi-trucks and bus companies to determine if a crash was preventable. An estimated 94% of the crashes reviewed were found not to be preventable by the motor carrier or commercial driver.

Elaine Chao

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, announced on March 29, during a Mid-American Trucking show the department plans to make the current program permanent. In addition, the agency has proposed to remove the “not preventable crashes” from the Safety Measurement System (SMS) Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category (BASIC), a more extensive evaluation of crashes from eight to fifteen. 

FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez, said the data received from the original program informed the industry to take action to expand and improve the program. Martinez stated, “Data drives our agency’s decisions…We’ve listened to carriers, drivers, and other commercial motor vehicle stakeholders throughout each step of this process, and strongly encourage all interested parties to submit comments on our proposed changes.” 

The FMCSA is currently seeking public comment on the proposal, the comment period is open for 60 days ending on October 4, 2019.

Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/us-department-transportation-proposes-permanent-crash-preventability-determination-program

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