Latest Industry News Briefs
2020 TCA Safety Professional of the Year - Clare C. Casey Award Presented to Jill Maschmeier
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) has awarded National Carriers, Inc.’s Director of Safety/Compliance, Jill Maschmeier, as the 2020 TCA Safety Professional of the Year — Clare C. Casey Award recipient. The announcement was made during TCA’s Virtual Safety & Security Meeting on Wednesday, June 24.
This honor is bestowed upon a trucking industry professional whose actions and achievements have made a profound contribution to enhancing safety on North America’s highways.
“Jill's motto is that every day we ALWAYS can learn something that we can pass on to our co-workers and family,” shared National Carriers, Inc. Vice President of Finance Mike Rinehart.
This motto being especially true during the unprecedented global pandemic. “She is also working for education and safety awareness during the current COVID-19 crisis,” he added.
Despite inheriting the safety position at National Carriers without prior safety and/or Department of Transportation experience, her work ethic has catapulted her into a knowledgeable safety expert, shared Rinehart.
Adding that when Maschmeier was hired in 2000, “National had an UNSATISFACTORY rating but within a year she invited the FMCSA back in and [we] earned a SATISFACTORY rating and a letter of recommendation from the DOT,” he added.
“Jill has led by example for the cause of highway safety for both the motoring public and in particular for freight transportation,” said National Carriers, Inc. Director Ed Kentner. “Participating in multiple areas she teaches, practices, and promotes a strong safety culture in every environment she is involved in.”
Aside from serving as a TCA Safety Council Officer since 2019, she’s also been named Kansas Motor Carrier Association’s 2016 Safety Professional of the Year, and has served as a member of the Women in Trucking Image Team, Southwest Kansas Safety Council, and has partnered with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for educating others about electronic logging devices.
Maschmeier is North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified (10- and 30-hour course), as well as a certified purchasing manager and licensed insurance adjuster.
In addition to speaking during TCA meetings, Maschmeier has also shared her extensive knowledge at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit (FMCSA), Women in Trucking Conference, Transportation Mega Conference, and countless more.
“Jill has demonstrated that by partnering with the state and federal levels, and improving communication and education, we all win,” added Rinehart.
National Carriers, Inc. President Jim Franck agrees, "Congratulations on your well-deserved honor."
Additionally, Maschmeier’s contributions to her community are vast as she serves as a member of Grace Lutheran Church; assists at a local food cupboard; is an advocate for a rape crisis center and domestic violence center; volunteers at local police departments; and is an advocate for elderly care.
Nominees for TCA’s award must exemplify leadership and demonstrate the goals of protecting lives and property in the motor transportation industry while serving their company, industry, and the motoring public. The award is named after Clare Casey, a safety professional who actively served TCA from 1979 until 1989. He was devoted to ensuring that all truckload safety professionals build a strong safety network and was instrumental in forming the first annual Safety & Security Division meeting in 1982. The first Clare C. Casey Award was presented in 1990, one year after his death.
For more information about the prestigious award, and TCA, visit www.truckload.org.
ATA Calls on Congress to Keep Infrastructure Moving Leading trucking association calls for a bipartisan bill to support nation’s economic recovery
Arlington, VA… As the House of Representatives begins floor debate this week on the Invest in America Act, American Trucking Associations is voicing strong support for the bill’s framework, and urges lawmakers in both chambers to rise above the partisan divide and create a path forward for a responsibly funded infrastructure bill.
“Coming off one of the worst economic crises in our nation’s history, it’s time for Congress to pave the way for the great American comeback. An injection of real capital into our degraded infrastructure will jumpstart the economy—creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying, private-sector jobs in blue-collar trades—and strengthen its commercial arteries to support long-term growth.” said American Trucking Associations Executive Vice President for Advocacy Bill Sullivan.
“Given the looming shortfalls to the Highway Trust Fund and the decimation of state and local budgets caused by COVID-19, major construction projects across the country have been put on hold, threatening to exacerbate the unemployment crisis and placing added strain on our nation’s supply chain,” Sullivan said. “By passing a bill with real money – rather than saddling our grandchildren with more debt or borrowing money from China – Congress can ensure that an infrastructure investment accelerates our economic recovery.”
While ATA is a strong supporter of the overarching goal of the legislation, Sullivan noted the ATA’s opposition to an amendment offered by Rep. Jesús Garcia last week to arbitrarily raise minimum insurance requirement limits on commercial vehicles.
“This language was written by trial lawyers, supported by trial lawyers and, to no surprise, benefits trial lawyers,” said Sullivan. “This new $2 million cap was arbitrarily plucked out of thin air by the American Association of Justice and aside from lining the pockets of AAJ members, it lacks relevant data. If a change to the minimum insurance cap is to be made, it must reflect the direct input of the trucking industry and be based on actuarial data —not special interest pandering. If the Senate and Congress want to get this right, they must pursue a fair, data- and stakeholder-driven process to determine appropriate levels and their impact on safety and economic outcomes. ATA will work to improve the bill, including a fix to the minimum insurance cap that is inclusive of the regulated industry and data-driven.
“Again, we urge Members on both sides of the Capitol to rise above partisanship and find a path forward on legislation that will both fix our nation’s roads and create badly needed jobs,” said Sullivan.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Fell 5.1% in July Index 8.3% Below July 2019
Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 5.1% in July after surging 8.9% in June. In July, the index equaled 109.6 (2015=100) compared with 115.5 in June.
“After a very strong June, for-hire contract freight tonnage, which dominates ATA’s index, slipped in July for a couple of reasons,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “It is likely that tonnage was down because many fleets didn’t have the capacity to take advantage of stronger retail freight volumes. Therefore, much of that overflow freight moved to the spot market, which did increase in July. Other ATA data shows that for-hire truckload fleets are operating 3% fewer trucks this summer than a year earlier, so it can be difficult to take on a significant amount of additional freight. Also, while retail volumes have snapped back strongly, manufacturing output and international trade freight is lagging well behind.”
Despite July’s decline, the index was 3.3% above the recent low in May. June’s increase was revised up slightly to 8.9% from our July 21 press release.
Compared with July 2019, the SA index contracted 8.3%, the fourth straight year-over-year decline. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 3.2%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in July, 2.5% below the June level (115.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Jumped 8.7% in June Index 1.3% below June 2019
Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 8.7% in June after falling 1% in May. In June, the index equaled 115.3 (2015=100) compared with 106.1 in May.
“Not surprisingly, as more states lifted restrictions in June, truck tonnage was robust,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “While the gain in June was the single best month since January 2013, the solid gain was not enough to put tonnage back to pre-pandemic levels, but it is close. I am hearing good anecdotal freight reports for July, but I am concerned that freight could slow as more states reinstate restrictions due to increasing Coronavirus cases.”
May’s drop was unrevised at -1% from our June 23 press release.
Compared with June 2019, the SA index contracted 1.3%, the third straight year-over-year decline, but the smallest over that period. Year-to-date, compared with the same period in 2019, tonnage is down 2.4%.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 115.5 in June, 5.2% above the May level (109.8). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015. ATA’s For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index is dominated by contract freight as opposed to spot market freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 72.5% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.84 billion tons of freight in 2019. Motor carriers collected $791.7 billion, or 80.4% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.
Bridge Near OOIDA Headquarters Named After Jim Johnston
Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association announced that the bridge at I-70 and Grain Valley exit 24 will be dedicated to OOIDA’s late president, Jim Johnston.
“He was an outspoken champion for the rights of all professional truck drivers,” said Todd Spencer, President and CEO of OOIDA. “This is a fitting honor for him and the Association.”
Jim Johnston was president of OOIDA from 1975 until he passed away in 2018. His contributions to the trucking industry go back decades as he was regularly consulted by congressional leaders and administration representatives on all issues affecting the hard-working men and women that drive trucks for a living.
He entered the trucking industry as a driver and an owner-operator after completing his military service in the U.S. Navy. His driving career continued until the oil embargoes of the early 1970s and the subsequent shutdowns across the country. Those events created the need for truckers to organize themselves and communicate their concerns to lawmakers.
Jim then gave up his truck to focus solely on the responsibilities of leading the newly-formed Association. From its humble beginnings in an office trailer chained to a light pole at a truck stop in Grain Valley, Jim nurtured OOIDA to become the largest national organization of professional truckers in the country. Today, OOIDA has more than 350 employees and over 160,000 active members.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo. area.
DriverCheck COVID-19 Testing Moving Location to Flying J, London, ON
TORONTO, CANADA… In an effort to expand the accessibility of COVID-19 testing for truck drivers, the DriverCheck truckstop location will move to the Flying J Truck Stop in London, which will be up and running on Tuesday August 18, 2020. Testing availability at the Flying J in Ayr will no longer be available after Friday August 14, 2020. Testing in London will be available until Tuesday September 8, 2020.
The Province of Ontario is covering the cost of COVID-19 testing through DriverCheck, so there is no charge to drivers, individuals or companies. Drivers taking a COVID-19 test do not have to self-isolate while awaiting the test results. DriverCheck is returning results rapidly directly to drivers following the strictest privacy protocols.
“The industry has implemented a host of management practices in the fight against COVID-19 to keep the workforce safe and the supply chain secure. We are encouraging all members to work with DriverCheck to enhance access to testing facilities,” says Geoffrey Wood, OTA’s senior VP, Policy.
The following options are available for COVID-19 testing through DriverCheck:
•Commercial drivers and other individuals working in the trucking industry can get tested at the Flying J Truck Stop in London, ON located at 3700 Highbury Ave. South London, ON N6N 1P3 – Hwy 401 Exit 189; Hours Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Walk-ins available.
•Commercial drivers and other individuals working in the trucking industry can get tested at the Kitchener DriverCheck Clinic – 31 McBrine Dr, Unit 8, Kitchener ON, N2R 1J1; Hours Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Walk-ins available. Call (519) 748-4658 if you would like to book in advance.
For more information on the options available from DriverCheck for COVID-19 testing please call (800) 463-4310, option 8, or send an email to [email protected].
Additional DriverCheck clinic and truckstop locations are being considered in the coming weeks and info will be shared with the OTA membership once confirmed.
Unsure about COVID-19 testing and all that is involved? Visit the FAQ section of DriverCheck’s website to learn more: https://www.drivercheck.ca/trucking-pilot-faq
Essential Workers Exempt from Tri-State Quarantine Rules; States Continue to Implement Face Mask Policies
TORONTO… The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have announced new quarantine rules for all visitors travellng to the tri-state area from U.S. ‘hotspot’ locations, but essential workers, including truck drivers, are exempt, the Canadian Trucking Alliance reports.
Travellers from hotspot locations such as Arizona and Florida are required to follow mandatory 14-day quarantine protocols upon arriving in these jurisdictions.
The state of New York recently released further guidelines for quarantine protocols, indicating that essential workers will be exempt from these mandatory quarantine requirements. The Governor of New Jersey also announced today their quarantine rules would be voluntary and would not apply to essential workers such as truck drivers. The governor also mentioned that each of the states do not intend to setup border checkpoints and that they will each handle their quarantine rules as they see fit.
Furthermore, many U.S. states including New York, California and others, continue to use mandatory face mask policies for individuals in public places, or in situations where physical distancing is not possible.
Discussions regarding mandatory face mask policies continue in various U.S. states. A recent list of U.S. states with policies in place can be found here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/19/us/states-face-mask-coronavirus-trnd/index.html
In April, the Canada Border Services Agency along with the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that the use of non-medical face masks would be required for all essential workers crossing the border, such as truck drivers.
CTA will continue to update members as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve south of the border.
FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration
The FMCSA has extended—and modified—the emergency declaration that was set to expire on August 14th. The modified declaration provides regulatory relief for motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to COVID-19, and has been expanded to included emergency restocking of distribution centers and stores.
Specifically, the declaration is limited to the transportation of:
1. Livestock and livestock feed;
2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
3. Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants, and;
4. Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.
Please note, this modified declaration is not effective until 12:00 A.M. (ET), August 15, 2020 and expires on September 14th, 2020.
Under this declaration, emergency regulatory relief is provided from parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, including the hours-of-service regulations. Emergency relief does not include certain FMCSR’s related to the safe operation of CMVs, such as controlled substance and alcohol testing, financial responsibility requirements, CDL requirements, operation of a CMV while ill or fatigued, size and weight requirements, and additional FMCSR’s which are outlined in the declaration. We encourage everyone to review the applicability, restrictions, and limitations which are included in the exemption posted to the FMCSA’s website.
How to Access DriverCheck’s COVID-19 Testing System
TORONTO, CANADA… Ontario’s pilot program to expand accessibility to COVID-19 testing for commercial truck drivers and others in the trucking industry is in full swing.
The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is encouraging members to work with DriverCheck to enhance their extensive management practices aimed at fighting the spread of COVID-19 through improved access to testing facilities, says Geoffrey Wood, OTA’s senior VP, Policy.
The following options are available for COVID-19 testing through DriverCheck:
Commercial drivers and other individuals working in the trucking industry can get tested at the Ayr DriverCheck Clinic (Flying J Truck Stop in Ayr, Ont.) located at 5 Cochran Dr., Unit 5A, Ayr, ON, N0B 1E0 – Hwy 401 Exit 268; Hours Monday to Thursday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Friday 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Walk-ins available.
• Commercial drivers and other individuals working in the trucking industry can get tested at the Kitchener DriverCheck Clinic – 31 McBrine Dr, Unit 8, Kitchener ON, N2R 1J1; Hours Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Walk-ins available.
• Mobile testing options are also available. DriverCheck will work with individual carriers, or multiple organizations within the same area to provide mobile testing for drivers and other workers directly at carriers’ facilities. To learn more about this option please contact ([email protected]).
“OTA also wants to remind fleets those taking a COVID-19 test do not have to self-isolate while awaiting the test results, which DriverCheck is delivering rapidly and will communicate directly to the driver following the strictest privacy protocols,” said Wood.
The Province of Ontario is covering the cost of COVID-19 testing through DriverCheck, so there is no charge to drivers, individuals or companies.
For more information on the options available from DriverCheck for COVID-19 testing please call (800) 463-4310, option 8, or send an email to [email protected].
IMCC Sues OCEMA to Stop Abuse of American Truckers Intermodal Truckers Demand End to Exploitation by Foreign-Owned Ship Lines
Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference filed suit with the Federal Maritime Commission, alleging foreign-owned ocean shipping lines engaged in unjust and unreasonable conduct in violation of the Shipping Act. Their unlawful actions have overcharged truckers and their customers for intermodal container chassis at ports and inland terminals throughout the United States.
“For more than a decade, these foreign-owned companies have worked together to take advantage of hard-working American trucking companies,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president for advocacy. “By denying truckers choice of equipment providers at port and inland locations, these unscrupulous companies have been forcing American truckers and American consumers to subsidize their costs to the tune of nearly $1.8 billion—over the last three years alone.
“This must end, and after several attempts to come to a mutually beneficial resolution, we are now asking the FMC to resolve it,” Sullivan said.
IMCC filed its complaint with the FMC on August 17, alleging that the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association and 11 ocean carriers have denied trucking companies choice when leasing this essential equipment, forcing unjust and unreasonable prices upon trucking companies. Hoping to avoid legal action, IMCC sent a Cease and Desist letter to OCEMA and to the ocean carriers in May, but OCEMA failed to address the violations that were raised.
“By denying motor carriers their choice of chassis provider to haul goods in and out of ports, OCEMA’s overseas members have held US motor carriers hostage and forced them to subsidize the shipping lines,” said ATA Chairman Randy Guillot, and president of Triple G Express and Southeastern Motor Freight. “So far OCEMA and its members have rejected all of our attempts to reach a fair and equitable arrangement, but we believe they’ll have less success ignoring the FMC.”
In its complaint, the IMCC outlined a number of ongoing violations of the Shipping Act and is seeking injunctive relief against OCEMA and the shipping lines.
NATSO, Donna’s Travel Plaza Thank Congressman Larsen for Commitment to Local Business
Alexandria, VA… NATSO, representing the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas, and Donna’s Travel Plaza thanked U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen, (D-Wash.) for visiting its Tulalip, Wash., location to learn about the extensive measures taken by the truckstop and travel plaza industry to safeguard employees and customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to learn more about travel center companies' investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Congressman Larsen, representing Washington state's second Congressional District, received a briefing on the specific steps the fuel retailer has taken to adjust operations and ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers. Congressman Larsen also discussed with Donna’s owner Brian Couch the recent partnership between Donna's and EV charging infrastructure vendor ChargePoint to receive grant money to invest in several EV charging stations at the truckstop. This partnership is part of the ongoing collaboration between NATSO and ChargePoint to create market and policy conditions amenable to private sector investment in EV charging infrastructure.
Donna's leadership team encouraged Congressman Larsen to ensure that Congress does not undermine private sector investment in EV charging by allowing charging stations at Interstate rest areas. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would permit EV charging infrastructure at Interstate rest areas. If this policy became law, Donna's and other similarly situated travel center companies would be unlikely to pursue EV charging investments.
During the visit, Donna’s officials also emphasized the vital role that travel stops play in helping people and goods move throughout our country. The Department of Homeland Security declared truckstops and travel plazas as essential businesses in its Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure workforce. Truckstops and travel plazas across the United States remained open during the pandemic while complying with all state and local orders to ensure that the nation’s truck drivers hauling critical supplies had places to find fuel, food and rest.
“We appreciate that Representative Larsen took time to learn about the critical role that the truckstop and travel plaza industry plays in serving America’s drivers who keep freight moving throughout the country,” said NATSO Vice President of Public Affairs, Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman. “The truckstop and travel plaza industry has been unwavering in its commitment to its employees and the nation’s truck drivers since the nation first began grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the supply chain, we are committed to doing our part to keeping employees and truck drivers safe. We are grateful to Representative Larsen for recognizing these efforts and for being such a great champion for the travel center industry.”
The travel plaza and truckstop industry continues to take precautions to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers. In addition to following recommended guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, truckstops and travel plazas have increased cleaning and sanitization efforts and implemented social distancing protocols throughout their locations. These include the installation of plexiglass at retail counters, regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, including fuel dispensers, and upgrades to touchless technology. The industry also has adjusted food offerings to include more grab-and-go options as well as curbside pickup.
New Order in Council Provides Public Health Agency of Canada Increased Powers to Ask for Personal Information at the US/Canada Border
TORONTO… June 29th, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, an Order in Council was issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada allowing the asking of questions of persons entering Canada as may be required to manage the administrative requirements of the order.
As a result of this order, all Canadians, including commercial drivers can expect more detailed questions pertaining to such topics as personal information or contact information upon entering Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) encourages its members to make its drivers aware that these types of questions can be expected when entering Canada from the United States until August 31st which is the date the Order in Council is repealed. The specific reference in the Order in Council with respect to the increased powers is below:
Requirement — questions and information
Every person who enters Canada must, during the 14-day period that begins on the day on which they enter Canada and any extension of that period under subsection 3(2) or 4(4),
(a) answer any relevant questions asked by a screening officer, quarantine officer or public health official designated under section 2.1, or asked on behalf of the Chief Public Health Officer, for the purposes of the administration of this Order; and
(b) provide to an officer or official referred to in paragraph (a) or the Chief Public Health Officer any information or record in the person’s possession that the officer, official or Chief Public Health Officer requires, in any manner that the officer, official or Chief Public Health Officer may reasonably request, for the purposes of the administration of this Order.
The Order in Council also reminds those who are exempt from the mandatory quarantine, which commercial truck drivers are, that these Canadians must wear a non-medical mask if they are in a public setting where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
“The Government of Canada understands the economic importance of keeping the border open to essential service sectors like ours, which is moving Canada-US trade in the most safe and efficient manner possible” said CTA President, Stephen Laskowski. “There is also a recognition, at all levels of government, that companies and our drivers are not only doing an excellent job in keeping our economy going, but are doing it in a manner that proactively prevents the spread of COVID-19. CTA will continue to work with the Government of Canada to ensure our industry continues to serve the Canadian economy in an efficient way and in a manner that also protects the health and privacy of our driving professionals,” said Laskowski.
Reason Foundation Report On Gas Taxes
A new Reason Foundation report finds 25 of the 50 states divert gas taxes away from the roads and highways they're designed to fund. New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Michigan, and Maryland all divert over 30 percent of their state gas tax revenues away from roads. In terms of total dollars, Texas diverts the most money —$900 million— away from roads, the Reason Foundation study shows. The 10 states diverting the largest percentage of their state gas tax money to non-road projects are:
1. New York diverts 37.5% ($600 million) of its gas tax revenue
2. Rhode Island diverts 37.1% ($58 million)
3. New Jersey 33.9% ($360 million)
3. Michigan 33.9% ($770 million)
5. Maryland 32.5% ($365 million)
6. Connecticut 27% ($218 million)
7. Texas 24% ($900 million)
8. Massachusetts 23.9% ($203 million)
9. Florida diverts 13.6% ($386 million)
10. Vermont diverts 13.2% ($14 million)
The largest and most common diversions are states shifting money to pay for mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle projects, the policy brief shows. Overall, 20 states divert gas tax money for those purposes, including New York and New Jersey, which use over one-third of their gas tax revenues to fund their transit systems.
Ten states transfer a portion of their gas tax revenues to law enforcement and safety services, marking the second most common diversion. And two states shift nearly a quarter of their gas tax revenues to education programs — Michigan (25.9% of its gas tax revenue) and Texas (24.7% of its gas tax revenue).
The policy brief catalogs the state gas tax diversions of the 25 states that employ that practice and outlines potential policies that will strengthen the users-pay/users-benefit model of transportation funding. The full report itemizes all diversions of state-level gas taxes and provides explanations for each state’s diversion rate.
Notice of Enforcement Discretion Determination: Random Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing
NOTICE OF ENFORCEMENT DISCRETION DETERMINATION:
RANDOM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AND ALCOHOL TESTING
On March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency under 42 U.S.C. § 5191(b), related to the effects of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is aware that the motor carrier industry continues to experience operational disruptions caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. As the Nation engages in a phased re-opening, the pace of return to normal operations will vary across the country. In some regions of the United States, motor carrier employers subject to controlled substance (drug) and alcohol testing under 49 CFR part 382 may be unable to comply with certain testing requirements due to the ongoing impacts of the emergency.
In recognition of these barriers to full compliance in some locations, the Agency may exercise discretion to determine not to enforce the minimum annual percentage random testing rates for drugs and alcohol, and the requirement that each employer ensure that the dates for administering random drug and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year, as set forth in 49 CFR 382.305(b)(1) and (2) and 49 CFR 382.305(k), respectively. FMCSA emphasizes, however, that employers capable of meeting these requirements must continue to do so.
Employers must continue to select drivers at the required rate of 50 percent of their average number of driver positions for controlled substances, and 10 percent for random alcohol testing during the calendar year 2020. If a test is unable to be completed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the motor carrier must maintain written documentation of the specific reasons for non-compliance. For example, employers should document closures or restricted use of testing facilities or the unavailability of testing personnel. Additionally, employers should document actions taken to identify alternative testing sites or other testing resources.
Similarly, employers who are unable to ensure that the dates for administering random controlled substances and alcohol tests are spread reasonably throughout the calendar year should document the specific reasons why they did not meet this requirement. For example, in addition to the lack of available testing facilities or personnel, there may be other factors, such as prolonged or intermittent driver furloughs due to the impacts of COVID-19.
The Agency issues this Notice to assure employers unable to fully comply with the requirements identified above that we will provide reasonable enforcement flexibility during this unprecedented pandemic, while also meeting FMCSA’s core safety mission. This Notice is not intended, and should not be perceived, as suspending the current random testing requirements.
This Notice pertains to employers’ noncompliance, during calendar year 2020, with the random testing requirements described above. The Agency may exercise enforcement discretion in connection with motor carrier investigations occurring in calendar year 2021.
1. Acknowledges the current and anticipated disruptions to the administration of drug and alcohol testing caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency;
2. Considers the interests of public safety and the continuing need to free up medical supplies and facilities for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
3. Requires that employers who are capable of complying with 49 CFR 382.305(b) and 49 CFR 382.305(k) must continue to do so; and
4. Creates no individual rights of action and establishes no precedent for future determinations.
Online Survey Reveals Challenges for Professional Drivers During COVID-19
Brentwood, TN… A new online survey from Professional Driver Agency (PDA) is shedding light on many of the issues and challenges that America’s professional truck drivers are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey of over 1,600 professional drivers reveals that while drivers feel safe overall driving during COVID-19, they are concerned for their personal health and bringing home the virus to family/friends.
The survey reveals that while a wide majority of America’s professional drivers are considered ‘essential,’ the global pandemic is creating new personal and economic challenges for them. The personal challenge is evident in the survey results showing 72% of drivers said they were most concerned about bringing home the virus to family and friends.
“For us, this was really the key takeaway from the survey,” said Scott Dismuke, director of operations at PDA. “While risking personal exposure to COVID-19, this is an overwhelming majority of drivers that are even more concerned about coming home and exposing family and friends.”
Of the drivers concerned about exposing their family to COVID-19, 42% said they were staying out on the road longer instead of taking home time.
“A significant number of drivers are foregoing home time,” said Dismuke. “These men and women already sacrifice time with loved ones and are now sacrificing even more during the pandemic.”
Over 60% of drivers stated they feel safe driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, but nearly 45% said they were concerned about their personal health.
“It’s important to note that while drivers feel safe driving during these uncertain times, a significant number of drivers are still concerned about their personal health,” said Dismuke. “Personal exposure to COVID-19 is a concern for drivers at every stop they make. Almost the same number of the drivers surveyed said they were concerned about going into COVID-19 hotspots to deliver goods.”
When asked what could be done differently to make drivers feel safer on the road, nearly 54% of drivers wanted more access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, half of the drivers felt they needed safer accessibility to food/drink on the road.
As a result, when drivers were asked about what concerns them the most from a job-related standpoint, 49% of respondents said that access to amenities (food, showers, parking) on the road was one of their biggest concerns.
“I think the results of this survey convey what we already knew about America’s professional truck drivers - they are risking their health to keep our economy moving and supply chains open during this pandemic,” said Dismuke. “These men and women, along with our first responders and health care professionals, have been heroic in their efforts by keeping grocery stores stocked and other vital products moving over the last couple of months.”
Based in Brentwood, Tenn., PDA’s mission is to change the landscape of the transportation industry by offering comprehensive retention programs, rehire programs and actionable driver data that helps trucking companies keep and rehire drivers. For more information, visit joinpdateam.com.
OOIDA Pushes Congress To Waive HVUT In Next COVID-19 Relief Package
Washington, DC… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has asked Congress to provide needed economic relief to struggling small-business truckers by way of suspending the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) for one year as part of the next COVID-19 response package.
“Truckers are still on the front lines, filling store shelves and supplying hospitals,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “Suspending the HVUT is a way that Congress could easily offer fast, direct relief to all motor carriers. And believe me, they need it, much more than just a ‘thank you.’”
OOIDA sent a letter to both House and Senate leadership today expressing concerns about how the economic downturn has lowered freight rates and created uncertainty for those who have put their own well-being on the line to do their jobs.
The HVUT is an annual fee that typically costs about $550 per truck. The Association points out that compared to the federal excise tax (FET), the HVUT is a more immediate and equitable way to provide assistance since suspending the FET would only benefit motor carriers in a position to purchase new equipment.
“Congress and the American public have heaped praised on truckers for their work on the front lines of this crisis,” said Spencer. “This action would provide tangible, meaningful help to carriers of all sizes, not just those large enough to have the resources to afford new equipment in the midst of an historic economic downturn.”
Want To Become An Owner-Operator? You Can “Truck To Success” With OOIDA’s Online Business Series
Grain Valley, MO… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association will offer an online series of classes to help those interested in starting a small trucking business. OOIDA’s business education training, Truck to Success, is a 3-day, intensive training for those ready to take their first steps toward becoming an owner-operator.
The course is conducted by live video conference and is scheduled for October 26-28, 2020.
“Truck to Success” features trucking experts dedicated to helping drivers become successful business owners. The training consists of expert instructors with interaction among participants.
The training is designed to follow a logical path along the transition from a company driver to an independent contractor.
For a variety of reasons, many businesses tend to fail within the first year of operating. Let us help you navigate through the change from a company driver to an owner-operator, or simply help with your desire to have a more successful business.
Developing a business plan that works for you.
Buying a new or used truck.
Pros and cons of running under your own authority or leasing on to a carrier.
New entrant safety audits and compliance reviews.
Drug and alcohol testing requirements.
Permits and licensing.
Taxes and business structures.
Brokers and factoring.
Current issues affecting the industry.
Registration is open to anyone – you do not have to be a member of OOIDA to participate in the classes. Enrollment is $250 for each participant with the option of adding a guest for $150, but only for those that require an additional, separate login.
To register, visit https://ooidaonlineeducation.com/Education/TruckSuccess/.
OOIDA: USMCA interim rules should be adopted ASAP
Washington, DC… Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a joint message with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters encouraging the U.S. International Trade Commission to adopt interim rules to implement the provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. USMCA empowers the Commission to investigate whether the U.S. long-haul trucking industry is materially harmed by an increase in cross-border trucking services provided by Mexican suppliers.
USMCA was ratified earlier this year, establishing a thorough review process to restrict operating authority for Mexican-domiciled carriers. After decades of opposing the original provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, OOIDA worked closely with other organizations over the past three years in a renegotiation process that resulted in USMCA.
“We believe prompt adoption of these interim rules will enhance and expedite the investigation process outlined in USMCA,” said OOIDA President, Todd Spencer. “Because Mexico-based trucking companies and drivers are not held to the same, rigorous U.S. safety and security regulations, they are endangering the American public and taking away jobs and profits from American drivers and carriers.”
OOIDA also reiterates support for the USITC’s funding request to implement USMCA. The USITC sent a letter to Congressional appropriators in July seeking a $2.75 million increase to its FY 2020 funding level.
OOIDA will continue working with USITC and other federal agencies on behalf of small-business truckers to ensure that cross-border trucking is a fair and mutually beneficial endeavor.
PA Turnpike Approves 2021 Toll Increase, New TOLL BY PLATE Rates
HARRISBURG, PA… The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) approved a six-percent toll increase for all E-ZPass rates systemwide and for PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE rates that had been established before the permanent conversion to All-Electronic Tolling (AET) at these locations:
•Beaver Valley Expressway (I-376);
•Delaware River Bridge (NJ border);
•Gateway Toll Plaza (Ohio border);
•Greensburg Bypass (PA Turnpike 66);
•Keyser Ave. and Clarkes Summit Tolls (Northeastern Extension); and
•Southern Beltway (PA Turnpike 576).
The increase — slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2021 — will enable the PTC to continue to maintain and operate its system and ensure safe travel for up to 500,000 daily customers.
“The primary driver of the annual toll-rate increases continues to be our quarterly transit payments to PennDOT and the resulting debt service that comes along with the legislatively mandated funding obligation,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “As a result, the PA Turnpike has delivered almost $7 billion in funding to PennDOT in the last decade, primarily to support mass-transit operations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”
Compton said the PTC’s debt-service costs on outstanding Act-44 bond debt are $440 million annually and growing; this amount must be paid each year even if the Commission seeks, and is granted, deferment of a quarterly Act-44 payment — as it recently did to partially offset revenue impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New TOLL BY PLATE Rates Set
As part of its recent systemwide change in toll operations, the Commission today also approved new TOLL BY PLATE rates at toll facilities converted to AET in June. The new rates, which also take effect Jan. 3, 2021, include an average 45% increase over the 2020 cash rate for TOLL BY PLATE motorists to reflect the costs of collections for this tolling method. The new rate will not be applied at the previously mentioned TOLL BY PLATE facilities converted before 2020.
“The new TOLL BY PLATE rate reflects the higher costs the Commission incurs to process the toll and collect payment — a pricing approach used by tolling agencies across the nation to cover the costs of administering AET systems,” Compton explained. “This balanced approach allows us to maintain a lower rate for those choosing a payment method that is less costly to manage, while those who choose a pricier payment option absorb those costs.”
Because of today’s action, the most common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.50 to $3.90 for those choosing TOLL BY PLATE. The most common toll for a Class-5 tractor trailer will increase from $12.20 to $13 for E-ZPass and from $17.30 to $26.60 for PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE customers.
With the PA Turnpike TOLL BY PLATE option, high-speed cameras capture license-plate images as vehicles pass by. The registered owner receives an invoice for trips made through the tolling point. Invoices can be paid online, by phone or by mail. Upon receipt of a TOLL BY PLATE invoice, recipients do have an option to open an E-ZPass account and pay the lower rate.
The PTC is exploring options to offer TOLL BY PLATE discounts to motorists through pre-registration options. More details on these programs will be announced later this year.
Compton encouraged travelers to consider E-ZPass, since it is the most convenient, least costly way to travel in Pennsylvania and is accepted in all neighboring states and across the eastern United States. E-ZPass is the largest interoperable toll-collection program in the United States, consisting of toll agencies in 18 states from Maine to Florida and west to Illinois. It was recently announced that Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) will start accepting E-ZPass later this year, joining the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s toll-road network in Metro Orlando in accepting E-ZPass for payment of tolls.
“Currently, 86 percent of our customers have chosen E-ZPass, with more switching every day. Now that hundreds of grocery stores in the commonwealth offer E-ZPass, chances are you regularly pass by at least one of them,” Compton said. “Because of our low administration and enrollment fees, and the ability to set up an automatically replenished or cash-funded E-ZPass account, there’s simply no reason not to get it.”
Most of PA’s top grocery chains offer E-ZPass GoPaks, including Giant Eagle, Acme, Giant Food Stores and Wegmans. In addition, travelers can pick up an E-ZPass GoPak — which includes a transponder that must be registered before it is used — at all 17 Turnpike service plazas and Pennsylvania AAA offices. To find a location nearby, visit https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/sales.aspx.
The PA Turnpike no longer accepts cash or credit cards on the system after having permanently converted to All-Electronic Toll (AET) collection last month. Since the PTC began studying, planning for and implementing AET, more than 30 agencies in 14 states have established systems using proven AET technologies.
Salute Our Truckers! Kenworth Rolls Out ‘Trucker Hat Tip’ Social Media Video Campaign
KIRKLAND, WA… Kenworth has rolled out a video campaign to salute truckers for their efforts to supply and support communities throughout the United States and Canada.
The “Trucker Hat Tip” social media campaign (#TruckerHatTip) encourages people to submit short videos tipping their hats to truckers. Kenworth employees and dealers – and their families – helped launch the campaign by creating their own videos of appreciation. The video is available on the Kenworth YouTube site (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag7Pu1s8apI) and can be viewed on all Kenworth social media platforms.
“The Trucker Hat Tip campaign is an opportunity to recognize truckers for all their dedication and hard work during these challenging times,” said Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing.
To help thank truckers (#ThankATrucker), submit a video tipping your hat to truckers using #TruckerHatTip. Those interested in offering financial support for truck drivers and their families suffering financial hardship, may wish to donate to the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit assists over-the-road and regional haul truck drivers who have been out of work recently due to a serious illness or injury. For information on how to donate or apply for assistance, visit the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund website (www.truckersfund.org).
Trucking Industry Applauds Comprehensive Tort Reform in Louisiana
Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations and the Louisiana Motor Transport Association are praising Governor John Bel Edwards for announcing he will sign into law the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, which cleared the Louisiana State Legislature last night in its final day of special session.
The trucking industry has called tort reform its number one priority at the federal and state levels, as a pervasive climate of lawsuit abuse has sent insurance rates skyrocketing, forcing motor carriers out of business and hampering the industry’s ability to safely and efficiently move the economy’s freight.
“On behalf of our industry and the trucking community throughout Louisiana, I commend the legislature and Governor Edwards for their leadership on this issue,” said Randy Guillot, ATA Chairman and president of Triple G Express and Southeastern Motor Freight, two motor carriers based in Jefferson, Louisiana. “This bill takes concrete steps to restore balance and fairness to the system, helping stabilize insurance markets for truckers and the motoring public alike. By gaming the system for their own financial gain, the plaintiffs' bar has been destroying the business climate here and increasing the cost of living for everyone across our state.”
On February 19, 2020, Guillot, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear and LMTA met with Governor Edwards at the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge to discuss the severe impact that lawsuit abuse is having on the industry, destroying good-paying trucking jobs and hampering its ability to invest in new safety technology. The out-of-control litigious environment has created fertile ground for criminal insurance fraud rings, most notably in Louisiana, as well as an exponential rise in nuclear verdicts across the country, as documented in a new study.
“For years, the plaintiffs’ bar has perverted the civil litigation system into a profit center to line their own pockets,” said Spear. “This pursuit of ‘jackpot justice’ comes with a heavy price felt far and wide, punishing anyone who drives a car as well as every single motor carrier – including those with excellent safety records. Governor Edwards deserves a lot of credit for taking this issue on and seeing it through to completion, working in good faith with the legislature and all stakeholders to find common ground and reach an agreeable, compromise solution.”
“We’ve been on the forefront of this issue from the early stages—and even sent a truck convoy to the State Capitol to let our legislators know how important this is to the livelihood of trucking in Louisiana,” said David Newman, president of LMTA and owner of Newman Transport LLC, based out Pearl River, Louisiana. “Skyrocketing insurance rates are putting a lot of trucking companies out of business, and many more are ready to close their doors. This bill brings much needed relief, and I would like to thank all our members who spent time advocating for it at the Capitol, the legislators who supported it, and Governor Edwards for signing it.”
Among other provisions, the Civil Justice Reform Act will:
* Decrease the threshold to request a jury trial from $50,000 to $10,000. The plaintiffs’ bar relied on the higher threshold to “judge shop” – allowing them to pick venues they know most likely to produce their desired outcome.
* Repeal the “seat belt gag rule,” which prevented the defense from introducing evidence that the plaintiff was not wearing a seatbelt and contributed to their own injuries.
* Bring medical damages more in line with what the plaintiff actually paid—rather than what was billed.
* Remove evidentiary restriction on the defense that the plaintiff received compensation for damages from a source other than defendant, such as an insurance payout.
Trucking Industry Applauds House Advancing Highway Funding Bill
Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations praised the leaders and members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for their work in advancing the INVEST in America Act to the House floor.
“Chairman DeFazio and the entire committee have produced a solid piece of legislation that authorizes a real and significant increase in funding for our roads and bridges, as well as a broad range of policies to improve highway safety,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “ATA supports this bill and appreciates the hard work of the committee members and staff, and we look forward to working with Congress to further improve this important bill as it continues through the process, and securing bipartisan support for an infrastructure investment package that provides real money for our roads and bridges.”
“We would like to thank Chairman DeFazio, along with Ranking Member Graves, for the long process of hearings and outreach to build this legislation,” said ATA Chairman Randy Guillot, president of Triple G Express and Southeastern Motor Freight. “The INVEST in America Act is a good bill that will create jobs, strengthen our economy and plots a roadmap to a prosperous future for our industry and all Americans. The Committee bill is a good start and an important step toward doing just that.”
Trucking Moved 11.84 Billion Tons of Freight in 2019
Arlington, VA… The trucking industry generated $791.7 billion in revenue in 2019, moving 11.84 billion tons of freight, according to the latest edition of American Trucking Associations’ annual data compendium – ATA American Trucking Trends 2020.
“Despite a challenging year, the data contained in American Trucking Trends shows the industry was in good shape entering the global pandemic,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “Trends continues to be an indispensable, one-stop resource for decision makers to have the latest information about the state of the trucking industry.”
Among the other findings in Trends:
* In 2019, trucking’s revenues accounted for 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill;
* Trucks moved 67.7% of surface freight between the U.S. and Canada and 83.1% of cross-border trade with Mexico, for a total of $772 billion worth of goods;
* There are 7.95 million people employed in trucking-related jobs, up 140,000 from the previous year. This includes 3.6 million professional drivers;
* Women make up 6.7% of the industry’s drivers and minorities account for 41.5% of truckers.
* Most carriers are small companies – 91.3% of fleets operate six or fewer trucks and 97.4% operate 20 or fewer.
“Sound policy relies on sound data; and American Trucking Trends contains the kind of up-to-date, reliable data that policymakers need to do their job. That is why Trends consistently is found in the offices of elected officials, regulators and industry executives across the country,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.
The report is essential for use by trucking companies, industry suppliers, logistics providers, analysts, public policy decision makers and many others. ATA American Trucking Trends 2020 is available for sale now at ATA Business Solutions.
Trucking Voices Appreciation for End of New York Trusted Traveler Dispute
Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations expressed their gratitude to the Trump administration and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for coming to an agreement that will result in New York residents once again being able to obtain trusted traveler credentials.
“The inability of New York residents to get a variety of trusted traveler credentials, including Free and Secure Trade cards, put unnecessary burdens on New York truck drivers,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist and senior vice president of international trade policy and cross-border operations. “Trucks moved $343 billion in goods between the U.S. and Canada in 2019 – a significant amount of that through New York. By reinstating these trusted traveler programs for New York residents, the Department of Homeland Security is taking an important step to keeping our economy moving while maintaining our safety and security.”
“We are pleased that Gov. Cuomo and the Trump administration were able to resolve their differences in a way that will allow New York residents to once again receive trusted traveler credentials, said Trucking Association of New York President Kendra Hems. Travel between New York and Canada is critical to our economy and today’s announcement will keep trade across our shared border flowing swiftly and securely.”