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Interstate Truck, Bus Drivers Banned from Using Handheld Phones

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handheld.jpgThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Wednesday, Nov. 23, issued their long-awaited joint final rule specifically prohibiting interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using handheld cell phones while operating their vehicles.

Drivers who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle for multiple offenses. Additionally, states will suspend a driver’s commercial driver’s license after two or more serious traffic violations. Commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use handheld cell phones while driving will face a maximum penalty of $11,000.

“When drivers of large trucks, buses and hazardous materials take their eyes off the road for even a few seconds, the outcome can be deadly,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “I hope that this rule will save lives by helping commercial drivers stay laser-focused on safety at all times while behind the wheel.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that about four million commercial drivers will be affected by the final rule. “It’s just too dangerous for drivers to use a handheld cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake.”

FMCSA said that while driver distraction studies have produced mixed results, its own research has shown that using a handheld cell phone while driving requires a commercial driver to take several steps beyond what is required for using a hands-free mobile phone, including searching and reaching for the phone. Commercial drivers reaching for an object, such as a cell phone, are three times more likely to be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event, according to FMCSA, and dialing a hand-held cell phone makes it six times more likely that commercial drivers will be involved in a crash or other safety-critical event.

In September 2010, FMCSA issued a regulation banning text messaging while operating a commercial truck or bus, and PHMSA followed with a companion regulation in February 2011, banning texting by intrastate hazardous materials drivers. “Needless injuries and deaths happen when people are distracted behind the wheel,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “Our final rule would improve safety and reduce risks of hazmat in transportation.”

To view the final rule, go to; the docket numbers are FMCSA–2010-0096 and PHMSA-2010-0227.


Nominee for Chief Counsel for Advocacy Confirmed by Senate

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Washington, D.C. - Dr. Winslow Sargeant was confirmed as Chief Counsel for Advocacy by the U.S. Senate today. Dr. Sargeant is the sixth presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy.

Dr. Sargeant has been serving as Chief Counsel since August of 2010 under a recess appointment. Under his leadership Advocacy has held more than 40 small business roundtables to hear from small businesses on their issues and concerns. Dr. Sargeant has traveled to all ten federal regions, with visits to 23 states to meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners. In addition, the Office of Advocacy has filed 56 public comment letters with federal agencies trying to mitigate the impact of their proposed regulations on small business.

"It is inspiring to witness this country's entrepreneurial spirit and it is an honor to represent small businesses every day," said Dr. Sargeant. "I would like to thank President Obama, the Senate, and the small business organizations and entrepreneurs who have supported my nomination."

Prior to serving as Chief Counsel, Dr. Sargeant was managing director of Venture Investors, LLC, in Madison, Wisconsin. The firm provided seed and early-stage money to high-potential health care and IT companies. Dr. Sargeant received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Sargeant and partners co-founded Aanetcom, a "fabless" semiconductor integrated circuit design company. The company designed state-of the-art computer circuits for telecom and broadband applications. In March 2000, Aanetcom was acquired by PMC-Sierra, a publicly traded company.

"My background gives me the unique perspective to understand the challenges that our entrepreneurs face day in and day out. As Chief Counsel I am dedicated to working on their behalf and fighting for their interests in Washington," said Sargeant.

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is an independent voice for small business within the federal government. The presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Chief Counsel for Advocacy advances the views, concerns, and interests of small business before Congress, the White House, federal agencies, federal courts, and state policymakers. Regional advocates and an office in Washington, D.C., support the Chief Counsel's efforts. For more information, visit, or call (202) 205-6533.

See full press release:


Thanksgiving Travel Safety Tips

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It Doesn't Matter If You Travel by Plane or Car Here Are Some Important Tips
CJMathis, Yahoo! Contributor Network

Traveling during the holiday seasons can be a bit touchy. Here are 5 tips to keep travelers safe this Thanksgiving when traveling by car and 5 tips to keep travelers safe when traveling by air. My family travels all year around and finds these tips are always helpful to keep our family safe.

Thanksgiving Driving Safety Tip 1 - Plan to leave a day early this year and beat the traffic. Thanksgiving is the start of the largest holiday travel season. Beat those others who are on the road by planning ahead a bit on the time guideline. Same with your return trip this year plan to stay one extra day before the return drive.

Thanksgiving Driving Safety Tip 2 - Check that automobile and make sure it is sound, enough air in the tires, oil change on time before you leave, water in the windshield wipers, seatbelts are strong and safe, engine is running good no strange noises and be sure to check the brakes.

Thanksgiving Driving Safety Tip 3 - Pack some snacks and drinks (water preferably), these snacks will help you to keep that blood sugar levels even while driving for a few hours behind the wheel of the car.

Thanksgiving Driving Safety Tip 4 - Stop along the way. It is a good idea to stop every 2 or 3 hours and get out of the car. Let the kids run around for about 15 minutes. Don't be in a hurry to reach your destination. It may even be nice to plan a couple of side trips at interesting areas for keeping your brain working strong. Continue Reading.



FMSCA Figures Show Improved Trucking Safety Record

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By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

The number of large truck-involved fatal crashes declined by nearly one-third from 2007-2009, according to a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration statistical report.

The most recent fatality rates and numbers — which were quietly posted on FMCSA’s website last month — showed that crashes declined to 3,215, from 4,633.

It also said that number of large trucks in fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled dropped in those same years from 1.32 to 1.12 — a downturn of 26%.

Fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled declined to 1.17 in 2009, from 1.59 in 2007.

Since 2000, the fatal crash rate for large trucks has fallen 54.5% - more than twice as much as the passenger vehicle fatal crash rate, which dropped just 25% in the same time period...
Continue reading.



Driver Shortage, Tight Fleet Capacity Fuel Growth of Intermodal Shipping

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By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter
This story appears in the Nov. 14 print edition of Transport Topics.

The truck driver shortage and related fleet capacity constraints are driving strong growth in domestic intermodal hauling as carriers and shippers try to ensure they have freight-moving options in the months ahead, industry experts said.

Intermodal’s rising profile is spotlighted in railroad reports of double-digit volume growth, comments from trucking executives and a comparison of truckload and intermodal loads.

Largest intermodal rail carrier BNSF Railway boosted domestic intermodal shipments 11% in the first 10 months of this year, while Norfolk Southern Corp. and CSX Corp. also reported double-digit domestic volume growth.

“Almost every shipper I’ve talked to is looking at how they can increase intermodal,” said trucker Ike Brown, vice chairman of NFI Industries, Vineland, N.J., which ranks No. 24 on Transport Topics Top 100 for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada. “That is being driven mostly by the demographics of the driver situation,” Brown said, referring to the aging of the commercial truck-driver corps.

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Senate Committee OKs Highway Bill

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By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the Nov. 14 print edition of Transport Topics.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week approved a transportation bill that would authorize $84 billion in highway spending over two years, the first such measure to move in Congress since the previous funding legislation expired in 2009.

Sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats, the measure was sent to the full Senate on Nov. 9, although identified revenue sources to fund it fell $12 billion short.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the panel’s highest-ranking Republican, said the vote was “predicated” on finding additional revenue to fully fund the measure. “It’s not going to go anywhere outside of this committee until we find that funding,” he said.

Introduced Nov. 4, the bill contains several proposals that would affect trucking, including creation of a national program designed to speed freight along the nation’s highways

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Team truck drivers becoming scarcer than solos, brokerage exec says

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By Mark B. Solomon
DC Velocity

Team drivers "are like gold," says head of Con-way Multimodal.

The president of the brokerage division of transport logistics giant Con-way Inc. said it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain two-person team drivers, an important factor in carriers' ability to execute long-haul deliveries of high-value, time-sensitive shipments such as perishables.

C. Thomas Barnes, president of Aurora, Ill.-based Con-way Multimodal, said that while the brokerage is not having much trouble locating solo drivers to move his customers' loads, procuring team drivers is another story. Finding teams is a "much bigger issue" than obtaining the services of solo drivers, Barnes said, adding that "teams are like gold."

In an interview with DC Velocity on Monday at the National Industrial Transportation League's annual meeting in Atlanta, Barnes said team drivers are in short supply for the same reasons that plague companies seeking qualified long-haul truckload drivers, namely a difficult work-life balance and relatively low pay for long hours on the road. In addition, team drivers are often asked to handle specialized freight such as perishables and hazardous materials because those commodities often require fast deliveries—usually in less than three days—over long distances.

Finding team drivers certified to transport hazardous materials is probably the most formidable of the recruitment challenges, said Barnes, who estimated that "specialized" commodities account for about 35 percent of Con-way Multimodal's traffic mix... Continue reading...