Original article published by FMCSA
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Texas Interstate Express LLC, USDOT No. 3818527, and PAC Express LLC, USDOT No. 3918055, related motor carriers located in the Houston area, to be an “imminent hazard” to public safety and ordered the motor carriers to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations. The motor carriers were served the Federal order on November 11, 2022.
PAC Express LLC began operating after the FMCSA began attempting to conduct a compliance investigation on Texas Interstate Express LLC. FMCSA had identified Texas Interstate Express for investigation based on the carrier’s widespread violations documented by FMCSA and its partners during roadside inspections. Texas Interstate Express had more than double the national average vehicle out-of-service rate and almost ten times the national average driver out-of-service rate. Texas Interstate Express shifted its operations over to PAC Express and operated as PAC Express despite the fact that Texas Interstate Express had been issued an Out-of-Service Order for failing to comply with a demand to produce the records required to conduct a compliance investigation. During a subsequent FMCSA review of PAC Express, FMCSA found the motor carrier to be egregiously noncompliant with multiple Federal safety regulations, including violations in the following parts: Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing (49 CFR Part 382); Commercial Driver’s License Standards (49 CFR Part 383); Driver Qualification (49 CFR Part 391); Parts and Accessories Needed for Safe Operations (49 CFR Part 393); Hours of Service of Drivers (49 CFR Part 395); and Vehicle Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance (49 CFR Part 396).
Roadside inspections conducted on Texas Interstate Express demonstrated egregious violations such as using drivers who were prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, using drivers who had no commercial driver’s license, using drivers who had no records of duty status, and allowing drivers to violate roadside out-of-service conditions. In signed statements, two of Texas Interstate Express’ drivers stated to FMCSA that motor carrier official(s) at Texas Interstate Express and/or PAC Express instructed them to disregard being placed out-of-service for hours-of-service (HOS) violations and continue on with trips after the roadside inspectors were no longer monitoring them. The same two drivers stated that they were also instructed to avoid inspections and bypass scales and that they would be dispatched on trips that could not be made within HOS rules and without speeding. As suggested by the findings of the roadside inspections on Texas Interstate Express and then PAC Express, PAC Express did not have a program to detect and deter the use of controlled substances by its drivers, did not have an effective program to ensure its drivers were qualified and licensed, did not have a program to control its drivers’ hours of service, and did not have a program to ensure its vehicles were appropriately inspected and repaired.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Texas Interstate Express’ and PAC Express’ “…avoidance of compliance with the [safety regulations] and the Out-of-Service Order substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for your drivers and the motoring public if your operations are not discontinued immediately.”
Failing to comply with the provisions of the Federal imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $29,893 for each violation. Motor carriers may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $11,956 for providing transportation in interstate commerce without operating authority registration, and up to $16,864 for operating a CMV in interstate commerce without USDOT Number registration. Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties.
A copy of the imminent hazard order issued to Texas Interstate Express and PAC Express is available here.
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Original article published by FMCSA
As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s focus on helping improve the trucking industry, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board will offer new insights on how to get more women behind the wheel
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hosted the inaugural meeting of the Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB), where members discussed the results of a new FMCSA report on driver safety. The new Advisory Board, created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is composed of 16 founding members with diverse backgrounds in the industry, and is focused on recruiting, retaining, supporting, and ensuring the safety of women commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and strengthening the trucking industry as a whole. Collectively, WOTAB members have more than 80 years of driving experience with trucks, motorcoaches, and ports and more than 275 years in trucking and other modes of transportation. Currently, women make up just seven percent of all truck drivers on the road today.
“Truck drivers are the lifeblood of American supply chains, yet at a time when America needs truck drivers more than ever and can’t afford to leave any talent on the table, women are still vastly underrepresented in the industry,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who kicked off the first Women of Trucking Advisory Board meeting. “Everyone deserves to feel safe in the workplace, and we’re grateful to this first Women of Trucking Advisory Board for helping address safety and other industry challenges to ensure these good, vital careers are accessible to all.”
“Safety is FMCSA’s number one priority, and all truckers should feel safe in this industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson. “It’s so important to have a diverse board of women trucking professionals who will help make the industry safer and a more appealing career option not only to women but to everyone who has been underrepresented in the industry.”
FMCSA conducted its survey, Crime Prevention for Truckers, to better understand the nature and prevalence of harassment and assaults against truckers, specifically women and minorities. The report details harassment, threats of harm, or actual physical harm perpetrated against truckers, their possessions, vehicles, or cargo.
The survey found that female truck drivers are exposed to more sexual harassment at their companies or by their trainers than their male counterparts. In addition, roughly half of the harassment incidents go unreported due to concerns that reporting the incident would not make a difference.
The Women of Trucking Advisory Board will use the results of this survey and other data, as well as the firsthand experience of its 16 women members, to make recommendations and discuss the next steps regarding the findings on harassment, assaults, and crimes being committed against women truckers.
“The survey information will contribute to better understanding obstacles to joining the industry, and to implementing best practices moving forward. Addressing the results and recommendations of the study will be the first of many opportunities for WOTAB to make an impact,” said Administrator Hutcheson.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the Advisory Board to review and report on policies that provide education, training, mentorship, and outreach to women in the trucking industry and identify barriers and industry trends that directly or indirectly discourage women from pursuing and retaining careers in trucking.
WOTAB is part of the Biden Administration’s Trucking Action Plan that is focused both on recruiting and retaining more drivers. In addition to WOTAB, DOT is also undergoing a driver compensation study, establishing a truck leasing task force, working with the U.S. Department of Labor to establish more driver apprenticeship programs, providing more funding to make Commercial Driver’s License processing more efficient, and more.
Read more about the WOTAB here.
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Original article published by Safety + Health
Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation Flickr
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking stakeholder comment on whether to require universal electronic identification for commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce.
“FMCSA currently does not require CMVs to be equipped with a system capable of transmitting a unique electronic ID for operation,” the agency says. “However, FMCSA provides grant funding to states for technology projects that electronically identify a CMV; verify its size, weight and credentials information; and review its carrier’s past safety performance while the vehicle is in motion and then communicate safely to the driver to either pull in or bypass the roadside inspection station.”
According to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Sept. 23 Federal Register, FMCSA is considering amending its Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations in response to a 2015 petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, after the agency denied a similar request in 2013.
FMCSA says it’s considering implementing an electronic ID requirement “to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the roadside inspection program by more fully enabling enforcement agencies to focus their efforts at high-risk carriers and drivers.”
CVSA contends that “mandating an electronic identifier requirement will not only save money in the long run – for both enforcement and industry – but will also enable more effective enforcement, improve safety and save thousands of lives every year.”
FMCSA is requesting feedback on a number of questions, including:
The deadline to comment is Nov. 22.
Original article published by Safety + Health
Photo property of FMCSA
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking industry stakeholders for input on “ways to improve the clarity of current regulations on the use of electronic logging devices and address certain concerns about the technical specifications.”
FMCSA’s mandate on the use of ELDs to record commercial motor vehicle hours of service went into effect in December 2017. In April 2018, inspectors were allowed to begin placing drivers out of service for operating without ELDs, which are used in place of manual paper logs to track HOS.
In an advance notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Sept. 16 Federal Register, FMCSA requests comment on five specific areas in which the agency is considering changes:
“FMCSA believes that the lessons learned by agency staff, state enforcement personnel, ELD providers, and industry over the last few years can be used to streamline and improve the clarity of the regulatory text and ELD technical specifications and resolve questions that have arisen,” the agency says. “In addition, technical specifications could be updated to address concerns raised by affected parties and improve the functionality of ELDs.”
The deadline to comment is Nov. 15.
Original article published by Safety + Health
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has awarded almost $81 million in grants via its High Priority Grant Program.
The program provides funding for initiatives aimed at strengthening commercial motor vehicle safety under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. It also invests in innovative technology, research and other projects that enhance CMV safety. Groups eligible for the funding include state and local governments, Native American tribes, political jurisdictions, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education.
Activities and projects include:
Nearly $43 million of the grant funding was awarded to 63 high-priority CMV safety-related activities and projects, while 35 grants totaling nearly $38 million were awarded via FMCSA’s HP Innovative Technology Deployment Program.
Washington — Robin Hutcheson is the first permanent, Senate-confirmed leader of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in almost three years, after the Senate approved her nomination as agency administrator Sept. 22.
Hutcheson has served as FMCSA’s acting administrator since January. She was elevated to that position after Meera Joshi, President Joe Biden’s previous nominee to lead the agency on a permanent basis, withdrew her candidacy in December.
Hutcheson is a former deputy assistant secretary for safety policy at the Department of Transportation. She also served as director of public works for the City of Minneapolis and transportation director for Salt Lake City. Hutcheson also is a past president and member of the board of directors for the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
FMCSA hasn’t had a permanent leader since Raymond Martinez stepped down in October 2019. Jim Mullen and Wiley Deck served as acting agency administrators after Martinez resigned.
In a press release, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear congratulates Hutcheson on her confirmation and calls her “true partner” with the industry.
“Whether it is addressing safety concerns, ongoing supply-chain issues or workforce development, she has been open to engaging with our industry, and we look forward to continuing our ongoing, candid dialogue about these challenges and to engaging with her and her agency to implement solutions that uphold safety and improve efficiency in trucking and across the supply chain.”
In a separate release, Mark Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, congratulates Hutcheson and says he and the organization “look forward to continuing to work with her on today’s most pressing trucking and supply-chain issues.”
First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is requesting comment on its plan to revise and restore the agency’s Medical Examiner’s Handbook, which guides personnel who complete physical exams for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
According to a notice of proposed regulatory guidance published in the Aug. 16 Federal Register, FMCSA withdrew the handbook in 2015 because “some of the information was obsolete” or “prescriptive in nature.” Medical examiners and training organizations were told that the document, first published in 2008, should no longer be construed as agency guidance.
The proposed revision and reinstatement of the handbook, which offers regulatory requirements and guidance to medical examiners, reflects the work of the FMCSA Medical Review Board. Members of the board were appointed by the transportation secretary to “provide FMCSA with medical advice and recommendations on medical standards and guidelines for the physical qualifications of CMV operators, ME education and medical research.”
Examiners have consulted federal regulations on drivers’ physical qualifications on a case-by-case basis since the handbook was withdrawn.
Comments are due Oct. 31.
First published by FMCSA
Photo property of FMCSA
WASHINGTON – The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced $80,714,223 in grant awards under the High Priority (HP) Grant Program. The HP Grants provide funding to strengthen commercial motor vehicle safety initiatives under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). Furthermore, the grant program invests in innovative technology, supports research, and funds other projects that positively impact Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) safety.
The HP Grant Program provides financial assistance to supplement motor carrier safety activities and projects, including those that:
HP grant funds are awarded to States, local governments, Federally recognized Native American tribes, political jurisdictions, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and other eligible groups to carry out high priority activities and projects that strengthen commercial motor vehicle safety. Individuals and for-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.
High Priority activities also support the efforts outlined in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that makes historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. In addition, the CMV safety and research investments conducted under the HP program and funded through BIL advance the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), a comprehensive approach to improve safety on our nation’s roadways.
This is one of many actions that the Administration and DOT are taking to support truck drivers – including investing in community colleges to train veterans to get CDLs, investing in improvements to CDL processing, standing up the Women of Trucking Advisory Board, studying the impacts of driver detention time, and starting the truck predatory leasing task force.
All HP applications undergo a series of reviews before award selection. See the FMCSA’s grant program page for additional information on the discretionary application announcement, review and approval process. For a full list of FY 2022 HP grant awards, click here.