From FastLane, The Official Blog of DOT Secretary, Ray LaHood
Commercial drivers and the inspectors who help keep their vehicles properly maintained play a critical role in keeping our roadways safe. And last week, the best inspectors and drivers from across the country gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to show off their skills and engage in a little friendly competition.
FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro was on hand for the 2012 Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's North American Inspectors Championship (NAIC), where fifty roadside inspectors from across the U.S. and Canada turned out to compete against each other by inspecting hazmat vehicles, passenger buses, and cargo haulers.
Christopher Smithen, a certified inspector from the Nevada Highway Patrol, was this year's big winner of the Grand Champion Award for his exemplary performance at the event.
As Administrator Ferro said, "The NAIC is a great opportunity to recognize the top safety inspectors from across the country who are working to save lives on our roadways every day."
Following the Inspectors Championship, attention in the Minneapolis Convention Center turned to some of America's best commercial drivers. The National Truck Driving Championships, also known as the "Super Bowl of Safety," challenge competitors' driving skills and knowledge of safety, equipment, and the trucking industry. This year, the American Trucking Association event celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Over 400 drivers from across the country competed over four days in events that ranged from an obstacle course recreating several real-world scenarios drivers have to deal with to a written exam on safety, security, and first aid.
But at the end of the day, Don Logan, a FedEx Freight driver from Topeka, Kansas, was named the 2012 Grand Champion. And with 25 years of professional driving experience and over 2.1 million miles traveled, it's no wonder he was up to the challenge.
My congratulations go out to all of this year's winners. And I'm grateful to all of the commercial drivers and inspectors who are committed to safety and professionalism each and every day they’re out there on the road.
From FastLane, The Official Blog of DOT Secretary, Ray LaHood
A Message from FMCSA:
Mark your calendar! The National Registry program implementation is gaining speed as key system capabilities prepare to go live. After August 20, 2012, medical examiners will be able to register to become certified.
Registration enables you to create an account in the National Registry system to begin the certification process. During this process, you will be asked to submit contact, medical practice, medical license, and training information.
Remember, you need not complete the training prior to registering but you will need to register prior to taking the Medical Examiner Certification Test.
Since the National Registry rule was only published a few months ago on April 20, many training organizations are still developing their training programs and may not yet be ready to offer training. We met in June with test delivery organizations and those that have applied to FMCSA are going through the approval process. Although they may not be ready to offer the exam by August 20, they should be ready shortly thereafter.
To learn more and to register as a certified medical examiner, please visit our website at https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov after August 20.
From DOT Secretarty Ray LaHood's blog
It’s no secret that safety is DOT’s number one priority. That’s why I’m grateful to organizations like the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) for all they do to promote safety on our nation’s roads.
Each October, NETS hosts Drive Safely Work Week, an opportunity for organizations to help their employees focus on safe driving. And while the 16th annual Drive Safely Work Week doesn’t begin until October 1, it’s never too early to start thinking about how we can make our roads safer for everyone.
NETS makes available a Drive Safely Work Week toolkit for employers, which is now available at www.trafficsafety.org. Now is the time for employers to download the toolkit and begin thinking about how to mark this important week and help employees focus on driving safely whether they're at work, on vacation, shuttling kids to soccer practice, or just running errands around town.
This year’s campaign theme is “Back to Basics – Your keys to safe driving.”
Many of us think we learned all of the basics in driver's education classes many years ago, and that our years of experience have automatically made us safe drivers. But we can all use a reminder to pay attention to the fundamentals.
The week will kick off by emphasizing the importance of wearing a seat belt on every trip and providing participants with ways to help get those they care about to buckle up as well.
Steering with a clear head – particularly avoiding driver fatigue, driving distraction-free, and parking and backing basics, are other important topics that are covered.
The last day is about fine-tuning the fundamentals, and features tips and activities to help participants avoid some of the most common types of crashes.
The Drive Safely Work Week materials include some great activities that participants can take home and share with their family members and friends. And, if you have teens who are--or will soon be--learning to drive, this year’s “Back to Basics” materials are ideal for use as you coach your new or up-and-coming drivers.
Thanks again to NETS for promoting safe driving habits both on and off the job. Please download your toolkit today and help us make our roads safer for everyone.
By Transport Topics
Gasoline Rises 7.6¢ to $3.721 a Gallon
Diesel rose 11.5 cents to $3.965 a gallon, its sixth straight gain, while gasoline rose 7.6 cents to $3.721 the Department of Energy said.
Trucking’s main fuel is now 13 cents above the same week last year, while gas is up 11.7 cents from a year ago, DOE records showed.
Diesel had plunged 50 cents in 12 straight declines prior to the current sixth-week stretch of gains, in which it has bounced back 31.7 cents.
Gasoline has now risen 36.5 cents in six straight increases after dropping 58.5 cents 13 previous consecutive downturns.
Crude oil dropped 14 cents to finish the trading day Monday at $92.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Bloomberg reported.
Each week, DOE surveys about 350 diesel filling stations to compile a national snapshot average price.
By Transport Topics
By Transport Topics
The Department of Transportation’s freight transportation services index rose 1.6% in June from the same month last year, DOT said Wednesday.
The freight TSI declined 0.1% to a reading of 109.5 from May, DOT said. The index uses a baseline 100 reading from the year 2000.
June shipments were the seventh-highest level since the early recession month of July 2008, DOT said.
December’s 114.0 reading was an all-time high since records began being kept in 1990.
The freight TSI is a seasonally adjusted monthly index measuring the output of services provided by the for-hire transportation industries, including railroad, air, truck, inland waterways, pipeline and local transit.
By Transport Topics
By Transport Topics
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking comment on the latest Mexican carrier seeking to participate in the cross-border trucking program.
The carrier seeking approval, GCC Transportes, follows several other Mexican trucking companies that earlier applied under the U.S.-Mexico cross-border program.
GCC has passed pre-authorization safety audits, or PASA, under the program, FMCSA said in a Federal Register notice published Thursday.
Participation by Mexican carriers remains low under the U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking program, which began under the Bush administration but was suspended in 2009 and restarted last October.
Comments are due by Aug. 20. Click here to view the Federal Register notice or to comment. (U.S. government website.)
By Transport Topics
By Ross Boettcher
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
The trucking industry is still 18 to 24 months from hitting a peak driver shortage, but consumers already are feeling the impact.
Transportation costs the last couple of years have increased about 3 percent a year, and at least one-third of that hike is tied to a shortage of truck drivers, said Derek Leathers, the president and chief operating officer of Sarpy County-based Werner Enterprises.
Those charges are passed through to consumers on everyday products from groceries and clothes to electronics and housewares.
“And that has the potential to increase in coming years,” Leathers said.
Meanwhile, the industry is working to ease the impact in the Midlands. A strong community college system, partnerships with the Nebraska Departments of Labor and Economic Development, and initiatives by major carriers including Werner and Crete Carrier Corp. to get drivers home more often all have helped keep the trucking industry on solid footing, said Larry Johnson, president of the Nebraska Trucking Association.
“We have the right partners at the table and the education system to help develop long-term solutions,” Johnson said. “That will continue to create a competitive advantage for us.”
According to estimates from the Truckload Carriers Association, trucking companies across the United States are currently facing a shortage of upward of 200,000 drivers. Others, including Bob Costello, the chief economist and vice president of the American Trucking Association, say the current shortfall is closer to 20,000 or 30,000 drivers.
“If we were short 200,000 drivers, freight would be sitting everywhere. It isn't,” Costello said, adding that the shortfall could “continue to swell if we don't attract more people to the industry.”
Leathers agrees with the Truckload Carriers Association's estimate but said that figure won't be realized until at least a year and a half from now.
You can blame the Great Recession: Consumer spending hit the brakes. Manufacturers slowed the production of goods. And the demand for long-haul trucking and freight sagged.
Veteran truckers needing to support their families — especially independent truckers and those driving for smaller fleets — left the industry, sold their trucks and equipment, and found work elsewhere, said David Heller, director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Association.
They haven't come back.
The industry is failing to land enough young recruits as baby boomer drivers are on the brink of retirement. The allure of a trucking career has faded, and high school graduates can't transition right into the driver pool because they're required to wait until they're 21 to obtain their commercial driver's license. Additionally, many truck driving courses cost more than $6,000, a large amount for an unemployed worker interested in a career in truck driving.
“We're kind of losing them on both ends, if you will,” Heller said. “It's really been this perfect storm of economic woes.”
For now, Werner is rolling along normally, Leathers said. The company has about 100 driver openings, a number he said is typical because of retirements and drivers taking leaves of absence.
Crete Carrier Corp., based in Lincoln, has grappled with the driver shortage for years and has roughly 300 driver openings across the country, according to the company's website.
The company has the business and customer base to expand, but not enough good drivers to fill their tractor cabs, said Tim Aschoff, Crete's vice president of risk management.
“We've been operating in that mode for a number of years, since the driver supply never became abundant,” he said.
At least one private driving school has seen an uptick in drivers coming through its program. At JTL Truck Driver Training, 10008 Sapp Brothers Dr., 110 people have enrolled this year in the company's four-week driving course and received their commercial driver's license through July. In a typical year, about 120 people graduate from the course said Larry Marsh, owner of JTL.
“This has been our best year in probably 11 years,” Marsh said. “It seems like people are more willing to invest in themselves to start a new career.”
One of those people is Hartley Pinder.
The 23-year-old Miami native, who currently lives in Omaha, is pursuing a career in long-haul truck driving... Continue reading.
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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- DOT Announces More Than $363 Million in Grants for State Highway
- July Payrolls Rise; Unemployment Rate Ticks Up to 8.3%
- DOT Launches Historic Expansion of Infrastructure Finance Fund
- A problem too important to be ignored
- Trucking companies struggle to find drivers
- DOT Announces $787 Mil to Repair, Modernize Aging Transit Infrastructure
- Earnings Expected to Increase on Higher Rates, Lower Diesel Prices
- Child heatstroke prevention depends on adults
- BTS Releases Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI)
- FMCSA’s Proposed Sleep Apnea Guidance