Lawmakers reintroduce bill to allow young drivers to operate CMVs interstate

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Lawmakers reintroduce bill to allow young drivers to operate CMVs interstate

Washington — Bipartisan legislation reintroduced March 10 in the House and Senate would allow commercial motor vehicle drivers younger than 21 to operate across state lines.

The Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy Act, or DRIVE-Safe Act (S. 659 and H.R. 1745) are sponsored by two Indiana Republican lawmakers, Sen. Todd Young and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.

Press releases from Young’s office and the American Trucking Associations note that 49 states and the District of Columbia allow 18- to 20-year-olds to obtain commercial drivers’ licenses and operate large commercial vehicles.

“This issue is particularly problematic in regions like our southern Indiana area where an emerging driver would be prohibited from making a quick trip from New Albany, IN, across the river to Louisville, KY,” a release from Hollingsworth’s office states. “But, the same driver could haul a load from New Albany, IN, to South Bend, IN, nearly 260 miles away.”

The DRIVE-Safe Act, the release continues, “would allow employers to provide CDL holders below the age of 21 with an extensive training program that will allow them to safely participate in interstate commerce upon completion.”

According to ATA, that training program would require drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time accompanied by an experienced driver.

The Senate bill was referred to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The House bill is with the Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

The co-sponsors of the Senate bill from the other side of the aisle are Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), as well as Sen. Angus King (I-ME). The other Republican co-sponsors are Sens. Tom Cotton (AR), James Inhofe (OK) and Jerry Moran (KS).

The house bill has four Democrats and four Republicans listed as co-sponsors, all from different states.

“This bill has strong, bipartisan backing because it’s both common sense and pro-safety,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in the organization’s release. “It raises the bar for training standards and safety technology far above what is asked of the thousands of under-21 drivers who are already legally driving commercial vehicles in 49 states today.

“The DRIVE-Safe Act is not a path to allow every young person to drive across state lines, but it envisions creating a safety-centered process for identifying, training and empowering the safest, most responsible 18- to 20-year-olds to more fully participate in our industry. It will create enormous opportunities for countless Americans seeking a high-paying profession without the debt burden that comes with a four-year degree.”

The DRIVE-Safe Act has been introduced in the House and Senate a combined four times since the beginning of 2018. None of the bills made it out of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee or the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee.

ATA contends the industry will need to hire 1.1 million drivers, or 110,000 a year, over the next decade “to keep up with demand.” However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, among other organizations, has contended that the impetus for the previous bills – a driver shortage – doesn’t exist.


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

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Trucking groups to CDC: Truck stops, travel plazas should be vaccination sites

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

travel plazas should be vaccination sites

Alexandria, VA — A coalition of trucking-related groups, including the American Trucking Associations and an association that represents truck stop owners, is urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to designate truck stops and travel plazas as mobile COVID-19 vaccination sites to help “alleviate significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine.”

In a letter dated Feb. 25 and sent to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, ATA, NATSO – formerly known as the National Association of Truck Stop Operators – and others contend truck drivers “should be allowed to receive a vaccine in a state other than that within which they reside due to their length of time on the road and away from home.”

The coalition also requests that drivers be allowed to receive a second dose of a vaccine at a different location, if needed.

“It is improbable that they would have the ability to return to the primary vaccination site on a specific date or time,” the letter states. “By administering vaccines through our nationwide network of locations, we can ensure the ability of our employees and the nation’s truck drivers to continue serving on the front lines of the fuel and food distribution systems across the country.

“Furthermore, by vaccinating truck stop employees, we can amplify the breadth and scope of vaccination deployment across the communities in which we operate. It is imperative that we protect those who are delivering critical supplies – including the vaccine – throughout the country.”

The coalition also includes the Truckload Carriers Association, National Private Truck Council, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, and National Tank Truck Carriers.


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

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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

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

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

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

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

Additionally, FMCSA is seeking responses to the following questions:

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

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

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


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FMCSA seeks to add rear impact guards to annual CMV inspection list

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

See the source image

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing to add rear impact guards to the list of components to be examined during mandatory yearly inspections of commercial motor vehicles.

Rear impact guards are designed to prevent “underrides,” which occur when a passenger vehicle strikes the rear of a CMV and slides underneath.

According to a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Dec. 29 Federal Register, rear impact guards have been required on CMVs for nearly 70 years but aren’t included on the list of components in Appendix G for required inspections. This means that a CMV can pass an annual inspection with a missing or damaged rear impact guard, FMCSA notes.

Additionally, the agency is proposing to amend labeling requirements for the guards “and to exclude road construction controlled (RCC) horizontal discharge trailers from the rear impact guard requirements.”

The deadline to comment on the proposed rule is March 1.


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

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Technology could ‘greatly reduce’ rear-end crashes involving large trucks: IIHS study

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First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Installing crash prevention technologies on the front of large commercial trucks may reduce, by more than 40%, crashes in which those trucks rear-end another vehicle, according to a recent report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

IIHS Director of Statistical Services Eric Teoh analyzed data from about 2,000 crashes involving large trucks that occurred from 2017 to 2019. He found that forward-collision warning systems reduced rear-end crashes by 44%, while automatic emergency braking systems reduced the crashes by 41%. Additionally, these technologies were found to reduce overall crashes by 22% and 12%, respectively.

Front crash prevention systems employ cameras, radar or other sensors to monitor roadways, while AEB systems automatically engage brakes to prevent or mitigate collisions.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 4,415 fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in 2018 – a 52.6% increase from the 2,893 recorded in 2009.

“This study provides evidence that forward-collision warning and AEB greatly reduce crash risk for tractor-trailers and other large trucks,” Teoh said in a Sept. 3 press release. “That’s important information for trucking companies and drivers who are weighing the costs and benefits of these options on their next vehicles.”


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Annual brake inspection blitz examines more vehicles than in 2019

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Photo: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Greenbelt, MD — Commercial motor vehicle inspectors across North America conducted 43,565 brake system inspections and identified 5,156 vehicles – or 11.8% – with out-of-service conditions during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Brake Safety Week, the organization announced Oct. 27.

Conducted Aug. 23-29 – during Brake Safety Awareness Month – this year’s outreach and enforcement campaign saw more vehicles inspected and fewer placed out of service than in 2019, when those totals were 34,320 and 4,626 (13.5%), respectively.

According to CVSA, 53 jurisdictions – including 45 in the United States – participated in this year’s event, which involved both announced and unannounced brake system inspections. Inspectors put special emphasis on brake hoses and tubing; a separate data query from participating jurisdictions found 6,697 hose chafing violations.

“Although many commercial motor vehicle enforcement agencies were forced to reduce services in the spring due to the (COVID-19) pandemic, it was important that we resumed inspection and enforcement duties as soon as it was safe to do so,” CVSA President John Samis said in a press release. “With truck drivers designated ‘essential personnel’ by the government, we needed to ensure that the vehicles traversing our roadways were safe to support commercial drivers as they selflessly continued to work during such a difficult and challenging time.”

Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake campaign, which is conducted in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

Next year’s event is set for Aug. 22-28.


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CVSA reacts to FMCSA rejection of personal conveyance petition

rejection of personal conveyance petition

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CVSA Releases New Video on the Future of Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) released a new stop-motion video envisioning the future of commercial motor vehicle safety technology, inspections and enforcement. This four-minute video takes the viewer to a future – near and far – that’s safer for all road users. The future of commercial motor vehicle safety includes important advancements such as:

  • Vehicle-to-everything applications, including vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-enforcement technologies
  • Alerts to drivers regarding inclement weather, crashes, closed roadways, bridge height restrictions, construction, road conditions, etc.
  • Lane centering, lane keeping, automatic emergency braking and controlled driver steering
  • North American Standard Level VIII Electronic Inspections and universal electronic identification
  • Vehicles equipped with automated driving systems
  • Vehicle, driver and pedestrian monitoring technologies with cameras, sensors and radars inside and outside of the vehicle

Universal deployment of these critical safety technologies would revolutionize commercial motor vehicle roadside enforcement, monitoring and inspections, exponentially growing the North American Standard Inspection Program and drastically improving roadway safety.

The “Welcome to the Future of Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement” video provides a clear and easy-to-understand visual presentation of today’s challenges and the solutions to those challenges, such as the deployment of proven safety technologies that improve transportation safety and prevent crashes. In addition, implementing the safety technologies referenced in the video will enable law enforcement officials to better identify and prioritize unsafe commercial motor vehicles and drivers for intervention, taking unfit vehicles and operators off the roads, while making roadside inspections and enforcement more efficient and reducing impacts on the movement of goods.

This public video is meant to be shared with lawmakers, regulators, safety advocates, motor carriers, drivers, researchers, vehicle safety technology developers and vendors, the law enforcement community and anyone else interested in learning about commercial motor vehicle safety and CVSA’s efforts to improve roadway, driver and vehicle safety.


 

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

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Group files suit against FMCSA, DOT over final rule amending trucker hours-of-service regulations

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

As new hours-of-service regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are scheduled to go into effect Sept. 29, a group has filed a petition asking a federal court to overturn the new rules.

Washington — A coalition of roadway safety advocacy groups, in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation challenging a controversial final rule FMCSA claims will add flexibility to hours-of-service regulations for commercial truck drivers.

In the lawsuit, filed Sept. 16 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, and the Teamsters request a reexamination of the final rule as well as their petition for FMCSA to reconsider the rule. The groups filed the petition June 30, and FMCSA denied it Aug. 25.

At press time, the rule was slated to take effect Sept. 29. The petitioners call the rule “flawed” in a Sept. 16 press release.

“Under the guise of increased flexibility, the changes will further exacerbate the already well-known threat of fatigue among commercial motor vehicle drivers by significantly weakening current HOS rules,” the release states.

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 exemption 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.

In the petition, the groups contend that “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.” They cite National Highway Traffic Administration data showing that 4,951 fatalities in incidents involving a large truck occurred in 2018, as well as additional research highlighting fatigue-related hazards associated with the profession.

Preliminary data released in NHTSA’s May 2020 “Traffic Safety Facts” report shows that fatalities in incidents involving a large truck are projected to have increased 1% in 2019.

“If I fall asleep on the job, my head hits the keyboard,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in the Sept. 16 release. “If a truck driver falls asleep, his/her head hits the windshield, and that’s only part of the catastrophic outcome. Allowing operators to work longer hours and drive farther distances without proper rest breaks and other protections ignores science, data and expert opinion.”

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa also expresses his opposition to the final rule in the release.

“By issuing this HOS regulation, FMCSA has bowed to special trucking industry interests at the expense of highway safety, seeking longer workdays for drivers who are already being pushed to the limit,” Hoffa said. “We join this lawsuit to ensure that our members and their families are protected from fatigued drivers when they use our nation’s roadways.”

The rule doesn’t include a proposed provision that would have allowed covered CMV operators one rest break of up to three consecutive hours during every 14-hour on-duty period. However, under a proposed FMCSA pilot program published in the Sept. 3 Federal Register, CMV operators would be allowed one rest break of up to three consecutive hours but no less than 30 minutes during every 14-hour on-duty period. Comments on the pilot program are due Nov. 2.

In a May 14 video posted on the DOT’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 table to comply, and that benefits everyone.”


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT 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