DC Court of Appeals Rules on HOS Challenges

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From Eric Sauer, Vice President- Policy & Regulatory Affairs, California Trucking Association

On August 2, 2013, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit announced their ruling on challenges to the new Hours of Service rules that went into effect on July 1, 2013.
The court was responding to challenges brought forth by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Public Citizen. The court combined the two challenges and issued a single ruling for both.
The Court ultimately denied both challenges, with one exception – the ruling vacates the 30-minute rest break requirement for short haul truck drivers.
“We conclude that what remains of the 2003 Final Rule after two remands and three rulemakings are highly technical points best left to the agency. We therefore generally affirm the rule and vacate only the agency’s application of the 30-minute break to short-haul drivers.”
At this time it is unclear if further legal maneuvers or appeals will be taken to continue to challenge the HOS rule. CTA is monitoring the developments with these challenges and will provide guidance on the final outcome once it becomes available.

Court to Hear CSA Arguments in September

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A federal court will hear arguments in September on whether the federal government followed the law in implementing and publicizing the new Compliance, Safety, Accountability program for trucking and bus company safety rankings.

The Alliance for Safe, Efficient and Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT), a group of brokers, shippers and carriers, filed the lawsuit last year, saying the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should have followed the formal rulemaking process when it told shippers and brokers to consider CSA scores when hiring carriers.

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Tulsa Company Says Need for Skilled Truckers Booming

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By KYLE ARNOLD, World Staff Writer on Jul 27, 2013, at 4:11 PM

Eva Gray, a truck driver with Melton Truck Lines, gets into her truck in Tulsa. A spokeswoman said the company would hire anyone who is qualified to fill the demand for drivers. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

Eva Gray isn’t what you might expect out of a long-haul trucker.

The 29-year-old Maryland native has a petite frame, red hair and a big smile. She spends her nights and weekends taking online classes and is just a year away from getting a master’s degree in psychology.

“I was just bored with what I was doing, and driving is something that always appealed to me. So I just went for it,” said Gray, who had just finished a trip hauling lumber from New Hampshire to Springfield, Mo.

“It’s the experience of a lifetime. You get to see so many things every day that you would never get to see.”

Her truck is loaded with the newest high-tech gadgets in the industry, like a GPS device to show her the shortest routes to destinations and electronic logs to show her how much time until her next required rest.

Gray is one of more than 900 drivers at Tulsa-based Melton Truck Lines Inc. The company would hire a hundred more if qualified drivers walked in the door, said Angie Buchanan, vice president of human resources and safety.

“We have 70 openings right now, but we would hire anyone that is qualified,” Buchanan said. “There is as much work out there as we can take.”

The entire trucking industry is facing a shortage of drivers as the economy rebounds, the energy industry demands more trucks and the baby boom generation, which makes up the largest pool of drivers, is aging out and getting off the roads.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the U.S. will need 330,000 more truck drivers by 2020. With the average trucker being 55 years old, the industry will face a shortage in the next decade from retirements.


Congressional Budget Office Offers Grim View of Highway Fund

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Projects a $10 Billion Shortfall in 2015

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the July 29 print edition of Transport Topics.

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Budget Office last week presented a grim picture of an insolvent Highway Trust Fund to the House committee that oversees highway policy, but there was little discussion of possible solutions.

In 2015, there will be an estimated $50 billion in outlays for highways and transit — if spending levels stay the same as today — but only $40 billion in receipts, said Kim Cawley, a chief official at the Congressional Budget Office. “Without some change in policy, there won’t be enough money to go around.”

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Medical Groups, States Oppose FMCSA Plan to Require Daily Reports of Drivers’ Physicals

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By Timothy Cama, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the July 22 print edition of Transport Topics.

Medical professionals and state driver licensing agencies objected to a proposal to require daily updates of commercial drivers’ physical exam information, telling federal regulators the system would be burdensome and costly.

The comments came in response to a May proposal from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that would require medical examiners to submit the results of their physicals on drivers at the end of each day. FMCSA would forward that data to states’ licensing agencies the next day, and the states would have to post it to a database the day after that.


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CBO Warns House Panel on Highway Trust Fund

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WASHINGTON — A congressional subcommittee received a grim picture Tuesday of what lies ahead for the Highway Trust Fund if Congress and the White House do not find a way to pay for transportation before the fund is declared insolvent in 2015.

That year, there will be about $50 billion in outlays — if spending levels are the same as 2013 — but only $40 billion in receipts, Kim Cawley of the Congressional Budget Office said at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s highways subcommittee.

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FMCSA Changes Instructions for Off-Duty Time

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has simplified its instructions for driver off-duty time.

The old guidance said that the driver had to get written instructions from his employer spelling out how long the off-duty time would be.

Under the new guidance, effective today, there is no requirement for employer instructions, either written or verbal.

In a notice in today’s Federal Register, the agency said the old requirement had the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks or documenting those breaks in their logs.

It imposed a recordkeeping requirement but did require that records actually be kept. Also, it was not enforceable because it said the break had to be long enough to “significantly reduce” fatigue.

The new guidance says drivers may record meal and other routine stops, including the 30-minute break required by the new hours of service rule, as off-duty time provided they are relieved of duty for the truck and its cargo and they are at liberty to do what they want during the break.