Overdrive staff | September 01, 2009

Also, the provision making direct observation optional in return-to-duty and follow-up situations was effective long before the current threats to the integrity of urine testing became known.

“That was before the Whizzinator and its like,” the court stated. “Given the proliferation of such cheating devices, here we have a very different record.”

— Jill Dunn


Short Hauls

FREIGHT REMAINS in the doldrums. The Freight Transportation Services Index was unchanged in June from its May level, remaining at its lowest level in 12 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported. BTS reported that the Freight TSI has declined 15 percent in the last 11 months.

A $7 BILLION TRANSFER from the U.S. Treasury will keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The Senate now faces finding a more permanent solution to financing the fund, which has been in jeopardy of running out of money the past two fiscal years.

THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT has issued an interim rule inserting in its contracts with motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders a fuel-related adjustment clause requiring the adjustment be passed through to the person who bears the cost of the fuel. The interim rule was effective July 29. The department is taking comments through Sept. 28.


Congress weighs border program

Progress hasn’t been made in resuming the Mexico-United States trucking program, but the Senate is expected to consider a long-term transportation funding bill this month that provides funds for it if congressional concerns are met.

The Senate Appropriations Committee-approved FY2010 omnibus transportation act includes program funding, contingent on resolving congressional questions.

“The Committee notes that the Congress acted earlier this year to suspend the Mexican trucking pilot program because of serious and legitimate safety concerns, and expects that the administration will not commence another Mexican trucking pilot program until those concerns have been addressed and resolved,” the Senate committee report says. It “urges the administration to work expeditiously with the Mexican government” to re-establish a safe program.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey indicates 19 percent of Americans say the U.S. Congress should let trucks from Mexico cross the border and carry loads on U.S. highways, while 66 percent favor the ban and 15 percent are uncertain.

Twenty-eight percent of Democrats think the border should be opened, but only 11 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of those not affiliated with either party are in favor of it.

The American Trucking Associations supports program resumption, while the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association opposes it.

— Jill Dunn


Short Hauls

Payroll employment among for-hire trucking companies in July dropped 0.5 percent from June levels and 9.2 percent from July 2008 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest numbers also reflect a slight upward revision in trucking employment for June and a smaller upward revision for May.

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