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Big Changes Coming to CSA

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FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro has announced huge changes to the CSA Compliance Monitoring System, including dropping the controversial Cargo Related BASIC.

Speaking at this year’s Mid America Trucking Show, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro announced huge changes to the CSA System. By far the biggest change, the controversial Cargo Related BASIC will be dropped and replaced by a Hazmat BASIC and a beefed up Vehicle Maintenance BASIC. FMCSA will also work to make the CSA system fairer by refining the inspections that can be included in a CSA report.

Ferro did disappoint industry figures, however, that had expected a further refinement to the system, citing problems with police reports FMCSA is delaying changes to the Crash Indicator.

Goodbye Cargo Related BASIC

The Cargo Related BASIC had been troubled from birth. Before CSA was even launched, industry pressure forced FMCSA to give it a ‘second-class citizenship’, making it available only to auditors and the carriers themselves and hiding it from public view.

“We held back because we weren’t altogether confident in its clear association with [the safety] outcome,” Ferro said. “So we have shifted many of the cargo to the Vehicle Maintenance BASIC and we’re going to have a standalone Hazmat BASIC.”

During the CSA implementation process, the Cargo Related BASIC underwent several rewrites. The industry view was that the scores used for each violation were overly high and that the BASIC unfairly focused on certain industry segments. The BASIC’s percentiles and Alert status were made private just before launch but the BASIC never regained industry support. Critics often cited that fact that the unnaturally high scores could potentially scare off brokers and other customers, thereby unfairly costing the carrier work.

Included Inspections Revised

Another major change, one that is likely to be welcomed by the industry is that FMCSA will be refining the reports being put into the CSA system. Currently, the CSA report includes violations from inspections that shouldn’t have covered the area of the regulations that the violations was in.

For example, currently, if you are pulled over for a vehicle-only inspection (Level V) and yet are cited for a driver violation that is included in your CSA scores. Conversely, if you are undergoing a driver only inspection (Level III) and you are cited for a vehicle violation that is also included in your CSA scores.

Under the revisions announced at MATS, FMCSA will now be dropping that data from CSA reports. A Level V inspection will now only result in vehicle violations and a Level III inspection will now only result in driver violations.

Time Frame

Motor Carriers will get a preview of the new system next week. As with the initial roll out of the CSA system, there will be an extended preview period before the new system goes ‘live’.

Depending on the public comments it receives during the preview period, FMCSA hopes to have the new system fully online before the end of July.

Not Changing Yet

It wasn’t all good news however; Ferro announced that FMCSA would actually be walking back from some previously announced changes.

One of the most hotly contested features of the CSA system is that FMCSA counts all crashes, including the ones the carrier could not avoid, against the carrier when calculating the Crash Indicator BASIC.

Industry insiders had previously been pleased to hear that that was going to change; however, Ferro disappointed them by announcing that the fix was delayed indefinitely.

Ferro claimed that the Agency had received complaints that the police reports FMCSA planned to use to determine fault might not be accurate. The change had been advertised as coming in February or March; now it has no expected release date. Ferro said that the criticism had come from Public Interest Groups although she didn’t specify exactly who objected to the use of the reports.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 730 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Public Listening Session on Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs)

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Summary

FMCSA will hold a public listening session to solicit information, concepts, ideas, and comments on Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) and the issue of driver harassment. Specifically, the Agency wants to know what factors, issues, and data it should consider as it addresses the distinction between productivity and harassment:
  • What will prevent harassment from occurring?
  • What types of harassment already exist?
  • How frequently and to what extent does harassment happen?
  • How will an electronic device such as an EOBR, capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier, guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment?

This listening session will be held on Friday, March 23, 2012, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and will allow interested persons to present comments, views, and relevant new research that FMCSA should consider in development of the final rule. This listening session will be recorded and a transcript of the session will be placed in the docket for FMCSA's consideration.

FMCSA will also offer a live Webcast of the listening session via the Internet. Details about how to register for and watch the Webcast will be provided on this Web site by March 21, 2012.

Agenda

The listening session will run from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and then continue from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. eastern time. The listening session may end earlier than 4:00 p.m. if all participants wishing to express their views have done so.

  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. -- Registration
  • 10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. -- Opening statement by Anne Ferro, FMCSA Administrator, Purpose of the listening session, Introduction of FMCSA representatives
  • 10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. -- Discussion of the ground rules (in person and Webcast) and administrative details
  • 10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. -- Pre-scheduled presentations by attendees, Presentations by registrants; facilitator will seek audience participation, Presentation of online comments by facilitator
  • 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. -- Break
  • 2:00 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. -- Continuation of public comments

NOTE: Should the audience exhaust comments early, the session will conclude early
3:50 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. -- FMCSA closing remarks by Larry Minor, FMCSA Associate Administrator for Policy

Discussion Questions

At this listening session, the Agency seeks to solicit information, concepts, ideas, and comments on Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) and the issue of driver harassment. The comments sought below may be submitted in written form at the session and summarized verbally, if desired.

1. In terms of motor carriers’ and enforcement officials’ monitoring or review of drivers’ records of duty status (RODS), what would constitute driver harassment? Would that definition change based on whether the system for recording hours of service (HOS) is paper or electronically based? If so, how? As a starting point, the Agency is interested in potential forms of harassment, including but not limited to those that are:

a. not prohibited already by current statutes and regulations
b. distinct from monitoring for legitimate business purposes (e.g., efforts to maintain or improve productivity)
c. facilitated or made possible solely by EOBR devices and not as a result of functions or features that motor carriers may choose to purchase, such as fleet management system capabilities
Is this interpretation appropriate? Should it be broader? Or narrower?

2. Are there types of driver harassment to which drivers are uniquely vulnerable if they are using EOBRs rather than paper logs? If so, what and how would use of an EOBR rather than a paper log make a driver more susceptible to harassment? Are there ways in which the use of an EOBR rather than a paper log makes a driver less susceptible to harassment?

3. What types of harassment are motor carrier drivers subjected to currently, how frequently, and to what extent does this harassment happen? How would an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier guard against (or fail to guard against) this kind of harassment? What experience have motor carriers and drivers had with carriers using EOBRs as compared to those who do not use these devices in terms of their effect on driver harassment or complaints of driver harassment?

4. What measures should the Agency consider taking to eliminate the potential for EOBRs to be used to harass drivers? Are there specific functions and capabilities of EOBRs that should be restricted to reduce the likelihood of the devices being used to harass vehicle operators?

5. Motor carriers are often responsible for managing their drivers and equipment to optimize efficiency and productivity and to ensure transportation services are provided in accordance with a planned schedule. Carriers commonly use electronic devices, which may include but are not limited to EOBRs, to enhance productivity and optimize fleet operation. Provided such devices are not used to coerce drivers into violating Federal safety regulations, where is the line between legitimate productivity measures and inappropriate oversight or actions that may be construed as harassment?

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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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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