Speeding most cited violation during Operation Safe Driver Week

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Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officials issued more than 71,000 citations and warnings to drivers during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

From July 12 to July 18, law enforcement officials throughout the United States and Canada were on the lookout for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors such as following too closely, not wearing a seat belt and distracted driving, while placing added emphasis on speeding, CVSA states in a Sept. 2 press release.

Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common among both groups of drivers. Commercial motor vehicle drivers received 2,339 citations and 3,423 warnings for speeding, while passenger drivers accounted for 14,378 citations and 11,456 warnings.

Rounding out the top five citations issued to CMV drivers: failure to wear a seat belt (1,003), failure to obey a traffic control device (617), texting or using a handheld phone (269), and improper lane change (122).

The next most common citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers were failure to wear a seat belt (932), possession/use/under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (452), failure to obey a traffic control device (399), and improper lane change (273).

“Although CVSA is a commercial motor vehicle safety organization, it was important that passenger vehicle drivers were also involved in this annual weeklong driver safety enforcement initiative,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “When commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles collide, no matter who was at fault, the results can be catastrophic, especially for the smaller and lighter passenger vehicle. Preventing crashes from happening requires every driver – commercial and personal – to be aware of how to safely share the road with other types of vehicles.”

The rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019 – despite a 17% drop in the number of miles driven – according to preliminary estimates released Sept. 15 by the National Safety Council.


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Group petitions FMCSA to delay final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

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Washington — A coalition of safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to reconsider a controversial final rule the agency claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

Submitted June 30 and filed by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Truck Safety Coalition, and the Teamsters, the petition requests a stay of the effective date of the final rule – slated for Sept. 29 at press time – until the FMCSA administrator can further review the petition.

Under the rule, announced in a May 14 agency press release and published in the June 1 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.

The final rule doesn’t 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.

The petition cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as other research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

According to preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 Traffic Safety Facts report, fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“The final rule is not in the public interest and does not meet the agency’s statutory mission in carrying out its duties to assign and maintain safety as the highest priority,” the groups contend in the petition. “The agency had failed to address the significant risk to public safety posed by fatigued drivers of CMVs at a time when large truck crashes continue to increase.”

Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, and Lamont Byrd, director of the Teamsters’ safety and health department, voiced their opposition to the final rule in a May 14 press release.

“In an effort to increase so-called ‘flexibility’ for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further,” Hoffa said. “Trucking is already one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs. We shouldn’t be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses.”

yrd added: “Extending the workday to 14 hours for CDL-qualified short-haul drivers will result in an increase in occupational injuries and driver fatigue. We are also concerned with the revised rest break provision. This revised rule could allow a driver to spend hours performing physically demanding work and then drive up to eight hours without having to take a break.”

After multiple delays, FMCSA published a proposed rule in the Aug. 22 Federal Register. The initial comment deadline also was delayed before FMCSA on March 2 submitted the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review.

In a May 14 video posted on the Department of Transportation’s YouTube channel, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the final rule’s provisions “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.”

Marijuana tops list of substances identified in CMV drivers’ failed drug tests: FMCSA

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Washington — The first report to use data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse shows that, from the database’s Sept. 28 launch through May, marijuana was the most common substance found in positive drug and alcohol tests among commercial motor vehicle drivers.

The national online database – aimed at enhancing road safety by providing, in real time, the names of CMV drivers who fail drug and alcohol tests – identified 10,388 positive tests for marijuana. Cocaine (3,192) and methamphetamine (2,184) were the next most common substances detected.

Under federal regulations, motor carriers must conduct pre-employment drug testing in addition to random testing. Employees who test positive are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, which includes operating a CMV.

According to the report, 19,849 CMV drivers had at least one violation and were unable to operate until completing the return-to-duty process – including 15,682 drivers who had yet to begin the process.

In an article published June 15 in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Land Line magazine, Amber Schweer, supervisor of OOIDA’s drug and alcohol consortium, said the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use in numerous states may be complicating the problem.

“There is a huge misconception that just because it is legal on the state level that it will be OK on the federal level,” Schweer said. “That is not the case.”

CBD products also figured to factor into the findings, Schweer added. In a Feb. 18 policy and compliance notice, the Department of Transportation cautioned that CBD products may contain higher levels of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – than DOT allows in a controlled substance. DOT added that CBD use is not a “legitimate medical explanation” for a safety-sensitive employee who tests positive for marijuana.

“There are so many companies that claim you won’t test positive using their product when in reality they cannot guarantee that,” Schweer said. “Drivers are not heeding the warnings that are put out there and, unfortunately, are facing expensive and detrimental consequences to their career.”

Overall, the clearinghouse observed 21,156 positive tests for substance misuse among CMV drivers during the reporting period. Multiple substances can appear in positive tests, FMCSA notes in the report, which does not include the total number of tests conducted. Future reports are set to be released monthly. Employers made more than 905,000 queries into the clearinghouse since it was fully implemented Jan. 6.

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

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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

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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

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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.”

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

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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

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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.