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Hold your "HOS"es!

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Industry groups mull court challenge to revised truck driver hours-of-service rule.


The hand-wringing by transportation trade groups that greeted the federal government's new rules governing commercial truck driver operations is giving way to the notion, at least in some quarters, that the policy may not be the onerous regulatory hammer initially feared to be.

On Dec. 22, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued its long-awaited final rule governing drivers' "hours of service" (HOS). The rule maintains a limit of 11 hours of continuous time a driver can be behind the wheel. It also keeps the 14-hour ceiling on the time drivers have to complete all on-duty work-related activities before being required to stop.

The rule cuts to 70 from 82 the maximum driver workweek and requires that drivers take a minimum 30-minute break during an eight-hour work period.

But the most controversial language requires that drivers working the maximum number of weekly hours take at least two consecutive rest periods—between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.—during a "restart" period lasting 34 straight hours. Once the 34-hour cycle is over, drivers may effectively restart the clock on their seven-day workweeks, according to the rules.

The rule had barely been announced when it was quickly torn to shreds. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), which represents the nation's largest trucking companies, said the rule could compromise public safety by forcing trucks off the road during off-peak times for motor vehicle traffic and onto the highways to join millions of commuters on their way to work.

ATA also argues that the timing of the mandatory rest periods will keep drivers off the roads longer than 34 hours. The group said that requiring drivers to take two consecutive overnight periods of rest within the 34-hour cycle would have the effect of extending the restart period to closer to 45 or 46 hours.

Trade groups representing the nation's retailers contend that the rest periods will disrupt the productivity of retail supply chains that have been calibrated to handle cargo transported between midnight and dawn when goods can get to their destinations in a timely fashion over less-congested highways.

"Supply chain optimization is the bread and butter of America's most successful retailers. Their ability to move goods efficiently has changed the retail landscape and benefited consumers by reducing prices and increasing product assortments. The new hours-of-service rule will upend the advances in efficiency made over the past decade," said Kelly Kolb, vice president for government relations for the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), in a statement.

"A pretty good rule"

But not everyone is perturbed. Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety and security at Green Bay, Wis.-based truckload and logistics giant Schneider National Inc., said that "it's a pretty good rule. There are people who won't like the restart changes, but on balance, it's a rule we can live with."

Osterberg had been more concerned with language in the original December 2010 proposal that would have required drivers to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours instead of the current 14 hours. In remarks made at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' 2011 Annual Global Conference in October, Osterberg said the proposed reduction would have the effect of reducing the number of continuous hours a driver can be behind the wheel—even if the government didn't change the driving limit—because most drivers could not complete a continuous 11-hour driving shift under a more compressed overall work schedule. The final rule maintains the 14-hour workday, thus allaying Osterberg's concerns.

Ben Cubitt, senior vice president, consulting and engineering for Dallas-based third-party logistics service provider Transplace, called the rule the "best possible outcome" because it keeps the 11-hour continuous drive times within the 14-hour workday. The other changes "will have only minor impact, [and it] does not appear to be major hit on capacity," Cubitt said.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), while critical of the mandatory rest periods and their potential impact on safety, applauded the FMCSA for keeping the 11-hour continuous drive times. "We're pleased that regulators have seen the wisdom of keeping the current 11-hour limit, but longer overnight breaks create the potential for more big trucks to be mixing with passenger cars during congested daylight hours," said David French, NRF's senior vice president for government relations, in a statement.

Court challenge mulled

The rule is set to take effect on July 1, 2013, giving the supply chain 18 months to adjust. In the interim, industry groups may go to court to try to delay or override the rules—a tactic tried several times since the last version of hours-of-service regulations took effect in 2004... Continue reading...


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A Schneider Trainer Survives Attempt to Become World's Toughest Mudder

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Last Saturday, while most of us were busy wrapping presents and decorating cookies, Don Jeske of Oconto, Wis. was busy doing a few other things like climbing 12-foot wood walls, scaling steep slopes of skateboard ramps and crawling through watery pools of mud with live electrical wires mere centimeters above waiting to zap him.

Jeske celebrated his 50th birthday this past July by participating in Wisconsin's Tough Mudder competition at Devils Head Resort in Merrimac, Wis. (Tough Mudder is regarded as the premier company in the obstacle course industry, with its courses designed by British Special Forces.) He did well enough to qualify for the Super Bowl of Tough Mudders, the first-ever World's Toughest Mudder competition held Dec. 17-18 at a motocross track-turned-obstacle course in Englishtown, N.J.

Nearly 1,000 men and women (mostly in their 20s and 30s) started the 24-hour, non-stop race. Of them, only 10 were still on the course when the 24-hour mark arrived. Jeske was among the 520 that finished one complete lap with a time of 5 hours, 41 minutes and a rank of #485. The winner, Junyong Pak of Beverly, Mass., completed eight laps and received the $10,000 prize.



The course consisted of 10 miles and 39 military-style obstacles that also included barbed wire, nets and endless amounts of mud. "The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the cold," says Jeske, shuddering as he remembers the chill of the 35-40 degree temps and 20-25 mph winds.

Jeske, a former truck driver who has worked in driver training at Schneider National since 1989, decided to embark on a healthier lifestyle five years ago. He lost 52 pounds and now regularly participates in running events. "Each day, I'm determined to do more than I did yesterday," he says. He cites his wife Julie, five children and eight grandchildren as a big source for his motivation to keep fit.

Jeske notes that he chooses the races he participates in based on the charities the event supports; one reason he wanted to participate in Tough Mudder is because it supports the Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to honor and empower our nation's Wounded Warriors. Schneider National is also a strong supporter of the program and even gave Jeske a lift to New Jersey in the company's military tribute truck, the Ride of Pride.

"Don is a true inspiration and role model to all of the folks who work alongside him at Schneider National," says Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruiting. "He knows the challenges of living life on the road, and this unique perspective allows him to help drivers find common-sense ways to get and stay healthy. Driver health and fitness is something we are Schneider are constantly keeping in our headlights, making us even prouder to have a guy like Don on our team!"

To learn more about World's Toughest Mudder, please visit:
toughmudder.com/events/worlds-toughest-mudder-series-finals
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ATA SEEKS SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF PORT DECISION

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ATA today filed a Petition with the United States Supreme Court asking it to review the Ninth Circuit’s holding in ATA’s challenge to the Port of Los Angeles concession program requirements. Although ATA prevailed on the primary issue in the case, securing a ruling striking down the Port’s independent contractor ban, other components of the program were upheld.

The Petition asks the Court to review and ultimately reverse the Circuit Court’s finding that the market participant exception to federal preemption protected concession program requirements such as an off-street parking mandate, a placarding rule, and a financial capability provision. The Petition also seeks review of the lower court’s determination that the Port has authority to decide which motor carriers may operate in interstate commerce at the Port. The Petition highlights the divergence of the Ninth Circuit opinion from the legal interpretations of other Circuits regarding the scope of the market participant exception in support of the need for Supreme Court review.

A strong dissent by the Circuit panel’s Chief Judge and a prior Department of Justice amicus brief supporting ATA’s position are also cited in the Petition. ATA is encouraging other organizations with an interest in the issues presented in the case to file amicus briefs supporting ATA’s request for the Court to hear the case. Those briefs will be due by approximately January 23, 2012. Following submission of a brief by the Port and an ATA reply filing, the case will be  submitted for consideration. A decision as to whether the Court will hear the appeal will likely be made by approximately April of next year. Contact: Robert Digges, Jr. at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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FINAL HOURS OF SERVICE RULE RELEASED

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Today, Dec. 22, FMCSA posted its new HOS rule on its website along with other materials, including a Q&A document.  The good news is that FMCSA is retaining the 11 hour driving time limit. However, the agency imposed restrictions on the use of the 34 hour restart – to include two consecutive nighttime periods (1 – 5 a.m.), and restricted consecutive hours of driving by including a required rest break. FMCSA has provided a lengthy transition period until July 1, 2013 for most but not all of its changes. ATA has already prepared a one-page summary of the rule, along with a chart comparing the changes to the current rules. These documents can be found here, here and here.

Contacts: Dave Osiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Rob Abbott at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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DOT Keeps 11-Hour Limit for Truck Drivers in Updated HOS Rule

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Source: ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=28354&utm_source=alert&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=newsletter

The Department of Transportation released its final hours-of-service rule Thursday, holding truck drivers’ daily driving limit at 11 hours while setting restrictions on drivers’ weekly hours.

DOT trimmed drivers’ maximum weekly hours to 70 from 82, and said drivers’ 34-hour restarts must include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The restart provision allows drivers to reset their weekly work cycles by resting for 34 hours. The change requires that time block to include two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., in an effort to get drivers to sleep two nights.

Research previously cited by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that ensuring nighttime sleep reduces driver fatigue.

The trucking industry, along with shippers, business interests and a large group of allies, had vehemently opposed an FMCSA proposal issued last December that would have set a 10-hour daily limit on driving. Continue reading.

Source: ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=28354&utm_source=alert&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=newsletter

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CARB Moves Forward with Clean Fuels Program

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By CCJ Staff
Published December 19, 2011
Source: ccjdigital.com/carb-moves-forward-with-clean-fuels-program

The California Air Resources Board voted to introduce some changes to its Low Carbon Fuel Standard to streamline procedures and clarify language. The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels 10 percent by 2020.

“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard is an essential part of California’s program to move away from dirty fuels and toward a clean energy future,” says Mary Nichols, CARB chairman. “These changes streamline the program. They ensure that we accurately account for every gram of carbon released during the extraction and transportation of unrefined fossil fuels, no matter where they come from.”

CARB says one key amendment will improve how the regulation accounts for the carbon intensity of crude oils. The carbon intensity of crudes can vary significantly with heavy crudes generally having a higher carbon footprint. The proposed amendments require that the carbon intensity of crudes be fully accounted for just like other fuels under the program. The provision also incentivizes innovation by providing credits... Continue reading.

Source: ccjdigital.com/carb-moves-forward-with-clean-fuels-program

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As Infrastructure Crumbled, Congress, Obama Couldn’t Get Roads Deal...

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By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the Dec. 19 & 26 print edition of Transport Topics.

When it comes to the nation’s transportation infrastructure, 2011 was a year marked by frustration.
Despite reports about costly congestion and the deteriorating state of America’s roads and bridges, Congress failed for the third consecutive year to produce a long-term surface transportation spending plan.

Even with high unemployment and intense lobbying by road builders, labor, trucking, and manufacturers, 2011 ends with the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives saying it could be February before a transportation bill is even introduced there.

Meanwhile, SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 law that governs federal spending on highway construction and safety programs, initially expired in 2009.

Congress has since passed a series of temporary extensions, lest all highway programs come to a halt as airport projects did for nearly two weeks this summer when Congress could not agree on new authorizing legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The latest of the SAFETEA-LU extensions was approved by Congress in September but runs out on March 31. And while a transportation reauthorization bill was introduced in the Senate in November, the bill is only a two-year plan and has been declared unacceptable by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.)

President Obama presented a $556 billion transportation reauthorization blueprint in February that called for $336 billion in highway spending over the next six years, a 48% increase over highway spending in SAFETEA-LU.

The president did not, however, suggest a new revenue source to pay for his plan, and the White House has ruled out an increase in the fuel taxes that provide most of the money in the Highway Trust Fund.

In late May, a bipartisan coalition of four senators led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, outlined a six-year reauthorization plan that at $339 billion was less ambitious than the president’s. By Sept. 9, when the senators finally introduced their bill, it was a $109 billion measure and for only two years.

Besides Boxer, the coalition included Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), EPW’s ranking minority member; Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), ranking member on EPW’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee; and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who chairs the EPW subcommittee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Like the president before them, the senators did not suggest a way to fund their plan.

On the House side, the new Republican leadership took charge of the reauthorization debate early in the year, passing a rule that transportation spending must be limited to the about $35 billion a year that flows into the Highway Trust Fund from fuel taxes.

That would have meant a reduction of about 30% in current transportation funding, which for years has been supplemented by the general fund.

As a result, in July, Mica outlined a dramatically spare reauthorization spending plan, saying he had to abide by the leadership’s rule.

By September, however, as President Obama called on Congress to agree to his new $447 billion jobs and infrastructure plan, the Republican leadership changed course.

It said it would abandon the 30% cuts and find a way to sufficiently fund a long-term reauthorization bill that would stand as the party’s jobs bill.

In November, Mica and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced they had a plan: a five-year reauthorization bill funded with expanded oil drilling along coastal areas and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and increased production in the nation’s oil shale areas.

That bill has yet to be introduced and Mica has since announced that he will not introduce a reauthorization measure until January or February.

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the Dec. 19 & 26 print edition of Transport Topics