Public News



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Published May, 06 2011

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Friday, May 6, that it has placed four additional documents in the public docket of its December 2010 notice of proposed rulemaking concerning hours of service for commercial motor vehicle drivers and that it was reopening the NPRM’s comment period for 30 days to allow for review and discussion of the documents and FMCSA’s possible consideration of their findings in the development of the final rule.

FMCSA also said that because of the comment period’s extension, it will be unable to issue the final rule by a court-negotiated deadline of July 26. The agency said only comments related to the four additional documents will be considered during the 30-day extension. The four studies are:

FMCSA also advised the public of an adjustment to the rulemaking schedule previously agreed to in litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Case No. 09-1094). Pursuant to an Oct. 26, 2009 agreement between Public Citizen, other petitioners and FMCSA, the agency was to publish a final rule within 21 months of the date of the settlement agreement.

FMCSA said the extra comment period for the four additional documents will require additional time that was not envisioned in 2009 and that it will be unable to publish a final rule by the previously agreed-upon date of July 26, 2011. The agency said it has advised petitioners of the delay to the rulemaking schedule.

To comment on the four additional documents, go to; the docket number is FMCSA-2004-19608. The deadline to file comments is June 9.


Highway Hostages

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By Brad Bentley

An in-depth look at the growth of human trafficking and what truckers can do to help thwart it.

Trivia question: what’s the second most lucrative crime business in the world?


According to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study, the answer is human trafficking – a form of modern-day slavery that results in people being bought, sold and moved around. Worldwide, this is a $32 billion industry with an estimated 27 million people enslaved, more than at any other time in history. The recruited or harbored victims are transported and trapped in lives of misery - often beaten, starved, and obtained for forced labor or sexual exploitation.

So, what does that have to do with the American trucker? Plenty.

It’s been almost 150 years since Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery in the United States, and I’m sure he would be dismayed to know human trafficking is alive and well in America. Beyond the international statistics, this type of slavery has been reported in all 50 states and in 91 cities. While the U.S. State Department estimates that 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into our country each year, they approximate the number of trafficked individuals within our borders to be a staggering 200,000-300,000 per year. Second only to drug trafficking, this human rights issue doesn’t get near the attention – publically, at least.

It’s been more than a quarter of a century since President Ronald Reagan declared America’s “War on Drugs”. The effort was spearheaded by a catchy “Just Say No” slogan, and drug trafficking was even glamorized into pop culture via these lyrics from the song, The Smuggler’s Blues:

See it in the headlines,
You hear it ev’ry day.
They say they’re gonna stop it,
But it doesn’t go away.
They move it through Miami, sell it in L.A.,
They hide it up in Telluride,
I mean it’s here to stay.
It’s propping up the governments in Colombia and Peru,
You ask any D.E.A. man,
He’ll say There’s nothin’ we can do,
From the office of the President,
Right down to me and you, me and you.

It’s a losing proposition,
But one you can’t refuse.
It’s the politics of contraband,
It’s the smuggler’s blues,
Smuggler’s blues.

Some would argue that when Glenn Frey penned this song back in the mid-80s, that he would prove perceptive regarding the challenges (and possible futility) of the War on Drugs. Fast forward 15 years, and our nation’s leaders were calling for a “war on terrorism” in response to the 9/11 attacks on American soil. The trucking industry was proactive with anti-terrorism, with thousands of truck drivers joining Highway Watch, an American Trucking Associations (ATA) initiative that trained drivers to notice and report emergency or suspicious situations on the road. However, that program had some problems... (Click here to continue to read in RPM for Truckers.)

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A video clip from CNBC concerning the truck driver shortage

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CNBC's Jim Cramer reports on investment opportunities in heavy machinery and the wireless sector, from the CTIA Wireless Conference in Orlando. According to Cramer, the DOJ could be Sprint's best friend when all is said and done.


Judge places California's global warming program on hold

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A San Francisco superior court judge has put California's sweeping plan to curb greenhouse gas pollution on hold, saying the state did not adequately evaluate alternatives to its cap-and-trade program.

In a 35-page decision, Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith said the Air Resources Board had failed to consider public comments on the proposed measures before adopting the plan, which affects a broad swath of the state's economy.

In particular, the judge noted, officials gave short shrift to analyzing a carbon fee, or carbon tax, devoting a “scant two paragraphs to this important alternative” to a market-based trading system in their December 2008 plan.

The air board said it would appeal the judge's decision, which was filed late Friday and released Monday.

The potential setback in California, the first state to enact a broad global warming law, comes amid heightened nationwide controversy over how to curb the gases that trap heat in Earth's atmosphere, and change climates.

A greenhouse gas bill passed the U.S. House last year, but failed... Continue to read more...


Should truckers be exempted from flying snow bill?

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by John Cichowski
Road Warrior Columnist

It can get confusing sometimes when people start complaining that a road safety law might end up risking more lives than it's designed to save.

That's what truckers are saying about the law that requires them to clear snow from their roofs. Although this reform amounts to a good, first-of-a-kind idea, it hasn't been able to deal with the very real danger of carrying a broom and a shovel 13 1/2 feet up to a roof on a windy day.

Luckily, nobody has been killed or badly injured doing this. Indeed, the law has done much good. So far, at least 28 snow-removal machines have been installed by some of New Jersey's biggest commercial truck fleets. At least eight more are planned, according to Scraper Systems Inc., of Mount Joy, Pa. (mistakenly called Ice Scraper Inc., in Sunday's column).

So, why is this law's chief advocate — Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski — sponsoring a flying-snow amendment that would exempt — yes, exempt! — all truckers from doing what the rest of us are required to do when snow and ice pile up on our roofs?

The Middlesex County Democrat wants the state to build this equipment so small, independent truckers with limited budgets don't have to make that 13 1/2-foot climb. As the New Jersey Motor Truck Association has reminded him, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules... Continue to read more at


Driver shortage pushing up pay

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By Max Heine

Driver pay will rise an average 3 cents to 5 cents a mile for company drivers and 4 cents to 6 cents for owner-operators over the next 12 months, predicted Gordon Klemp, president of the National Transportation Institute.

Klemp spoke Monday, March 14, to Truckload Carriers Association members at TCA’s annual meeting in San Diego. Klemp’s firm surveys medium- and large-sized fleets quarterly.
In addition to the expected mileage pay hikes, he predicted:

  • Pay hikes tied more closely to freight rate increases.
  • Driver pay more closely tied to performance measurements, including driver scores under the new federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.
  • More use of sign-on and referral bonuses, which virtually disappeared during the recession. Klemp said 40 percent to 70 percent of fleets now offer one or the other.
  • Pay more closely tied to regions of the country.
  • Premium pay for teams.
  • Expanded in-house driving training programs.
  • Expanded truck lease-purchase programs.

Klemp also outlined developments that created today’s driver shortage and that will cause it to worsen over the next few years:

  • Carriers have downsized their driver force to deal with the recent recession.
  • Unemployment benefits have been extremely generous for laid-off drivers.
  • Many drivers retired, in some cases earlier than planned, or took part-time work and don’t need to drive full-time.
  • Many have found work in the underground economy, which has expanded far beyond what most people realize.
  • Many drivers are unqualified for the new, tougher safety standards, such as CSA.
  • Many carriers have severely reduced recruiting and orientation staff during the downturn and have no plans to quickly restore that.
  • Many carriers have closed in-house driver training programs and gone to other models for bringing on new drivers.

Among fleets using Vigillo’s CSA services, 52 percent are over the federal intervention threshold in at least one Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category. Consequently, “Some of their drivers may not be part of the driver force long-term,” Klemp said.

Carriers using hair follicle testing for drugs are finding it removes 13 percent of the driver applicants because it reveals positive results over a term longer than that of urine testing, Klemp said. At $150 per test, it’s expensive, but if the federal government made it mandatory, the price would fall... Continue to read more...


Demand for truck drivers is revving up

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2,000-plus will be hired in Indiana this year as economy improves|head
11:00 AM, Mar. 12, 2011

The trucking industry will be picking up more than loads of freight this year.

It will be picking up jobs -- and lots of them.

As the economy improves and consumers and businesses ramp up purchases, experts say thousands more drivers will be needed to haul merchandise.

After all, everybody knows "if you got it, a truck brought it," said Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association. "If the economy improves, obviously, we'll have more stuff to haul because people buy more. And I try to be optimistic that will happen."

Add to that a whole generation of baby-boomer truck drivers nearing retirement and that makes the career one that is in high demand, not just this year but for the coming decades.

Based on annual job growth, truck driver ranked No. 9 in The Indianapolis Star's list of top jobs for 2011.

Through 2018, employment of truck drivers will rise 9 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This year, more than 2,000 drivers will be hired in Indiana alone.

More than 100 of those hires will occur at Celadon, an Indianapolis-based trucking company with 3,000 tractors and 9,000 trailers.

Steve Russell, founder, chairman and chief executive officer, says the hiring is to fill a void in the industry left by an economic environment that put pressure on smaller fleets that didn't survive.

"As a consequence, there is a competitive shortage in the industry, and we want to take advantage of that," he said. "Thank goodness we are strong -- no bank debt. Absolutely we will be hiring more."

To land one of those jobs at Celadon, drivers must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and a minimum of nine months' experience as an over-the-road driver.

Other companies may hire drivers without experience as long as they have a CDL. And for smaller trucks -- less than 26,000 pounds -- brief, on-the-job training may be enough. No CDL required.

James Hugart is CDL-certified and has been driving more than 40 years, the last 18 with Wal-Mart. He said the job isn't for the faint of heart but is rewarding.

For Hugart, his weeklong journey starts on Monday morning between 9 and 10 a.m. and ends Friday between 3 and 6 p.m.

His days consists of driving 11 hours and resting 10 hours. He usually tries to log about 600 miles a day.

Today, life on the road is a bit easier than it was 40 years ago. There are computers to log your activities, and Hugart doesn't have to load or unload his own cargo. Not to mention there is air conditioning and power steering.

"Heck. We didn't have anything other than a steering wheel back when I started," said Hugart, 63, Martinsville. "The job's not hard. But you do have to be dedicated."

Dedicated to getting merchandise where it needs to be on time and following the rules of the road and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Of course, the job of a truck driver isn't for everyone. It often takes workers away from families for long periods of time. And many of the rewards come after a driver has proven himself for several years.

"I tell people this is not just a quick job for a couple weeks. The trucking industry is a career," said John Priest, owner of Commercial Driver Training Consultants in Indianapolis. "You have to do it for a while to get the rewards."

The salary of a truck driver has improved greatly in the past decade, with the average driver making $37,588 a year.

That could be why Priest has seen more and more people inquiring about the job and many people... Continue to read more...|head



ATA to FMCSA: Abandon hours-of-service changes

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By CCJ Staff
Published March, 07 2011

In comments filed March 4, the American Trucking Associations again called on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to abandon its proposal to revise the hours-of-service rules and retain the current rules. ATA deems the proposed changes as politically motivated, while it says the current rules are based on science and have been proven to function safely.

“In its current HOS proposal, the agency has abandoned years of objective analysis in favor of speculation and internal ‘judgments’ of critical areas,” ATA said in its comments. “The agency’s approach in the current HOS proposal cannot be squared with its prior factual conclusions and analytical approach; is contrary to the real-world circumstances to which the rules apply; and its financial computations whither under objective scrutiny. In short, the agency is far from making any sort of case that the HOS rules should be changed and the obvious strains in its attempt to justify those changes illustrates how ill-considered they are.”

The current hours-of-service rules, which have been in effect since January 2004, made four primary changes to the regulations then in place: increasing the daily driving limit from 10 hours to 11 hours; increasing the required minimum daily rest from 8 hours to 10 hours; decreasing the number of hours on duty after which a driver may not operate a commercial motor vehicle from 15 hours to 14 hours; and allowing a driver to “reset” the weekly 60 or 70-hour on duty limits with 34 consecutive hours off duty. Under the current proposal, FMCSA is, among other changes, considering whether to reduce the daily driving limit from 11 hours to 10 hours and has proposed to limit the 34-hour restart provision by requiring that it include two periods from midnight to 6 a.m. and limiting its use to once per week.

In its comments, ATA points out that since the basic framework of the rules went into effect in 2004, “truck safety has improved to unprecedented levels” as the “numbers of truck-related injuries and fatalities have both dropped more than 30 percent to their lowest levels in recorded history.” ATA also told FMCSA that despite claims by the agency and anti-truck activists that the reduction in crashes is the result of a slumping economy, “truck mileage has actually increased.” ATA went on to point out that even those who choose not to believe the current hours-of-service rules are
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