California Highway Patrol wants ELD requirement for intrastate truckers

Original article published by Safety+Health

Photo: Department of Transportation Flickr

Sacramento, CA — In an effort to “enhance commercial vehicle safety” and “create consistency between state and federal regulations,” the California Highway Patrol is proposing the state adopt regulations requiring the use of electronic logging devices for commercial motor vehicle carriers involved in intrastate operations.

CHP recently submitted to the California Office of Administrative Law an initial statement of reasons, contending the proposal would bolster safety by “improving compliance with the applicable hours-of-service rules and reducing the overall paperwork burden for both motor carriers and drivers.”

California regulations don’t require an ELD to record a driver’s record-of-duty status. The proposal would largely be consistent with federal ELD regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CHP says.

Exemptions would include:

  • Drivers operating under California’s 100 air-mile radius exemption
  • Drivers operating a CMV manufactured before 2000
  • Drivers operating a CMV in a driveaway-towaway operation
  • Drivers not operating more than eight days within any 30-day period
  • Authorized emergency vehicles

The deadline to comment on the proposal is Dec. 19.

Federal ELD regulations were under review for possible changes this fall. That public comment period closed Nov. 15.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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ATA Celebrates America’s Truck Drivers

First published by ATA

Washington – American Trucking Associations leaders, on behalf of the association and the industry, are celebrating and thanking the nation’s truck drivers this week as part of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

“Every day, our country’s 3.7 million truck drivers deliver America’s freight safely, securely and efficiently – they are the glue that keeps our economy and nation together,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “And while they should be appreciated all year round, we are proud to recognize them this week during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.”

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 11-17, provides the trucking industry an opportunity to formally recognize the efforts of professional truck drivers. State trucking associations, industry suppliers, law enforcement and motor carriers of all sizes from coast to coast are set to host appreciation events for the men and women who safely deliver more than 70% of the country’s total freight tonnage.

More than 80% of American cities and towns exclusively rely on trucks to deliver their goods, and driving a truck is the top job in 29 states.
As part of the weeklong celebration, ATA is bringing its rolling classroom, Interstate One, to Capitol Hill today and inviting policymakers to talk to members of America’s Road Team about the industry and try their hand at a driving simulator.

“Our drivers – whether they are delivering emergency relief goods or simply doing their normal runs – can be counted on to get the job done,” said ATA Chairman Harold Sumerford Jr.“We should thank them every day, but I call on my fellow Americans – along with our industry – to recognize these hardworking men and women this week.”

ATA members celebrate NTDAW with cookouts and other events, and Trucking Moves America Forward is recognizing drivers with a series of billboards around the country in partnership with many state trucking associations. TMAF will also be thanking truck drivers and sharing need-to-know industry facts on the radio airwaves on Red Eye Radio, Westwood One Sports and Westwood One talk radio programs.  To participate in NTDAW, or show how you’re celebrating drivers – post your events on social media with the hashtag #ThankATrucker.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is sponsored by the Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry (ACT I). ATA and ACT I are asking the motoring public to thank professional drivers through fuel pump advertising this month.

For more about National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, click here. American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight.


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FMCSA Announces High Priority Grants to Increase Safety for Commercial Drivers

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:

  • improve the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials;
  • improve safe transportation of goods and persons in foreign commerce;
  • demonstrate new technologies to improve CMV safety;
  • technology advancements to enhance CMV operator awareness of roadway hazards and truck parking availability;
  • support participation in performance and registration information systems management;
  • conduct safety data improvement projects;
  • increase public awareness and education on CMV safety;
  • target unsafe driving of CMVs in areas identified as high-risk crash corridors, including roadway work zones;
  • otherwise improve CMV safety and compliance with CMV safety regulations.

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.


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Freight-carrier alliance pushes for federal recognition of hair-sample drug testing

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a freight-carrier alliance petition regarding the use of hair samples as a drug-testing method for commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Under federal regulations, CMV operators must be tested for drugs by urinalysis. According to a notice published in the Aug. 24 Federal Register, the Trucking Alliance, a coalition comprising 11 organizations, is asking FMCSA to amend the definition of an employer’s “actual knowledge” of a driver’s positive drug test – which requires the employer to report the results to the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – to include knowledge of a positive hair test.

“We think that every employer should at least know that this person failed a hair test,” Trucking Alliance Managing Director Lane Kidd told Safety+Health. Kidd added that, among the thousands of positive drug tests via hair testing the alliance has recorded through the years, “not one single person has ever filed a lawsuit against the company for falsely accusing them of using drugs.”

In the notice, FMCSA states that it lacks the statutory authority to grant a hair follicle exemption request “until the Department of Health and Human Services has taken certain action.” In September 2021, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of HHS, requested comment on proposed guidelines on the use of hair samples as a method for drug testing federal employees and safety-sensitive employees in federally regulated industries, including CMV operators.

FMCSA’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 required SAMHSA to report to Congress on its progress in developing and completing guidelines for hair sample drug testing. Congress mandated HHS establish hair-testing guidelines by Dec. 4, 2016, but the department didn’t announce until June 2019 that it had forwarded the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

“We look at the ‘actual knowledge’ argument as one that FMCSA can hang its hat on regardless of if HHS ever proposes guidelines or not, even though Congress has mandated them to,” Kidd told S+H. “We think the ‘actual knowledge’ angle is sufficient, and FMCSA could actually grant the petition, utilize actual knowledge and go forward.”

In its petition, the alliance contends that “public safety is improved through the use of hair testing because drug use is more accurately detected, and drug users are removed from the operation of commercial motor vehicles.”

The American Trucking Associations has long advocated the use of hair samples as a drug-testing method for CMV drivers.

However, in an article published online Aug. 23 in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Land Line magazine, OOIDA Director of Federal Affairs Jay Grimes calls the alliance’s petition “misguided,” citing environmental contamination and variances in hair types among long-standing faults of hair testing.

“Given the many uncertainties and lack of safety improvements from hair testing, there is no sound reasoning for federal agencies to adopt any sort of hair-testing mandate for drivers,” Grimes said. “This is in large part why FMCSA does not have the statutory authority to even grant the exemption, as rightly mentioned in the notice.”

Comments on the petition are due Sept. 23.


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Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Information Session

First published by FMCSA

Photo property of FMCSA

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP) will open its application portal for participation on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the program acknowledges that safety is the highest priority for truck drivers. SDAP will help individuals between 18 – 20 explore interstate trucking careers and assist trucking companies in hiring and training new drivers through rigorous training standards – pairing each young driver with an experienced mentor. For more information, please view the SDAP Public Information Webinar  that covers training qualifications, participation requirements, and instructions about the application process.

Please contact safedriver@dot.gov with any additional questions.


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President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Boosts Investment in CDL Programs

First published by FMCSA

Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Drivers Programs

Photo property of FMCSA

With nearly 75% more funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this program will streamline CDL trainings to get more drivers on the road, reducing supply chain pressures and making goods more affordable for American families 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that the Biden Administration is following through on its Trucking Action Plan commitment by awarding more than $44 million in grants that will enhance road safety and make the process to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) more efficient. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, States and other entities will be able to improve their CDL programs by reducing wait times, ensuring conviction and disqualification data is electronically exchanged, implementing regulatory requirements, and combatting human trafficking. These grants, awarded through the Commercial Driver’s License Program Implementation, will help get more qualified drivers on the road who can help meet supply chain demands.

The Department of Transportation made significant progress working with states to reduce CDL backlogs and wait times. Now through this funding, the Administration will create long-term resilience and avoid future delays for those who want to join this workforce.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made it a priority not only to retain truck drivers in their important careers, but also to get more qualified truck drivers on the road,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Now, using funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are helping States bring safe, well-trained truck drivers into the workforce and ease pandemic-driven supply chain disruptions.”

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included a 74% increase in CDLPI program funds, which will also help address the rising number of roadway fatalities–a key component in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.

“FMCSA’s core mission is safety, and we’re proud to make investments that support the U.S. Department of Transportation’s ambitious goal of zero fatalities on our roadways,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Robin Hutcheson. “The grants we are announcing today are an important tool for reducing large truck crashes and supporting critical safety programs in every State.”

In total, nearly 60 percent of FMCSA’s annual budget provides States and local communities with grant funding to enhance commercial vehicle safety.

In addition to improving the process for CDLs, Secretary Buttigieg and President Biden’s Supply Chain Disruption Task Force have also been focused on the issue of truck driver retention as part of the Trucking Action Plan. Due to pay, parking shortages, and other challenges in the profession, retaining truck drivers has been a major challenge. As part of that effort, the Department has announced that it will undertake a driver compensation study and form a truck leasing task force, and also has clarified what programs in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law can be used to address truck parking.

Read more about FMCSA’s grants and financial assistance.


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FMCSA extends comment period on speed-limiter proposal

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

orange-semi.jpg

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation Flickr

Washington — Responding to stakeholder requests, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended until July 18 the comment period on a proposed rule that would require the installation of speed-limiting devices on trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

As outlined in a notice published in the May 27 Federal Register, the extension provides interested parties additional time to submit responses. The initial deadline was June 3.

FMCSA, in the May 4 Federal Register, published an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking that expands on a 2016 joint proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and FMCSA. The latter is the sole agency listed on the proposal, which doesn’t specify a top speed. The 2016 proposed rule suggested capping speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph.

FMCSA offers multiple questions on which stakeholders may comment, including:

  • What percentage of the commercial motor vehicle fleet uses speed-limiting devices?
  • If in use, at what maximum speed are the devices generally set?
  • What training or skill sets are needed for motor carriers’ maintenance personnel to adjust or program electronic engine control units to set speed limits?
  • What equipment or tools are needed to adjust or program/reprogram ECUs? How long would the process take, and where can it be completed?
  • Since publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking in 2016, how has standard practice or technology changed as it relates to the ability to set speed limits using ECUs?
    FMCSA extended comment period on speed-limiting

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