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Comments Off on The Year’s Top Trucking Stories from Washington

The political slugfest over the 34-hour restart dominated the news from Washington, D.C., in the second half of 2014, but that obscure provision of the hours of service rule is not nearly as important as other developments during the year. The biggest story was what didn’t happen: Congress failed to produce a long-term highway bill, thereby continuing the gradual downward spiral of U.S. infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers grades American infrastructure as a D+. It also says that if the U.S. does not reinvest in transportation, businesses will pay an extra $430 million in transportation costs by 2020. Last year a senior Caterpillar executive told Congress that his company routes 40% of its exports through Canadian ports because they’re faster than U.S. ports – even though they’re farther away. But Congress is not yet engaged on the issue the way it will need to be in order to overcome resistance […]

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Comments Off on Coming Soon: No Defects Means No Driver Inspection Report

As soon as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes the final rule, probably on December 18, truck drivers will no longer have to file inspection reports when there are no defects in the truck. The agency has been pursuing this change for more than a year in response to President Obama’s call for federal agencies to cut bureaucratic red tape. “America’s truckers should be able to focus more on getting their goods safely to store shelves, construction sites or wherever they need to be instead of spending countless hours on unnecessary paperwork that costs the industry nearly $2 billion each year,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. Drivers are now required to do pre-trip and post-trip inspections and file a report to the carrier even if there are no defects. Under the new rule, no-defect reports will not be required. Drivers will still have to turn in reports […]

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Comments Off on Specialized Carriers Seek Exemption from 30-Minute Break Requirement

Specialized carriers that haul oversized or overweight loads are asking for an exemption from the 30-minute rest break provision of the hours of service rules. The Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for relief from the provision, which says drivers must take a half-hour break in an 8-hour shift. The group said that compliance is difficult due to the limited periods in which its members are permitted to operate. These carriers typically must get a special permit to move their loads and the permit often limits the duration or time of day or night of the movement. Plus, permit practices vary greatly from state to state, and even from local jurisdictions within a state, SCRA told the agency. The exemption would apply only to carriers that have such a permit. The group said that often the permitted hours will be in conflict with the […]

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Comments Off on Carriers Look for HOS Flexibility to Ease Port Congestion

Trucking interests are preparing a request for temporary flexibility in the hours of service rules to help ease the congestion that is plaguing major ports. “We need some relief now,” said Curtis Whalen, executive director of the American Trucking Associations Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference. Whalen said ATA is working with the California Trucking Association and the Southern California Harbor Trucking Association to craft a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. Their immediate focus is the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach but if they are successful they will expand their effort to other ports where congestion is a problem, such as New York, New Jersey and Virginia, Whalen said. The petition will not be a one-size-fits-all solution, he said. Each port has its own operating characteristics and may require different treatment. For the California ports, the carrier groups are looking at the possibility of a temporary waiver […]

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Comments Off on FMCSA’s Mexico Decision Draws Opposition, Support

Owner-operator and labor groups registered their objections to the decision this week by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to grant normal status to Mexican carriers that had been operating under a pilot program. “It really smacks of arrogance” for the agency to act before the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General posts his audit of the program, said Todd Spencer, executive director of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. By law, the three-year program ended October 14. The Inspector General’s audit is expected in December. In the interim, FMCSA converted the 13 Mexican carriers from pilot to regular status. In an earlier audit the IG found that the Mexican carriers are safe but there were too few of them to prove that the regulatory system would work in the long run. Since then, FMCSA says, it has conducted enough inspections to show that the system works. Spencer said that the sample size […]

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Comments Off on FMCSA Reaches Final Phase of Wireless Inspection Project

The FMCSA reached the final phase of its Wireless Roadside Inspection project when it made Innovative Software Engineering the telematics provider for the project. The project is being managed by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The WRI project is designed to evaluate the viability of using wireless capabilities to provide real-time identification and status information of vehicles, drivers and carriers. ISE had participated in the initial phase of the WRI program when it successfully demonstrated the viability of wireless technology during a FMCSA sponsored event. “This is a significant project for both the commercial motor vehicle industry and the federal government,” said Hass Machlab, president and CEO of ISE. “We are honored to be selected by ORNL as their telematics services provider and software engineering services partner for such an important program.” In the final phase of the programs, wireless inspections will be conducted using commercial mobile radio service technologies during a […]

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