FMCSA Denies ELD Exemption For Small Carriers

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) denied the request from the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) to exempt trucking companies with fewer than 50 employees from the electronic logging mandate. The SBTC also wanted owner operators to be exempt from the electronic logging mandate. 

SBTC stated in their request the ELD regulation “is merely a tool to determine compliance with an existing rule that regulates over-the-road drivers’ driving and on-duty time,” and concluded that the regulation isn’t for safety. 

The FMCSA denied the request as the application didn’t meet regulatory standards for an exemption. The application failed to provide “the name of the individual or motor

Source: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/notices/2019-15206

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Extended Comment Period For FMCSA Younger Driver Pilot Program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that they will be extending the comment period for the potential pilot program that would allow non-military 18-21 year old drivers to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

The FMCSA stated the American Trucking Association (ATA) requested an extension to adequately gather safety data and other relevant information to fully address the present issues that will best aid the FMCSA.

The original comment period ended on July 15, with the extension, the comment period will now end August 14. The FMCSA is requesting feedback on the following:

  • Training
  • Qualifications
  • Driving limitations
  • Vehicle Safety Systems

All of which need to be taken into consideration when potentially developing a second pilot program for drivers under 21 without military experience. 

If you’d like to leave a comment, click here before the extended period ends on August 14. 

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New Bill will make it harder to get and keep a CDL

Today, July 19, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts introduced a bill that if passed will significantly increased the requirements to obtain and maintain a commercial drivers license (CDL). 

The bill is called, “An Act To Promote Commercial Driver Safety,” which it’s primary focus is to increase CDL requirements in the state of Massachusetts. Following a crash last month when 23 year old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy drove through a group of motorcyclists killing seven of them. Governor Baker, in reaction to this accident, proposed this law to prevent accidents like this from happening again. 

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Apparently, Connecticut officials had warned Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles multiple times of Zhukovskyy’s alcohol offences which should have resulted in the state revoking his CDL. However, Massachusetts officials failed to act on those warnings. Baker’s efforts are to reduce the chance of this happening again. 

Here are the measures that Baker proposes:

  • CDL applicants must have a history of good driving and are ineligible for a CDL if they have been suspended or disqualified from driving in the past three years.
  • CDL holders who commit two serious traffic violations in a three year period would face an increase in minimum suspension time from 60 days to 120 days.
  • CDL holders who commit three serious traffic violations in a three year period would face an increase in minimum suspension time from 120 days to 240 days.
  • CDL holders would be required to inform both employers and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle the next day if they are convicted of violating any state or local motor vehicle traffic law. Failing to do so would result in a penalty.
  • Employers who hire CDL drivers would be required to sign up for a state driver verification system, which provides automatic notification to employers if and employee’s drivers license status changes.
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LME, Inc: Drivers laid off may wait months for a final paycheck

On July 11, 2019 LME Inc., a Minnesota based company, closed down without warning to their hundreds of employees. LME also said that their former employees should expect to wait months to see their final paychecks earned. 

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With no notice over 40 terminals were abruptly shut down and roughly 600 employees, mostly drivers, were laid off. In a message LME Inc sent to all employees, they stated, “Unfortunately our lender is in control of all finances. The lender must be paid all monies owed to the lender first before payment can be made to the employees. This process will take at least 90 days if not longer.” The former employees said this is because of the pay structure and they’re missing at least three weeks of pay. 

LME closed down shortly after an announcement that the company was ordered to pay over $1 million in back pay to 89 union workers laid off in 2016 by Lakeville Motor Express, which was the name LME previously operated under. In fact, Lakeville Motor Express filed bankruptcy just after they laid off 95 union workers without notice. According to past employees, they relocated, changed the name of their company and staffed LME with lower paid non-union employees from Lakeville Motor Express. 

The fleet is under investigation by the state of Minnesota and the National Labor Relations Board for allegedly reopening as Chameleon Carrier, or a different name, once again. In addition, LME didn’t file a WARN notice as required by law to provide workers 60 day notice of mass layoffs. 

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Union Pacific will fine truckers who are late or miss appointments

Union Pacific, the railroad company, will start issuing fines in September of 2019 to truck drivers and trucking companies who miss their intermodal deliveries at six of their west coast terminals. In addition, Union Pacific is also cracking down on the timely removal of containers by imposing new penalties to the drivers who fall short.

Earlier this month Union Pacific issued a customer announcement of their plans to increase efficiency by introducing and implementing a new digital Intermodal Terminal Reservation System (ITR). The ITR will be effective August 6, 2019 replacing their existing Gate Reservation System (GRS) at those six terminals.

The new system will fine drivers $25 for canceling a reservation less than 24 hours prior to the gate cutoff and fine $50 for missing an appointment. However, Union Pacific will also provide a $100 credit for on-time drop offs that don’t depart on the scheduled train. The credit can be used to offset any fines the driver may have inquired. 

The ITR system will be at the following terminals: East Los Angeles, LATC, City of Industry, Lathrop, Brooklyn, and TacSim. Fines will be issued to drivers in less than one month after the system goes into effect, on September 3, 2019. 

Union Pacific also plans to implement the ITR System at other U.S terminals in the future.

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Driver Involved in a Deadly Crash Tells Judge It Was Another Drivers Fault

On April 25, 23 year old truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos caused a fatal chain reaction crash on I-70 near, Lakewood Colorado, involving 24 passenger vehicles and 4 semi trucks. The crash resulted in four fatalities and two people were seriously injured. 

Aguilera-Mederos appeared in Jefferson County Court, yesterday, in Colorado for a preliminary hearing on his role in the crash. Aguilera-Mederos defence attorney originally blamed the crash on faulty brakes. Then he later tried to blame another truck driver.

Rob Corry, Aguilera-Mederos attorney, stated during the hearing that another truck driver that was parked on the shoulder of I-70 is actually to blame for the accident. Corry continued to claim the other driver was to blame, “he parked his semi on the shoulder of the road, thereby blocking the safe route through this stop-and-go accident and really was the proximate cause of the accident but is not charged with any traffic offense and it’s illegal to park on the shoulder.” However, the counterargument stated that Aguilera-Mederos was seen traveling I-70 in similar traffic at least three times as he chose not to take the safe route before. 

Aguilera-Mederos is currently facing 41 charges, including vehicular homicide and remains free on bond. 

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Semi-Truck Caught Fire Severely Burning Driver

A semi truck caught fire late last night in Utah on I-80 near the town of Aragonite in Tooele County.

Investigators say the driver was pulled over off exit 56, and resting in the sleeper berth, when the engine of the truck caught fire. However, the underlying cause is still unknown to police. The driver was transporting plastic pallets, which cause the fire to spread rapidly. The cab was destroyed by the flames and most of the trailer was consumed. 

The driver, whose identity hasn’t been released, was transported by helicopter to the nearest hospital after sustaining life-threatening second-and third-degree burns.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, the driver had to maneuver through the flames in order to escape the semi-truck.

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Truckers Warn of An Economic Downfall

The economy is healthy, in fact it seems to be thriving and while there are no signs of recession, this year has been bumpy for the $800 billion trucking industry. According to the Cass Freight Index, the past two years retailers and manufacturers are transporting less. 

In an interview with Business Insider, Christopher Powell claims that his pay has decreased from $3,500 to $5,000 a week. Powell isn’t the only driver suffering from decreased pay. In fact, large well known companies like Knight-Swift and Schneider both cut their annual outlooks. FedEz, UPS, and J.B Hunt have been affected too. UPS’s first-quarter bottom line was below last year’s revenue, including their earnings which were below what they expected. 

Many factors come to play, there was exceptionally bad weather in February and international airfreight sank to a three year low. In addition, the potential tariffs that were supposed to go into effect March 1st. Vice President of J.B Hunt stated that goods shipped is down 20%.

On the contrary, this is normal for the trucking industry to see fluctuation. Despite the fact that more companies are going bankrupt or downsizing, the trucking industry has generated almost 12,000 jobs in 2019. At this point only time will tell.

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New Bill Will Cap Semi Truck Speed Limiters at 65 MPH

Last week Senators Johnny Isakson and Chris Coons introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, S. 2023. That they say will save lives and improve highway safety. The legislation is named after Cullum Owings, who was killed while returning to school by a semi truck driving too fast to stop. This law is to revive speed limiters for a nationwide cap of 65 mph. If the bill passes it would require DOT to enforce the mandate.

According to a news release from Senator Isakson’s office, the bill will, “require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.” However, trucks without speed limiters will not be forced to install the technology and trucks with the existing technology must be in compliance.

During the proposal of the regulation, the Department of Transportation stated that by limiting truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63-214 lives a year. The legislation would also require the U.S Department of Transportation, given a time frame of six months, to establish standards and rules to ensure that the speed-limiting technology on the required trucks is accurate and effective. 

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Coming Soon: Flexible HOS Rules

The Department of Transportation is considering to ease up on the current HOS rules for the amount of hours drivers are allowed to drive. The regulation currently limits long-haul truck drivers 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour on-duty time period, accompanied by 10 consecutive hours off duty. Ever since the regulations were put into place early last year, the trucking industry has been fighting to have the HOS revised.

In a report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 4,657 big rigs were involved in fatal crashes in 2017, which is a 10% increase from the previous year. However, only 60 of the divers in these fatal crashes were identified as fatigued. Which instigates the hypothesis that if the HOS regulations were to loosen up, could this result in an even larger spike in driver fatigue related crashes? According to the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase, who stated that the proposed flexibility on the HOS regulation is, “a code word for deregulation”, and “the hours of service requirements, which permit truckers to drive up to 11 hours each day, are already exceedingly liberal in our estimation.”

The HOS regulations were established in 1938, by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which no longer exists as of 1996.  However, the HOS were originally as follows: drivers limited to 12 hours of work within a 15-hour period, and work was defined as unloading, driving, handling freight, preparing reports, preparing vehicles for service, or performing any other duties related to the transportation of passengers or property. In conclusion, the maximum hours allowed to drive was 60 hours over 7 days for non-daily drivers and 70 hours over 8 days for daily drivers.

Currently, the proposed revision is being reviewed by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. In a statement from the FMCSA to AP at the OMB, they’re reviewing the proposed changes that have yet to be made public.

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