News

Common Sense Must Govern CSA Crash Accountability Decisions

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March 20, 2012 10:00 AM
by Sean McNally 703-838-1995
Source: truckline.com/pages/article.aspx?id=988/8e1c7279-ed27-4c03-b189-ceeee26bbb12

Arlington, Va. – American Trucking Associations’ leaders expressed serious concern over the recent decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, after pressure from anti-truck groups, to continue to hold the trucking industry responsible in its CSA program for every truck-involved crash, including those which the truck driver could not have prevented.

“With FMCSA moving ahead with its CSA carrier oversight system, it is more important than ever that the agency uses not only the best data, but also common sense to ensure it is targeting the right carriers and drivers for oversight,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “By backtracking on their commitment to implement a crash accountability determination process in early 2012 to hold carriers accountable for crashes clearly caused by the actions or inactions of a truck driver, FMCSA has bowed to anti-industry interest groups and unfairly called into question the integrity of police accident reports prepared by America’s law enforcement community.”

ATA, and other industry groups, had respectfully requested – and FMCSA had agreed to develop a process where police accident reports would be reviewed to determine crash accountability and remove non-preventable crashes from a carrier’s CSA profile. After pressure from some special interest groups who have questioned the reliability of police accident reports, FMCSA now has shelved these plans. Legitimate highway safety stakeholders know that much of this country’s traffic safety research is based on police accident reports... Continue reading...

Source: truckline.com/pages/article.aspx?id=988/8e1c7279-ed27-4c03-b189-ceeee26bbb12

 

Billboards Spread Message about New Pennsylvania Texting Ban

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It's a pleasure to be able to remind readers that the new Pennsylvania law against texting while drivingin the Keystone State took effect on March 8.

But, as the AAA clubs of Pennsylvania know, a law can only be effective when people know about it. That's why, beginning this week, the organization is posting the message "DNT TXT N DRV - It's the Law" on approximately 60 billboards across Pennsylvania.

notexting.jpgIn its new campaign, AAA is not going it alone. Both Lamar Advertising and Clear Channel Outdoor are donating billboard space for this important safety message.

As AAA East Central's Brian Newbacher said, "Educating the public about the new law to ban texting while driving will help lead to greater compliance. There is remarkable public support for the new law and AAA is encouraging motorists to comply with it to save lives.”

He's right about public support. In a recent survey of AAA members, 95 percent supported a law against texting while driving.

And why shouldn't they? We know that taking your hands off the wheel, your eyes of the road, and your mind off driving increases your chances of causing a crash. Unfortunately, texting while driving requires you to do just that; it is a perfect storm of driver distraction.

As Pennsylvania State Trooper Robin Mungo observed, “Anytime we can reduce the number of distractions we have in a vehicle, it will reduce the number of crashes we have across our highways."

When the law passed last year, I thanked the safety advocates and legislators who helped make this happen and Governor Tom Corbett for signing the ban into law. Today I want to thank the AAA clubs of Pennsylvania and their partners for this new campaign to help educate drivers to stop texting behind the wheel.

Senate Passes Highway Bill

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Two-Year, $109 Billion Plan Awaits House Action

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the March 19 print edition of Transport Topics.


The U.S. Senate last week passed a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill that contains an array of provisions important to the trucking industry, including creation of a national freight program and a mandate for electronic onboard recorders on trucks.

On a bipartisan 74-22 vote March 14, senators approved the long-awaited transportation reauthorization bill, which provides $85 billion in highway spending over two years.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where its future is uncertain and a March 31 deadline looms. Unless Congress passes a highway bill, or again temporarily extends the current reauthorization by that date, the federal government will lose its authority to build highways and to collect federal fuel taxes.

The bill takes a swipe at states that have privatized existing toll roads. The Senate batted back an attempt to privatize rest areas on highways. But the bill allows states planning to build new toll projects to move ahead (see story, p. 54).

The Senate-passed bill directs the Federal Highway Administration to designate a national freight network from existing highways and to encourage states to facilitate the movement of goods with such projects as adding truck lanes to highways.

“As representatives of the trucking industry, we’re particularly pleased to see this bill provide not just attention to — but $2 billion a year in funding for — highway freight-specific projects,” Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations, said in a statement after the vote.

The bill would require EOBRs on trucks traveling interstate; such drivers are currently required to keep paper logs. That electronic mandate would take effect within a year of the bill’s enactment.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has written a rule mandating EOBRs, but in August, a federal court blocked implementation, saying any rule must protect drivers from harassment.

Graves called the Senate bill “a step forward for highway safety.”

Safety measures included in the legislation are a clearinghouse that would allow employers to check truck drivers’ drug and alcohol test results.

The bill also would create crashworthiness standards for large trucks and would require drivers and others entering the industry to be tested on trucking knowledge.

The bill also would let states spend federal highway funds on safe parking areas for resting truck drivers.

The House has yet to pass a bill of its own.

The Senate bill was crafted by four senators: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee; James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the committee’s highest-ranking Republican; David Vitter (R-La.), ranking Republican on the committee’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee; and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of that subcommittee and of the Finance Committee.

“It is a great day when the Senate, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, votes to save 1.8 million jobs and create up to 1 million more jobs,” Boxer said following the vote.

Inhofe said that “with the momentum of today’s victory, I look forward to moving this bill to conference so that we can get it to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”

From the start, Boxer and Inhofe said that to win support, a reauthorization bill could not address such controversial issues as high-speed rail and bigger trucks. They also agreed to keep spending at current levels plus inflation, with no new taxes.

However, with fuel tax revenue dwindling in recent years, the Highway Trust Fund has not been covering transportation expenditures. General fund money has been needed and about $12 billion in additional funds had to be identified to underwrite the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

Finance Chairman Baucus used a series of small changes to produce the $12 billion — for example, persuading committee members to dedicate to transportation the federal fines collected for leaking underground fuel tanks. Committee members also ended a tax credit that paper and pulp manufacturers received for producing “black liquor,” an alternative fuel.

In addition to highway spending of almost $85 billion, the Senate bill would authorize $2 billion over two years for low-interest loans to state and local governments building transportation projects.

FHWA would receive $480 million in each of the two years, but dozens of highway programs, among them the ferry boat and scenic byways programs, would be abolished or consolidated.

The 30-month wait for a new reauthorization law has caused such uncertainty that, despite disagreements on certain provisions, transportation advocacy groups were quick to applaud the Senate vote.

“While there are still complications such as an EOBR mandate in this bill, we are relieved that a significant first step has been taken,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

With the Senate vote completed, several groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National League of Cities and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, called on the House to act.

In contrast with the Senate, House Republicans are sharply divided on reauthorization.

To pay for a five-year bill introduced by House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.), Republican leaders want to expand oil drilling offshore and in Alaska, proposals that have drawn objections from environmentalists.

One version of the House bill would have ended funding for public transit, which caused some suburban Republicans to withdraw support (2-20, p. 5). Conservative members want to keep spending and Highway Trust Fund revenue equal, which would mean transportation cuts of up to 35%.
In a March 15 press conference, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Republicans may not be able to agree on a bill, which could lead him to ask for a vote on the Senate’s bill.

However, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel last week told Transport Topics: “We are all working together toward co-alescing around a longer-term approach with needed reforms. If we can’t get there, we may have to take up something like the Senate bill — but we’d prefer to take the responsible approach on this and get a longer-term bill through the House.”

Mica spokesman Justin Harclerode said Mica believes that passing his long-term bill “with several likely changes, is the responsible approach, and we are continuing to work with House leaders and other members toward this objective. There is positive movement on this front.”

This story appears in the March 19 print edition of Transport Topics.

FMCSA Announces Proposal on Sleep Disorders

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of March 12, 2012
Foley Services Your Single Source for DOT Compliance

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro has announced a new proposed rulemaking on treating and detecting sleep disorders in truck drivers.

National Speed Limit Closer to Existence?

Chalk this one up to the open government initiative: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has laid out the agencies plan to combat the problem of truck drivers with sleep disorders.

Over the next few years we can expect guidance on diagnosing sleep disorders, plus a notice of proposed rulemaking and a final rule regarding sleep apnea. While the agency is usually fairly fastidious about following the usual rulemaking process, Ferro said that it would be issuing the guidance as a quick to implement stop-gap measure.

Guidance

The first measure is to issue guidance to medical examiners detailing how to detect and to treat sleep disorders in truck drivers.

That would be the second major move this year by FMCSA to regulate the people performing physicals on truck drivers. On March 30, a Final Rule that would create a national registry of qualified medical examiners is expected to be published. That Final Rule would also require that medical examiners undergo mandatory training, testing and certification before being place on the registry.

Rulemaking

Ferro also stated that the agency would look to create a formal, Final Rule concerning Sleep Apnea. That condition, which prevents sufferers from getting restful sleep has been the cause of a great deal of alarm over the last few years.

FMCSA researchers claim that driver fatigue is the root cause of 13% of truck crashes. Over the past several years the agency has done a great deal to combat driver fatigue, including the new hours-of-service regulations plus the creation of the Driver Fatigue BASIC as a part of the CSA system.

As always, Fast-Fax will keep you up-to-date on these issues as they get closer to becoming regulations.

National Speed Limit Closer to Existence?


The Truckload Carriers Association becomes the latest big voice advocating a national speed limit for trucks on the interstate.

It has been a long time since we had a national speed limit on the interstate. For some states, it has also been a long time since trucks and cars had the same speed limits. While cars can move at 65 or even 70 mph, trucks get stuck at 55 mph.

Now, the Truckload Carriers Association has become the latest of the major industry players to endorse a national speed limit for trucks of 65 mph. Other groups that have already endorsed the increased speed limit include the American Trucking Associations.

Safety Advocates

While there isn’t complete consensus, a number of safety advocates have called for a unified speed across the interstate system. The last time there was a national speed limit (of 55 mph) there was conflicting data on the safety issue.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claiming that increasing limits from 55 to 65 mph on rural roads caused a 25-30% increase in fatalities. On the other hand, the University of California Transportation Science Center found that, under the same circumstances, there was a 3-5% decrease in fatalities.

New Rules?

While TCA’s endorsement is getting a lot of press, we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for a new rule any time soon. A national speed limit would be controversial and the required raising of the limit in some states to be greater than 55 would surely raise the ire of the safety advocates. TCA’s endorsement is a welcome coup for advocates but there is a long way to go before a national speed limit becomes a reality.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 729 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

DOT Releases New "Faces of Distracted Driving" Video

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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases
New “Faces of Distracted Driving” Video

Alison Holden of Washington, DC
Recounts Her Recovery from a Devastating Distracted Driving Injury

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 Alison Holden from Washington, DC.

WATCH: “Alison Holden” – Source: youtu.be/wyUHzRDj734

On April 27, 2009, single mom Alison Holden was driving to work when she was rear-ended at a stoplight by a driver who was sending a text message. She was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. In the months after the accident, she suffered from short-term memory loss and struggled to care for her son while recovering from her injuries. She required extensive physical therapy, and she still feels effects from the crash today.

“Alison Holden’s experience reminds us that distracted driving crashes don’t have to be fatal to have devastating, long-term consequences,” said Secretary LaHood. “I hope all drivers will remember to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel, and their cell phones in the glove compartment.”

“Distracted driving stole two years of my life. It robbed my son of two years with his mother," said Holden. “No text message is important enough to risk ruining someone's life.”

“Faces of Distracted Driving” is a video series that raises awareness about the potentially tragic consequences of texting and cell phone use 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” – Distraction.gov/Content/Faces

The U.S. Department of Transportation encourages anyone who would like to share their distracted driving experiences to email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To learn more about USDOT’s efforts to stop distracted driving, please visit www.Distraction.gov.

Unemployment rate unchanged; trucking adds 10,200 jobs

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Source: thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2012/3/9/
Unemploymentrateunchangedtruckingadds10200jobs.aspx

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
The Associated Press
3/9/2012

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession began. The unemployment rate was unchanged, largely because more people streamed into the work force.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent last month, the lowest in three years.

And hiring in January and December was better than first thought. The government revised those figures to show 61,000 an additional jobs.

For-hire trucking picked up 10,200 jobs for the month. The preliminary February number for trucking is better than the same month a year ago by 47,300 jobs, and it's 97,000 jobs better than March 2010, the low point in the downturn. But the current total is still 123,100 jobs shy of the industry peak in early 2007 — a slip of 8.5 percent.

The economy has now generated an average of 245,000 jobs in the past three months. The only stretch better since the recession began was in early 2010.

That bodes well for President Barack Obama's re-election chances, although he's still likely to face the highest unemployment rate of any post-war president.

Stock futures rose slightly after the report was released. Dow Jones industrial average futures, which were up 10 points before the report, added 10 points when it came out. Standard & Poor's 500 futures were up one point before the report and tacked on two.

Last month's hiring was broad-based and in both high-paying and lower-paying industries. Manufacturing, mining, and professional services, such as accounting, all added jobs.

Governments at all levels cut only 6,000 jobs in February and 1,000 in January, after a revision. That's a welcome change from the heavy layoffs by cash-strapped states and cities over the past two years. Last year alone they cut an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Nearly a half-million people began looking for work last month, and most found jobs, the report said. That's a sign of growing optimism in the job market, as many people who had given up on looking for work came off the sidelines to search for jobs.

That also counters a troubling trend: a key reason why the unemployment rate has dropped since last year is that many out-of-work people have stopped looking for work. Only people without jobs who are actively seeking one are counted as unemployed.

A sustained rise in the number of people looking for jobs is a good sign, even if the unemployment rate doesn't change.

Friday's report comes as a host of data points to an improving economy and job market. Weekly applications for unemployment benefits have fallen about 14 percent in six months. Though they ticked up last week, average applications remain near a four-year low.

On Wednesday, payroll provider ADP said businesses added 216,000 employees last month, up from January's total. The ADP report doesn't include governments, which have been cutting jobs.

And service companies, which employ most Americans, are expanding at a faster pace, according to a private survey released this week. A gauge of employment shows that service firms are still hiring, particularly in the mining, educational services, and transportation and warehousing industries.

The service sector includes everything from restaurants and hotels to health care firms and financial service companies.

Some companies must hire because they can't squeeze more output from their current staffs. Last year, worker productivity rose at its slowest pace in nearly 25 years. That means companies will likely have to add staff to meet growing demand.

Other figures point to the same conclusion. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours. That's close to the pre-recession total and suggests that companies will have to hire more workers as business improves, rather than adding more hours.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Source: thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2012/3/9/
Unemploymentrateunchangedtruckingadds10200jobs.aspx

Unemployment Rate Unchanged; Trucking Adds 10,200 jobs

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By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
The Associated Press, 3/9/2012
Source: thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2012/3/9/
Unemploymentrateunchangedtruckingadds10200jobs.aspx

WASHINGTON — U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession began. The unemployment rate was unchanged, largely because more people streamed into the work force.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percent last month, the lowest in three years.

And hiring in January and December was better than first thought. The government revised those figures to show 61,000 an additional jobs.

For-hire trucking picked up 10,200 jobs for the month. The preliminary February number for trucking is better than the same month a year ago by 47,300 jobs, and it's 97,000 jobs better than March 2010, the low point in the downturn. But the current total is still 123,100 jobs shy of the industry peak in early 2007 — a slip of 8.5 percent.

The economy has now generated an average of 245,000 jobs in the past three months. The only stretch better since the recession began was in early 2010.

That bodes well for President Barack Obama's re-election chances, although he's still likely to face the highest unemployment rate of any post-war president.

Stock futures rose slightly after the report was released. Dow Jones industrial average futures, which were up 10 points before the report, added 10 points when it came out. Standard & Poor's 500 futures were up one point before the report and tacked on two.

Last month's hiring was broad-based and in both high-paying and lower-paying industries. Manufacturing, mining, and professional services, such as accounting, all added jobs.

Governments at all levels cut only 6,000 jobs in February and 1,000 in January, after a revision. That's a welcome change from the heavy layoffs by cash-strapped states and cities over the past two years. Last year alone they cut an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Nearly a half-million people began looking for work last month, and most found jobs, the report said. That's a sign of growing optimism in the job market, as many people who had given up on looking for work came off the sidelines to search for jobs.

That also counters a troubling trend: a key reason why the unemployment rate has dropped since last year is that many out-of-work people have stopped looking for work. Only people without jobs who are actively seeking one are counted as unemployed.

A sustained rise in the number of people looking for jobs is a good sign, even if the unemployment rate doesn't change. Continue reading...

Source: thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2012/3/9/Unemploymentrateunchangedtruckingadds10200jobs.aspx