Senate Confirms Ferro as FMCSA Administrator

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The Senate late Thursday confirmed Anne Ferro's nomination to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Thursday night's confirmation follows a vote of approval from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Oct. 27.

In a statement Friday morning, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said it was “pleased” with the Senate's decision to confirm Ferro, who led the Maryland Motor Truck Association for six years.

“She has an excellent understanding of how government, law enforcement and industry need to work together to solve problems, and will be a great advocate for safety,” said Buzzy France, president of CVSA.

Following her nomination by President Obama in June, Ferro has come under fire from labor and safety groups for her ties to the trucking industry.

The Senate also confirmed the nomination of Cynthia Quarterman as administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Thursday.

By Transport Topics


Covenant Transport Receives 2009 SmartWay Environmental Excellence Award

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Covenant Transport was among seven entities in the southeast and 37 in the nation to be recognized an Environmental Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay Transport Partnership for its leadership in conserving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions from its transportation and freight activities.  The awards were announced October 6, 2009 at the American Trucking Association’s Annual Management Conference & Exhibit in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is Covenant’s second consecutive SmartWay Environmental Excellence Award.

Operating out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Covenant Transport, Inc. provides truckload for-hire and dedicated contract transportation. All of Covenant’s tractors are equipped with aerodynamic packages including integrated cab roof fairings, cab side fairings, and aerodynamic mirrors. These packages contributed to CO2 savings of 69,568 tons in 2008. All Covenant tractors use low friction engine and drive train lubricant, saving an additional 15,565 tons of CO2 and nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel. As its fleet turned over in 2008, Covenant began investing in SmartWay-certified tractors and trailers, installing long term idle reductions technologies and specifying fuel efficient tires, saving an estimated 2 million gallons of fuel.  In addition to utilizing 804 trucks with team drivers, PrePass and truck stop electrification, this equipment helped the company save over 45,000 tons of CO2 and 21,900 tons of PM in 2008. In total, Covenant saved nearly 28 million gallons of fuel and 307,368 tons of CO2.

Joey Hogan, President of Covenant Transport, stated, “Covenant is fully committed to the SmartWay program, and we believe it is incumbent on our company to lead by example the charge in our industry to become better environmental stewards.   Participation in the program is very valuable and rewarding to our associates and drivers.  Through the fleet model spreadsheets, they can see the direct impact (in gallons and CO2 reduction) that technology and procedures they have implemented have had in reducing overall fuel consumption and emissions.  It takes a coordinated effort from both our internal support staff and our drivers to produce such an accomplishment.  I want to thank all of the associates at Covenant, as it is their diligent planning and effort that has produced the company’s second consecutive SmartWay Excellence Award. 

We also want to congratulate our peer transportation providers and shippers who participate in the program.  The SmartWay Transport Partner effort has been growing over the past few years, and we want to encourage others to join.  We hope those who are not participating currently will take the initiative to do so in 2010.  It is good for the environment and also good for business.”

“EPA’s SmartWay partnership helps freight companies go the extra mile by saving fuel and money, while cutting air pollution,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Within our nation’s hard-working freight sector, SmartWay Excellence Award winners have stepped up to help protect our health, climate and environment.”

EPA launched SmartWay in 2004 to help improve the freight industry’s environmental performance. Today more than 2,000 organizations participate, ranging from large multi-national trucking fleets, several rail companies, many well-known retail and commercial shippers, as well as small “mom and pop” trucking companies.   Through their SmartWay participation, these companies both calculate and adopt strategies for lowering their transportation energy use and CO2 emissions. EPA provides technical support, including tools to evaluate options for lowering fuel use and emissions, and help in locating financing for the purchase of environmental and fuel saving technology.  In 2009, the Partnership projects that it will eliminate six million tons of CO2 and conserve more than 540 million gallons of diesel fuel, a savings of at least $1.3 billion a year in fuel costs.

For more information about SmartWay visit: or call (734) 214-4767.
For more information about the 2009 SmartWay Award recipients, visit:

Covenant Transportation Group, Inc. is the holding company for several transportation providers that offer premium transportation services for customers throughout the United States. The consolidated group includes operations from Covenant Transport and Covenant Transport Solutions of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Southern Refrigerated Transport of Texarkana, Arkansas; and Star Transportation of Nashville, Tennessee. The group operates one of the 15 largest fleets in North America as measured by revenue. The Company's Class A common stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol, "CVTI".

See Press Release Here


FMCSA to launch Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program

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By CCJ Staff

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Wednesday, Oct. 7, that it will launch a new Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program designed to allow commercial motor carrier companies to electronically access driver inspection and crash records as a part of the hiring process. The program is expected to begin in December.

“Safety is our number one priority at the Department of Transportation,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new initiative will help trucking companies ensure the safest drivers are behind the wheel of commercial trucks and buses. Making this information more transparent will make our roads and highways safer for everyone.”

FMCSA says that by using driver safety information during pre-employment screening, motor carriers will be able to better assess potential safety risks of a prospective driver-employee, and drivers will have additional opportunities to verify the data in their driving history and correct any discrepancies.

Commercial driver safety records currently are available to federal and state law enforcement personnel, and accessible to drivers through the Freedom of Information Act. Once the pre-employment screening program is launched, driver safety records will be readily available to motor carriers regardless of state or jurisdiction. In accordance with federal privacy laws, drivers first must give written consent in order for their records to be released.

The Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program will be populated by FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System. The MCMIS is comprised of driver performance data, including roadside inspection and compliance review results, enforcement data, state-reported crashes and motor carrier census data.

FTC Guidelines for Vocational School Advertising

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The Federal Trade Commission has announced it’s Guidelines for Advertising by Private Vocational Schools.  These Guidelines apply to ALL schools, and can be (and have been) enforced by the Federal Trade Commission against truck driver training schools.

The review of the rules presents an opportunity for our schools to comment on the existing rules and/or suggest changes.  CVTA will submit comments for the record in this review, and individual schools are free to do the same.  A copy of the Guidelines can be found here for your review

Please e-mail any comments to Mike O’Connell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before close of business on Monday, October 5th.  Depending on the interest in this issue, we may schedule a conference call on October 8th or 9th to discuss CVTA’s position.

Shifting Gears: Valley sees increase in truck-driving school applicants

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GOSHEN — Backing up a semitrailer isn't a simple task, particularly for somebody just learning to drive a big rig.

That was apparent from the stressed look on 23-year-old Derrick Holt's face recently as he tried to back up into a parking space while his driving instructor watched.

Holt, of Exeter, is a student at Proteus Inc.'s truck-driving school in Visalia, where he is one of a growing number of people across the country trying to start careers as truck drivers.

Although no figures are available, Mike O'Connell, executive director and legal counsel for the Commercial Vehicle Training Association in Washington, D.C., said operators of just about all 180 trucking schools his organization represents have reported jumps in enrollments and people interested in driver training during the past 6 to 12 months.

The economy seems to be driving the trend. Many of those wanting to enter the trucking field have lost their jobs and hope trucking will offer immediate and possibly better career opportunities than their old occupations.

For his part, Holt is confident trucking will do considerably more for him financially than his current job as a fast-food worker.

"I want to buy a house in the future," he said as he steered 30,000 pounds of truck and trailer into the narrow parking space set up in a dirt lot behind the Proteus distribution center in Goshen, where the truck school is located.

Proteus operates a second truck-driving school in Delano and has plans to open another later this year in Fresno.

"It's a good, secure living," said Holt, whose father drives a truck. "It's definitely a step up."

Not an easy job

It's just not easy, particularly when you're just learning, he added.

"When you turn right, you're going left. When you're turning left, you're going right. It's pretty confusing after awhile," Holt said as he drove, with the truck jerking as it braked, rolled back, braked and rolled back repeatedly into the narrow parking space.

Outside the truck, Francisco Rivera his instructor and a 20-year truck- driving veteran used hand signals and verbal directions to help his student.

"You'll get it! Back up slowly," he called to Holt. "All the way to your left! You've got this one!"

And a few moments later, Holt was in the parking space and letting out a long breath of relief.

But as difficult as the training can be, he said getting his Class-A truck driving license will be worth it, as did other students in the class.

They include Vilmer B. Caniedo, 50, of Orosi, who has worked as a field hand for years. He got his truck-driving license years ago but never used it as farm jobs became available.

But he's heard the local grape harvest will be light this season, which could mean less work for him and his wife, who also works picking fruit. And with the prospect of his making less than his usual $7,000 to $8,000-a-year pay, ‘™¯Caniedo a native Filipino who speaks limited English ' said truck drivers he's spoken to on farms and a friend who drives a truck urged him to give trucking a try and take a refresher course to regain his Class-A license.

Phon Vongsa, 38, is hoping a Class-A license will get him back to work.

He was laid off a year-and-a-half ago from his job in San Jose operating a silk screen printing machine, and three months ago he moved with his wife and two children to Visalia, where he has relatives.

"It's hard to find a job," Vongsa said, adding that besides working again, he's also looking forward to trying a new career that will let him see the country.

More enrolling in classes

Officials operating truck-driving schools at Proteus, College of the Sequoias and the Advanced Career Institute ›which runs private trucking schools in Visalia, Porterville and Fresno ' report that more people are trying to join their programs, many after losing jobs.

At ACI, that's about 40 percent of the trainees, compared with about 15 to 20 percent a year ago, said Barry Bither, the business' president.

ACI also provides the trucks and instructors for COS' two-year-old truck- driving instruction program.

Instructors at Proteus estimated the ratio of students who have lost their jobs is about 80 to 90 percent. It's about the same at COS, said Larry Dutto, dean of academic services specializing in career technical (vocational) education.

"We kind of tapered off a little bit [in enrollment] in January and February, but right now the course is full," he said.

Rivera said he's got a three-month waiting list for driving classes at Proteus.

Classes for Proteus, COS and ACI all cost about $3,000, though the college can offer financial assistance and Proteus can waive the fees entirely, in some cases.

Classes are held five days a week, usually eight hours a day and can last four to six weeks at ACI, six weeks at Proteus and 16 weeks at COS, which requires the extra time so students can receive college credit toward degrees, Dutto said.

Reasons behind choice

So why are so many people flocking to truck-driving schools?

Just take a look at the newspaper want ads, said Ulysses Garcia, 32, of Hanford, who was laid off from his construction job after the poor economy slowed the industry, so he enrolled in Proteus' trucking program.

"The jobs you see there are [mostly] for nurses and truck drivers," he said.

This despite the recession triggering a nationwide decline in demand for trucking services as lower consumer spending has reduced the amount of goods transported.

"There has been a slowdown," O'Connell said. "And there's a slight slowdown in hiring truck drivers, but there is a lot of turnover among the 3 million long-haul truck drivers."

In addition, large numbers of goods still have to be moved, despite the slow economy, "and those jobs can never be outsourced," O'Connell said.

So even when the economy turns bad, trucking jobs are available and there usually is a jump in the number of people getting into the trucking field, he said.

"Everywhere I go and I stop to take a break, or at the DMV, there are more people stopping me to ask about this profession" after seeing the Proteus trucking school signs on the side of the truck and trailer, said Daniel Rangel, another truck-driving instructor.

And since May, he added, the number of calls to Proteus from people inquiring about or signing up for the truck school have gone up about 25 percent.

Most are people who have been laid off, Rangel said.

"People are unemployed. ... And people are interested in making what they used to make in jobs," he said, noting that seasoned drivers can make up to $80,000 a year while new drivers can make about $600 to $1,200 per week.

Still, some new truck drivers may have difficulty finding jobs right away, Rangel and Rivera said, noting that there are a lot of experienced truckers available because of the economic slowdown, so farmers and other agricultural businesses in this area tend to hire them first over newly licensed truck drivers.

But once the economy improves and increased spending results in more goods needing to be moved, Rangel said people who get their licenses now should be in good positions to get some of that work.