Latest Industry News Briefs Courtesy of PMTA
ATA Hails Streamlining of Security Credentialing Process for Truck Drivers - New TSA Rule Will Allow Holders of TWIC Cards to Obtain Hazmat Endorsements
VA… The American Trucking Associations applauded the Transportation Security Administration for taking the long overdue, but important, step to allow drivers who hold a Transportation Worker Identification Credential to also obtain a hazardous materials endorsement on their license without an additional security threat assessment or associated fee.
“The announcement by TSA that they will now allow drivers with a TWIC to more quickly and easily receive a hazmat endorsement eliminates costly and duplicitous background checks for drivers,” said ATA Vice President of Safety Policy Dan Horvath. “ATA has long urged federal agencies to eliminate these redundant background checks for drivers, notably the TWIC/HME issue.”
In 2018, ATA along with National Tank Truck Carriers, submitted comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the issuance of a hazardous materials endorsements. As part of these comments, ATA and NTTC urged the agency to modify the requirements on states for issuing HMEs to align with federal law. Specifically, ATA and NTTC requested the agency acknowledge language in the Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2018, which explicitly empowers states to issue HMEs to drivers who already hold a valid TWIC. ATA and NTTC also requested that FMCSA issue guidance to the states regarding the best method to ascertain whether a TWIC is valid.
“We appreciate TSA making this common sense change, a change that will keep our highways safe while reducing the administrative burden on drivers and costs to our industry,” said Horvath.
ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 0.1% in January, Index 0.8% Higher than January 2019
Arlington, VA… American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.1% in January after rising 0.5% in December. In January, the index equaled 117.4 (2015=100) compared with 117.3 in December.
ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.
“Over the last two months, the tonnage index has increased 0.6%, which is obviously good news” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “However, after our annual revision, it is clear that tonnage peaked in July 2019 and, even with the recent gains, is down 1.8% since then. Softness in manufacturing and elevated inventories continue to weigh on the truck freight tonnage.”
Compared with January 2019, the SA index rose 0.8%, which was preceded by a 3.1% year-over-year gain in December. In 2019, the index was 3.3% above 2018.
The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 114.6 in January, 1.1% above the December level (113.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.
Note: ATA’s tonnage data is dominated by contract freight.
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 71.4% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 11.49 billion tons of freight in 2018. Motor carriers collected $796.7 billion, or 80.3% 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.
DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance Notice
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334, (Farm Bill) removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. Under the Farm Bill, hemp-derived products containing a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are not controlled substances. THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. Any product, including “Cannabidiol” (CBD) products, with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC remains classified as marijuana, a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.
We have had inquiries about whether the Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees can use CBD products. Safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing specified under 49 CFR part 40 (Part 40) include: pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.
It is important for all employers and safety-sensitive employees to know:
1. The Department of Transportation requires testing for marijuana and not CBD.
2. The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no Federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate. The FDA has cautioned the public that: “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any [CBD] products.” The FDA has stated: “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”* Also, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label. **[i]
3. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, Part 40, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Furthermore, CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.
It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana. Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.
The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. This policy and compliance notice is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied upon by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement action or other administrative penalty. Conformity with this policy and compliance notice is voluntary only and nonconformity will not affect rights and obligations under existing statutes and regulations. Safety-sensitive employees must continue to comply with the underlying regulatory requirements for drug testing, specified at 49 CFR part 40.
[i]* What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD: The FDA is working to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD.” https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-need-know-and-what-were-working-find-out-about-products-containing-cannabis-or-cannabis
OOIDA Hails Bipartisan, Groundbreaking Truck Parking Legislation
Washington DC… , U.S. Representatives Mike Bost (R-IL) and Angie Craig (D-MN), members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, introduced the most comprehensive piece of legislation in decades to increase truck parking capacity.
H.R. 6104, the Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, would dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to projects that increase truck parking spaces so that truck drivers can safely comply with hours-of-service regulations. Funding would be awarded on a competitive basis and applicants would be required to submit detailed proposals to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The primary focus would be to construct new truck parking facilities and convert existing weigh stations and rest areas into functional parking spaces for truck drivers.
“After decades of ignoring the problem, Congress is finally getting serious about fixing the severe lack of truck parking across the country. Finding a safe place to park is something most people take for granted, but it’s a daily struggle for hundreds of thousands of truckers,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President and CEO. “Congressman Bost and Congresswoman Craig have shown they not only understand truckers are experiencing a crisis, but have the mettle to address it through groundbreaking, bipartisan legislation.”
While Congress and the Federal Highway Administration have tried to address this issue with the enactment of Jason’s Law and launching of the National Coalition on Truck Parking, OOIDA believes substantive federal investment to expand capacity is long overdue.
“The national truck parking crisis is also a national highway safety crisis. Truckers don’t want to park on the side of the road. It creates a hazard to them and the motoring public. But sometimes there’s literally no other option. This bill has the potential to generate much more truck parking capacity and every member of Congress should support it,” said Spencer.
Knowing the lack of parking is affecting every segment of trucking, OOIDA worked closely with Reps. Bost and Craig to develop meaningful legislation that would garner support throughout the industry. In addition to OOIDA, H.R. 6104 also boasts the support of the American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, and the National Motorists Association.
“Growing up in a family trucking business, I learned at early age what a rewarding career it could be,” said Rep. Bost. “However, I also understood that trucking can be a tough, demanding, and even dangerous job. One concern for truck drivers is the lack of enough safe parking spots where they can get the rest they need without risking collisions on the shoulder of the highway or being forced to push their limits to find the next rest stop. This puts the truckers and other motorists as significant risk. That’s why I’m proud to lead this effort to create sufficient rest parking options for long-haul truckers.”
“Right now, there is a lack of places for truck drivers to safely stop, forcing them to pull over to the side of the road, or continue driving, both of which are risky,” said Rep. Angie Craig. “That’s why I am proud to be working my colleague, Rep. Mike Bost from Illinois to increase truck parking spaces, increasing safety for folks transporting goods to and from Minnesota’s Second Congressional District.”
David Heller, TCA Vice President of Government Affairs, said “Truck parking consistently ranks as one of the most important issues for the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and trucking stakeholders across the country. On a daily basis, our companies’ drivers face dangerous conditions due to the lack of safe and convenient parking options. TCA applauds Representatives Bost and Craig for their dedication to resolving this critical safety obstacle through this legislation, which will devote significant funding toward the development of suitable parking on our nation’s highways.”
David Owen, President, National Association of Small Trucking Companies, said “The availability of truck parking has become so scarce that, in many parts of the country, it’s reached crisis levels. The scope of the problem is such that the solution must be multifaceted. The legislation sponsored by Reps. Bost and Craig represents an important part of the solution — grants dedicated to putting truck parking along federal roads.”
Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement Program Now In Effect In Pennsylvania
As of Wednesday, March 4, drivers speeding through certain active work zones in the state of Pennsylvania could find themselves being cited for the offense through the new Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement (AWZSE) program.
The AWZSE program uses vehicle-mounted systems to detect and record motorists exceeding posted work zone speed limits using electronic speed timing devices. Work zones will be marked with signage in advance of the enforcement area, and the systems are operational only in active work zones where workers are present. Locations are posted on the project website, WorkZoneCameras.PennDOT.gov.
A 60-day pre-enforcement period, which has been in place since January, ended in early March. Registered owners who are found to be speeding will receive a warning letter for a first offense, a violation notice and $75 fine for a second offense, and a violation notice and $150 fine for third and subsequent offenses. These violations are civil penalties only; no points will be assessed to driver’s licenses.
In 2018, there were 1,804 work zone crashes in Pennsylvania, resulting in 23 fatalities, and 43% of work zone crashes resulted in fatalities and/or injuries. Since 1970, PennDOT has lost 89 workers in the line of duty. The PA Turnpike has lost 45 workers since 1945.