News and Alerts from Mike Byrnes & Assoc., Inc.

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Happy New Year!
Hope 2012 has been good to you so far. This is a banner year for us — it's our 25th year! Yes, we first hung out our shingle on Jan. 5, 1987. Lots of things have changed since then but one thing remains the same: the need for a solid education to get new drivers off to a good start and a promising career. Let us know what we can do to help provide that.

Hang on to that paper
Starting Jan. 30 and no later than Jan. 30, 2014, all commercial driver’s license holders must provide information to their state driver’s license agency regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive in or expect to drive in with their CDL. Drivers operating in certain types of commerce will be required to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to their state licensing agency to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record. CDL holders required to have a "certified" medical status who fail to provide and or update their medical examiner’s certificate will become “not-certified” and may lose their CDL. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators has a helpful link on their Web site about this.

Play Time
If there's drilling operations going on in your area, you know that a shale "play" means a geographic area which has been targeted for exploration due to favorable geoseismic survey results. There are plays all over the US but here in south Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale play is big news. It's created challenges in lots of industries, not the least of which is commercial motor vehicle driving, training and safety. Our Education Coordinator, John Rojas, is a member of the Eagle Ford Consortium. He recently participated in the Eagle Ford Shale Job and Vendor Fair held January 13, 2012 at the Laredo Energy Arena and is spearheading the meeting scheduled for the March 1-2, 2012 in San Antonio. He's the go-to guy if you've got questions about what all this drilling means to you and your enterprise.

We've Got an App for That!
If you've got an iPhone, iTouch or iPad, check out our latest app: BUMPER TO BUMPER ® Easy CDL for Hot Shot Trucking. Our first two apps, BUMPERTOBUMPER® Easy CDL and Easy CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement Review were so well received they've earned a Five Star rating. Easy CDL for Hot Shot Trucking will help operators of heavy duty pickups study for and pass the CDL tests, get a license and be able to drive a commercial motor vehicle truck-and-trailer combination with a gross combined weight rating in excess of 26,000 pounds. Eight "lectures" cover the information that CDL applicants must know and the audio feature makes reading more enjoyable. Over 200 multiple-choice test questions give the student lots of practice. There's even a bonus vehicle inspection video.

Look for these apps in the iTunes store or go to Study By App on the Internet. We'd love to hear your reactions. You can also leave your comments right on the iTunes Easy CDL pages.

And yes, we've started working on our fourth app. Look for a Spring 2012 launch. It's on a topic that people have been asking us to write about for decades!

Interested in a custom app for your program, like an orientation or safety session? We can do that. Give us a call at 361-749-4007 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
We've Got a Map for That!
trucking school mapCheck out our blog at where we've added an interactive map. Clicking on the different maptacks links to the Web sites of truck driving schools in the US and Canada. We hope that makes finding a good training program easier. Contact John Rojas to find out about getting your school on the map. Phone 361-442-9552 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Like Us on Facebook
Did you know that Mike Byrnes & Assoc., Inc. now has its own Facebook page? We invite you to Like us on Facebook.

"How to..."
Don't forget to check out our short "how to" pieces on the Internet:

Just click on the links to view the stories. You can easily email them and share them. If you want to print them to use as handouts, there's a button for that at the top right of the Web pages.

And now, for something completely different!
This has nothing to do with trucking or training, but you might find it of interest. For decades, people (including Mike Byrnes) have been telling Devorah Fox that she should write a novel. She finally did. You can find "The Lost King" as a print book in the e-store or on where it has a Five Star Rating! You can even read the first chapter for free. It's also available as in e-book in Kindle format. Don't have a Kindle e-book reader? No problem. You can download a free Kindle for PC app and read Kindle books on your computer. You can also download free apps to read Kindle books on your iPhone or iPad.

Check our Web site, or our blog at Just click on the orange-and-white RSS Feed logo to subscribe. You can leave comments or suggestions on the blog as well. And, follow us on Twitter at for updates. Questions? Suggestions? Give us a call at 361-749-4007 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Major Transit Awards, Addressing Local Needs and Cutting Red Tape

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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Proposes Streamlining Major Transit Awards, Addressing Local Needs and Cutting Red Tape

WASHINGTON – During his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, President Obama called on federal agencies to cut red tape in construction projects.  Accepting that challenge, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today proposed a significant change in the way major transit projects compete for federal funds by streamlining the process and making decisions more responsive to local needs.

“This proposal would move more job-generating bus, rail and ferry projects from the drawing boards into construction sooner and with less red tape along the way,” said Secretary LaHood.  “President Obama has asked government agencies to cut red tape, eliminate waste, and streamline bureaucracy wherever possible, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The proposed changes could potentially shave six months or more off the time that is now required to move major projects through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts pipeline. This new approach may also result in financial savings for the federal government and local taxpayers by allowing approved projects to begin construction sooner, thereby saving on finance charges and other costs.

The streamlined proposal would allow the FTA to focus more on local needs, such as economic development, revitalization and responding to historically underserved populations while reducing or eliminating certain time-consuming technical requirements that are duplicative or unnecessary.

“Our process for selecting big capital projects is historically successful—but at times painfully and unnecessarily complicated,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “We’re aiming to make common-sense changes that will make a big difference to communities throughout the United States that need more mobility, and better access to jobs, sooner rather than later.”

Other benefits from the changes would include increased transparency and continued rigorous scrutiny of each project proposal.  By giving greater emphasis to evaluation criteria concerning environmental benefits and local economic impact, it would be possible for FTA to consider a variety of smaller-scale projects that might better meet a community's needs, including streetcars and rapid bus services. 

The proposed changes are described in FTA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to streamline the evaluation and rating of New Starts and Small Starts projects, published in two separate notices in today’s Federal Register are the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Notice of Availability,

A 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule begins today. Comments may be formally submitted to the federal government’s docket website at FTA also plans to hold a number public listening sessions and an online informational webinar; details will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.  All received input will be taken into consideration before a final rule is issued.

The New Starts and Small Starts program is one of the largest discretionary grant programs in the U.S. Government.  FTA’s final Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation includes more than $2 billion in capital projects requested by President Obama under FTA’s capital investment program.  Proposed projects such as rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and ferries are evaluated and rated on a number of measures at several steps in the process as they seek FTA approval for a federal funding commitment to finance project construction.

FTA’s streamlining effort was undertaken in response to an announcement in January 2010 by Transportation Secretary LaHood to change how major transit projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance from FTA. As part of this initiative, FTA rescinded restrictions issued by the Bush Administration in March of 2005 that greatly limited the factors that would be considered when evaluating transit projects seeking federal matching dollars.


Next-gen Roadside Drug Testing Device Unveiled

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dds2 next gen drug testConcateno, a leading drug and alcohol testing company, has unveiled the Alere DDS2 Mobile Test System, its next-generation handheld drug testing device. The company says it enables police to determine if a driver is under the influence of up to five drugs from a single oral fluid sample within five minutes, including cocaine, cannabis, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines.

The Alere is the successor to the Cozart DDS device, which has been successfully deployed by police forces in Europe and Australia, and won a Queens' Award for Innovation in 2010.

"Drug driving is a serious problem for road safety around the world," said Concateno's Bill Percy. ,international Business Development Manager. "There is growing evidence to indicate that there are just as many drug drivers on the road as there are drink drivers. In fact, Australian researchers found that 35 per cent of hospitalised drivers were affected by drugs, compared to just 29 per cent by alcohol."

The new CE-marked Alere DDS2 Mobile Test System has been developed for speed, accuracy, and ease of use, enabling police forces to quickly administer tests and work towards improving road safety. The device features improved THC sensitivity, a wider temperature range, and a colour screen that allows for better viewing under an assortment of roadside conditions. Importantly, the new testing device can also store up to 10,000 results using the data manager software, which generates drug trend reports, measures positivity rates and provides census information... Read the full story at ITS International.


Distracted Walking? Crashes Involving Headphones Skyrocket

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We've all heard of distracted driving, but it turns out distracted walking is dangerous, too.

In the past six years, injuries and deaths to pedestrians wearing headphones more than tripled, according to a new study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.

Researchers looked at 116 accident cases from 2004 to 2011 where injured pedestrians were documented as wearing headphones. Nearly three quarters of the accidents resulted in pedestrian fatalities. Among the victims, more than two thirds were young adult males.

According to the study, more than half of the crashes involved trains. Nearly a third of the drivers in the accidents reported sounding a warning horn before the crash happened.

The study determined two likely causes for the injuries and deaths: Distraction and sensory deprivation. Pedestrians with the headphones were likely distracted by their devices, causing a condition called "inattentional blindness." With sensory deprivation, the ability for the victims to hear the warning sound became masked by the sounds from their devices.

Researchers hope this study will help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths related to pedestrians with headphones. They also hope to better understand how these accidents happen and what can be done to prevent them. Read the full story at NBC Washington.


Medical Certificate Program Moves Ahead

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of January 16, 2012
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

FMCSA has announced the start of a program to get driver medical certificates into the CDLIS database. The first step? Gathering information.

Starting on January 30, 2012 State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) will begin adding your medical certification status and the information included on your medical certificate to the Commercial Driver’s License System (CDLIS). This is to maintain compliance with a rule first issued in 2008 that aims to digitize the medical certificate.
Eventually, this will lead to drivers no longer needing to carry a paper copy of their certificate when they are driving around.

What Do You Need To Do?

While none of the driver physical qualification requirements are changing, your state is now required to maintain these files. The first step is to get drivers to submit a medical certificate to their SDLA.

According to the regulations, the states have until 2014 to gather this information. It is up to the state as to when you need to start submitting your information. We recommend contacting your SDLA as soon as you can to ensure compliance with both Federal and State regulations. Note: You may be told to wait to submit.

Who Will Be Required To Submit A Medical Certificate?

  • All drivers who have a CDL will be required to submit a medical examiner’s certificate providing they meet the provisions of 49 CFR 383.5. The four categories of CMVs for which an operator is required to have a CDL, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 31301(4) and specified in 49 CFR 383.5, are the following:
  • Those with a Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight (GCW), of at least 26,001 pounds, including towed units with GVWR or GCW of more than 10,000 pounds;
  • Those with a GVWR or GCW of at least 26,001 pounds;
  • Those designed to transport at least 16 passengers, including the driver; or
  • Those of any size used to transport either hazardous materials that require a placard on the vehicle under 49 CFR part 172, subpart F, or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin under 42 CFR part 73.

Reminder of the Rule

We first wrote about this rule in Fast-Fax 565, back in December of 2008. Below is a reminder of the new rule:

The new rule will require your state’s licensing agencies to modify their CDL procedures to:

  • Require submission of the medical examiner’s certificates (or a copy) from those drivers operating in nonexcepted, interstate commence who are required by part 391 to be medically certified;
  • Record a CDL driver’s selfcertification regarding type of driving (e.g., interstate (non-excepted or excepted) and intrastate (non-excepted or excepted) on the CDLIS driver record);
  • Date stamp the medical examiner’s certificate (or a copy);
  • Provide the stamped medical examiner’s certificate or a copy as a receipt to the driver;
  • Retain the certificate or a copy for three years from the date of issuance;
  • Post the required information from the certificate or a copy onto the CDLIS driver record within 10 days; and Update the medical certification status of the CDLIS driver record to show the driver as ``not-certified’’ if the certification expires; and then downgrade the CDL within 60 days of the expiration of the driver certification.

When Will This Go Into Effect?

As the new rule affects the SDLA in every state, FMCSA has given plenty of time for the rules to go into effect:

All CDL holders must comply with the requirement to submit to their SDLA their self-certification as to whether they are subject to the physical qualification rules by January 30, 2014.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 719 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011


Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding

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All Accredited Schools must Sign Department of Defense Memorandum of Understanding to Participate in Tuition Assistance Programs

CVTA was told that all schools that participate in veterans benefits and military tuition assistance programs must sign (on-line) a Memorandum of Understanding in order to continue their participation. The Association held two webinars under the direction of Lou Spoonhour, in which many members participated, to explain the new requirement.

Following the webinars, there was a great deal of confusion as to which schools needed to sign the Memorandum in order to continue participation. As a result, Lou, Mike and Cindy had a conference call with a senior person at the National Guard that is responsible for educational benefit programs.

As it turned out, the original information was incorrect. While tuition assistance programs are administered by the Department of Defense, programs involving the Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Therefore, the only schools that need to sign the MoU are schools that participate in federal tuition assistance programs (which means only schools that hold accreditation).

CVTA will set up another webinar to explain the process and walk those schools through the sign up procedure. If your school would like to participate, please contact Cindy Atwood. When we have determined the level of participation, we will set a date and time for the call.


Carrier Operating Authority Advisory

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In late November of 2011, FMCSA upgraded the licensing and registration portion of its website to conform with the elimination of the requirement for motor carriers to file mandatory cargo liability insurance (still required for household goods carriers). That upgrade has resulted in a glitch that FMCSA is diligently working to address. As a result of this glitch, some carriers are getting a Notice of Investigation letter via the mail indicating a potential issue with their authority. Carriers have thirty days to respond or their authority(ies) may be revoked, which is also supposed to trigger a letter to the carrier indicating revocation. ATA is aware of some instances where the carrier did not receive either or both letters. ATA advises its members to respond in a timely manner if a Notice of Investigation is received. In addition, ATA advises carriers to frequently check the Licensing and Insurance web page to ensure that the carrier’s authority remains active. If you believe your authority has been revoked without cause, please contact the following toll-free telephone number at FMCSA (866) 637-0635.