Industry New Briefs, Courtesy of PMTA
FMCSA refuses to change HOS for oil-field drivers hauling sand, water
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the hours-of-service exception can't be used by drivers hauling sand and water at oil and gas exploration sites. In the Aug. 12 notice published in the Federal Registry, FMCSA said it won't change its interpretation that the waiting-time exception for oil field workers can apply only to specially trained drivers with specially constructed equipment.
An increase in gas and oil drilling caused confusion among law enforcement and carriers as to who can use the waiting time exception granted by a 1962 regulation. That allows truck drivers who serve oil– and gas-drilling operations to record time they wait at the well sites as "off duty” for the purpose of HOS. It also allows them to pause the 14-hour maximum driving window for as long as they are waiting. That waiting can last for hours. In June 2012, FMCSA said the exception would only be available to drivers requiring "extensive” training to drive trucks that are "specially constructed for use at oil and gas sites,” excluding trucks used for carrying sand and water, essential supplies for hydraulic fracturing. In an Aug. 12 notice, FMCSA rejected arguments that the guidance constitutes a major change worthy of a rulemaking process.
ATA suggested that FMCSA base its oil field exception on whether truckers have an opportunity to rest while waiting at the well site, not what kind of truck they drive.
OMB clears rule to streamline registration
The White House Office of Management and Budget has approved a rule to streamline three federal motor carrier registration systems into one, the final step before the final rule can be published. The Unified Registration System would combine the Department of Transportation number system, the mechanism for showing proof of insurance and the designation of a process agent for receiving legal notices, under a 2011 FMCSA proposal. It would streamline the registration process for carriers, and require the process to be completed online. Fee for registering would increase from $200 to $300. The next step is for FMCSA to publish a Federal Register notice laying out the final system and implementation plan. DOT said it would publish the URS rule in August.
Agencies drop emissions, efficiency rules
The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration withdrew some portions of a rule that would have made minor technical amendments to the upcoming greenhouse-gas emissions and fuel-efficiency standards for heavy trucks. The changes, proposed in June, would have concerned engine and truck testing, certification and credit specifications. The agencies got so many negative comments about them, they withdrew them and go through a formal rulemaking process. EPA and NHTSA must now respond to the comments they received before making the changes final. The emissions and efficiency rules take effect with trucks produced from 2014 to 2017.
Two Pa. drivers win at NTDC
Congratulations to Leo Flack of A. Duie Pyle, who won second place in the sleeper berth class and to Salvatore Vincelli of FedEx Ground, who won second place in the step van class. They were among the 422 professional truck drivers from across the U.S. competing in the 2013 National Truck Driving Championships held in Salt Lake City, Utah, last week. Nine drivers from Pennsylvania competed. Gary Harms, a Walmart Transportation driver from Kansas, was named the 2013 Bendix National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion. PMTA, on behalf of its members, congratulates all drivers who competed. You are America's safest, most professional drivers.
New, increased weight restrictions coming to about 1,000 bridges
In case you haven't heard, PennDOT will soon add or increase weight restrictions to about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges to ensure bridge safety and preserve the aging bridge system. Because of legislative inaction on transportation funding, PennDOT has no money to take care of the bridges. Transportation secretary Barry J. Schoch announced the plan last week, authorizing PennDOT to add or increase weight restrictions on 530 state-owned and about 470 locally-owned bridges. Pennsylvania currently has 567 state bridges and 1,685 local bridges posted with weight restrictions. It currently leads the nation in the number of structurally deficient bridges with 4,479. PennDOT will begin posting bridges with weight limits as soon as Aug. 29. To view bridges with new or lowered weight restrictions or to learn more about bridge weight restrictions, visit the PennDOT homepage at www.dot.state.pa.us and click on "Bridge Information.”
FMCSA considers rest-break exemption
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering a petition to exempt truck drivers hauling ready-mixed concrete from the new requirement that most drivers take a 30-minute break before driving more than eight hours. FMCSA said it received a petition from the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association for the two-year exemption, and it will accept public comments on the request until Sept. 19. The NRMCA said ready-mixed concrete is a perishable product that becomes unusable after about 90 minutes of mixing.
Drivers carrying certain explosives and radioactive material are exempt from the 30-minute break requirement. FMCSA granted short-term waivers to drivers carrying live animals or sensitive military cargo; it will consider long-term exemptions. Following an Aug. 2 federal court decision, shorthaul drivers are also exempt.
Repairs continue on I-81 interchange
The federal government is contributing $9.7 million toward repairs to the heavily traveled interchange in Harrisburg that was badly damaged by fire in May. The money announced Aug. 7 is in addition to about $2 million in emergency funds the U.S. Department of Transportation had previously approved.
A tanker truck hauling diesel fuel flipped over on a ramp from Interstate 81 northbound to U.S. Routes 22/322, just north of the Susquehanna River. The resulting fire did extensive damage that closed I-81 for several days. A spokesman said the total cost of the repairs is expected to approach $13 million. Work is scheduled for completion by late November.
U.S. class 8 fleet up 2.7%
R.L. Polk & Co. reported that the total U.S. heavy-duty truck fleet grew by 2.7% up to 3.59 million vehicles in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago. This is the highest rate of growth since mid-2007. The number of trucks under registration was the largest stock of U.S. Class 8's since the second quarter of 2010, as fleet managers added new trucks sparingly and generally clung to their equipment.
For more information on PMTA (Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association), go to www.pmta.org