Latest Industry News Briefs

PMTA
April 2021

CVSA Cancels Its 2021 North American Inspectors Championship

  Greenbelt, MD… The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has canceled this year’s North American Inspectors Championship (NAIC), which was scheduled to take place in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

NAIC is an annual CVSA competition and training event that trains, tests, recognizes and awards commercial motor vehicle inspector excellence. Each jurisdiction sends its best commercial motor vehicle inspector to compete against top inspectors from other jurisdictions throughout Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

NAIC is held concurrently with the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships, including a combined driver and inspector awards ceremony. Due to ATA’s recent announcement that this year’s national driver competition has been canceled, the CVSA Board of Directors and NAIC program leadership made the decision to cancel the inspector competition. 

CVSA’s next event, the CVSA Annual Conference and Exhibition, is still scheduled to take place in-person Aug. 29-Sept. 2 in Wilmington, Delaware. And next year’s NAIC is still set for Aug. 15-19, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. However, CVSA will continue to closely monitor the pandemic and the vaccination rollout and will inform the membership of any other upcoming event changes.

CTA: CBSA Issues Policy Direction on ArriveCAN

 TORONTO, CANADA… On February 14th the Government of Canada issued an Order in Council declaring that all travellers must use the ArriveCAN App for the purpose of re-entering Canada. As truck drivers are essential travellers, CTA has worked on clarifying the impact of this Order in Council on truck drivers that cross the border for work purposes. Late this evening, CTA received this clarification from the agency. 

 As of February 21st, 2021, at 11:59:59 PM, it will be required for all travellers to submit their information electronically before or when entering Canada. Commercial transporters will continue to be able to submit the mandatory information before or when entering Canada. For travellers who have not submitted their information in advance, they will be asked to provide it on entry. No Canadian driver will be denied entry into the country. 

 So in summary: truck drivers, for the time being, will have three options to comply: (i) ArriveCan App (ii) Web Portal (iii) oral declaration. However, the oral declaration is only being allowed to facilitate the movement of cross-border trade until a reasonable transition timeframe has elapsed, which is still to be determined. CTA will be working closely with its members and CBSA on this transition timeframe.

 CBSA stated the following to CTA: “Commercial transporters will continue to be able to submit the mandatory information before or when entering Canada. For travellers who have not submitted their information in advance, they will be asked to provide it on entry.  While it is not mandatory for the information to be submitted in advance of crossing the border at this time, the use of ArriveCAN for travellers to submit their information in advance of the border is strongly recommended. ArriveCAN is a secure and user-friendly tool to help travellers comply with Canada’s enhanced border measures. ArriveCAN is available as a free mobile app available for download from Google Play or the App Store or by signing in online via Canada.ca/ArriveCAN.”

To accommodate drivers who do not have access to a smartphone, drivers have the option to sign-in online on any personal computing device (e.g. tablet) to use the non-app version of ArriveCAN. This will require the driver to have an e-mail address. If a driver does not have an e-mail address, CTA has included a link below for carriers to assist drivers on how to set-up a Gmail account.

 CTA has also clarified that drivers can submit this required ArriveCan information in advance of their trip. For example, a driver leaving from Montreal to Los Angeles, can submit the required information from their carriers Montreal terminal before they leave for their trip to Los Angeles via the portal or a smartphone.

 CTA has been told by CBSA that it is their intention to facilitate the movement of the supply chain and not be punitive in the early stages of the new policy. This message has also been delivered to the regional directors of all ports of entry across Canada. These directors have educated frontline border officers on this guidance. If a member experiences enforcement action/fines over providing an oral declaration of ArriveCAN information, please contact [email protected].

There are many issues that will need to be dealt with regarding this new border policy in the coming days/weeks. CTA will be issuing a FAQ next week based on questions received from members and answered by CBSA. Questions regarding this policy should be directed by e-mail to [email protected]. The Government of Canada has assured CTA that they will “engage with industry to allow for the appropriate measures are in place to allow for a seamless implementation, to the greatest extent possible.”

 CTA will also be monitoring border delays as a result of this policy and its enforcement approach. Members experiencing significant border delays please contact [email protected]ruck.ca

 Below is a series of links and guidance to assist industry in meeting compliance:

•Members can download the ArriveCAN app for free on Google Play and Apple App stores. 

•Access to the app is also available through the web using a computer/laptop for those who do not have access to a smartphone.

Senators Markey and Carper, Rep. Huffman to Reintroduce Legislation to Reduce Carbon Pollution from National Highway System
Transportation accounts for more domestic greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector — more than energy, industry, or agriculture

 Washington (February 23, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) today announced the reintroduction of the Generating Resilient, Environmentally Exceptional National (GREEN) Streets Act. This legislation would establish national goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the national highway system and help states adapt their transportation systems to the adverse effects of climate change.

 

The transportation sector has been the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States since 2016, accounting for over 28 percent of total emissions. Driving is the main source of these emissions, which continue to rise as people are making more frequent and longer trips.

 

“Business-as-usual is building bad highways and breaking our planet — we can build smarter, safer, and healthier systems if we factor climate impacts and emissions into our decision-making process,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and co-author of the Green New Deal resolution. “We can advance the goals of clean energy, climate progress, and healthy communities, as well as fortify ourselves against the adverse impacts of climate change. An essential component of that effort is to re-envision how we plan for, construct, and maintain our national highway system, using climate measures that matter and ensure that we hold systems accountable.”

 

“When we look at building back better and addressing climate change, our nation’s highways present us with an incredible opportunity,” said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “We need to establish bold goals for reducing transportation emissions and to deliver safe, reliable, zero-emission travel choices for the public. Our bill would set the bar for states to encourage them to reduce vehicle emissions while improving health and reducing congestion in the process.”

 

“Tackling climate change is going to mean re-envisioning the current model of highways and long commutes to a model of safer, healthier, and more resilient communities,” said Representative Huffman, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “With the GREEN Streets Act, we can transform how we measure success in the federal transportation program and how we hold federal and state decision-makers accountable for reducing carbon pollution. Through innovative, green solutions, we can build back a better transportation sector that restores the health of our communities and advances the nation’s clean energy goals.” 

 

A copy of the GREEN Streets Act can be found HERE. 

 

In the Senate, the legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.). In the House, the legislation is also co-sponsored by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Bill Foster (IL-11), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).

 

Even with the interstate highway system completed, the federal transportation program has a singular focus on highway expansion, rewarding states that expand highways the most with more federal funding. With roads subsidized by the federal government, localities struggle to stay ahead of development that spreads further from the center of metro areas, forcing people to travel further to access jobs and services. The resulting growth in driving and congestion leads to demand for more roads, which induces even more driving, and even more emissions.

 

To address these issues, the GREEN Streets Act specifically:

 

• Directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish minimum standards for states to use to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on the national highway system;
• Directs the Transportation Secretary to establish measures that states can use to assess and reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions on the national highway system;
• Requires states that have fallen out of compliance with the per capita VMT standards or carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emission measures to dedicate federal highway funding to come into compliance;
• Requires states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) to consider projects and strategies that reduce per capita VMT and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector; and
• Requires states and MPOs to publish an analysis of the impact on per capita VMTs and mobile source greenhouse gas emissions for each project that adds new lanes or otherwise increases traffic capacity and costs more than $25 million.
 

“Our transportation system gives many Americans no choice but to drive everywhere, which is no surprise because our transportation program is designed to consider only vehicle speed, not whether people (driving, taking transit, walking, rolling or biking) reach their destination. We need to measure what matters,” said Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America. “Doing so will help give Americans more freedom to choose how to get around, save them money, and also reduce the harmful emissions wreaking havoc on our climate. We are hopeful that the re-introduced GREEN Streets Act will resume an important conversation about aligning federal funding with the outcomes we deserve from our transportation system, and we are pleased to support it.”

 

“To address toxic air pollution and climate change, we need to transition to a transportation system built for the future, one that reduces our reliance on the car and offers a multitude of opportunities for getting around,” said Ann Shikany, a federal policy advocate at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “By getting states to come up with plans to reduce vehicle miles traveled, this legislation is a crucial first step toward a progressive, clean transportation future.”

 

“Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts directly impacting the public health of our communities, and disproportionately affecting communities of color,” said Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “For far too long, federal transportation policy has incentivized highway expansion and more driving, leading to increased congestion and more pollution.  The Green Streets Act will begin the conversation on how we change our policies to lower emissions from transportation to combat climate change and improve public health.”

 

CTA Statement Regarding COVID-19 & Trucking Industry

 TORONTO, CANADA… The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) appreciates the federal government’s support of the trucking industry in providing guidance and support in keeping our workforce safe, supply chains moving and our trade-based economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 Collectively, the trucking industry, various levels of government and the medical community have worked cooperatively in effectively managing the spread of COVID-19 and limiting the infection rate relative to other sectors while ensuring the essential goods and products Canadians rely on continue to move. 

 COVID-19 spreading among trucking company employees has been extremely minimal – in fact, non-existent for many. Contact tracing as well as COVID health and safety protocols developed by the industry are working well and promoted extensively throughout the supply chain.   

 Results of this effectiveness in preventing the spread of the disease can be seen in various industry-government COVID testing pilots/checkpoints throughout 2020-2021. 

 CTA is very supportive of the voluntary COVID testing approach for truck drivers by provinces and the federal government and encourages the federal government to continue exploring the idea of forming voluntary test sites drivers can access easily away from busy ports of entry, such as truck stops and rest areas. CTA is not supportive of mandatory COVID testing of truck drivers (at the border). 

 CTA is also reminding the public that the working life of a long-haul truck driver is very different than a Canadian citizen travelling through the US in a personal vehicle for non-essential work. The job of a truck driver is mostly self-isolating by nature, as many commercial drivers travelling through the U.S. over several days have very limited contact with others and many forms of contactless deliveries have been implemented throughout the supply chain throughout the crisis. A driver’s truck is also their home, where they eat and sleep. 

Furthermore, all truck drivers are currently being screened by border officials for COVID-19 symptoms upon re-entry into Canada.  

 In recent statements regarding the border and COVID-19 testing, the Government of Canada recognized the need to ensure supply chains are not negatively impacted. To secure the supply chain, the federal government recently announced that truck drivers are exempt from mandatory COVID-19 testing, which took effect this week. CTA strongly supports this position by the Government of Canada to exempt truck drivers. 

 Nearly, 30,000 trucks a day cross the Canada-US border daily carrying close to $3 billion in trade per day, much of which are essential goods like food, medical products and household supplies. Many of these border crossings would not be able to handle a testing system nor the ability to turn around loads for a failure to submit a negative COVID-test. 

 Congestion at the ports could be extreme, resulting in the supply chain experiencing significant strain leading to potential fulfillment issues across multiple sectors. Many drivers could run out of hours-of-service, resulting in further delays and trucks parked at the side of roads, which creates safety issues. Canadian-US customers who rely on trucks crossing the border multiple times a day could see their businesses negatively impacted. 

 Canadian truck drivers have been seen as heroes for keeping our country and economy moving throughout this pandemic. Canadian trucking companies and the drivers themselves, working with all levels of government, have worked hard to implement measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19 in the trucking sector. It’s worked. 

 CTA looks forward to working with all levels of government to ensure that voluntary COVID-19 testing away from border points continue to be made available for drivers and hard-working essential workers receive the vaccine when the medical community and provincial officials determine it’s appropriate.

 

CTA Creates ArriveCAN Training Package for Trucking Industry

 TORONTO, CANADA… The Government of Canada recently announced that all travelers, including truck drivers, would be required to use ArriveCAN as part of the re-entry process back into Canada at the land border. In order to facilitate a smooth transition to this new mandatory requirement, as well as recognizing that upwards of 20 percent of commercial drivers do not have access to smart phone technology, CTA worked the Government of Canada and other stakeholders on the development of a transition period. Part of this plan included the ability for commercial drivers to make an oral declaration at primary, instead of an electronic submission through ArriveCAN prior to arriving at the border. 

“In recognition of these changes, CTA has created a training package that will help drivers and their companies understand how to utilize the ArriveCAN App and ensure their border crossing experience remains as seamless as possible. 

The CTA training package contains (in both official languages): 

* A step-by-step tutorial video explaining how to download and use the app on smart devices or computer and how to electronically submit the proper information via the app to the government of Canada before entry into Canada.

* An accompanying infographic in .pdf form, highlighting the instructions from the video which can be downloaded and printed out for drivers.

* A FAQ document which answers many questions drivers and companies might have about the policy and their requirements.  

“While CTA greatly appreciates the creation of a transition period by the Government of Canada to allow industry to adapt to the electronic ArriveCAN requirements, CTA and its members understand that eventually all travelers, including US and Canadian truck drivers, will have to submit this information through the ArriveCAN App or a personal computer,” said CTA’s Policy director, Lak Shoan. “We are confident CTA’s instructional information package will assist drivers who are unfamiliar with smart device technology or their responsibilities in complying with the new policy.” 

 CTA would also like to thank the Government of Canada for assisting the Alliance in verifying the content and messaging in the training materials provided.

The video can be viewed on Youtube and downloaded for training purposes, along with the full communication package, in EN and FR here.

The accompanying .pdf infographics can be downloaded directly here:  Infosheet - EN_public (EN) and Infosheet - FR_public (FR) as well as a FAQ information sheet - FAQ - EN_public (EN) and FAQ - FR_public (FR).  

 

Senator Markey and Rep. Clarke Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Reduce Emissions from Refrigerated Trucks in Overburdened Communities

 Washington… Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Representative Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced legislation to reduce harmful emissions from refrigerated heavy-duty trucks. The FREEZER (Fostering and Realizing Electrification by Encouraging Zero Emission Refrigeration) Trucks Act would combat the climate crisis and reduce local air pollution by creating a grant program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to electrify diesel-powered transport refrigeration units (TRUs) on commercial trucks and vans. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles contribute more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and emit higher levels of particulate matter and smog-forming pollutants than passenger vehicles.

 “Diesel emissions are a deadly contributor to air pollution in our most overburdened communities. We cannot continue to allow diesel refrigerated trucks to idle 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when there are clean alternatives available,” said Senator Markey. “Now is the time to combat environmental injustice and reduce emissions everywhere, beginning with the dirtiest polluters in the highest-risk communities as we continue to fight the colliding crises of climate change, air pollution, and the ongoing respiratory pandemic.”

 “Refrigerated trucks are ubiquitous in cities like Brooklyn, where they can be seen and heard at all hours of the day and night making deliveries,” said Representative Clarke. “While these trucks are a vital component of regional and local economies, they are also major sources of climate-warming emissions and local air pollution in the communities they serve. That is why my legislation with Senator Markey will help replace dirty refrigeration units with clean technology that is better for the environment and our neighborhoods, particularly in communities most impacted by local air pollution.”

Refrigerated trucks are essential to transporting food and other temperature-sensitive products, but their diesel refrigeration units continue to burn fuel even when parked to stay cool. Electric TRUs that can be plugged in when stationary emit fewer greenhouse gases and fully eliminate the on-site air pollutants that disproportionately affect already overburdened communities and contribute to lung and cardiovascular conditions. The FREEZER Trucks Act would authorize $30 million in funding that would be used to convert diesel units to electric and install the charging infrastructure needed to support electrification. Importantly, the grant program would focus on projects that can maximize public health benefits by serving communities that currently experience the highest levels of diesel pollution across the nation.

 The bill has received support from the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Urban Green Council, and Earthjustice.

 

OOIDA Rejects ATA’s Call For Speed Limiter Mandate

 Washington, DC… The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation, telling them to reject failed speed limiter proposals that have been resurrected by the American Trucking Associations in coordination with Road Safe America.

OOIDA has long opposed efforts to mandate speed limiting devices because they make roads less safe. Speed limiters increase congestion and speed differentials between trucks and cars, which ultimately lead to more crashes. Additionally, arbitrary speed limits make it difficult for truck drivers to switch lanes to accommodate merging traffic at entrance ramps – or to merge themselves.  

“Studies and research have already proven what we were all taught long ago in driver’s ed classes – traffic is safest when vehicles travel at the same relative speed,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “What the motoring public should know is that when they are stuck behind trucks on long stretches of highway, those trucks are limited by a device to a speed well under the posted limit. This proposal would make that the norm for every truck on the road,” added Spencer. 

In this most recent effort, ATA would mandate that truckers operate below the maximum speed limit in nearly every state. Mega carriers’ use of speed limiters is primarily for fleet management purposes – a tool single truck operators and small fleets don’t require. OOIDA sees their effort to speed limit independent truckers as nothing more than an attempt to eliminate one of the few economic advantages small-business truckers currently enjoy. 

“Drivers hate speed limiters because of the operational and safety problems they create,” Spencer explained. “Large carriers would love nothing more than to ensure every truck and carrier is stuck with these devices, so their drivers stop fleeing for jobs at more trucker-friendly carriers,” Spencer added.

This is not the first time that ATA has pushed for a speed limiter mandate. They originally petitioned the agencies in 2006 for a mandate, only to oppose it when NHTSA and FMCSA moved forward with a proposal in 2016. 

On this, Spencer advised, “To be frank, it is difficult to keep track of what ATA and its members think about speed limiters. We would recommend that DOT hold off on a mandate, if only because we’re not sure where ATA will be on this by the time the agency could produce a proposal.”

The Association created a video visually demonstrating the dangers of speed limited trucks. The following research and summary documents are cited in the letter and also provide more detailed explanations.

Differential Speed Limits Make Roads Less Safe

Study Shows Speed Limit Differentials Compromise Highway Safety

Empirical Analysis of Truck and Automobile Speeds on Rural Interstates

Cost-Benefit Evaluation of Large Truck-Automobile Speed Limit Differentials 

FMCSA and NHTSA, Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Speed Limiting Devices  

Accidents on Main Rural Highways Related to Speed 

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 150,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the Greater Kansas City, Mo., area. 

 

NATSO, Trucking Groups Urge Centers For Disease Control To Designate Truckstops As Mobile Vaccine Sites

Alexandria, VA… NATSO, representing the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas, along with a coalition representing trucking fleets and truck drivers in need, urged the Centers for Disease Control to designate truckstops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites to leverage existing truckstop locations for the distribution of vaccines to professional truck drivers and truckstop employees.

The very nature of the trucking, truckstop and travel plaza industries allows an opportunity to have an immediate and meaningful impact on the distribution of vaccines to essential truckstop employees and truck drivers, the groups said in a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

NATSO was joined in signing the letter by the American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association, National Private Truck Council, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund, and the Tank Truck Carriers.

“Truckstops and travel plazas are designed to cater to the unique needs of truck drivers who spend hundreds of days each year away from home,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “Commercial drivers who are unable to access medical services in their home state or while driving a tractor trailer already are accustomed to accessing these service at truckstops and travel centers. Designating our network as mobile vaccination sites will ensure efficient vaccinations for the essential truck drivers who deliver America’s needs as well as the employees who serve them.”

Utilizing truckstops and travel plazas as mobile vaccination sites would alleviate significant challenges that truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine. Many states, for example, currently require proof of residency to receive a vaccine.

Truck drivers should be allowed to receive a vaccine in a state other than that within which they reside due to their length of time on the road and away from home. Truck drivers also must be allowed to receive their second vaccination at a different location as it is improbable that they would have the ability to return to the primary vaccination site on a specific date or time.

“TCA continues to be awed by the dedication of the hardworking men and women in our industry who put their own health and wellbeing on the line to ensure the vaccine makes it safely to its final destination, all while wondering when they will be able to receive their own shots,” said John Lyboldt, President of the Truckload Carriers Association. “We stand ready to help in any way possible to alleviate this concern and urge the CDC to prioritize the trucking industry as the vaccination effort expands.”

“We’re grateful to be working with industry partners to ensure the trucking industry has access to the vaccine while out on the road,” said Dan Horvath, Vice President, Safety Policy, for the American Trucking Associations. “We cannot expect drivers—some of whom are actively transporting the vaccine—to return to their home domicile in order to receive the vaccine. Removing the red tape and using truckstops and travel plazas as mobile distribution sites exclusively for our industry will assist in making the vaccine available for those who choose to receive it.”

“Throughout the last year truck drivers have continued risking their lives to bring us food, supplies, medical equipment, PPE, and now, vaccines,” said Donna Kennedy, Executive Director of the St. Christopher Relief Fund. “It only seems right that our Highway Heroes, these essential workers, be prioritized with immunization against the virus. The St. Christopher Fund feels that it is vital for truck drivers to receive COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, and that they have easy access to the vaccines. To help with this, we are working with pharmacies and NATSO to make a nationwide plan to have vaccine clinics at truck stops.”

 

 

Court Upholds FMCSA Exemption of Trucking From California Rest Break Rules

 Arlington, VA… The American Trucking Associations hailed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding the federal preemption of the state of California’s meal and rest break rules as they apply to truck drivers subject to federal hours-of-service regulations.

“The Court’s ruling is a victory for common sense over bureaucracy and the plaintiffs bar,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “When the Department of Transportation preempted California’s rules, it was a victory for highway safety, ensuring that there is one uniform standard for trucking regulations. By upholding DOT’s authority to be the sole regulator of interstate trucking, the Ninth Circuit is preventing states and trial lawyers from creating a costly and inefficient patchwork of competing rules.”

In 2018, after bipartisan efforts to enact a legislative fix failed, ATA petitioned the Department of Transportation to preempt California’s meal and rest break rule, preventing them from being enforced against interstate truck drivers, noting the rules would force those drivers to comply with two competing sets of hours-of-service rules.

The unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit found that not only does the federal government have the authority to review and preempt state safety rules, but the three-judge panel agreed with the DOT’s conclusion that “federal regulations adequately and more appropriately balanced the competing interests between safety and economic burden,” than allowing states to impose a patchwork of competing regulations.

“We hope this ruling sends a strong message to other states that they are not allowed to impose additional regulatory burdens on interstate commerce,” Spear said. “We thank DOT and the Court for upholding the principle that federal regulatory primacy is critical for maintaining safe and efficient transportation.”

 

Federal Motor Carrier Medical Card Waiver Extended To May 31, 2021

 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will continue to offer extensions on Medical Examination Certificate requirements for commercial drivers whose MEC has recently expired.

FMCSA has had a waiver in place since March 2020 to allow commercial driver license holders who are subject to federal rules to continue to hold commercial driving privileges with expired certificates.

These Medical Examiner Certificate (MEC) waivers will be extended as follows:

* If a driver certifies a driving type of “non-excepted interstate” and their MEC was valid for a period of 90 or more days and expired on or after Dec. 1, 2020, then a MEC emergency condition waiver will be placed on their record with an expiration date of May 31, 2021. “Non-expected interstate” drivers whose prior MEC expired before December 1, 2020 or was valid for a period less than 90 days will not qualify for this new waiver. 

* If a driver certifies a driving type of “non-excepted intrastate” or “excepted interstate” and the driver’s prior MEC was valid for a period of 90 or more days and expired on or after March 1, 2020, and before May 31, 2021, a MEC emergency condition waiver will be placed on their driving record with an expiration date of May 31, 2021.

More information

* Oregon MEC requirements including how to mail or fax your certificate to DMV: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/pages/driverid/cdlmedex.aspx

* Information on COVID-19 safety in accessing DMV services: https://www.oregon.gov/odot/DMV/Pages/COVID_Alert.aspx

 

 

Department of Agriculture Adds 8 Counties to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine, Highlights New Weapon to Sniff Out Pest

 By Brandon Moree

Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today announced that eight counties have been added to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly quarantine zone ahead of the 2021 spring hatch. With this addition, the quarantine for this invasive pest is now at 34 counties.

“The Spotted Lanternfly is more than a pest in the literal sense,” said Redding. “It’s wreaking havoc for home and business owners, kids who just want to play outside, Pennsylvania agriculture and the economy of the state we all call home. Whether you think it’s your job or not, we need every Pennsylvanian to keep their eyes peeled for signs of this bad bug – to scrape every egg mass, squash every bug, and report every sighting. We need to unite in our hatred for this pest for our common love: Pennsylvania.”

The new eight counties are not completely infested, but rather have a few municipalities with a known infestation. Cambria, Cameron, Franklin, Lackawanna, Montour, Pike, Wayne, and Westmoreland are new to the quarantine for 2021.

“When we expand the quarantine, our goal is to slow the spread of the Spotted Lanternfly,” said Dr. Ruth Welliver, director of the department’s Bureau of Plant Industry. “And we have slowed it. Last spring we quarantined 12 counties with isolated infestations, and those counties have not been overrun because of the heightened awareness a quarantine brings. With continued aggressive treatment and monitoring, and an actively engaged community, we can help ensure families and businesses in these new counties aren’t inconvenienced by widespread infestation.”

Quick, aggressive treatment to newly identified populations of Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania has been funded through the Rapid Response Disaster Readiness line of Governor Wolf’s Pennsylvania Farm Bill for the past two years. The 2021-22 PA Farm Bill proposes another $3 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly.

New to Pennsylvania’s fight against the Spotted Lanternfly this Spring is Lucky, a female German Shepherd, trained as a puppy at PennVet’s Working Dog Center to detect Spotted Lanternfly eggs, often in places humans can’t access. Lucky joined the department in November 2020 and helps to inspect businesses like nurseries, greenhouses, vehicle fleets, and log yards. She is the first dog in the nation trained to detect Spotted Lanternfly.

Businesses that operate in or travel through quarantined counties are required to obtain a Spotted Lanternfly permit. Homeowners with questions about treatment are encouraged to contact their local Penn State Extension office or learn about management, including approved sprays, online. Pennsylvanians who live inside the quarantine zone should also review and sign the Compliance Checklist for residents.

Since 2015, the department has received more than $34 million to combat Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania -- $20 million in federal funds and another $14 million in state investment. The department also awarded more than $260,000 in January for four priority research projects.

For more information on Spotted Lanternfly, visit agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly. For more about Governor Tom Wolf’s PA Farm Bill and its investments in a sustainable agriculture industry visit agriculture.pa.gov/pafarmbill.

 

Business and Community Leaders Urge Congress to Oppose Commercial Rest Areas

 Alexandria, VA… NATSO, representing truckstops and travel plazas, and a diverse coalition that includes restaurants, fuel retailers, city governments, trucking firms and blind entrepreneurs today urged lawmakers to oppose efforts to commercialize Interstate rest areas as Congress considers infrastructure legislation.

The groups, which represent hundreds of thousands of mostly small businesses that operate near the Interstate Highway System, urged lawmakers to reject proposals to carve out any exceptions to the longstanding ban that prohibits state departments of transportation from unfairly competing against the private sector by selling food, fuel or other commercial services, including electric vehicle charging, at Interstate rest areas.

America’s cities, restaurants, hotels, travel plazas, fuel retailers, convenience stores and blind merchants have been economically harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fiscal losses by the nation’s businesses have led to unprecedented unemployment and massive municipal deficits. The private sector’s ability to operate in a competitive and robust marketplace ensures its ability to provide jobs, generate critical tax revenues and further enhance investments in alternative fuels, the groups said in a letter to the members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Offering food or fuel, including electric charging services at rest areas, would allow states to enter into a monopoly in which they unfairly compete with the private businesses already operating near the interstate exit interchanges to meet the needs of the motoring public,” said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings. “If state governments preempt consumer demand, they will effectively destroy the incentive for private sector investment."

“The ban on commercial services at Interstate rest areas exists in order to encourage private commercial activities in off-highway communities,” said NATSO Vice President of Government Affairs David Fialkov. “Carving out an exception for EV charging infrastructure would not only discourage existing refueling stations throughout the country from investing in charging infrastructure, but it will signal to prospective EV drivers that they will not be able to access the same amenities and fueling experience to which they are accustomed. This is the wrong signal for Congress to send.”

Upending long-established policy prohibiting commercial rest areas also threatens the livelihood of the nation’s blind merchants, who service the vending machines at rest areas, and would hinder the Department of Transportation’s goal of expanding commercial truck parking capacity nationwide.

Congress effectively privatized highway services in 1960, when Congress prohibited states from offering commercial services at rest areas along the Interstate Highway System specifically so that private sector entities would grow and provide services to the traveling public. This includes the establishment of fees for electric vehicle charging. Established businesses including travel plazas, convenience stores, restaurants and hotels are already meeting the needs of highway travelers.

 In many rural communities located near Interstates, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores, truckstops, and hotels represent the largest local taxpayers, contributing more than $22.5 billion in state and local taxes. These funds help support schools, police and fire departments and other vital public services.

“Any efforts to commercialize rest areas threaten the livelihoods of blind entrepreneurs in the United States who depend on revenue from rest area vending machines,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “With unemployment among blind Americans exceeding 70 percent, permitting state-financed food operations that will cause blind entrepreneurs to lose their businesses is unconscionable. Congress enacted the Randolph-Sheppard Act to provide blind people with remunerative employment, enlarge our economic opportunities, and encourage self-support through the operation of vending facilities. Commercializing rest areas is contrary to that intent, and the National Federation of the Blind joins with other stakeholders in fighting these ill-conceived efforts to do so.” 

“Many cities and towns across the nation rely on sales and income taxes, which have been reduced sharply during the pandemic, leaving communities facing unprecedented losses,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC). “Allowing state-run competition against local businesses would further harm small towns and undermine their ability to pay to maintain roads, build schools and keep their communities safe.”

“The restaurant industry was the first forced to shut down and will be the last to fully reopen. So far, 1 in 6 restaurants has closed during the pandemic and the industry has lost $255 billion in expected sales,” said Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs at the National Restaurant Association. “As people slowly start to move around the country again in the coming year, the money spent in the restaurants and other small businesses along the way will help put people back to work and will be crucial to rebuilding local economies. Commercialization of rest areas would create more chaos for the industry and slow efforts to fuel our recovery.”

Congress reaffirmed its commitment to helping exit-based businesses thrive and to supporting local communities as recently as 2012, when the Senate voted 86 to 12 to uphold the longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale of food, fuel and other convenience items from Interstate rest areas.

The letter to Congress was signed by NATSO, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Energy Marketers of America, Franchise Business Services, International Franchise Association, National Association of Convenience Stores, National Automatic Merchandising Association, National Federation of the Blind, National Franchisee Association, National League of Cities, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation, National Tank Truck Carriers, Natural Gas Vehicles for America, and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America. 

 

ATA Truck Tonnage Index Increased 1.4% in January

 Arlington, VA…  American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.4% in January after rising 1.2% in December. In January, the index equaled 114.6 (2015=100) compared with 113.1 in December.

ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.

“Over the last four months, the tonnage index has increased a total of 3.3%, which is obviously good news” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, the index is still off 2.8% from the high in March as tonnage plunged 9% in April alone. I continue to expect a nice climb up for the economy and truck freight as we get more economic stimulus and increased vaccination numbers.”

Compared with January 2020, the SA index fell 2.1%, which was preceded by a 2.6% year-over-year decline in December. In 2020, the index was 4% below the 2019 average.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 107.4 in January, 4.5% below the December level (112.4). 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.