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Fatal incident in Texas train yard involving a portable derail spurs FRA safety advisory

Original article published by Safety+Health


The National Transportation Safety Board released this photo of the derailment that killed a Union Pacific conductor in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 29, 2022. Photo: National Transportation Safety Board and Union Pacific


Washington — In response to a recent fatal derailment at a Texas train yard, the Federal Railroad Administration has issued a safety advisory on the use of portable derails.

According to notice published in the Oct. 28 Federal Register, a 61-car Union Pacific Railroad train was traveling 9 mph when it struck a derailing device at 9:14 p.m. on Aug. 29 in El Paso, TX. The crew didn’t see the portable derail, which was placed on the track earlier in day to protect maintenance workers installing a switch in the yard. The conductor, who was riding in the lead car, was fatally injured when the car rolled over.

FRA emphasizes the importance of ensuring portable derails are visible in low-light conditions and that processes are in place to ensure the removal of these devices when they’re no longer necessary for on-track safety.

Some railroads, the agency notes, require workers to place a tag on the steering wheel of hi-rail vehicles when placing shunts on the track, adding that a similar process for placing portable derails would guard against workers unintentionally leaving portable derails on a track.

The agency recommends that railroad operators and contractors:

  • Review details of the El Paso incident with workers.
  • Ensure their safety manuals properly address the use of portable derails.
  • Equip any portable derails with a light or reflectors.
  • Include procedures that call for portable derails to be removed when no longer necessary.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

FMCSA Declares Texas Motor Carriers to be an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety

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.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

CVSA Expands Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative from Three Days to Five

Original article published by CVSA

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative (HTAI) has increased from three to five days for 2023.

CVSA’s HTAI launched in early 2022 as a three-day awareness and outreach effort to educate commercial motor vehicle drivers, motor carriers, law enforcement officers and the general public about the crime of human trafficking, the signs to look for and what to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked. Building on the success of the , the CVSA Human Trafficking Prevention Program decided to extend the campaign to five days for 2023.

All three countries of the Alliance – Canada, Mexico and the United States – plan to participate in the 2023 HTAI. To capitalize on each country’s already-established Human Trafficking Awareness Day, CVSA set its five-day HTAI to align with that day in each country. Therefore, in the U.S., HTAI is scheduled for Jan. 9-13, 2023. In Canada, the HTAI dates are Feb. 20-24, 2023. And in Mexico, HTAI is set for March 13-17, 2023.

According to the , human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world, including North America. Human traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.

In preparation for the 2023 Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative, CVSA is offering human trafficking awareness  to its membership and working with the  organization to  wallet cards and window decals.

During the five-day awareness initiative in each country, CVSA jurisdictions will note human trafficking awareness and outreach efforts and projects and submit that data to the Alliance. The results will be released in summer 2023.

To find out what your jurisdiction is doing to increase human trafficking awareness,  the agency/department responsible for overseeing commercial motor vehicle safety within your state, province or territory.

The Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative is part of CVSA’s . The program seeks to reduce human trafficking throughout North America through coordinated enforcement and investigative and educational awareness measures within the commercial motor vehicle industry.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

USDOT Hosts Historic First Meeting of Women of Trucking Advisory Board

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.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

Pre-employment Investigations for Drug and Alcohol Program Violations

FMCSA considering electronic IDs for large trucks and buses

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:

  • Should a device that can transmit an electronic ID be permanently affixed or removable/transferrable to CMVs in operation? Would FMCSA’s rule need to specify?
  • What data should be included as part of the electronic ID? Should it include information specific to the driver? Should it also include information that may vary from trip to trip?
  • How far in advance (time, distance) does a state need to gather the electronic ID information to positively ID a vehicle and message the vehicle whether further inspection is required?
  • Are there privacy, health or coercion concerns FMCSA should consider in a future proposal?

The deadline to comment is Nov. 22.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

FMCSA requests input on possible changes to ELD regulations

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:

  • Applicability to pre-2000 engines (the mandate exempts trucks with pre-2000 engines)
  • Addressing ELD malfunctions
  • The process for removing ELD products from FMCSA’s list of certified devices
  • Technical specifications
  • ELD certification

“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.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

FMCSA awards nearly $81 million in high-priority safety grants

Original article published by Safety + Health

Photo: FMCSA

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:

  • Improving the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials.
  • Improving safe transportation of goods and people in foreign commerce.
  • Demonstrating new technologies to improve CMV safety.
  • Advancing technology to enhance CMV operator awareness of roadway hazards and truck parking availability.
  • Supporting participation in performance and registration information systems management.
  • Conducting safety data improvement projects.
  • Increasing public awareness and education on CMV safety.
  • Targeting unsafe driving of CMVs in areas identified as high-risk crash corridors, including roadway work zones.
  • Improving CMV safety and compliance with CMV safety regulations.

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.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.

More Than 6,000 Vehicles Transporting Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods Were Inspected During CVSA’s Unannounced Five-Day Inspection Initiative

Original article published by CVSA

On June 13-17, commercial motor vehicle inspectors inspected 6,204 vehicles transporting hazardous materials/dangerous goods (HM/DG) and 6,668 HM/DG packages in Canada and the U.S. for a five-day unannounced HM/DG inspection and enforcement initiative for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). The total number of violations was 1,774.

Drivers who transport HM/DG are specially trained in emergency safety and applicable HM/DG federal regulations. CVSA’s HM/DG Road Blitz spotlights the safety-compliant drivers, shippers and motor carriers that ensure HM/DG are always appropriately marked, placarded, packaged and secured while being transported on our roadways.

Vehicles found to have HM/DG-related out-of-service violations, and/or any other driver or vehicle out-of-service violations, were restricted from traveling until all out-of-service violations were addressed.

During the 2022 HM/DG Road Blitz, inspectors discovered the following HM/DG violations:

  • 408 shipping papers violations
  • 269 non-bulk/small means of containment packaging violations
  • 272 bulk packaging/large means of containment packaging violations
  • 76 non-bulk/small means of containment labeling violations
  • 159 bulk packaging/large means of containment placarding violations
  • 79 other safety marks violations
  • 168 loading and securement violations
  • 43 HM/DG package integrity (leaking) violations
  • 84 Transportation of Dangerous Goods Training Certificate violations (Canada only)

Below is a summary of the HM/DG class types inspected, broken out by country and combined for a North American total.

Governments in Canada and the U.S. have strict inspection and enforcement programs to ensure compliance with regulations regarding the transportation of HM/DG. In the U.S., the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are responsible for regulating and ensuring the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials. In Canada, the TDG Regulations are the safety requirements for the transportation of dangerous goods.

According to FMCSA’s data for last calendar year (as of Aug. 26, 2022), the top five hazmat violations in the U.S. were:

  1. Package not secure in vehicle
  2. No copy of USDOT HM registration number
  3. No or improper shipping papers (carrier)
  4. Shipping paper accessibility
  5. Vehicle not placarded as required

The HM/DG Road Blitz helps increase awareness of the HM/DG rules and regulations in place to keep the driver, the public and the environment safe. It also highlights the hard-working, specially trained commercial motor vehicle law enforcement individuals who inspect vehicles transporting HM/DG.

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

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment.