Additional Measures Taken to Help States Affected by Pipeline

First published by FMCSA.

USDOT Announces Additional Measures to Help States in Areas Affected by the Colonial Pipeline Incident

The U.S. DOT today announced additional help for States in areas affected by the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.  The White House and DOT have determined that previous declarations of “major disaster” issued by the President within the past 120 days allow States covered by those declarations to use Interstate highways in their State to transport overweight loads of gasoline and other fuels.  Each State must continue to follow its own procedures for issuance of special permits authorizing the loads, but the added flexibility announced today lawfully permits these trucks to run on the Interstate Highway System and other Federal highways.  This flexibility is in addition to preexisting authority for States to issue special permits allowing the trucks to run on State highways.

The previous Presidential declarations created this authority for up to 120 days.  Given the declarations’ varied dates of issuance, that period will expire at different points for the affected States between now and early September.  The first State whose 120-day period will expire is Maryland, on June 4.  The last State is Virginia, on September 7.

The ten States covered are Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.  All these States are already covered under the separate Emergency Declaration that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued on May 9, which grants truck drivers making emergency fuel deliveries in areas affected by the pipeline disruption relief from the Federal hours of service limits and certain other safety regulations.

Consistent with 23 U.S.C. 127(i) and applicable State laws, States that are currently operating under Federal Major Disaster Declarations may issue special permits to overweight vehicles carrying divisible loads on Interstate and Defense Highways that are delivering relief supplies, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and other refined petroleum products.  States may exercise this authority for 120 days from the date of the declaration of the major disaster.


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FMCSA Responds to Unanticipated Shutdown of Colonial Pipeline

First published by FMCSA.

U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration Issues Temporary Hours of Service Exemption in Response to the Unanticipated Shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced today as part of the federal government’s efforts to actively assess the implications of the Colonial Pipeline incident and to avoid disruption to supply, that the USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking steps to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers. FMCSA is issuing a temporary hours of service exemption that applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

USDOT’s top priority is safety, and while current circumstances dictate providing industry flexibility, FMCSA will work closely with its state and industry partners to monitor driver work hours and conditions for the duration of the exemption.

The full text of FMSCA’s action can be found here.


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FMCSA grants regulatory relief to drivers taking emergency supplies to storm-hit states

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has announced temporary relief from regulations – including hours of service – for commercial motor vehicle drivers delivering “direct assistance” to emergency efforts in states affected by severe winter weather.

FMCSA’s regional emergency declaration – issued Feb. 17 and effective through March 4 or until the end of the emergency – covers 33 states and the District of Columbia. The declaration “is in response to damage and heating and other fuel shortages.”

Drivers covered under the declaration are transporting heating fuels (e.g., propane, natural gas and heating oil) and other fuel products, including gasoline. Also included are drivers transporting people, supplies, goods or equipment into and out of the affected states.

“When a driver is moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations, a 10-hour break is required when the total time a driver operates conducting emergency relief efforts, or a combination of emergency relief and normal operation, equals 14 hours,” FMCSA says.

The regulatory relief “terminates” when a driver or CMV is used in interstate commerce or “to transport cargo or provide services not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the severe winter storm.” It also doesn’t apply when a motor carrier dispatches a driver or CMV to another place “to begin operations in commerce.” Likewise, drivers or motor carriers under an out-of-service order aren’t eligible for regulatory relief.

The regulatory relief doesn’t exempt drivers from testing for alcohol and controlled substances, commercial driver’s license requirements, insurance or financial responsibility requirements, hazardous materials regulations, and size and weight requirements.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA and USDOT to ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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FMCSA extends pandemic-related hours-of-service exemptions

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says temporary hours-of-service exemptions and other “regulatory relief” will continue for commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting items intended to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.

Announced Feb. 12, the extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002, initially issued March 13 and expanded and modified multiple times, is scheduled to remain in effect through May 31.

Regulatory relief is extended to drivers who are transporting:

  • COVID-19 vaccines; constituent products; and medical supplies and equipment, including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines
  • Medical supplies and equipment for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19
  • Supplies and equipment to help curb the spread of COVID-19, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants
  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of stores or distribution centers
  • Livestock and livestock feed

Drivers making routine commercial deliveries, “including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration,” are not covered under the exemption.


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International Roadcheck Set for May 4-6 with Emphasis on Lighting and Hours of Service

First published by CVSA.

Greenbelt, Maryland – The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has set May 4-6 as the dates for this year’s International Roadcheck. Over that 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will conduct inspections on commercial motor vehicles and drivers.

“CVSA shares the dates of International Roadcheck in advance to remind motor carriers and drivers of the importance of proactive vehicle maintenance and driver readiness,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “International Roadcheck also aims to raise awareness of the North American Standard Inspection Program and the essential highway safety rules and regulations in place to keep our roadways safe.”

Inspectors will ensure the vehicle’s brake systems, cargo securement, coupling devices, driveline/driveshaft components, driver’s seat, exhaust systems, frames, fuel systems, lighting devices, steering mechanisms, suspensions, tires, van and open-top trailer bodies, wheels, rims, hubs and windshield wipers are compliant with regulations. Inspections of motorcoaches, passenger vans and other passenger-carrying vehicles also include emergency exits, electrical cables and systems in the engine and battery compartments, and seating.

Inspectors will be looking for critical vehicle inspection item violations, outlined in the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria. If such violations are found, the vehicle will be placed out of service, which means that vehicle cannot be operated until the identified out-of-service conditions have been corrected.

Vehicles that successfully pass inspection, without any critical vehicle inspection item violations found after a completed Level I or Level V Inspection, should receive a CVSA decal. In general, vehicles with a CVSA decal are not re-inspected during the three-month period during which the decal is valid. Instead, inspectors focus their efforts on vehicles without a valid CVSA decal.

Also during an inspection, inspectors will check the driver’s operating credentials, hours-of-service documentation, seat belt usage, and for alcohol and/or drug impairment. A driver will be placed out of service if an inspector discovers driver-related out-of-service conditions.

Each year, CVSA asks its member jurisdictions to capture and report data focusing on a certain category of violations during International Roadcheck. This helps bring awareness to certain aspects of a roadside inspection. This year, inspectors will capture data on two categories, corresponding to the two main inspection categories of the North American Standard Level I Inspection – driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. For the driver category, hours of service will be highlighted this year, and for the vehicle category, inspectors will be paying special attention to lighting.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the lighting violation “lamps inoperable” (Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 393.9) was the number one vehicle violation in fiscal 2020, accounting for approximately 12.24% of all vehicle violations discovered that year. And during last year’s International Roadcheck, the top driver out-of-service violation category in North America was hours of service, accounting for 34.7% of all driver out-of-service conditions.

“It’s important to remember that International Roadcheck is a data collection effort,” said Sgt. Samis. “The inspections conducted during the three days of International Roadcheck are no different from the inspections conducted any other day of the year. Other than data collection, the inspection process is the same.”

As was the case last year, in consideration of COVID-19, law enforcement personnel will conduct inspections following their departments’ health and safety protocols during 2021 International Roadcheck.

In addition, as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, every effort will be made to get vaccine shipments to their destination, quickly and safely. COVID-19 vaccine shipments will not be held up for inspection, unless there is an obvious serious violation that is an imminent hazard.

International Roadcheck is a CVSA program with participation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation and its National Guard.


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FMCSA proposes amending guidance on CMV ‘yard moves,’ hours of service

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposal to revise the agency’s guidance on “yard moves” and commercial motor vehicle drivers’ hours of service.

According to a notice published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, FMCSA regulations require most CMV drivers to record their HOS under four categories: driving; on-duty, not driving; sleeper berth; and off-duty. The agency’s design and performance standards for electronic logging devices – which record HOS – provide two “special driving categories”: personal conveyance and yard moves.

FMCSA, however, did not define “yard moves” in its final rule on ELDs and is seeking to update its guidance to include the following: “A driver may record time operating a CMV for yard moves as on-duty, not driving under 49 CFR 395.8(b) only if the movement of the CMV occurs in a confined area on private property,” such as an intermodal or port facility.

Other examples of “yards” may include a motor carrier’s place of business; a shipper’s privately owned parking lot; and a public road where access is restricted by gates, lights, flaggers or other means.

“For example,” FMCSA says, “if a driver must operate on a public road briefly to reach different parts of a private property, the movement may be considered a yard move if public access is restricted during the move.”

Additionally, FMCSA is seeking responses to the following questions:

  • Would defining “yard moves” provide necessary clarification while benefiting drivers and carriers?
  • Are there other situations or properties where drivers may be in a “yard move” status that should be included in the guidance?
  • Would adding examples of “yard moves” prove helpful? If so, give examples for consideration.
  • How should “yard” be defined in the guidance?

The deadline to comment is Feb. 3. FMCSA plans to reevaluate its guidance “no later than” five years after it’s finalized.

“This guidance, if finalized, lacks the force and effect of law and is not meant to bind the public in any way,” FMCSA says. “This guidance document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding the agency’s interpretation of its existing regulations.”


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FMCSA seeks comment on clarification of ‘agricultural commodities’

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is asking for input on an interim final rule that clarifies the definitions of the terms “any agricultural commodity” and “livestock” in the agency’s hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Current regulations call for exemptions in HOS requirements during harvesting and planting season in each state. Drivers are exempt in a 150-air-mile radius from the source of that agricultural commodity.

Published in the Nov. 24 Federal Register and effective Dec. 9, the interim final rule acknowledges the ambiguity of current regulations while amplifying the agency’s interpretation. The rule states that “horticultural products subject to perishability or significant degradation in product quality during transport” by commercial motor vehicle – such as sod, flowers, seedlings, live trees and Christmas trees – fall under the parameters of “any agricultural commodity.”

Additionally, FMCSA expands the scope of the definition of “livestock” to include “all living animals cultivated, grown or raised for commercial purposes.” Previously, the agency did not include aquatic animals under this description.

“Our nation’s farmers and agriculture haulers will benefit from this clarification of the rules and will be able to deliver their products in a safer and more efficient manner,” FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck said in a Nov. 19 press release. “These improved rules will help farmers move commodities and get food to our grocery stores. We have heard the concerns from our farmers and ag haulers, and we’ve worked closely with [the U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the industry to provide regulatory clarity and craft this new rule.”

FMCSA in July 2019 issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking requesting comment on whether to clarify or revise the definitions, receiving 140 responses. In June 2018, the agency issued guidance intended to clarify both the agricultural commodities exemption and the “personal conveyance” provision in HOS regulations.

Comments on the interim final rule are due Dec. 24. FMCSA states that it “will consider and address submitted comments in the final rule that will follow this IFR and may make changes to the rule in response to comments received.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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Tips for Roadside Inspections

Roadside Inspection Card.

First published by J.J. Keller.

During a Roadside Inspection, many situations may arise in which officers have questions. Below are some scenarios and some talking points drivers can use in these situations. Above this article is a button for the Roadside Inspection Card which contains information on how to perform data transfers or use the display method for a roadside within the application.  This card is an in-cab requirement and should be with the driver at all times in the vehicle.

Missing Data in the Officer’s View of the Logs

Politely ask the officer to check the display in the roadside mode of the Encompass® ELD application to verify the data is actually missing. The data may be missing from the transferred data due to power down/power up timing compared to the entry time, but visible in the display (the missing data is in the device, it just wasn’t bundled with the data sent to e-rods due to the power down/power up timing).

  • Note: If the data is not in the transferred data and is also not in the display, it is missing and it is a violation.

Missing VIN

Politely mention to the officer that VIN is only required if the device is able to access it on the vehicle’s database (since it is not appearing in the ELD records, it was not available).

Missing Engine Hours/Miles

Politely point out to the officer that these entries are not required if the duty change took place away from the vehicle or the duty change took place when the vehicle was powered down.

Politely ask the officer to check the display as there are times it does not come through to the transferred data due to the power down/power up timing.

Location Does Not Match GIS Formatting

Politely point out that drivers are allowed to manually enter locations if the device cannot automatically determine the location.

The Officer is Unable to Receive Data

Determine if there is cellular/data connectivity.  If not, point this out to the officer and attempt to establish connectivity.

Politely ask the officer if he/she has connectivity and to verify that e-rods is functioning.

Politely ask the officer to check the display method in the roadside mode to verify all required data is present and to determine any missing data may have stopped e-rods from allowing the transfer to take place.

The Officer is Talking About Placing the Driver Out-of-Service Due to the Data Not Transferring

Politely point out to the officer that under the North American Out-of-Service Criteria, the only time a driver is to be put out of service due to the data not transferring is if the driver ALSO cannot provide the display to the officer. As long as the driver can present the display in the roadside mode, the officer should not place the driver out of service if a transfer is not successful.


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CVSA reacts to FMCSA rejection of personal conveyance petition

rejection of personal conveyance petition

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is evaluating its next course of action after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Sept. 18 denied a CVSA petition requesting that the agency update its definition of personal conveyance and clarify a mileage limit.

A letter written by FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck and addressed to CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney claims that the CVSA proposal lacks a “sufficient safety basis” to proceed with rulemaking that “would essentially propose arbitrary limits without any evidence of safety critical events avoided.”

CVSA filed the petition in May, after FMCSA announced a controversial final rule the agency claims adds flexibility to hours-of-service regulations. The rule went into effect Sept. 29.

“We understand the agency’s position on personal conveyance,” Mooney told Safety+Health, “but we still believe that it’s not addressed adequately.”

In June 2018, FMCSA issued guidance intended to clarify both the agricultural commodities exemption and the personal conveyance provision in HOS regulations.

According to the agency, personal conveyance – a driver’s movement of a commercial motor vehicle for personal use – is considered off-duty status and therefore does not affect HOS limitations.

However, CVSA contends in the petition that the guidance is “incomplete” without establishing a maximum distance and/or time a CMV operator can travel under the personal conveyance provision, stating that “a driver could, in theory, drive hundreds of miles over the course of several hours” under this designation, increasing the risk of driver fatigue and impacting roadway safety.

“Even though the agency says that setting a distance or time limit would be arbitrary, on the flip side of things, having things wide open for personal conveyance now is open-ended in itself, which is the whole point in the petition – why it’s creating issues,” Mooney said. “Because it gives the motor carrier industry and drivers an opportunity to hide hours under the premise of personal conveyance, which in fact is a falsification of the hours of service of the records of duty status. So, by providing that loophole, that gateway to camouflage or hide hours, we feel, is very problematic and jeopardizes highway safety.”

Deck writes that the guidance remains “an appropriate response to the issue, given the lack of research and data to support the adoption of specific restrictions.”

According to the guidance – which is effective until June 7, 2023 – other examples of personal conveyance include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Time spent traveling to restaurants and entertainment facilities from en route lodging, such as a motel or truck stop.
  • Commuting between the driver’s terminal and his or her residence, between trailer-drop lots and the driver’s residence, and between worksites and the driver’s residence.
  • Time spent traveling in a motorcoach without passengers to en route lodging, or to restaurants or entertainment facilities and back to the lodging.
  • Time spent transporting personal property while off duty.
  • Authorized CMV use to travel home after working at an offsite location.

McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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Hours-of-service changes expected to arrive on time

First published by FMCSA.

The time has come. Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s changes to the hours-of-service regulations go into effect.

Aimed to ease some of the rigidness of the regulations, FMCSA made four changes to the rules that the agency said are intended to give truckers more control in determining when it is safe to drive.

Short-haul exception

The new hours-of-service rules expand the short-haul exception to 150 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift to take place as part of the exception.

“Under the previous rule, a driver based in Peoria, Ill., could not service Chicago and St. Louis,” FMCSA wrote. “The new rule allows the driver to service those two cities, as well as an additional two hours to do so.”

To use the short-haul exception, a driver must start and end the shift in the same location.

Adverse driving conditions

The exception expands the driving window during adverse driving conditions by as much as two hours.

The revised definition of “adverse driving conditions” is snow, ice, sleet, fog or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that couldn’t be reasonably known to a driver before the start the on-duty period or immediately after a rest period, and to a motor carrier before dispatching the driver.

FMCSA provided an example of a driver that is 15 miles from his destination when there is a gravel spill on the bridge ahead and the bridge is the only access to the destination. In the example, the driver has one hour left of driving time and one hour left in the driving day. Under the new provision, the driver can stop at the next exit (for up to two hours) until the road is clear and still have time to get to the destination without violating hours-of-service rules.

The agency advises drivers to make an annotation in their electronic logging device when utilizing the provision and to include details about the adverse driving condition.

30-minute break requirement

The new hours-of-service rules did not eliminate the 30-minute break mandate after eight hours of driving, but they do allow the break to be fulfilled through 30 minutes of on-duty, nondriving time. The change means that instead of taking the break off duty, the trucker can now take the break while getting fuel or while completing a maintenance check.

FMCSA emphasizes that under the change, drivers can either satisfy the break off duty, in the sleeper berth, or on duty while not driving. The 30-minute break can’t be broken down into increments.

Sleeper berth provision

The new rules modify the sleeper berth exception to allow drivers to take their 10 hours off duty in two periods, provided one off-duty period (whether in or out of the sleeper berth) is at least two hours long and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours spent in the sleeper. Neither period counts against the maximum 14-hour driving window.

The split could be 8/2, 7/3, or even 7.5/2.5.

FMCSA provided an example with a driver starting day one having just completed 10 consecutive hours off duty. In the example, the driver is on duty from midnight until 1 a.m. and then drives until 7 a.m. The driver then takes a three-hour break until 10 a.m. and goes back on duty until noon before resuming his drive until 5 p.m. Then the driver goes into the sleeper berth from 5 p.m. until midnight. In this example, the trucker had 11 hours of driving time and the break periods did not count against the driver’s 14-hour window.

new hours of service sleeper berth provision - FMCSA
Courtesy FMCSA/U.S. DOT

FMCSA video

FMCSA created a video to explain the rule changes that can be found here.

“The main part of this rule is to provide flexibility to drivers in how they schedule their days to be most efficient, safe and productive in their activity each day,” Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA’s acting associate administrator of enforcement, said in the video.

FMCSA provides a series of questions and answers regarding the new rules here.

Opposition

The new hours-of-service rules are poised to go into effect despite a recent lawsuit from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a coalition of safety groups.

On Sept. 16, the groups filed a petition for review of FMCSA’s final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before filing the lawsuit, the groups petitioned the agency to reconsider the final rule, calling it “flawed.” FMCSA denied the petitions, emphasizing that the rule changes did not provide additional driving time.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

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