The Department of Transportation has waived hours-of-service regulations for areas affected by drought, to help put more needed trucks and drivers on the road to help affected farmers and ranchers.
HOS rules will be waived if a qualifying drought emergency has been declared in a state by its governor or appropriate official, with no application needed, the White House said on its website.
If the situation does not qualify for emergency relief, federal rules regulating large truck and bus operations may be waived in certain circumstances, the White House said.
The ongoing drought has slammed Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and southern Illinois and Indiana, and its effects on trucking have hit agricultural carriers especially hard.
DOT can process a request to waive regulations in seven to 14 days, and the transportation law signed by President Obama signed in July provides new authority for states to issue special permits for overweight vehicles and loads that can easily be dismantled or divided in an emergency situation, it said.
U.S. Department of Transportation Releases New “Faces of Distracted Driving” Video
John T. Gordon of Marion, Ohio, Remembered By His Parents
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today released the latest video in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” series, featuring the story of John T. Gordon from Marion, Ohio.
WATCH: “John T. Gordon, 35” – http://youtu.be/dQ-FJqmcxq8
John T. Gordon was a law enforcement officer and father to an 11-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl. On May 18, 2008, John was riding his motorcycle on Ohio State Route 4 when a young man driving a truck swerved into oncoming traffic. John was struck and died instantly. Records later showed that the driver was using his cell phone at the time of the crash.
“John Gordon was a beloved son, husband, and father who lost his life in a crash that was preventable,” said Secretary LaHood. “Even a momentary distraction behind the wheel can have devastating consequences, and I hope all drivers who hear this story will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their cell phones in the glove compartment.”
“Before our son was killed, I never thought about people using their cell phones while driving. But now, I see it everywhere,” said John’s mother, Lois Gordon. “The birthdays, the holidays, our son walking his daughter down the aisle – we’re missing all of these moments because of something as insignificant as a cell phone.”
“Faces of Distracted Driving” is a video series that raises awareness about the potentially tragic consequences of texting and using cell phones while driving by sharing the stories of families who have been affected by this deadly epidemic. In 2010, over 3,000 people died in crashes related to distracted driving. The series is part of Secretary LaHood’s ongoing efforts to raise greater awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
WATCH: “Faces of Distracted Driving” – www.distraction.gov/faces
To learn more about USDOT’s efforts to stop distracted driving, please visit www.distraction.gov.
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See the video message at www.compliancejourney.com and pass on the “thank you” to your team by sharing it!
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces More Than $363 Million in Grants for State Highway Projects
Funds will create jobs by expanding highway repairs and roadway safety
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced more than $363 million in grants to fund a wide variety of highway improvements, from interstate rehabilitation and reconstruction to technologies that result in improved safety and reduced construction congestion.
“Investments in transportation projects like these create jobs right away in communities across the country, and lay a foundation for future economic growth,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to these grants, states, cities and local communities can move forward with the transportation projects Americans need to reach their destinations more safely, quickly and efficiently.”
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) invited states, cities, tribal governments and local planning organizations to apply for federal funding from 12 grant programs. Nearly 1,500 requests poured in from every state, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. totaling approximately $2.5 billion. Grant funding was made available through enactment of the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II.
The 12 programs are:
- Public Lands Highway
- Interstate Maintenance
- Transportation, Community and System Preservation
- Ferry Boat
- National Scenic Byways
- Value Pricing Pilot
- Highways for LIFE
- National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation
- Railway-Highway Crossing Hazard Elimination in High Speed Rail Corridor
- Delta Region Transportation Development
- Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment
- Truck Parking Border Infrastructure
All 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico were awarded grants. Some examples of selected projects:
Louisiana received more than $3 million to improve I-10 from the Lafayette Parish Line to the Atchafalaya Floodway Bridge. In addition to new pavement, the project will upgrade the guardrail and add new roadway striping to the route. The road is a high-volume truck corridor and is one of the state’s major hurricane evacuation routes.
Ohio received $3.34 million to improve I-75 in downtown Dayton from Fifth Street to Riverview Avenue. This two-mile stretch of interstate is Ohio’s second-most congested area. The project will improve driver safety and reduce traffic congestion for the 104,000 drivers who use it each day.
Missouri received $2 million for engineering work needed to replace the two bridges on I-44 over the Meramec River and to add an eastbound lane to reduce congestion and improve safety for drivers in St. Louis County.
Descriptions of each program and grant awards can be found here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/2012factsheets.cfm
“The demand for these funds demonstrates a clear need for increased infrastructure investment,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “The President asked us to rebuild America - we have work to be done and Americans ready to do the work.”
These programs were authorized by Congress to support projects that improve roadway safety, maintain the nation's roads and bridges and make communities more livable.
A state-by-state list of the FY12 grants is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/2012grantdata.cfm
U.S. payrolls jumped by 163,000 in July and trucking jobs rose by more than 3,000, the Labor Department said Friday.
The unemployment rate rose 0.1% from June to 8.3% as more people looked for work, and total private-sector jobs jumped by 172,000, topping economists’ forecasts, Bloomberg reported.
Economists’ had forecast an overall gain of 100,000 jobs and a private-sector increase of 110,000, Bloomberg said.
Trucking jobs rose by 3,100, while overall transportation sector employment, of which trucking is a subsector, jumped by almost 7,000, Labor figures showed.
June’s trucking jobs figure was revised upward to an 8,500 increase, from an originally reported 2,000.
Manufacturing employment spiked by 25,000, more than twice economists’ forecasts, Bloomberg reported.
Transportation equipment jobs jumped by 20,500 jobs, while motor vehicles and parts, which includes bodies and trailers, gained 12,800.
The payroll and unemployment figures are obtained by separate surveys, with payrolls from a survey of employers and the unemployment rate from a survey of households.
Well, you don’t hear this every day: a routine shut down of a non-compliant carrier triggered an FDA investigation into a conspiracy to make ricotta cheese out of condemned milk. Yeah, we didn’t see that one coming either.
It began fairly normally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration caught D.A. Landis Trucking with some hours of service violations. During the investigation it turned out that Landis were falsifying log books and had even gone so far as to give drivers false logs to hide their violations. (Investigators found them easy to spot as the company had marked them “Not for DOT”.)
During the investigation, however, inspectors found a more bizarre violation. During a period between 2007 and 2009, Landis was hauling milk for 700 different dairy farms. At least 20 times, the company hauled loads of condemned milk — milk that had too high of a level of anitbiotics to be safe for human consumption. The drivers were supposed to dump the milk at a local manure pit, however, company owner Dean Landis ordered the drivers back to the trucking yard instead. From there, the milk was pumped into another truck and sent off to the Lebanon Cheese Company in Lebanon, NJ... Continue reading.
DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of July 23, 2012
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
After months of furious arguments, FMCSA has announced a year-long study process to look at the best way to determine accountability for crashes listed publicly in the CSA system.
Over the last few months, the trucking industry has voiced outrage at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the display of crashes on a carrier’s CSA page. Currently, if a carrier has been involved in a crash, that incident is listed on the carrier’s public CSA report. Unfortunately, what is not listed is any description of the accident or a determination of fault.
Controversy Boiling Over
Understandably, there is a great deal of objection to this. As it currently stands, if you were hit by a drunk driver, you would have the same notification as if you yourself drove drunk and hit another vehicle. With brokers, insurers and customers reviewing the CSA scores more and more (and with more litigation aimed at those three parties), those notifications can prove deadly to carriers. Get hit by a drunk driver and there is a very real chance that your business will get hit a month or so down the line.
In March of this year, FMCSA Administrator, Anne Ferro, caused an outrage when she announced that a planned fix to this situation would be delayed. The plan had been to use the police reports of the crash as the bas is for fault. However, Ferro claimed that the agency had received criticism from unnamed Public Interest Groups saying that the police reports might be an unreliable determiner of fault. The decision was made to keep the CSA page in its current format and to come up with a solution at an unannounced future date.
Needless to say, this did not go over well with the motor carrier industry and, over past few months, pressure — including rare bipartisan criticism from Congress — has built and built for FMCSA to change what they are doing.
Finally, the Agency has released a plan of action to deal with the situation. The industry should not, however, take this as a sign that FMCSA is definitely going to change its system. In a press release regarding the plan, the agency wrote:
“Today, the crash reports submitted by the States do not include a determination of whether the motor carrier is responsible for causing the crash. Analysis shows that the current process of including all crashes a motor carrier is involved in is a good predictor of future crash risk."
Instead of out-right changing the system, FMCSA is planning on spending a year studying whether refining this information (by including fault) can help to predict future crashes.
Three Key Questions
The study will look to answer three key questions:
1. A broad study of PARs [Police Accident Reports] across the Nation will attempt to determine whether they provide sufficient, consistent, and reliable information that can be used to determine the carrier’s role in a given crash and what other information, including input from other entities in the outcome of a crash determination, should be used to supplement PARs for maximum reliability.
2. FMCSA will conduct analysis to determine if the carrier’s role in a given crash is a better indicator of future crash risk. If so, the analysis will determine the impact of weighting crashes differently in SMS.
3. Throughout this analysis, research will also be reviewed from similar programs in other countries (e.g., Canada) to understand their analysis, processes, and applicability to SMS.
Announcement Next Summer
While industry insiders may be happy to see some change (however grudgingly given), they may not be happy with the time frame. Results from the study are not due until the Summer of 2013. A plan of action will be developed from those results although Ferro herself has indicated that change will come via an administrative process, not via a public rulemaking session.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 112, No. 748 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2012
DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of July 30, 2012
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed a new, more efficient, process for reporting out of state traffic convictions to home state licensing agencies.
As the regulations currently stand, if you were to be convicted of a traffic violation in a state other than your home state, the regulations require that you, the driver, report that violation to your home state licensing agency. The regulations also require the state in which the violation occurred to report the conviction to your state licensing agency.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is proposing that, when possible, that redundancy should be eliminated. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in the Federal Register this week, FMCSA has suggested that when a State has reported a conviction, a driver should not have to.
Proposed Rule Change
The new rule would create a much more common sense system. Once you receive your conviction, the state that issued it will send notification to your home state and you will be considered in compliance with regulations automatically.
The NPRM does state that one state will not be participating in the this system (the state is not named) as that state does not report convictions electronically.
The new regulations would read as follows:
PART 383--COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE STANDARDS; REQUIREMENTS AND PENALTIES
1. The authority citation for part 383 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 49 U.S.C. 521, 31136, 31301 et seq., and 31502; secs. 214 and 215 of Pub. L. 106-159, 113 Stat. 1766, 1767; sec. 4140 of Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144, 1726; and 49 CFR 1.73.
2. Amend Sec. 383.31(a) by revising paragraph (a) and adding new paragraph (d), to read as follows:
Sec. 383.31 Notification of convictions for driver violations.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, each person who operates a commercial motor vehicle, who has a commercial driver’s license issued by a State or jurisdiction, and who is convicted of violating, in any type of motor vehicle, a State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation) in a State or jurisdiction other than the one which issued his/her license, shall notify an official designated by the State or jurisdiction which issued such license, of such conviction. The notification must be made within 30 days after the date that the person has been convicted.
* * * * *
d) A person is considered to be in compliance with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section if the State or jurisdiction that issued the citation resulting in a conviction is in substantial compliance with 49 CFR part 384, subpart B, and has not been de-certified in accordance with 49 CFR 384.405.
Triggered By Comments
Interestingly, this proposal was triggered by a response to a request for comments that the agency issued in 2011. FMCSA asked the industry for suggestions on how it could streamline the regulatory process and this was one of the suggestions.
Commenting on this Proposal
The agency is accepting comments on this proposal for 60 days (it was published on Aug. 2.) When submitting comments, you must reference Docket No. FMCSA-2012-0172. Comments can be made four ways:
Online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www. regulations.gov.
By Fax: 202-493-2251.
By mail to: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E. West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, 20590-0001, or
By hand delivery or courier : Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays to the same address.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 112, No. 749 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2012
Over the last four years, some 38,000 would-be truck drivers applying at Schneider National Inc. have had their hair snipped for a drug test.
Of those, 1,411 failed. The analysis detected cocaine, marijuana or other banned substances. Yet more than 90% of those 1,411 applicants were able to pass a urine test - the government-mandated, industry standard - looking for the same drugs.
In a way, that's not surprising. Molecules of methamphetamine, tetrahydrocannabinol and other drugs remain in urine for only a few days. They can stay bound in hair for months.
Not only that. Schneider tells applicants in advance that they'll be tested. A little abstinence and - bingo - clean urine sample.
"The urine-based drug test is simply not catching chronic drug users," said Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety and security at the Green Bay-based firm.
So Schneider and a handful of other trucking companies, including Marshfield's Roehl Transport Inc., have added haircuts to their screening process.
That's meant that thousands of drug users aren't wheeling 80,000-pound trucks down the highway for Schneider, Roehl, J.B. Hunt and other firms.
"The bad news," said Osterberg, "is they are likely driving a truck for a carrier who doesn't require hair testing."
Now, Schneider and others in the industry want the U.S. Department of Transportation to put its stamp of approval on hair testing and allow test results to be shared with other trucking firms.
Currently, Schneider executives say, that's illegal because while the government allows hair testing, it's not officially recognized.
"That's one of the areas that need to be fixed," Osterberg said.
Hair testing has its limits and its critics. It doesn't detect recent drug use and may show positive results for smoked drugs when someone has merely been in the same room where they were consumed, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In Wisconsin, hair testing hasn't been accepted by the state Labor and Industry Review Commission, which decides appeals in cases involving unemployment insurance, worker's compensation and equal rights.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is committed to studying testing methods beyond the one it now approves - urine - but has said hair and other specimens raise significant issues that may take more time to resolve.
Even without a federal imprimatur, though, the advantages of hair screening - not only does it show drug use over a much longer period than urine, but the test is more difficult to cheat - have helped spur increasing adoption in trucking.
"It's a deterrent," said John Spiros, vice president of safety and claims management at Roehl, which began testing hair a year ago. "When people know that you're doing hair-follicle testing, a lot of them won't even apply."
There's a huge volume of churn in trucking. Industrywide, annual driver turnover for truckload carriers - the long-haul, big-load fleets - is running somewhere between 70% and 90%.
That means the companies as a group are replacing more than seven out of 10 drivers a year. Some are leaving trucking, often after just a short time in the industry. Most are hopping from one company to another.
Either way, firms such as Schneider, with more than 11,000 drivers, or Arkansas' J.B. Hunt, with 10,500, do lots of hiring - and face lots of chances to hire someone who uses drugs.
Urine test easy to cheat
Urine testing alone will miss many of them. Beyond the narrow window on drug use that it offers, the test can be subverted easily, a 2007 investigation by the Government Accountability Office found.
Posing as commercial drivers, the undercover investigators went to 24 approved urine-collection sites around the country.
They gained entry to all 24 with bogus driver's licenses, showing that "a drug user could send someone to take a drug test in their place using fake identification."
At three quarters of the sites, the collection room offered running water or other means to dilute or adulterate a specimen.
And at eight of the sites, the investigators walked in - undetected - with purported drug-masking agents they bought on the Internet.
It's easy to find these things on the web, where companies tout products such as ClearTest, Quick Fix and Ultra Pure synthetic urine.
"Guaranteed to beat any of the urine tests," one firm promises. " . . . Just add warm water!"
For the GAO investigators, the promises proved true. Every drug-masking product they used went undetected by the screening lab, the agency reported.
"A urine-based drug test is very easy to defeat," Osterberg said. " . . . There's a whole cottage industry out there."
Too risky to hire
Gordon Klemp, managing partner of a firm that publishes research and analysis on trucking industry wages, estimates that 6% to 8% of driver applicants use drugs. He applauds use of hair testing, saying that hiring drug users is "a risk that carriers simply can't take."
From a business standpoint, the risk is financial liability if a drug-using driver is involved in an accident that kills or maims someone.
Failure to take the extra step of hair testing, even though it's not required by the government, could arguably expose trucking companies to such risk, said John Duncan Varda, a Madison attorney with more than 40 years of experience handling transportation matters.
Don Devitt, a Chicago attorney whose clients include carriers, said the concern is real, though more likely to be an issue in the future than now... Continue reading.
Considering today's economy, a rare scene played out in the lobby of Tennessee Truck Driving School about a week ago.
About a dozen students listened to an employer who had traveled hundreds of miles to try to talk them into applying for a job.
R.L. Joyce Jr., a recruiter for Greensboro, N.C.-based Epes Transport System Inc., listed the benefits of working for his company — health insurance, 401(k) retirement plan, paid vacation and holidays, pay of up to 37 cents per mile, and a "Time at Home Policy."
"We try very hard to get our drivers home each week," he said.
Joyce passed out information sheets and urged the students to apply, but Epes Transport isn't the only company that has visited the school in Louisville, Tenn.
In fact, some students had already been "pre-hired" with other companies, pending completion of their training. That definitely appealed to Joni Lawson, a Clinton resident attending the school.
"It's a career where you can already have a job waiting on you when you finish school," she said.
But while long-haul truck driving is a job in heavy demand now by trucking companies, it does not seem to be in very high demand by job seekers, even in the face of continuing high unemployment levels.
Trucking industry officials and analysts say there is a nationwide shortage of truck drivers. Last month, a story in USA Today quoted industry experts as saying this is a growing problem, driven by such things as older drivers retiring, fewer younger people entering the field, an increasing government focus on driver safety records and other factors.
In June, the Council of Supply Management Professionals released its 2012 Annual State of Logistics Report, which said trucking companies across America are having difficulty recruiting drivers. In a presentation to the National Press Club, Rosalyn Wilson, author of the report, said a sampling of trucking companies polled in a recent survey found that up to 10 percent had trucks sitting idle because of a lack of drivers.
TruckGauge, an online provider of analysis and information on the trucking industry, predicts there will be a shortage of about 150,000 drivers nationally by the end of the year, and believes that new government hours-of-service rules will push the shortage to 240,000 by the end of 2013.
The shortage is definitely affecting Tennessee, said Dave Huneryager, president and CEO of the Tennessee Trucking Association.
"When you have 9,000 trucking companies in Tennessee, it is definitely a problem that is having an effect," he said.
The shortage is bad enough to have an impact on the ability to move goods, he said.
"I did an impromptu poll with eight trucking company owners at a lunch in Memphis, and each one had 2 percent to 10 percent of their trucks parked because they didn't have enough drivers," Huneryager said.
Tim Jones, general manager of Knoxville-based Burkhart Enterprises, said the company has had to leave some trucks parked because of a lack of drivers.
"We could use several drivers right now," he said.
One issue is that the truck-driving workforce is aging and drivers are retiring, but younger people do not seem to be attracted to the field, he said. Long-haul driving, with its long hours on the road and time away from home, is not an ideal job for someone with a young family.
Also, a person has to be at least 21 years old to get the necessary license, and many young people are already attracted to some other field by then, Huneryager said. Jones agreed this is a problem for Burkhart Enterprises.
"Our youngest driver is 42 years old," he said. "It seems like there just aren't many young people getting into the profession."
Tighter government regulations are also a factor. Over the past few years, drivers and companies have faced Comprehensive Safety Analysis rules, which assign points against both a driver and the motor carrier for safety infractions. Once a certain level of points is reached, the driver's commercial license could be revoked or the carrier put out of service.
This has taken a lot of long-haul drivers off the road and made companies much more cautious about the driving record of those they hire, said Greg Dotson, instructor/examiner with Tennessee Truck Driving School. David McBride, head of recruiting for Knoxville-based Colonial Freight Systems Inc., said this is not altogether a bad thing.
"That started pushing out the drivers who had not-so-stellar driving records," he said.
On top of this, new federal hours-of-service regulations are set to take effect in a year, limiting the number of hours drivers can be on the road.
Some in the industry, particularly drivers, say pay is the real cause of the driver shortage. Jim Park, a driver who blogs for Truckinginfo.com, said pay is too low and cited a study by Transport Capital Partners that concluded annual pay needs to be above $60,000 to attract sufficient drivers to the industry.
Aubrey Allen Smith, a truck-driver advocate and blogger, maintained the driver shortage is artificial because trucking companies do not want to pay the higher wages needed to attract and retain drivers. According to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the median annual wage for a tractor-trailer driver in Tennessee during 2012 was $43,330.
In 2005, the consulting firm Global Insight Inc. did a study for the American Trucking Association and concluded the supply of long-haul truck drivers would grow by 1.6 percent a year through 2015, but the demand for new drivers will grow at 2.2 percent a year during that period. The primary way to get more drivers into the industry is higher pay, the report concluded.
Barry Henson, owner of Tennessee Truck Driving School, said it trains about nine students a week. He said about the same number of students are entering his school, but the demand for drivers has greatly increased. He believes there are many people who would go into the field, if they could afford the schooling. The three-week program at Tennessee Truck Driving School costs $4,225. On the other hand, many companies agree to repay the tuition expenses for students they hire.
Lawson and other students at the truck-driving school saw the driver shortage as a good opportunity. Lawson had been a heavy-equipment operator in the Marine Corps and saw truck driving as a natural fit. Middle Tennessee resident Denise West said that after 27 years in the medical field, she was ready for something different.
"I am an empty nester, and the money and the freedom of the open road appeals to me," she said.
John Brewerof Maryville also saw trucking as a career change. His wife used to drive a truck and he thought he might, too, but did nothing about it until he lost his manufacturing job in January. Now, they will both be on the road.
"The company I am going with says my wife can drive with me. We are pre-hired," Brewer said. "I always wanted to do this."
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