Industry New Briefs, Courtesy of PMTA
EPA boosts biodiesel requirement
The Environmental Protection Agency said the amount of biodiesel products required to be included in diesel fuel markets was increased to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013, up from the current 1 billion gallons. The Obama Administration approved EPA’s recommended increase under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Many in the transportation industry applaud the move because it reduces U.S. dependence on imported petroleum, strengthens domestic energy security, creates jobs and reduces tailpipe pollution.
FMCSA reconsiders CDL regulation
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it is reconsidering a regulation that prohibits third-party examiners from testing the same driver applicants they train. The agency did not give details. In May 2011, FMCSA ruled that third-party examiners couldn’t test the applicants they train; that was part of a larger rule that made a number of changes to the commercial driver license program including establishing a national commercial learner’s permit. Several groups, including ATA, asked FMCSA to reconsider because the agency did not propose the instruction restriction when it offered the other provisions of the CDL rule. That goes against the regulation process by skipping the public comment period. FMCSA also rejected a number of other petitions, including one asking that the minimum age for a commercial learner’s permit be raised to 21 from 18.
Texas to allow 85 mph, sparking concern
When the Texas Transportation Commission voted to set a speed limit of 85 miles per hour, the fastest in the nation, for cars and trucks on a soon-to-be-opened portion of a toll road, many in the trucking industry gasped. ATA President Bill Graves said Texas is “raising the risk of more crashes, as well as more severe crashes” and cautioned other states against following the “dangerous example” set by Texas.
Texas received $100 million for allowing the 85 mph limit, under the terms of a contract with a development consortium. Texas owns the entire portion of State Highway 130, a 91-mile toll road. The southern half, a 41-mile portion, is being completed by a private development consortium that will operate that portion. This is the portion where the 85 mph would be allowed. On the northern part of the toll road, vehicles are allowed to travel 80 mph. ATA is on record as supporting a maximum speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles. ATA also opposes split speeds; uniform limits are safer for all drivers.
ATRI wants input on commercial truck parking
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is conducting research on truck parking needs for commercial drivers and is seeking the industry's participation. ATRI is working with several state transportation departments to develop a real-time truck parking information system and is documenting driver and carrier needs and expectations for the system. It seeks condfidential information from truck drivers, dispatchers and fleet managers for the survey via its website, http://atri-online.org. The Federal Highway Administration supports the survey.
2011 operating costs up 9.3%
It comes as no surprise to learn that total operating costs for the trucking industry jumped 9.3% to $1.706 a mile in 2011. ATRI reported it is the highest cost since it began tracking in 2008. Fuel and oil remain the largest cost for fleets, totaling 59 cents a mile in 2011. Driver wages, at 46 cents a mile, were next. ATRI said 2011 is the third straight yearly increase for per-mile costs. Total costs have increased 3% a mile since 2008.
CLI Transport wins national safety award
American Trucking Associations' Safety Management Council announced the 2012 President's Trophy recipients at its Safety and Human Resources Conference and Exhibition in Kansas City recently. PMTA member CLI Transport, LLC, of Claysburg, Pa., is the small fleet (less than 25 million miles annually) award winner. Large fleet (mroe than 100 million miles) winner is Bison Transport US of Winnipeg, Canada, and mid-size fleet winner (between 25-100 million miles) winner is Cargo Transporters, Inc., of Claremont, N.C. The ATA President's Trophy recognizes the there companies whose fleets have been judged to have the best overall safety programs from the Truck & Industrial Safety Contests. These contests judge motor carriers from across the United States on their safety accomplishments and safety records relative to others within their operation type and size. The top three ATA President's Trophy recipients are honored for their superior safety achievements, outstanding commitment to industry-wide safety and extensive promotion of safety among all highway users. Great West Casualty Company sponsors the ATA President's Trophy.
FMCSA stands by 34-hour restart provision
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminsitration said in a court filing Monday that provisions of the federal hours-of-service rule for truck drivers are "reasonable" and have been adequately explained. Earlier this year, American Trucking Associations file a suit that said the HOS rule relied on a "sham" of an analysis and unjustifiable assumptions. ATA urged the court to overturn the provisions restricting the rule's 34-hour restart and require an off-duty break. FMCSA's brief was a response to the suit. FMCSA said its decision to allow 11 hours of driving after 10 hours of duty is not arbitrary or capricious. ATA will comment after reviewing the brief.
Toll hikes necessary, audit says
An independent audit reported the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's toll increases set last year are necessary if they are to maintain aging facilities and pay for planned capital projects. A year ago, toll hikes went into effect on the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels into New York City that would more than double the cost of the crossings by 2015. Trucking executives said the tolls are onerous, but the Port Authority faces major challenges over the next decade, including complete redevelopment of the new World Trade Center site, the $1.2 billion raising of the Bayonne Bridge and the $6.5 billion in improvements at New York's three major airports. Without the toll increases, the authority would have to defer, delay or cancel projects.
Iowa reports more deaths since increasing speed limit
Iowa raised the speed limit to 70 mph on its interstate highways in 2005. State records show rural interstate fatalities are up 10% since then, while overall safety statistics on Iowa's roads show the lowest level of people killed in 2011 since World War II. Both cars and trucks are allowed to travel at 70 mph on the rural interstates, and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad isn't planning to propose a reduction. A spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the increase in rural highway traffic deaths is consistent with other states where speed limits increased.
The American Journal of Public Health looked at the long-term effects of the 1995 repeal of a national speed limit. Its report said it found a 3% increase nationwide in fatalities attributable to higher speed limits on all road types, with the highest increase of 9% on rural interstates.
Traffic deaths increase
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported the total number of people killed in traffic crashes rose 9% in the first half of 2012 to 16,290. This is the largest increase in first-half fatalities since NHTSA began tracking the statistic.
Last month, NHTSA said road fatalities are at their highest level since 2009. Based on estimates of how many miles Americans drove, there were 1.12 road fatalitles per 100 million miles traveled. The 2009 level was 1.13 per 100 million miles and 1.04 in the first half of 2011.
The Labor Department said trucking is one of the country's most dangerous industries, with a 14% increase in on-the-job deaths. Last year, 474 workers died on the job, a 13.9% increase over the previous year. Trucking's figure represents the second consecutive year that counts have risen, after reaching a series low in 2009. Only the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector had more deaths.
New research assesses link between CSA and safety
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a report examining the relationship between motor carrier CSA scores and actual crash involvement. The research expands upon previous investigations by introducing a sophisticated statistical analysis that provides more accurate and direct results.
ATRI assessed all five public BASICs, finding a strong safety relationship for the Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving and Vehicle Maintenance BASICs; partial support for the Controlled Substances and Alcohol BASIC; and no statistical support for the Driver Fitness BASIC. In fact, the data show that, as a carrier's Driver Fitness record improves, that carrier's crash rate goes up. "ATRI's research identifies a key weakness in FMCSA's Safety Measurement System," said Scott Mugno, vice president of safety, FedEx Ground, who testified on behalf of the ATA at a Congressional Subcommittee on CSA last month. "The conclusions in ATRI's study support what many motor carriers have found to be true in their operations - namely, that scores in the CSA Driver Fitness BASIC do not bear a statistical correlation to crash risk. However, the industry has always supported CSA where it does reduce crash risk and ATRI's study validates that there are portions of CSA that are working as intended."
Recognizing the flaws in current CSA profiles, ATRI proposes an alternative method for communicating fleet safety information to the public in a way that more accurately reflects carrier safety performance.
A copy of this report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org.
TMC forms groups to address natural gas
Several new Technology and Maintenance task forces will look at natural gas, coolant and electronics issues facing the trucking industry. The engines study group formed a task force focused on compressed and liquified natural gas and another looking into proper coolant filling of diesel engines. TMC's service provider study group created task forces on emissions tampering and technician career-path development. The onboard vehicle electronics study group formed a task force on risk assessment and security in electronic data logging.
Statutory amendments affecting transportation of agriculture
The Federal Registry published a notice of statutory exemptions for farmers and their employees, as required by the new surface transportation reauthorization bill MAP-21.
Section 32101 of MAP-21 provides a statutory exemption from the hours-of-service regulations for certain carriers transporting agricultural commodities and farm supplies and section 32934 provides a statutory exemption from most of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for the operation of covered farm vehicles by farm and ranch operators, their employees and certain other specified individuals under certain specific circumstances. The statutory provisions are self-executing and take effect Oct. 1, 2012.
This notice is intended to ensure that the public is aware of the statutory provisions. FMCSA will, at a later date, amendthe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to reflect the statutory language included in MAP-21.
North America takes lead in hybrid manufacturing
By 2020, North America will manufacture nearly half of medium- to heavy-duty hybrid and electric commercial vehicles, according to forecasts. North America will be the top provider, followed by Brazil and other South American markets. Analysts predict that nearly 7% of all medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles manufactured globally in 2020 will have hybrid/electric powertrain systems. But hybrid/electrics could be upstaged by battery-powered and natural gas-powered commercial vehicles.
For more information on PMTA (Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association), go to www.pmta.org