Industry New Briefs, Courtesy of PMTA
ATRI identifies flaws in 24-hour restart benefit cost calculations
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released the findings of its assessment of the Regulatory Impact Analysis used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to justify changes to the 34-hour restart provision, scheduled to take effect July 1, 2013.
The sweeping changes to the hours-of-service rules proposed by FMCSA include two new 34-hour restart provision that limit use of the restart by truck drivers to one per week (168 hours) and a requirement that the restart include two overnight periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. ATRI's analysis quantifies a delta between FMCSA's purported industry benefit and actual industry costs resulting form the restart changes of more than $322 million.
ATRI's analysis is based on industry survey data of over 2,000 commercial drivers and 500 motor carriers as well as detailed analysis of logbook data representing 40,000+ commercial drivers and over 1.4 million individual driver logs.
A copy of this report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org.
FMCSA offers HOS visor card
Whatever your feelings are about the changes to truck driver hours-of-service regulations, you have to be prepared for them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published a visor card that outlines the changes. The card, posted to FMCSA's website, summarizes each of the provisions of the new rule and compares it to the old rule. It is designed for truck drivers to keep in their vehicles for quick reference. For the visor card, go to http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/hos/HOS-Regulations-7-1-2013.pdf.
Truck climbing lanes on I-80 in Virginia nearing completion
The Virginia Department of Transportation said two truck climbing lanes on Interstate 81 are almost complete. Virginia began working on the two lanes along two separate stretches of the highway in 2009. One is in Montgomery County near Christiansburg and the other in Rockbridge County near Fairfield. The truck climbing lane in Montgomery County will run southbound five miles between milepost 120 and 125. It could open as early as the end of summer. The other truck climbing lane farther north in Rockbridge County runs northbound for seven miles between mile markers 195.6 and 205.5. VDOT expects to complete that one this year.
VDOT said this stretch of I-81 has one of the longest and steepest uphill grades, higher than average crashes compared with other uphill grades, and low operating speeds for trucks. As many as 60,000 vehicles travel on I-81 a day, and trucks account for 40% on some segments. The truck climbing lanes will allow trucks to move over out of the main travel lanes while they get up the hill.
Senate bill aims to end LNG tax penalty
Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) introduced a bill to end what they call a tax penalty on liquefied natural gas. Last month, an identical bill was introduced in the House. The bills would move LNG off the per gallon or volume tax method to a diesel energy equivalent. CNG is already taxed on a gasoline energy equivalent. American Trucking Associations supports the bills. Because it takes 1.7 gallons of LNG to produce the same amount of energy produced by a gallon of diesel, LNG users pay a higher tax. ATA told Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, that a natural-gas truck traveling 125,000 miles a year pays more than $3,500 more in fuel taxes than a comparable diesel truck.
HOS changes take effect
The new federal hours-of-service rules are now in effect. In case you are still not sure what happened, the final HOS rule includes these provisions:
·Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours.
·Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most—from 1-5 a.m.
·Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense. More information, including "Hours of Service Logbook Examples,” is available on FMCSA's website at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS.
Sean Logan new turnpike commissioner
Former State Senator Sean Logan of Monroeville was unanimously confirmed to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission by the Pennsylvania Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett nominated Logan on June 13 to fill the vacated seat of former State Senator J. William Lincoln. Logan will attend his first meeting as a Turnpike commissioner on July 16 in Harrisburg.
Logan served a decade in the Pennsylvania Senate serving the 45th District in parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. He most recently served as executive director and CEO of Visit Monroeville. He said his goal is to make the commission more efficient, more accountable, and more transparent. In the senate, Logan was vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency during a time of turmoil and transition, and he said that experience will serve him well in his Turnpike job.
In his senate confirmation testimony, Logan mentioned the "Mapping the Future” cost-cutting partnership with PennDOT and also applauded the commission for its project to convert to a cashless, All-Electronic Tolling (AET) system.
Trailer separations are rare
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data on accidents show crashes due to trailer separation are rare. In the wake of a recent fatal crash in upstate New York where a trailer apparently separated from a tractor and struck a minivan, investigators are still trying to determine how it happened. The Sheriff's Department and New York State Police investigators determined a "mechanical failure” in the fifth wheel caused the trailer separation. FMCSA data over five years show that only 1 in 1,000 fatal large truck crashes involves a coupling, hitch or chains. A Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance spokesman said whether the rig has a fifth wheel or a hitch, responsibility for safety comes down to well-maintained vehicles and well-trained drivers. Federal regulations require drivers, after a coupling, to inspect the locking mechanism. Drivers must also perform a "tug” or "pull” test after the coupling. Trailer brakes are another critical maintenance item.
Diesel tax increase in several states
Many states diesel fuel tax increased July 1. Virginia and Maryland now charge new sales taxes that will increase the cost of fuel. Connecticut reinforced its reputation for high fuel taxes by raising them even higher. Mike Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said, "It's higher than anybody's; it's embarrassingly high.” The diesel tax there will rise 3.7 cents to 54.9 cents a gallon, and the gasoline tax will increase 4 cents to 51 cents. Connecticut ties its gasoline tax to a formula based on gross tax receipts. Diesel is taxed by the gallon.
Wyoming's tax on diesel and gasoline will increase 10 cents a gallon. North Caroline's diesel tax will rise to 37.6 cents a gallon from 37.5, and Nebraska's will go to 26.3 cents from 24.6. Vermont will add 2 cents to its diesel tax.
HOS enforcement has begun
FMCSA has started enforcing the new hours-of-service rule for truck drivers. It reiterated its position that the rule will save money and lives by decreasing driver fatigue. PMTA staff has been answering many questions about the new rule. At this time, FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance say they have no plans to provide a soft enforcement period. Contact PMTA with questions. 717-761-7122.
Livestock transportation granted limited waiver on HOS rest break requirement
FMCSA grants a limited 90-day waiver from the 30-minute rest break provision of the federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations for the transportation of livestock, as defined in 7 U.S.C. 1471(2). Several associations representing various segments of the livestock industry raised concerns about the risks to the health of animals from rising temperatures inside livestock trucks during drivers' mandatory 30-minute break, especially on light of long-range weather forecasts for above-normal temperatures for July, August and September 2013. The industry requested relief, and the agency has determined that it is appropriate to grant a limited 90-day waiver for this period to ensure the well-being of the nation's livestock during interstate transportation. The agency has determined that the waiver, based on the terms and conditions imposed, would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such exemption. This waiver preempts inconsistent state and local requirements.
Which GPS is right one?
FMCSA offers visor card to help truckers choose the right GPS http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/outreach/education/gps-visor-card.aspx.
Trucking loses 3,500 jobs
The Labor Department reported that trucking lost 3,500 jobs in June. U.S. employers added 195,000 workers to payrolls, and the unemployment rate held at 7.6%. Labor said revisions showed the economy added 70,000 more jobs in April and May than originally reported. Revisions also showed the trucking industry lost 2,400 jobs in May, more than the 700 drop originally reported. The transportation sector, which includes trucking, lost 5,100 jobs in June, but trucking jobs were more than 30,000 higher compared with the same month last year.
Ohio allows 70 mph on interstates
It is now legal to drive 70 mph on 570 miles of rural Ohio interstate highways, thanks to a new state law that allows the Ohio Department of Transportation to increase the speed on all nonurban interstates. The new 70 mph speed is on the following:
·I7-0 from the Indiana border to near the West Virginia border, excluding areas around Dayton, Columbus and Zanesville
·I-71 from Fort Ancient to near the Cuyahoga/Medina County border, excluding the area around Columbus
·I-75 from near Toledo to near Dayton, excluding the areas around Findlay and Lima
·I-76 form near Akron to near Youngstown
·I-77 from near Canton to the West Virginia border
·I-90 from near Cleveland to the Pennsylvania border.
The Ohio Turnpike, which is maintained by its own state agency, already has a 70 mph speed limit.
Six colleges get grant to train vets
Six colleges will share almost $1 million in grants to help train U.S. military veterans for jobs in the transportation industry. The grants, from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, are part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grant program and could provide training for as many as 300 new students.
The grants were awarded to Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Wash., Long Beach Community College District in Long Beach, Calif., Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg, S.C., Lone Star College in Woodlands, Texas, Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., and Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill.
PennDOT may restrict weight on bridges
Pennsylvania may lower weight limits on 1,120 bridges because of the General Assembly's failure to pass a transportation package. PennDOT posted a list of the aged spans in need of upgrades or repairs. Click here for a list of the bridges.PMTA President Jim Runk said the changes could affect routing. PennDOT said it has to begin the weight restrictions to preserve many of the bridges. PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch wrote in an opinion piece published in the Harrisburg Patriot-News that the state's public transportation system is failing, and substandard roads will grow to 16,000 miles in four years with current funding. Because PennDOT cannot count on funding to carry out the necessary work, each bridge will have to be inspected a second time to determine if weight restrictions are necessary in order to keep the bridges from further deterioration. The state does not want to have to close bridges, PennDOT said. It will begin posting weight restrictions on some of the bridges before the end of the year. Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of bridges classified as "structurally deficient,” with a majority more than 50 years old.
FMCSA considering driver safety fitness determination program
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it is considering developing a program to measure drivers' safety performance. The program would use truck drivers' violation and inspection data to determine whether they are safe and take corrective action against unsafe ones. FMCSA didn't commit to implementing a "driver safety fitness determination” and said it would involve a nine-year process of studying, testing and going through the regulatory process before such a program would be launched. The fitness determination would be part of CSA. FMCSA said in a report requested by the Senate Appropriations Committee, "The FMCSA has considered how it would augment existing driver efforts by developing an enhanced methodology to identify drivers posing the highest safety risk and implementing enforcement processes to address unsafe driver behavior.”
Indiana to use federal funds on Route 31 upgrade to freeway
Indiana is the first to benefit from a recent law allowing states to increase the federal share of funding for projects that help freight movement. It will be able to use federal funding to pay for 90% of the costs of upgrading a stretch of U.S. Route 31 to freeway standards. States usually can't use their regular federal grant money to pay for 80% or a project's costs, but MAP-21 allows a 90% share for those involving freight.
MAP-21 allows the 90% federal share for projects in states with freight plans identifying how they will fund infrastructure. Indiana has not completed its freight plan yet, but it has enough to qualify for the funding.
Food pantry seeking storage trailer
M28 Ministry, a local nonprofit organization, is looking for a donated trailer or shipping container to use as a storage area for donated items. Part of M28's ministry is feeding and clothing hungry and homeless people in Harrisburg and surrounding areas. It is a partner with the Central Pennsylvania food bank as a food pantry, located in a small storage area in the rear of Billy Wray Music Shop at 10 Skyport Road, Mechanicsburg. They need the trailer or shipping container to store clothing, blankets and non-perishable food items from the retail store in order to free up space to expand the food pantry and create space for a portable computer lab for adults needing computer skills. If you have a trailer or storage container to donate, please contact Rev. Billy Wray, food pantry director, at 717-608-1400.
For more information on PMTA (Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association), go to www.pmta.org