FMCSA STANDS BY HOURS RULE
In similar letters to several different companies and organizations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Aug. 20 declined to reconsider various aspects of the new hours-of-service regulations that are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 4.
Among the petitioners was Wal-Mart Stores, which wanted FMCSA to reverse its decision to require that all driving be completed within 14 hours after the workday begins. Several other organizations also sought relief from that provision. Others wanted to exclude utility service vehicles from the new rule, allowing them to continue operating under current rules as motorcoach operators will be allowed to do.
In each of the letters, FMCSA said that it had compared the relief sought to the core goals in the hours-of-service rulemaking: improved safety, more opportunity for rest, movement toward schedules closer to the body’s 24-hour clock, practicality, uniformity and enforceability.
“The breadth and diversity of commercial vehicle uses and users means that any set of regulations will have a variety of impacts, depending on the type of motor carrier operation,” said FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg in each of the eight letters denying petitions for reconsideration. “FMCSA believes the new rule strikes the appropriate balance between practicality, uniformity and enforceability, while at the same time improving safety for all.”
In the letters to Wal-Mart and others who specifically objected to the 14-hour rule, Sandberg said that “the various elements of the Final Rule form a single, interlocking unit. The new rule was carefully designed to take into account our data that the 14-hour limit could not be altered or replaced without undermining the very benefits in fatigue-reduction the new rule seeks to establish. Moreover, allowing carriers to decide which time provisions were to apply would seriously complicate and undermine effective enforcement of the rule.”
Although utilities lost their bid for reconsideration, they have won a victory. The House Appropriations Committee in July approved a transportation funding bill that blocks FMCSA from changing the hours-of-service regulations on drivers of utility service vehicles.
What they wanted
The following are the eight petitions for reconsideration denied by FMCSA Aug. 20 and a brief summary of each. The documents are available by searching Docket No. 2350 at this site. To find the most recent documents, including the denials of the petitions, click the “Reverse Order” button at the bottom of the results page.
Arizona Public Service Co. – Asked that FMCSA either (1) allow drivers of utility service vehicles (USVs) to comply with existing regulations; (2) allow drivers of USVs to drive 11 hours within 14 cumulative hours of on-duty time in a 24-hour period, with the ability to extend on-duty time for lunch breaks; or (3) stay the implementation date of the final rule as it relates to drivers of USVs until the agency can address the impact on utilities and public security, safety and health.
Edison Electric Institute and other investor-owned utility companies – Asked for the same exemption from the hours-of-service rules applicable to public utilities.
Fox News – Asked for unspecified relief from the 14-hour limit.
Hours of Service Coalition – Asked that short-haul trucking operations be allowed the option of complying either with the new rule or with the current rule.
National Propane Gas Association – Asked that its members be allowed to comply with the new rule as soon as they wished or to move the compliance date for NPGA members up to Sept. 1, 2003.
SabilUpLink Communications – Asked that the 14-hour clock be stopped when the driver is off duty in a hotel or at home.
Southern California Edison – Asked for (1) blanket authority to declare an emergency; (2) a revision to the 100 air-mile radius rule to provide relief from the 12-hour restriction; and (3) standardization of the definition of a commercial motor vehicle at 26,001 pounds or more.
Wal-Mart Stores – Asked that the 14-hour duty period during which driving is allowed be changed from consecutive hours to cumulative hours, as in the current rule.
Union Pacific, the largest U.S. freight railroad operator, plans to sell Richmond, Va.-based Overnite Corp., through an initial public stock offering. Overnite, through its subsidiaries Overnite Transportation Co. and Motor Cargo Industries, has more than 208 U.S. service centers, a 6,000-truck fleet and a mostly non-union workforce of more than 14,400 employees.
Celadon Group Inc. acquired the business and certain assets of Richmond, Va.-based truckload carrier Highway Express for an undisclosed price. Celadon, which acquired all of the tractors and trailers, as well as certain other assets related to the business, will continue to operate Highway Express from its Richmond headquarters.
Peterbilt Motors Co. achieved the highest rankings in the first-ever J.D. Power and Associates Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study in the over-the-road, vocational and dealer service segments – three of the four segments measured. Kenworth Truck Co., another Paccar unit, won the award in the pickup and delivery segment for Class 8 trucks.
National Transportation Safety Board’s latest “Most Wanted” safety recommendations include two directly involving motor carriers: tougher medical certification procedures to keep medically unfit drivers from driving trucks or buses and a more performance-based means of determining carrier fitness. The full “Most Wanted” list is available at www.ntsb.gov.
Heartland Express said a mediated agreement had been reached in the one remaining wrongful death lawsuit filed in Knoxville, Tenn., arising from a June 21, 2002, accident involving multiple fatalities. Although Heartland did not disclose the terms, the combined settlements remained well within the company’s insurance limits, a spokesman said. The combined relief originally sought was about $54.5 million in compensatory damages and $215 million in punitive damages.
USF Corp., parent company of several regional and national trucking companies operating under the USF name, selected Richard DiStasio president and CEO, effective Sept. 15. Since 2001, DiStasio had been president and CEO of global distribution services provider The Martin-Brower Company, the largest provider of supply chain management services to McDonald’s.
Arctic Express lost its bid to exclude from its ongoing litigation with the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association claims against the Hilliard, Ohio-based company’s lease-purchase agreements in place before Congress granted a right of private action. U.S. District Judge Algernon Marbley dismissed Arctic’s motion to exclude claims based on agreements executed before Jan. 1, 1996, the effective date of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act.
Yellow Corp. and Roadway Corp. have received second requests for additional information from the Department of Justice in connection with the proposed acquisition of Roadway by Yellow.
Federal grand jury in Philadelphia returned indictments against eight truck drivers, Ontelaunee Transport Services, Inc. of Kempton, Pa., and its dispatcher on charges of violating hours-of-service regulations. The indictments allege the drivers falsified their logbooks.
Nevada’s new law addressing engine brake use and allowing Nevada to conform with federal definitions of longer tractor-trailer combinations takes effect Oct. 1. The law allows a driver to use an engine brake as long as the truck is equipped with a muffler or if there is immediate threat to a person or property.
CCJ EQUIPMENT DEMAND INDEX
ILLINOIS SHOULD BE TOPS
Expect good spot-market freight in Illinois during October. According to the CCJ Equipment Demand Index, for the past three years Illinois has held first place for van demand in October in the spot market.
Ohio remains at the top for flatbed demand, beating Illinois by about 2 percent in equipment searches. Illinois made its way back to the top position for reefer demand. Data for the past three years shows that Illinois has had a strong demand for vans in October, holding either first or second place.
The index, based on equipment searches performed by TransCore customers, shows the top 15 states in terms of demand for trucks in the spot market in the three most common equipment types: dry vans, flatbeds and refrigerated units. The index is intended to help fleet operators identify the most promising opportunities for backhaul and other spot-market freight in the month after its publication.
FINALLY, SANDBERG IS FMCSA CHIEF
Annette Sandberg now officially heads the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration after being sworn in as the second administrator in the agency’s three-year history. Sandberg was sworn in Aug. 5 following Senate confirmation July 31. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta appointed Sandberg deputy administrator late last year, and she became acting administrator upon Joseph Clapp’s retirement at yearend. In March, President Bush nominated Sandberg as FMCSA administrator. Previously, she served in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and as head of the Washington State Patrol. Sandberg holds a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration.
REQUIRED DRIVER TRAINING PROPOSED
Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed training requirements for entry-level commercial driver’s license drivers – except transit vehicle drivers – and operators of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) who wish to obtain an LCV Driver-Training Certificate. The agency also proposed new requirements for LCV driver instructors.
Because LCV double and triple trailers have different operating characteristics, FMCSA has proposed customized training courses for each.
The proposed curriculum would consist of orientation, operation, safe operating practices, advanced operation and nondriving activities, such as route and trip planning and checking on cargo and weight.
To qualify for training, the proposed rule would require that a student-driver must, for at least six months before training, have a valid CDL with a double or triple trailer endorsement. The endorsement ensures that the driver has a basic knowledge of coupling and uncoupling and inspection procedures for these vehicles, FMCSA said.
Additional training qualification requirements include no convictions or suspensions in a CMV or CDL disqualifying offenses and no at-fault accidents in a CMV. Those driving a double trailer would need evidence of Group A driving experience. Group A vehicles have a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, including a trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. Those driving a triple trailer would need evidence of Group A tractor-trailer or twin-trailer experience.
Motor carriers may waive driver-training requirements if a driver certifies that during the last two years he or she had a valid Class A CDL with a double or triple endorsement; no convictions or suspensions in a CMV for CDL-disqualifying offenses; no CMV at-fault accidents; and evidence of regular and continuing employment and operation of an LCV group. Motor carriers must ensure that drivers meet these conditions before granting the waiver.
To qualify as an LCV driver-instructor, the proposal requires that an individual have successfully completed an LCV driver-training course for the group of LCV he or she intends to teach; have a valid Class A CDL with applicable endorsements; and have at least two years’ driving experience for the type of LCV instruction he or she intends to provide.
Instructor requirements may be waived if a candidate met the conditions for a driver waiver of training requirements, and during the last two years has had experience operating the LCV group he or she intends to teach, and has experience teaching courses similar in content to the LCV curriculum. Comments on the LCV training proposal are due Oct. 11.
The proposed requirements for entry-level CDL drivers, which are required by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, would affect truck and bus drivers with less than two years’ experience operating commercial motor vehicles. FMCSA proposed required training in four areas: driver qualifications, hours-of-service limitations, driver wellness and whistle-blower protection. The agency is not proposing to require that entry-level drivers receive training in areas that are covered in the CDL test. “Such training would be redundant,” the agency said in its proposal.
The agency estimates that it will take about 10.5 hours for large truck and motor-coach drivers and 4.5 hours for school-bus drivers to complete the entry-level training.
Employers would have 90 days after the rule’s enactment to ensure that all currently employed entry-level drivers receive the required training. Evidence that a driver has received the training would be maintained in his qualification file. Drivers with one to two years’ experience operating a CMV with a CDL, who have a good driving record, could be grandfathered and not required to take the training. Comments are due Oct. 14.
For more information on the two proposals, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 2199 for the entry-level driver proposal and Docket No. 2176 for the LCV driver proposal.
GATS TO FEATURE HOS FORUM FOR CARRIERS
The Randall Trucking Media Group, publisher of CCJ, is sponsoring a three-hour forum in Dallas, Friday, Sept. 26, regarding the new hours-of-service regulations, which take effect Jan. 4, 2003.
Because the new requirements for more hours of rest and for a shorter workday will challenge productivity and asset utilization, a panel of leading carriers, shippers and others will discuss the best ways to adapt to the new rules without losing customers or drivers or trashing your bottom line.
Hours-of-Service Forum: New Challenges, Real Solutions will begin at noon at the Dallas Convention Center, site of the Great American Trucking Show, held Sept. 26-28. There is no charge to attend, and complimentary lunch will be served, but space is limited and you must register by Sept. 19. Following the forum, interested attendees can participate in a series of optional, smaller workshops to be held in the GATS Fleet Pavilion, a special lounge and educational area for fleet operators on the exhibition floor.
Other events at the Great American Trucking Show of interest to fleet operators include:
- Industry’s second largest exhibition of trucking products and services;
- Commercial Work Truck Pavilion – everything for the light and medium truck user;
- Expedite Pavilion – dedicated to the trucks, equipment and companies that specialize in fast freight;
- Texas Motor Transportation Association educational programs; and
- Truckload Carriers Association’s Independent Contractor Division Annual Meeting.
To register for the Hours-of-Service Forum online, visit www.ccjmagazine.com/hosforum or complete the form on page 74 of this issue and fax it to Yashekia Hill at (205) 750-8070.
ISSUES OF SECURITY
PERMITS PROPOSED FOR CERTAIN HAZMAT LOADS
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed requiring North American motor carriers to have a hazardous materials safety permit for transporting four types of hazardous materials. Comments are due Oct. 20.
The materials covered by the permit program are highway route-controlled quantities of radioactive materials; more than 55 pounds of Class A or B explosives; more than one quart of hazardous material designated as extremely toxic by inhalation; and a package of 3,500 gallons or more of liquefied natural gas. Permits would be valid for two years, and a copy of the permit would need to be in the hazmat truck.
FMCSA spokeswoman Suzy Bohnert said the new permit program affects carriers both in interstate or intrastate commerce. “We’re trying to reduce accidental and intentional releases” of hazardous materials, she said.
About 2,434 carriers would be affected by the plan, as would some businesses that provide services to small carriers, she said. The safety permit requirement would be phased in starting Jan. 1, 2005. Carriers that already transport these materials would have a two-year phase-in period to get the permit. Carriers not transporting these materials as of Jan. 1, 2005, would need to apply and receive a safety permit before transporting these materials.
Obtaining a permit would require that motor carriers have a satisfactory rating, a satisfactory security program, and be registered with the Research and Special Programs Administration. An intrastate carrier would be required to apply for a U.S. DOT number as a new entrant and undergo a compliance review. An intrastate carrier would not become subject to other requirements in the motor carrier safety regulations unless they already apply.
A safety permit could be suspended or revoked if a motor carrier does not maintain its satisfactory rating, fails to comply with an out-of-service order or with the motor carrier safety regulation’s hazardous materials rules or compatible state requirements. It also could be suspended if the carrier has unpaid civil penalties. A government inspector would have to perform the pretrip inspection of the truck before it could transport a highway-route-controlled quantity of radioactive material.
For more information, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket. No. 2180.
GUIDELINES ADDRESS FOOD TRANSPORTATION SECURITY
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released guidelines for companies that transport meat, poultry and eggs to protect food from intentional and unintentional contamination throughout the distribution process. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the new voluntary guidelines Aug. 4, after issuing security guidelines for food processors in May 2002.
The FSIS is recommending all involved in the transportation chain to have controls and routines in place to prevent contamination, such as checking the loads at weigh stations.
The department has requested public comments in response to a series of questions contained in the Federal Register notice of these guidelines. It is seeking responses that suggest possible improvements in the guidelines and problems the guidelines may pose, especially for smaller companies.
The guidelines are available on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/topics/biosecurity.htm. Written comments on the guidelines and answers to the questions in the Federal Register notice should be submitted no later than Oct. 3.
ITS veteran joins GATS
Randall Publishing Co. recently named Alan Sims as director – events, sales and marketing for its Great American Trucking Show, held each September in Dallas. Sims has more than 17 years experience in publishing and trade show management, sales and marketing. Prior to joining Randall Publishing, Sims served for more than 10 years as vice president of sales for the International Trucking Show. In its fifth year, GATS will be held September 26-28, 2003, at the Dallas Convention Center.