Operation Safe Driver Week slated for July 12-18

Photo: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officers are expected to keep an extra sharp watch for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors July 12-18 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

Officers will be looking for drivers who are texting, following too closely, not wearing seat belts or maneuvering in otherwise unsafe manners, while placing added emphasis on speeding.

A May 12 CVSA press release cites recent findings from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing that state highway officials nationwide “are seeing a severe spike in speeding” as traffic volume has decreased as a result of quarantines and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that, in March, the rate of motor vehicle deaths in the United States was 14% higher than in March 2019 despite fewer drivers being on the road.

CMV and passenger vehicle drivers in North America received nearly 47,000 citations and around 88,000 warnings during last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, per data collected from law enforcement personnel. Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common, with CMV drivers receiving 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings, and passenger vehicle drivers receiving 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings.

“It’s essential that this enforcement initiative, which focuses on identifying and deterring unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, go on as scheduled,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “As passenger vehicle drivers are limiting their travel to necessary trips and many [CMV] drivers are busy transporting vital goods to stores, it’s more important than ever to monitor our roadways for safe transport.”

FMCSA seeks to close ‘loophole’ that lets CMV drivers who fail drug, alcohol tests get licenses


Photo: KLH49/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking input on a proposed rule that would ban states from issuing commercial driver’s licenses to operators with existing drug or alcohol violations, in an effort to eliminate a “regulatory loophole.”

The proposed rule, published in the April 28 Federal Register, also would prohibit state driver’s licensing agencies from renewing, upgrading and transferring CDLs for those operators.

FMCSA contends that although its online Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – fully implemented in January – provides real-time national data on commercial motor vehicle drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests, most states remain unaware that the violations have occurred.

“Consequently, there is no federal requirement that SDLAs take any action on the license of drivers subject to that prohibition,” FMCSA states. “As a result, a driver can continue to hold a valid [commercial learner’s permit] or CDL, even while prohibited from operating a CMV under FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations.”

Provisions of the clearinghouse require employers and medical review officers to report information about drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuse to comply with testing. Substance misuse professionals must report information about drivers who participate in the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.

The proposal outlines two possible methods for determining the process by which SDLAs would access driver-specific information from the clearinghouse:

  • Require SDLAs to initiate a mandatory downgrade of the CLP and CDL driving privilege. Drivers would be required to complete the [return-to-duty] process and comply with any state-established procedures for reinstatement of the CMV driving privilege.
  • Provide SDLAs with optional notice of a driver’s prohibited status from the clearinghouse. The states would decide whether and how they would use the information under state law and policy to prevent a driver from operating a CMV.

Under the second alternative, SDLAs could choose to receive “push notifications” from the clearinghouse when drivers licensed in their state are prohibited from operating CMVs because of violations of drug or alcohol regulations.

Comments on the proposed rule are due June 29.

FMCSA final rule amends trucker hours-of-service regulations


Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has unveiled a highly anticipated final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and slated to take effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, FMCSA will:

  • Change the short-haul exception to 150 air miles from 100, and 14 hours on duty from 12, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extend the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revise the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstate the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.

On the heels of multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and set an initial comment deadline of Oct. 7. The comment period later was extended to Oct. 21. FMCSA weighed nearly 8,200 comments on the proposed rule and, on March 2, submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

The final rule does not include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao addressed the final rule in a May 14 video published to the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel.

“These new commonsense rules give truckers more options when planning their days,” Chao says. “They will help drivers reach their destination safely without feeling like they’ve got to race against the clock to comply with federal mandates. They will also help truckers get the rest they need when they need it. When safety rules make sense, drivers are better able to comply, and that benefits everyone.”

FMCSA makes Crash Preventability Determination Program permanent


Photo: PeteMuller/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made permanent and expanded a program designed to determine to what extent commercial motor vehicle crashes are preventable, according to a notice published in the May 6 Federal Register.

After weighing stakeholder feedback on an August proposed rule that sought to continue FMCSA’s Crash Preventability Determination Program, the agency is removing “not preventable” crashes as a classification under the Crash Indicator Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category of its Safety Measurement System website.

FMCSA also is allowing motor carriers and drivers to submit requests for data review for eligible crashes occurring on or after Aug. 1, 2019. Requests must include police accident reports and may contain supporting documents, photos and videos “to present compelling evidence that the crash is eligible and not preventable,” the notice states. Crashes are classified under 16 types:

  • Struck in rear
  • Legally stopped or parked
  • Suicides or suicide attempts
  • Wrong direction
  • Animal strikes
  • Individuals under the influence
  • Infrastructure failure or struck by cargo, equipment or debris
  • Struck on the side in the rear
  • Struck by a vehicle that didn’t stop or slow in traffic
  • Struck by a vehicle that failed to stop at a traffic control device
  • Struck by a vehicle that was making a U-turn or an illegal turn
  • Struck by a driver who experiences a medical issue that caused the crash
  • Struck by a driver who admits to falling asleep or driving distracted
  • Involves an individual under the influence, even if the CMV was struck by another vehicle involved in the crash
  • Involves a driver operating in the wrong direction, even if the CMV was struck by another vehicle involved in the crash
  • Rare or unusual crash

“If the crash is not eligible under the crash type for which it was submitted, FMCSA will move the crash to an eligible crash type, if one exists,” the agency states. “However, if the crash does not meet one of the eligible crash types, the [request for data review] will be closed.”

FMCSA further states that crashes found to be “not preventable” won’t be used when calculating the carrier’s Crash Indicator BASIC measure or percentile. The agency uses this data “to prioritize carriers for safety intervention.”

As part of preliminary research for its proposed rule, FMCSA reviewed – from Aug. 1, 2017, to approximately Jan. 30, 2019 – more than 5,600 crash data submissions from commercial truck and bus companies under the program. According to an Aug. 5 agency press release, FMCSA found that about 94% of the crashes reviewed during the first 18 months of the initial 24-month duration of the program were considered not preventable by the motor carrier or CMV driver.

Speaking to Transport Topic in a May 1 report, American Trucking Associations Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath said ATA was “happy to see a permanent program come to fruition” and would “continue to work with FMCSA to encourage further improvements.”

U.S. House T&I Committee to Thank Transportation Workers

As essential employees from every sector, but especially in transportation and infrastructure, continue to step up in our nation’s fight against the novel coronavirus, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will be thanking them… We’re reaching out in the hopes that you will join us by using the hashtag #ToThoseWhoKeepUsMoving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 1:00 PM ETthe Committee will hold a bipartisan tweetstorm to thank workers.

The Committee has put together graphics and sample social media for your use. Please feel free to use them and contact Marcus Frias (majority staff) at marcus.frias@mail.house.gov or Justin Harclerode (Minority Staff) at justin.harclerode@mail.house.gov if you have any questions.

The graphics can be found  HERE.

ADOT eases truck weight limits for delivery of essential supplies

Covers shipments of medical equipment, safety gear, food, more

Truck on I-10PHOENIX – Governor Ducey and the Arizona Department of Transportation today took action to help ensure critical supplies and goods Arizonans rely on can be transported more easily by temporarily waiving certain commercial vehicles regulations.

Under new guidelines issued by ADOT, commercial trucks with gross weights of up to 90,000 pounds will be allowed to operate without overweight permits, an increase from the current limit of 80,000 pounds. The new guidelines align with federal guidance and will help ensure Arizona’s groceries, pharmacies and medical providers remain fully supplied.

“Today’s common sense action will help ensure that our grocery stores are stocked and that our medical professionals and emergency responders have the equipment they need to stay safe,” Governor Doug Ducey said. “Responding to COVID-19 is an all-hands-on-deck effort, and I’m grateful to the agencies and community partners that have stepped up to bring relief and assistance to Arizonans.”

The temporary weight limits apply to commercial vehicles that are providing direct assistance to COVID-19 relief efforts as outlined in a recent federal emergency declaration. This includes, among other essential items, medical supplies related to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, supplies necessary for community safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19 and food and household items for emergency restocking of stores.

To support truck drivers making hauling critical goods, last week, ADOT temporarily reopened two long-closed rest areas near Flagstaff, Christensen on Interstate 17 and Parks on Interstate 40, exclusively for commercial vehicles, offering parking, portable toilets and handwashing facilities.

ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division officers have implemented the new weight protocol at commercial vehicle ports of entry. Commercial vehicles will continue to be required to comply with state and federal regulations, and officers will continue to conduct safety inspections and issue permits as needed. Ports of entry at state lines and international borders remain open and staffed by ADOT officers and other staff to screen commercial vehicles to ensure the safe flow of commodities and supplies while supporting federal guidelines to keep America’s commerce moving.

For more information about ADOT, please visit azdot.gov.

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Arizona, please visit azhealth.gov/covid19. For resources and information about Arizona’s response to COVID-19, visit ArizonaTogether.org.

Rail crossing safety for cement, garbage and dump truck drivers: New video available


Photo: Operation Lifesaver Inc.

Washington — A new video from a rail safety education group is aimed at helping drivers of cement, garbage and dump trucks safely navigate rail crossings.

Operation Lifesaver’s three-and-a-half-minute video features instructions on what to do at highway-rail grade crossings, important signs to look for and what they mean, and what to do if your vehicle stalls on the tracks.

“Due to the weight of your vehicle, you should take extra precautions when approaching and crossing railroad tracks to avoid a devastating crash,” the video says.

The most significant pieces of advice: “Do not try to beat a train” and “If your truck doesn’t fit, don’t commit.” Also, drivers should leave at least 15 feet between the front or rear of their vehicles and the closest rail because trains hang over the rails.

If a vehicle stalls on a track, drivers should get out even if a train isn’t approaching. If a train is coming, drivers should run at a 45-degree angle away from the tracks and toward the train to avoid debris. If no train is in sight, drivers should call the emergency number typically located on a sign near the rail crossing’s lights and arms.

Preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration, which provided funding for the video, shows that 506 incidents involving heavy trucks at rail crossings occurred in 2018 – up from 449 in 2017 and 443 in 2016.

“Our goal with the video is to educate drivers, waste management companies, municipalities and cement producers about the dangers railroad crossings pose to drivers and the importance of educating these employees to save lives,” Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Rachel Maleh said in a press release. “The increase in 2018 crossing incidents involving heavy trucks underscores the need to reach these audiences and reduce these preventable incidents.”


Final rule to amend trucker hours-of-service regs sent to OMB for review


Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — A final rule the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claims would add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

FMCSA submitted the rule March 2. Addressing attendees of the Truckload Carriers Association Conference the next day in Kissimmee, FL, acting agency administrator Jim Mullen said that although he could not go into the rule’s specifics, “please know that the goal of this process from the beginning has been to improve safety for all motorists and to increase flexibility for commercial drivers.”

On the heels of multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register and set an initial comment deadline of Oct. 7. The comment period later was extended to Oct. 21.

FMCSA weighed nearly 8,200 comments on the proposed rule. Among the highlights of the proposal:

  • Expanding the current 100-air mile short haul exemption to 14 hours on duty from 12 hours on duty, to be consistent for rules with long-haul truck drivers.
  • Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions.
  • Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving.
  • Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks equipped with sleeper berth compartments.
  • Allowing covered commercial motor vehicle operators one rest break – for up to three consecutive hours – during every 14-hour on-duty period.
  • Allowing covered CMV operators to use multiple off-duty periods of at least three hours in place of taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and TruckerNation.org, both longtime proponents of HOS reform, support the changes.

“We applaud the agency for submitting the final rule to OMB so quickly,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said in an article published March 3 in the association’s Land Line magazine. “As FMCSA continues to move forward with hours-of-service reform, we are optimistic the final product will create meaningful reform that provides drivers with more flexibility and control over their schedules. If FMCSA gets it right, we’re confident most drivers will be happy with the changes.”

In a March 3 video posted on Facebook, TruckerNation.org spokesperson Andrea Marks says, “It cannot be overstated enough how proud we are of the trucking industry that we are here.”

Moments later, Marks reminds viewers that, their optimism notwithstanding, the federal rulemaking process is neither “intuitive” nor “one that happens fast.”

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Executive Director Collin Mooney told Safety+Health that his organization expects the final rule to be published in May or June.

“If it’s done right, it could be a win-win,” Mooney said. “If there’s too much flexibility, well then, safety can be compromised.”

One concern Mooney cited was the possible effects on driving time in the event the adverse driving conditions and mandatory rest break provisions were compounded.

“Seventeen, 18, 19 hours is just going to be way too long for anybody, so we wanted to see that tightened up a little bit,” Mooney said.

OMB listed the status of the rule as pending review at press time.

CVSA reminds truckers: No ‘soft enforcement’ for ELD transition


Photo: vitpho/iStockphoto

Washington — Commercial motor vehicle inspectors will not observe a “soft enforcement” grace period for drivers still using automatic onboard recording devices to track their hours of service after Dec. 16, and such drivers will be placed out of service for violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance warns in a Dec. 2 press release.

An FMCSA final rule requiring CMV drivers to track HOS via electronic logging devices took effect Dec. 18, 2017. However, the agency exempted for two years motor carriers who installed and used AOBRDs before the rule’s compliance date, giving them until Dec. 16 to transition to ELDs.

“Motor carriers utilizing an AOBRD must have a fully operational ELD installed by Dec. 17, 2019,” the release states. “If a commercial motor vehicle driver is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with a registered compliant ELD, the driver is considered to have no record of duty status; that also applies to a driver still using an automatic onboard recording device after the AOBRD to ELD transition deadline.”

Speaking to Transport Topics in a Dec. 5 report, CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney expressed confidence that a majority of motor carriers will be in compliance by the deadline. Still, Mooney said, the number of motor carriers who are not operating AOBRDs or have not chosen an ELD vendor has “eluded” the organization.

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Give us your input toward the development of a future RTA plan


The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) is conducting a survey to seek public input on guiding principles drafted by the RTA’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC will consider the guiding principles as they identify projects to develop a future 20-year regional transportation plan.

The committee will be charged with weighing the value of regional benefits of proposed projects vs. the estimated construction costs to meet the budget. After the committee prepares a draft plan, they will continue to seek broad public input during the plan review process – prior to making a final recommendation to the RTA Board.

The current RTA plan and special taxing district’s half-cent sales (excise) tax – both voter-approved in 2006 – will expire in June 2026.

Please complete the survey by Friday, December 13, 2019. Thank you!