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Overdrive Staff | July 01, 2010

Agency changes hours policy

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration decided not to require any motor carriers to retain certain documents related to drivers’ hours of service.

The agency will also relieve carriers that use electronic mobile communications/tracking technology of maintaining numerous other supporting documents to verify driver logs.

The new regulatory guidance and policy will benefit those carriers who have faced additional scrutiny since the agency on Dec. 24, 2008, adopted a policy of treating the data from electronic mobile communications/tracking systems as supporting documents that could be demanded in a compliance review.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has adjusted the list of supporting documents used to verify drivers’ logs.

In 1997, FMCSA’s predecessor published a list of more than 30 types of supporting documents that carriers needed to retain to verify logs. In its new regulatory guidance, the agency said certain documents in that list are no longer used regularly by enforcement staff and will no longer be required by any motor carriers. Those documents include driver call-in records, international fuel tax agreement receipts and trip permits.

In general, FMCSA will continue to require other types of supporting documents that were listed in April 1997, but carriers using qualifying electronic mobile communication/tracking technology that capture time and/or position location information will be relieved of the requirement to retain many of the remaining supporting documents. For vehicles equipped with such systems, carriers no longer will need to keep documents such as weigh/scale tickets, toll receipts, traffic citations, credit card receipts and telephone billing statements.

In the regulatory guidance, the agency confirmed its plan to proceed with a regulation to establish requirements for HOS supporting documents. FMCSA plans to issue a proposed rule, which also would expand the mandate for electronic onboard recorders, by the end of this year and to adopt a final rule within two years.

— Avery Vise



Obama orders heavy-truck fuel standards

President Obama ordered the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to jointly issue the nation’s first fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards on new medium- and heavy-duty trucks, beginning with model year 2014.

Obama said the fuel economy of commercial trucks could increase as much as 25 percent using technologies in place today. The announcement comes one year after the administration announced an agreement to increase fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks. Obama said that medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, Congress directed DOT to issue fuel economy standards on medium- and heavy-duty trucks following a study. The National Research Council issued that report almost two months ago.

As with the automobile standards announced earlier, the Obama administration has expanded the scope of the regulations to include not only fuel efficiency but greenhouse gas emissions, which is why EPA and NHTSA issued the new car and light-truck standards jointly earlier this year.

— Avery Vise



SHORT HAULS

SPOT MARKET FREIGHT availability increased 291 percent in April compared with the same month in 2009, according to TransCore’s North American Freight Index. Load volume was nearly 25 percent higher than in March, more than double the average month-over-month increase for this season. April’s spot freight volume was the highest in any single month since November 2005, which was a record year for spot market freight.

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