Oops: Appropriations bill may have done away with 34-hour restart entirely

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Todd Dills|February 12, 2016

Turns out the 34-hour restart-related item inthe late-2015 Congressional appropriations bill may have done a little more than was intended. The intent of the item was to reinforce the stay of enforcement of limitations on use of the 34-hour restart that were implemented in 2013 and which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrationcontinues to study as to their effectiveness, as required by law.

But read what the appropriations bill actually states relative to the restart, and it becomes clear that not only did it extend that stay and put limitations on FMCSA’s ability to reinstate the restrictions — once-per-week use of the restart and inclusion of two 1-5 a.m. periods — it essentially nullified the restart entirely.

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act or any other Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce sections 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, and such section shall have no force or effect on submission of the final report issued by the Secretary…

 

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Required 34-hour restart study finished, advances to next step, says FMCSA boss

That’s the key part of this, and what exactly does 395.3(c) and 395.3(d) refer to? Those are, essentially, everything in the regulations pertaining to the restart. And since the appropriations bill’s language doesn’t specify an alternative to those regulations, as the Truckload Carriers Association noted this afternoon in a message to members…

 

…then there is no restart provision to abide by.

 

That’s DOT’s recent interpretation at least, according to TCA. Now, before you go back to recapping entirely, take note of the rest of that message from TCA:

 

As discussions around this issue remain fluid, we are instructing our carrier members to keep their fleets operating as they have always been as members of Congress seek to reach an agreement on the best way to proceed. In an email to its Executive Committee, of which TCA is part, ATA has put forth options which they can use to negotiate with lawmakers. Of those options, the parties involved, including TCA representatives, have selected what ATA perceives to be the most flexible option on the table. The selected option consists of the following:

 

Total weekly cap of 75 hours in any 7 calendar days Retains 60/7, 70/8 rules.Taking an off-duty period of 34 consecutive hours or more allows the driver to exceed the 60/7 & 70/8 limits, up to the 75-hour, 7-calendar-day cap.

We’ll update more when we have word of any final solution, as changes wouldn’t go into effect until certified by DOT in concert with lawmakers. As TCA noted, “as of today, we are continuing to operate as we did yesterday.”

At once, reminds me of Tom Strese‘s sage words from about a year ago as the exemptions to the milk-and-cookie break really started to pile up: If we’re not careful, Strese said, “pretty soon our HOS rules are going to look like the tax code.”

Can you live without the restart? Keep it simple, so to speak — or as simple as recapping can be? Stay tuned for more…

Rollback of 34-hour restart regs further entrenched by Congressional budget deal.

FMCSA will have to prove its 2013-implemented rules are better for driver fatigue and highway safety than previous hours rules before they can go back …

 

Nearly 20,000 inspections occurred in Safe Driver blitz in October, CVSA says

INSPECTIONSMatt

        Law enforcement officers conducted 19,480 roadside inspections on commercial drivers and vehicles during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 2015 Operation Safe Driver Week in October, CVSA announced Jan. 5.

          The total number of inspections dropped from the 24,184 conducted in 2014’s Safe Driver inspection blitz. The top five warnings and citations issued to commercial truck drivers were size and weight, speeding, failure to use a seatbelt, failure to obey a traffic control device and using a handheld phone. In total, 13,807 commercial vehicles were inspected during the week.

         Law enforcement officers handed out 1,243 size and weight citations and 497 warnings, 404 speeding citations and 877 warnings, and 580 seatbelt citations and 112 warnings. In all, 4,062 citations and 3,923 warnings were given to commercial vehicle drivers.

         “Unsafe driving behaviors can result in lives lost. That’s what Operation Safe Driver Week aims to combat through driver enforcement and education,” said CVSA President Maj. Jay Thompson with Arkansas Highway Police. “Our mission is to make our roadways as safe as possible. We will continue to work toward that goal by ensuring drivers are operating safely in and around large trucks and buses.”

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Top 10 toughest states for traffic enforcement

           Indiana, Delaware, Illinois top the rankings for violations that      contribute CSA’s Unsafe Driving measure. Often used by enforcement as a reason to inspect, without an …
 
Other statistics from Operation Safe Driver Week for commercial vehicles include:

                    The percentage of stopped CMVs given speeding warnings and         citations increased from 5.8 percent in 2014 to 9.3 percent in 2015.

                    The percentage of warnings and citations for failing to obey traffic control devices increased from 2.5 percent in 2014 to 3.85 percent in 2015.

                     The percentage of CMVs pulled over that were given seatbelt warnings and citations increased to 5 percent in 2015 from 2.8 percent in 2014. 

       “Everyone traveling on our highways and roads should reach their destination safely,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “I thank CVSA and its members for their partnership and commitment to safety. By working together through efforts like Operation Safe Driver, crashes will be prevented and lives will be saved.”

C.R. England says goal in driver training exemption to get qualified truck operators working sooner

|June 19, 2015

C.R.-EnglandMajor refrigerated carrier C.R. England, one of the largest fleets in the U.S., was granted last week an exemption to one portion of federal rules dictating driver training. But, says C.R. England chief counsel TJ England, the exemption was not sought as an attempt to evade driver training regulations, as perceived by some, but is instead meant to help new entrant drivers start work quicker by avoiding unnecessary red tape.

“A lot of confusion exists with our exemption request,” he said this week. “People think this is an attempt to try to escape some sort of training or safety requirement or diminish training or safety — and that’s not the case at all.”

The only new entrant drivers that fall under the exemption, England says, are those who have completed all necessary skills tests and written tests and who have a commercial learner’s permit, but simply haven’t been to their home state “to stand in a line at the DMV,” England said, to receive their CDL.

“They’ve met all the same requirements” as an actual CDL holder, he said. “There are no more requirements and no more testing. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have asked for [the exemption].”

The waiver granted to C.R. England this week by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows new drivers, who have documentation that they’ve passed written and skills tests, to operate a commercial truck without a CDL-licensed driver-trainer in the front seat, as required by federal regulations.

The driver-trainer would still be in the vehicle, according to C.R. England’s exemption application and FMCSA’s waiver, but he or she could be in the sleeper. C.R. England said in its original application for the exemption in December, and TJ England told Overdrive this week, that the exemption will allow the fully trained, learner’s permit-holding drivers to work in a team operation until they can be routed to their home state to obtain their CDL.England said upcoming changes to CDL issuance rules, set to go into effect July 8, make it more difficult for drivers to get to their CDL-issuing state — their home state — to receive their actual CDL card. England likened the changes to a student who goes to school outside of his or her home state, but must return home to obtain a diploma before being able to work a job.

England said while FMCSA’s intentions with the rule changes are good — reducing CDL fraud — one key “unintended consequence” limits states’ ability to grant temporary CDLs, which would allow new entrant drivers to drive and carriers to route them to their home state to receive their permanent CDL before the temporary would expire.

“We didn’t like [how the new rules] unfairly impeded out of state drivers and made it more difficult for them to get a CDL and get to work,” he said. “What we wanted was to level the playing field between in state and out of state driver applicants, so when they were qualified and had met all the standards, they were then able to drive.”

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Major carrier allowed to skip certain driver training regs

Under the terms of the exemption, a learner’s permit holder who has passed a CDL skills test may drive a truck and trailer for C.R. …

At least 30 hours behind the wheel: Pre-CDL driver-training rulemaking committee issues ‘consensus’ recommendation

Two dissenting votes on the committee — from NASTC and ATA — open the door for FMCSA to not pursue an training rulemaking, but signs …

GAO rep: FMCSA’s app the latest misstep in pushing ‘unreliable’ CSA scores

csa

|March 19, 2015

csa basic alertsFollowing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s release this week of its CSA-based QCMobile app, a representative from the Government Accountability Office reiterated her agency’s stance that carrier rankings in CSA are unreliable and should not be publicly displayed.

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Industry concerns aside, FMCSA releases smartphone app to allow easier access to CSA scores

Despite the trucking industry’s concerns over the quality, quantity and consistency of the data used to form CSA rankings, FMCSA unveiled a smartphone app designed …

FMCSA’s app release is the agency’s latest push to invite third-party use of rankings in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, coming despite concerns by carriers, brokers, inspectors and the GAO about the scores’ ability to accurately depict carrier safety or future crash risk.

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Congress’ latest alert over CSA scores

New House bill 1371 would pull carrier CSA scores from public view, require FMCSA to revamp program.

Susan Fleming, director of the GAO’s physical infrastructure department, was interviewed about the matter briefly Wednesday by Mark Willis on his SiriusXM Road Dog Trucking News program.The GAO, she said, favors removal of the scores from public view, citing its own study on the program in which it concluded the rankings are flawed due to inconsistent and variable data from states, lack of data on smaller carriers and lack of correlation between several CSA BASICs and crash occurrence.

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CSA scoring is faulty, unfair for small carriers, GAO report says

The scoring system used by FMCSA in its Compliance, Safety, Accountability system is flawed and is made up of an incomplete data set, particularly for …

Overdrive’s Todd Dills in recent years also reported in-depth on these issues, finding the program discriminates against smaller carriers and CSA ratings often times do not have a positive relationship to accident rates.Fleming told Willis in the March 18 interview that FMCSA’s continued push of CSA scores is giving her agency “a little bit of heartburn.”

The app “is another way of publicly displaying information we don’t consider to be reliable,” Fleming told Willis.

Where do you stand on the issue of whether carrier CSA scores be public property? If you’re using a mobile device, tap the image to call and weigh in with a voice message we may use in a future "mailbag" podcast. If you’re on a desktop, call 530-408-6423. Be sure to include your name and base location in the message.

Furthermore, the app’s stripped down view of CSA’s Safety Measurement System BASIC rankings could create even more confusion for third parties such as brokers, insurers or shippers looking to use CSA scores to make determinations about carriers.

“Taking a look at what the app doesn’t provide — It doesn’t provide frequency of violation and doesn’t even really explain what the scores mean,” she says. “[FMCSA doesn’t] plan to implement our recommendation, but we’re not wavering from our work,” she said.

Here’s a 4-minute clip of Fleming’s talk with Mark Willis, recorded and uploaded by ATA: