CDL holders will have to continue carrying a copy of their medical certificate and carriers also will have to keep copies of drivers’ certificates until Jan. 30, 2014.
Starting Jan. 30, those applying or renewing CDLs must certify with their state driver license agencies what interstate or intrastate driving category they fall under. A few states do not require proof of medical fitness for CDL holders driving in intrastate commerce.
Also on that date, those applying for or renewing CDLs under the non-excepted interstate category must provide their DMV with an original or copy of their medical examiner’s certificate. Current CDL holders under this category must self-certify and provide the medical certificate to their DMV by Jan. 30, 2014.
The purpose of the changes is to link the medical certificate more closely to the CDL and include driver medical record in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System database.
— Jill Dunn
FTR: Driver shortage to worsen
Although trucking is in a growth period, carriers need to keep an eye on the global economy and its potential impact on freight demand, says Eric Starks, president of FTR Associates, at Commercial Carrier Journal’s Fall Symposium.
Starks projects the economy to remain on a slow-growth track, but the long-term outlook poses significant risks, including uncertainty in the European market, a potential slowdown in the Chinese economy and slow U.S. gross domestic product growth.
FTR anticipates average GDP growth of 2.5 percent over the next year and a half. “We are less pessimistic than we were just several months ago, but there is still a lot of uncertainty,” Starks says.
One positive indicator for the trucking industry is historically low inventory-to-sales ratios. “As the economy starts to heat up and manufacturers begin ordering more goods, we’re sitting in a good spot relative to the inventory situation,” Starks says.
While customer orders for Class 8 power units softened in the last few months, FTR is predicting orders will rise. As peak shipping season hits, carriers are starting to place orders for next year, and Starks expects that to continue in December.
Potential changes to the hours of service regulations, including the possibility that drive time will be reduced from 11 hours to 10 hours, will magnify the impact of the current driver shortage. “More drivers will be needed, and lower productivity will require more equipment to move the same amount of freight,” Starks says.
FTR forecasts the driver shortage to be much worse than it was in 2004 and 2005. Freight is expected to grow 2.5 percent to 4 percent per year for several years. Freight capacity is tight, with roughly 95 percent utilization of equipment, and could be driven higher with a new hours of service rule.