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Overdrive staff | December 01, 2009

Safety crackdown coming

CSA 2010 will rate drivers, carriers monthly

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The new program will accumulate comprehensive records from inspections and other sources.

An ambitious data program being launched next year will intensify dramatically how drivers and carriers are evaluated for safety and determined to be unfit to operate.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 will introduce a driver rating system and will replace SafeStat, which has rated carriers. Data collected from roadside inspections, accidents and other agency and law enforcement encounters will be used.

Already being tested in six states, the program is scheduled to roll out in most other states beginning in July. The driver measurement system is not expected to be enforced as quickly as that for carriers, say American Trucking Associations officials.

The system will determine carriers’ safety fitness based on two years’ worth of data. The driver rating will use three years’ of information. Recent encounters will be weighted more heavily.

Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says CSA will use “all violations on inspection reports, even if there is no citation issued.” CSA will allow safety investigators to see a driver’s complete safety record.

The current SafeStat program assesses only carriers, including independent owner-operators, and uses only roadside inspection information on out-of-service and moving violations. CSA will assess carriers and drivers using 3,589 safety-based roadside inspection violations, such as equipment and log book violations, in seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories, or BASICs:

• Unsafe driving (on-road incidents)

• Fatigued driving (hours of service violations)

• Driver fitness (violations related to CDL certifications)

• Controlled substances/alcohol

• Vehicle maintenance (equipment violations)

• Cargo related (improper securement and other violations)

• Crash indicator (accident history)

Three levels of intervention are specified by FMCSA. A Notice of Violation is an informal notice requesting action by the carrier or driver. A Notice of Claim places more strict requirement on the carrier or driver. The most severe is an out-of-service order.

“Only after the intervention, and if the driver continues to demonstrate unsafe or risky behavior, then could the driver be declared unfit by the DOT and removed from the road,” says Jay Thomas, who heads safety and compliance for Illinois-based Packard Transport.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne says when a carrier’s safety performance triggers an intervention, “should any of the drivers have a deficient safety rating, this matter will be raised to the carrier – along with the other possible safety performance concerns for that carrier that may exist.” Regardless of the carrier’s rating, if a driver’s safety rating is particularly troublesome, “CSA 2010 will automatically … trigger an intervention with the carrier he/she is associated with.”

Many owner-operators doubt whether CSA 2010 will become a reality, Thomas says. Still, he says, “Sixty percent are very concerned because they have so much invested in being an owner-operator.”

For carriers, because the safety reviews will be monthly and automatic, CSA 2010 will change the way they approach safety. Currently, carrier ratings are limited to compliance review acute/critical violations. Carriers can go as long as years without an audit.

Until a rulemaking about the final scoring methodology takes effect, carriers with poor safety records will be rated in accordance with FMCSA’s current compliance and enforcement process.

— Jill Dunn and Todd Dills


Hours rule under review again

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided to conduct another hours-of-service rulemaking as part of a settlement with groups challenging the current regulations.

A federal appeals court has twice rejected the rule implemented in January 2004, and safety groups have been challenging the current regulations for allowing 11 hours of driving per shift and a 34-hour restart of cumulative on-duty limits. The Oct. 26 agreement with Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters places a hold on that litigation pending the completion of a new rulemaking.

Under the settlement, FMCSA must begin a new rulemaking process and submit a notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget within nine months. The agency will have another 12 months to issue a final rule. Meanwhile, the current rule remains in effect.

“The crash rate, injury rate and fatality rate are all at historic lows,” says Clayton Boyce, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, which supports the current rule. “The science is on the side of the current hours of service.”

— Avery Vise


Short Hauls

SITTON TRUCK LINES of Joplin, Mo., is closing, according to news reports. David L. Sitton, now deceased, and his two sons, Richard and Michael Sitton, started the irregular route common and contract carrier in 1979.

DAIMLER TRUCKS North America officials confirmed that DTNA is committed to a long-term development plan for Western Star. The company is working with dealers to find ways to enhance brand awareness and present vehicle demonstrations at truck stops and other venues.

A DRUG AND ALCOHOL strike force conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration removed 77 truck and bus drivers from the road. The Sept. 8-18 enforcement also resulted in more than 80 carriers facing penalties. The drivers can no longer operate a commercial motor vehicle and will probably face fines.


Agency pushes for sleep apnea program

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A technician for Sleep Pointe in Prime Inc.'s offsite sleep lab in Springfield, Mo., prepares a patient for sleep apnea testing.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to begin a program to identify commercial drivers at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, and if treatment is required, show that it is has been conducted.

The NTSB also wants FMCSA to develop and disseminate guidance for commercial drivers, employers and physicians regarding the identification and treatment of individuals at high risk for OSA.

FMCSA is “considering a rule to tighten its standards for medical certification of commercial drivers” that could include new OSA standards, an agency spokesman says. The medical certification required to obtain a CDL includes a question about sleep disorders.

On Oct. 20, NTSB issued the recommendation for commercial drivers, noting “relative risk of accident involvement for individuals with OSA is clearly elevated and quite clearly associated with the untreated disease.” The FMCSA’s research suggests at least 10 percent of commercial drivers have at least moderate OSA.

The NTSB wants the agency to identify these drivers and show, when needed, they are effectively treated before being granted unrestricted medical certification.

Drivers should be able to freely discuss medical conditions with physicians without damaging their career or causing them unnecessary medical expense, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says.

— Jill Dunn


Randall-Reilly announces promotions

Overdrive publisher Randall-Reilly has promoted Max Heine, formerly editorial director of Overdrive and Truckers News, to editorial director of the Owner-operator/Driver Group.

Heine will direct editorial operations of the group, which includes Overdrive, Truckers News and Custom Rigs. He also will direct the group’s extensions, which include special issues and live and online events.

Randall-Reilly also promoted Jack Roberts to executive editor of the company’s Trucking and Construction divisions from executive editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Roberts will cover equipment issues for all monthly Randall-Reilly trucking and construction publications, including CCJ, Overdrive, Truckers News, Truck Parts & Service, Successful Dealer, Equipment World and Better Roads.

Long-time Equipment Editor John Baxter will continue his contributions to Overdrive, Truckers News and CCJ.

— Staff reports


Short Hauls

ANNE FERRO has been approved by the U.S. Senate to be administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Ferro’s nomination had been opposed by the Teamsters Union and safety groups to trucking.

PAYROLL EMPLOYMENT among for-hire trucking companies in October dropped 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from September, according to preliminary figures for the U.S. Department of Labor. With the estimated 7,500 jobs lost in October, the industry has lost more than 91,000 jobs since the end of 2008 – a decline of 6.8 percent.

U.S. TRUCK TONNAGE fell 7.3 percent in September from the same month last year, but that was the best year-to-year monthly showing since November 2008, according to the American Trucking Associations.

DIESEL FUEL will average $2.79 in the fourth quarter and rise to about $3 a gallon next year, the Department of Energy says.

MACK TRUCKS and Volvo Trucks North America, which have common ownership under Volvo AB, have merged into a single organization called North American Trucks. The company continues to operate both brands.

A TRUCK DRIVER was found fatally shot in his rig while parked at a dirt lot in Moreno Valley, Calif., Nov. 4. Albert Thomas, 56, drove for KLLM Transport.


TRUCKER BUDDY International has received a donation from Randall-Reilly Publishing that covers office and operational support, as well as many daily expenses. Trucker Buddy uses pen pal relationships to help educate students in grades 2-8 about the trucking industry.

MODEL 0-2 BY-PASS OIL FILTERS made by Gulf Coast Filters, based in Gulfport, Miss., are now available at Travel Centers of America.

SHARE THE ROAD, in partnership with Operation Interdependence, delivered leftover nonperishable items to make care packages for U.S. soldiers serving overseas.

STUDENTS with outstanding records and who have ties to the truck stop industry may apply for the NATSO Foundation-sponsored 2010 Bill Moon Scholarship at www.natsofoundation.org. Deadline for submissions is April 16.

THE 2009 HIGHWAY ANGEL of the Year will be recognized Dec. 30 at Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl during ESPN’s broadcast, said the award’s sponsor, the Truckload Carriers Association. The NCAA football game will begin at 1:30 p.m. CST in Boise, Idaho.


Mark Your Calendar

FEB. 5-6: MID-WEST TRUCK SHOW, Peoria Convention Center, Peoria, Ill., (217) 525-0342, www.mid-westtruckers.com.

MARCH 10-12: THE WORK TRUCK SHOW, America’s Center, St. Louis, Mo., www.ntea.com.

MARCH 25-27: MID-AMERICA TRUCKING SHOW, Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, (502) 899-3892, www.truckingshow.com.

APRIL 24-25: OVERDRIVE PRIDE & POLISH 75 CHROME SHOP, Wildwood, Fla., (888) 349-4287, www.prideandpolish.com.

JUNE 17-19: THE GREAT WEST TRUCK SHOW, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, (888) 349-4287, www.truckshow.com.

 AUG. 26-28: THE GREAT AMERICAN TRUCKING SHOW, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, (888) 349-4287, www.truckshow.com


DOT snuffs out medical marijuana

The U.S. Department of Transportation will continue its no tolerance stand on marijuana for medical purposes or otherwise, despite new federal guidelines for prosecutors in states allowing “medical marijuana.”

Many have inquired how the Department of Justice’s new guidelines would influence the DOT’s regulated drug testing program, DOT officials said Oct. 22.

The transportation department’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e), does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.

— Jill Dunn


Navistar details 2010 engine changes

Engineering changes for Navistar’s 2010-certified diesel engines are minimal and include a new integrated engine brake, a more advanced single electronic control module, twin turbochargers with fixed vanes, a higher-pressure common rail fuel system and a two-stage EGR cooler.

Navistar will offer two medium-duty models, as well as heavy-duty Big Bore 11- and 13-liter engines with power ratings from 330 hp to 475 hp.

Speaking at a Navistar media event near Chicago, Ramin Younessi, vice president of product development and strategy, said work continues on the company’s 2010-compliant 15-liter diesel engine, based on Caterpillar’s discontinued C-15 diesel engine. Younessi said the engine will be available in the spring.

Younessi said the engines have completed extreme temperature and altitude testing, delivering tailpipe emissions levels of 0.04 and 0.05 NOx and fuel economy numbers “equal to or better” than comparable Navistar 2007engines.

Jim Hebe, a senior vice president, said 1,500 Big Bore engines – including 15-liter units – will be delivered early next year for customers to evaluate performance and verify the company’s exhaust gas recirculation approach to meeting 2010 emissions standards.

— Jack Roberts


Class 8 truck orders jump in October

FTR Associates released preliminary data showing Class 8 net orders for all major North American truck makers totaled 21,792 units in October, reflecting a definite upsurge in order activity.

October’s order volume is a 104 percent increase over September and a 117 percent year-over-year increase. For the last three months, Class 8 orders were received at an annualized rate of 172,300, significantly better than early 2009. The figure includes orders for the United States, Canada, Mexico and exports.

“All indications are that the October increase is due to the filling up of remaining 2009 production slots for trucks with the older 2007 engine technology and to avoid the new 2010 engines, which due to tighter emissions standards will be more expensive and will employ new technology,” says Eric Starks, FTR president. “Significantly, the order activity was broad-based among the OEMs from fleets of various sizes and did not appear to be dealer restocking. However, we believe this is a temporary situation that may actually take orders away from early 2010.”

— Staff reports


Pennsylvania tries again to toll I-80

Pennsylvania’s third application to ask federal permission to toll Interstate 80, again met with opposition.

On Oct. 29, the state transportation department and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission made a formal response to a Federal Highway Administration memorandum issued last fall about the application to convert I-80 to a toll road, providing more financial details.

A study released by the Coalition to keep I-80 toll-free found that users already pay more than the amount that PennDot spends yearly on freeway maintenance.

Study investigator Tracy Miller of Grove City College said truckers would use smaller roads to avoid tolls.

— Jill Dunn n


Highway Happenings

CALIFORNIA. Watch for increased congestion on State Route 91 between SR 241 and SR 71 in Orange County. The project to widen six miles of roadway will run through late 2010.

COLORADO. Commercial vehicles must carry sufficient chains now through May 31 on Interstate 70 between mileposts 133 and 259. Trucker information is at www.cotrip.org, click on Truckers.

MINNESOTA. Occasional closures of the Minnehaha Parkway at Interstate 35W are due to rebuilding of the I-35W bridge over the parkway through December.

MISSISSIPPI. Northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near Jackson will be closed weekday nights over the next few months while state construction crews replace hardware and light bulbs on high-mast light poles.

MISSOURI. Traffic across the Missouri River on the Brownville Bridge on U.S. 136 is restricted to one lane. The project will take about two years and require several weekend closures. The bridge is narrowed to one lane with a width restriction of 8 feet 6 inches, or 102 inches. Alternate routes across the river are available on State Route 2 through Nebraska City and U.S. 159.

NORTH CAROLINA. Interstate 40 is closed near the Tennessee state line due to a rockslide that could take months to clear away. Truckers traveling west to Tennessee should take I-40 West to I-240 West in Asheville to I-26 West. Follow I-26 West from Asheville to I-81 South in Tennessee, back to I-40.

RHODE ISLAND. Rhode Island became the 19th state, along with the District of Columbia, to pass a law banning texting while driving. Violators can be fined up to $125.

TENNESSEE. Drivers will find detours and traffic delays on Interstate 75 in the eastern part of the state due to road construction. Two construction workers were killed in November while working on a cable barrier rail along the freeway north of Knoxville.

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