Government Prepares for Shutdown

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Week of April 4, 2011
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The White House, Senate and House of Representatives spent the week debating and grappling with attempts to prevent a Federal government shutdown. As of Friday morning it seemed unlikely that a shutdown could be avoided.

If you are a fan of political intrigue, this has been quite an exciting week for you. If, on the other hand, you are growing tired of the current political scene in Washington, then this probably wasn’t the most inspiring week.

The news this week was dominated by the political wrangling between the House, Senate and Executive Branch over the budget. As of time of publication, there has been little progress made and it looks more and more likely that a shutdown will not be avoided.
The Senate and House have until midnight on Friday to strike a deal or else almost a million Federal employees will be furloughed, shutting down many essential services.

Who Will Be Shut Down?

It varies from department to department and even from agency to agency. However, the general rule is that all non-essential employees will be sent home and will not receive pay. The example that the government has given relates to the National Parks system. In this case, ticket collectors and tour guides would not be allowed to work, however, security guards would be required to come in (without pay). Members of the military will not receive pay, however, they will be required to stay on duty (especially if they are in active combat zones). Members of the security services such as the Central Intelligence Agency will remain on duty without being paid (although a large number of CIA employees will be furloughed).

What About the Department of Transportation?

The DOT has not yet released a definite plan about which employees will be allowed to stay on and which will be sent home. The Federal Highway Administration will definitely remain open as its operating costs are derived from the Federal gasoline tax and it has sufficient funding to survive at least another two weeks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would likely be mostly shut down with only critical safety officials allowed to stay on duty (as of time of publication, it was unclear if auditors would be allowed to stay at work).

What Will Be the Impact of This?

If you are relying on the Federal Government to provide you any services or documentation in the near future, you can probably expect them to be delayed. Passports and Social Security Cards will not be distributed during the shutdown. Similarly, tax rebate checks will not be mailed until the government returns to work.

If you have not yet filed your taxes you MUST still file them before the April 18 deadline.

If you receive Medicare or Social Security you should continue to receive benefit checks, however, other services such as new claims or change-of-address requests will probably be delayed until after the government returns to work.

Will the .GOV Websites Be Available?

The agencies are all being reasonably tight-lipped about what their exact plans are however the influential Office of Management and Budget sent out a recommendation on Friday that all non-essential .GOV websites be taken down for the duration of the shutdown and be replaced with a notice explaining why. While it has been confirmed that the IRS website will be up (so that you may continue to pay your taxes), it is as yet unclear whether the DOT websites will stay active.

Will My Foley Services Be Affected?

Foley Carrier Services is an independent company, not affiliated with the DOT or Federal government. As such, the vast majority of our services will not be affected by the shutdown. Crucially, all drug and alcohol testing programs will be unaffected.

Some of our New Entrant Start-Up Services may be affected. In particular, we may have difficulty providing:

  • New Operating Authorities
  • New DOT and MC Numbers
  • BOC-3 Services; and
  • CSA Scores

These services may vary depending on whether the DOT website remains active. If you need help with any of these services please call a Compliance Specialist at 1-800-253-5506 ext. 713 for more information.

Transportation Ticker

PA State Police Targets Intrastate Carriers without DOT Numbers. Far too many intrastate carriers are failing to comply with Pennsylvania’s DOT number requirement. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, more than 1,300 carriers have been busted for violating the new requirement, which went into effect this time last year.

As of April 2010, all motor carriers operating in Pennsylvania must have a U.S. DOT number displayed, along with their business name, on both sides of the truck. Approximately 1,700 Pennsylvania-based carriers have applied for and received U.S. DOT numbers over the last year. Violators of the DOT number requirement face fines and fees totaling up to $134.50 for carriers and $109.50 for drivers. For help obtaining a U.S. DOT number, call a Foley Compliance Specialist at 1-800-253-5506, ext. 713.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 681 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

NC Considers New Ban On Cell Phones For Drivers - TransTech

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Audrina Bigos

CHARLOTTE, NC- Distracted drivers are a big concern… especially when they're operating the biggest vehicles on the road.

Larry Hiott is an instructor at TransTech, a truck driving school in West Charlotte.

He says first-time students come in with bad habits.

"We're trying to wean people off cell phones because they are addictive..

almost as bad as some drugs and people rely on them too much," said Hiott.

The stakes are high for truck drivers.

"They only get one chance.  If they make a mistake with a tractor trailer.. it's usually a fatality,” said Hiott.

He tells his students they are 23 times more likely to get in a wreck while texting and six times more likely if they are just reaching for a cell phone.

When his students were asked if they use cell phones in their own cars, they were quick to raise their hands. But after this course, they may have to reconsider and make some changes to keep other drivers safe.

"Yeah that's a big difference. You got a lot of metal, a lot of weight… you gotta think about the stop and control.. the distance," said TransTech student, Rozell Washington.

TransTech says the new ban on talking could help emphasize its no cell phone rules already in place.

"Truckers shouldn't be on the cell phone because they do need to pay more attention to the road," said Washington.

They're not the only ones.

Other drivers support a possible ban.

"The reason I don't even talk on the phone that much is because I almost crashed doing it so it's more like a personal thing. Some people just are just not going to ever do it… some people just think it's fine," Joshua Byous, a South Charlotte resident.

Those drivers would face a hundred dollar fine if the bill passes.

Obituary - Ron Lee Geyer, 63

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Ron GeyerRon Lee Geyer, age 63, of Columbia City, IN and formerly of Florida passed away at 9:43 a.m. Saturday, March 26, 2011 at Parkview Whitley Hospital, Columbia City. Born on July 2, 1947 in Fort Wayne, he was the son of Raymond Evan and Eldora Marie (Bieberich) Geyer.

He graduated from Churubusco High School with the Class of 1965, International Business College, Fort Wayne, and Miami Dade Community College, Miami, FL. He worked at Geyer Willow Grass Sod Farm, Collins; he then drove truck for Dana Corporation, Inc.; and currently he was employed as a field recruiter for U.S. Express, Chattanooga, TN. He is a member of American Legion Post 90 and Elks Lodge for 25 years, both at Cape Coral, Florida.

Survivors include his sister, Myrna (Ralph) Bailey of Columbia City; best friend, David Johnson of Cape Coral, FL; 2 nieces, Diana (Kim) Hare and Lisa Peppler; 2 great nieces, Shelby and Kayli Hare. He was preceded in death by his parents.

Graveside service will be at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2011 at Eel River Cemetery, rural Churubusco with Pastor Terry Zolman officiating. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to DeMoney-Grimes Funeral, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City.

Memorials may be given in memory of Mr. Geyer to the Whitley County Humane Society. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.

PHMSA Texting Ban Goes Into Effect March 30

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Week of March 21, 2011
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A new rule issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration expands FMCSA’s earlier rule prohibiting texting while operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle.

At the end of February, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule that prohibits texting on electronic devices while transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding. PHMSA’s texting ban, which expands the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) earlier rule banning texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle, goes into effect next Wednesday (March 30, 2011).

The rule adds the following paragraph to Section 177.804, Compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, to the Hazardous Materials and Oil Transportation Regulations:

(b) Prohibition against texting. In accordance with Sec. 392.80 of the FMCSRs a person transporting a quantity of hazardous materials requiring placarding under 49 CFR part 172 or any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73 may not engage in, allow, or require texting while driving.

More simply, all Hazmat carriers, even those who do not cross state lines, are now prohibited from texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle laden with hazardous materials.

FMCSA Texting Ban

FMCSA’s earlier texting ban — and the associated penalties — went into effect on October 27, 2010. The penalties outlined by FMCSA are tough. Under the Compliance, Safety Aucountablity (CSA) system, texting while driving carries a 10-point severity weight rating and counts against both the carrier and the driver. Drivers who violate the rule face fines of up to $2,750, while their employers may be fined up to $11,000. Texting behind the wheel has also been identified as a disqualifying offense for FMCSA-regulated drivers. PHMSA’s rule did not specifically address fines and penalties for hazmat carriers and drivers who break the agency’s texting ban.

Details of FMCSA’s prohibition against texting are outlined in the newly created Subpart H to 49 CFR part 392 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. This section explicitly states that drivers shall not engage in texting while driving and motor carriers shall not allow or require their drivers to engage in texting while driving.

Texting Defined

To help clarify FMCSA’s rule, two key definitions were added to 49 CFR Part 390.5.
First, the two-part definition of texting:

(1) Texting means manually entering alphanumeric text, or reading text from an electronic device. This action includes, but is not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or engaging in any other form of electronic text retrieval or electronic text entry for present or future communication.

(2) Texting does not include:

  • Reading, selecting, or entering a telephone number, an extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a telephone call;
  • Inputting, selecting or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or
  • Using a device capable of performing multiple functions (e.g. fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizens band radios, music players, etc.) for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in part 392.

To further clarify, FMCSA added the following definition of electronic device: Electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a cellular telephone; personal digital assistant; pager; computer; or any other device used to input, write, send, receive, or read text.

What Should Carriers Do to Ensure Compliance?

If they haven’t already, carriers are encouraged to review the texting ban regulations with their drivers as soon as possible. This is also a good time to review your driver safety policy to be sure that the section on distracted driving/cell phone use mirrors the DOT’s texting ban.

In addition to the top CSA severity weight and hefty fines, texting while driving is a disqualifying offense for repeat offenders. A driver who is convicted of violating the texting ban twice in a three-year period is disqualified for 60 days. Three or more violations in a three-year period, and the driver is benched for 120 days.

Transportation Ticker

NYSDOT Targets Unsafe Carriers. In the wake of two deadly crashes earlier this month, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is cracking down on unsafe buses operating in the state. NYSDOT recently conducted a safety inspection blitz that resulted with dozens of buses and drivers being pulled from the road.

A total of 164 buses were inspected at 13 checkpoints throughout the state. In a released statement, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said the inspections proved that many of the drivers and vehicles “had no business” being on the road. Cuomo urged all carriers to heed the warning, get into compliance and abide by the law.

In total, 41 drivers and/or buses were placed out-of-service for serious violations during the recent roadside inspections. Even more buses and drivers were cited for minor vehicle infractions
and moving violations.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 679 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011

Professional Truck Driver Institute Honors Carl Spatocco with Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award

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Recipient is devoted to advancing commercial truck driver training

Carl Spatocco

San Diego, Calif. - The Professional Truck Driver Institute, Inc. (PTDI), an organization whose mission is to raise the quality of truck driver training courses by establishing and promoting minimum training standards, and by certifying courses that meet those standards, has awarded its 13th annual Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award to Carl Spatocco, regional vice president of Education Affiliates/All-State Career School, Lester, Pa. The ceremony was held March 15, 2011, during the Truckload Carriers Association's (TCA) Annual Convention at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel & Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.

The award, sponsored by Delmar, Cengage Learning, is given to a person who exemplifies the overall mission of the Professional Truck Driver Institute, Inc., of which Lee Crittenden was a staunch supporter until his death in April 1998.  "Delmar is proud to sponsor this prestigious award and is proud to partner with PTDI in recognizing Mr. Spatocco", said Kristen Davis, Director of Transportation Industry Solutions at Delmar, Cengage Learning.  "It is people like him that make working in this industry so rewarding."

Spatocco has extensive experience in the commercial driver training segment of the transportation industry. His background includes managing multiple accredited commercial driver training schools for 25 years. Since 2003, he has served on PTDI's Board of Directors, Standards Review Committee, and Certification Commission. He has been a Board member of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association (CVTA) for seven years, including holding the positions of treasurer, chairman and past chairman. Spatocco is currently vice chairman of the Commercial Driver Training Foundation and has served on numerous industry advisory boards and committees for the American Trucking Associations, TCA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. He also sits on the Board of the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators and is a former Board member of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

According to David Money, CDS, CDT, chairman of PTDI's Certification Commission and technical director-transportation for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Loss Control Advisory Services Group, "Carl applies a consistent, insightful, analytical approach to reviewing schools and policies for PTDI course certification; utilizes his significant knowledge not only of the transportation industry, but the business of training to benefit PTDI; and is unflappable in his commitment to detail."

Through his involvement with CVTA, Spatocco helped to create an instructor development program that has proven to be highly beneficial to PTDI. "One of PTDI's core standards is instructor development, so we were fortunate that we could make the program available to schools. A number of [schools are] now using it to help ensure the quality of their instructors," said Virginia DeRoze, former program director for PTDI and the 2002 recipient of the Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award.

Personally, Spatocco is described as a leader and mentor who has consistently demonstrated innovation, resourcefulness and dedication to student success. "He never misses an opportunity to discuss the benefits of 'doing it right' with individuals outside of the training arena, or those involved with training. ... Many students have benefited from Carl's dedication to driver training and for them, we thank him," said Chuck Wirth, CVTA's representative to the PTDI Board and one of the individuals who nominated Spatocco for the award.

The presentation of the annual Lee J. Crittenden award will keep Crittenden's memory alive and serve as inspiration to others who get involved with truck driver issues. Crittenden helped many important industry activities get their start. He was passionate about promoting a positive image of the nation's professional truck drivers, and was largely responsible for the creation of America's Road Team. He also initiated a scholarship program for drivers who participate in the National Truck Driving Championships. His greatest industry achievement is largely believed to be his part in founding the Professional Truck Driver Institute, where he served on the board of directors and also as the finance chairman during the Institute's infancy. Crittenden worked for CitiCapital, the company that was instrumental in creating this award along with the Truckload Carriers Association.