WHITE HOUSE SEEKS TO PROTECT HOURS RULE FROM LITIGATION
The Bush administration proposed legislation that would convert the hours-of-service regulations into statutory law, a move that would keep the rule in effect despite a federal
court’s action to overturn them.
The White House also is proposing to limit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s jurisdiction over driver health to conditions that would cause death or serious injury, FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg said. The appeals court ruled in July that FMCSA had failed to consider driver health to the extent the court believed it was obligated to do.
Speaking at an American Trucking Associations meeting in Washington, D.C., Sandberg said the failure of Congress to enact a highway programs authorization bill last year presented an opportunity to end the litigation initiated by Public Citizen and its allies. In November, Sandberg proposed that the Bush administration ask Congress to make the hours rule permanent. “That has been approved,” she told ATA’s board of directors.
Under the administration’s highway bill proposal, the rule issued in April 2003 and implemented in January 2004 would be “confirmed as fully legalized, as if it had, by prior Act of Congress, been specifically adopted on the date that rule (including the subsequent technical amendment) was originally issued.”
The proposed legislation would, however, give FMCSA authority to amend the rule through the normal rulemaking process.
If enacted by Congress, the proposed legislation would trump the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because the court’s opinion was based on its interpretation of congressional intent.
The proposed legislation on driver health would establish that FMCSA’s authority over driver health in all regulations is limited to ensuring that “the operations of commercial motor vehicles are free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to the operators.”
Sandberg told reporters that the court’s broad reading of FMCSA’s obligation to consider driver health made it very difficult for the agency to pinpoint whether health conditions were truly related to the hours rule or to numerous other factors.
If Congress does enact the highway bill and includes the codification of the hours rule into law, FMCSA will stop work on its current rulemaking to reconsider the regulations, Sandberg said. She emphasized, however, that in the meantime, the agency will proceed with the rulemaking and strongly encouraged interested parties to submit comments. Comments are due March 10.
To view FMCSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking, visit this site and search Docket No. 19608.
COOL RIGS CALENDAR WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Jake and Anne Eilen of Hampton, Minn., are among the grand prize winners of the fifth annual Cool Rigs calendar contest sponsored by BF Goodrich Commercial Truck Tires. Others include Ben Findlay of Waterloo, Ontario, Bobby Ipsen of Riverdale, Calif., Rick Walker of Denver, Michael Blittersdorf of Toughkenamon, Pa., and Rodolfo Nunez Valdez of Ensenada, Baja California. Winning rigs can be seen at this site.
HAZMAT FINGERPRINT CHECKS WILL COST $94 IN MOST STATES
As of Jan. 31, drivers seeking new hazmat endorsements in most states must be fingerprinted and pay $94 in security fees, according to the final rule issued by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
Drivers seeking to renew their hazmat endorsements won’t be subject to fingerprinting and to the fee until May 31.
The $94 fee will apply only in the District of Columbia and the 33 states that will use the designated TSA contractor, Integrated Biometric Technologies of Nashville, Tenn., to collect the fingerprints. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In states that choose to make their own arrangements, the total cost could vary.
MACK LOOKS AT ADDING PRODUCTS
Mack Trucks is looking for opportunities to broaden its product line, said Mack Trucks President and CEO Paul Vikner.
“We are looking at segments of the market where Mack has had a strong presence in the past,” he told Randall Trucking Media editors at the Mack headquarters in Allentown, Pa.
That could include medium-duty and long-haul trucks, but Vikner said it is too early to say what Mack might do or when a decision would be reached. He noted that Mack is “the only Class 8 group in North America that does not have any medium-duty” products.
Mack’s share of the U.S. Class 8 market has been 10 percent to 11 percent in recent years, after a peak of 14.5 percent four years ago, Vikner said. The company does not plan to become the dominant Class 8 producer, but would like a bigger market share, he said.
Mack intends to focus on its three core markets: construction, refuse and regional distribution.
The new axle-back model of the popular Granite should allow Mack to recoup some of the business lost to competing vehicles sold by International, Vikner said.
Class 8 sales should be good for the industry through 2005 and 2006, he said. He predicted those sales this year would grow 20 percent over 2004, when the industry sold 203,197 units, according to Ward’s Communications. That was 43 percent above 2003 sales.
A TALL ORDER
Moving a 16-story grain elevator 20 miles up 13 percent grades on icy roads was all in a week’s work – well, eight days’ work, to be exact – for Minty’s Moving of Onanole, Manitoba. The elevator is 160 feet tall and weighs 280 tons, and only an 84-wheel, self-leveling dolly system kept it from toppling. Its center of gravity was so high, “the weight of the load transferred incredibly fast,” says Harold Minty. The load was pulled by a 1992 Kenworth T800 and pushed by two Kenworth W900s.
FIVE-MINUTE IDLING NOW THE RULE IN CALIFORNIA
California’s new five-minute limit on truck idling allows longer use during driver rest periods, but not when trucks are within 100 feet of homes and schools.
The California Air Resources Board’s rule became effective Feb. 1. It applies to all diesel trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, regardless of what state the truck is registered in, according to the board’s website.
The board’s own inspectors will do the most enforcement, but local and state police can also issue citations. Drivers are subject to a minimum $100 civil penalty and potential criminal penalties.
By September, CARB staffers will present the board with a more comprehensive proposal addressing truck idling during rest periods.
For now, truckers during rest periods can idle engines or use diesel-powered auxiliary power systems for more than five minutes only if more than 100 feet from a restricted area, which is a school or any type of dwelling, including apartments.
The idling rule also provides exceptions:
- When truckers must stay in traffic (in a queue at a toll booth, for example) or in motion (during a snowstorm, for example).
- When testing, servicing or repairing an engine.
- When preventing a health emergency in the cab, for example, if the idling is to operate equipment covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- When operating equipment such as a mixer on a cement truck.
For more information, visit this site.
RANDALL LAUNCHES REDESIGNED ETRUCKER.COM
There’s a new look and feel to eTrucker.com.
“We’ve packed more content into the same site space,” says Michael Newman, director of Web development for Randall Publishing Co. Users now can more easily locate what they need.
The website is home to Overdrive and sister publications Truckers News and Commercial Carrier Journal, as well as many industry services.
A left-hand navigation bar on every page of the site groups its content into the categories of Careers, Business Tools, News, Equipment, Community, Free Time, Shopping and Information. On the right side of the screen, users can choose driver-oriented or fleet-oriented content and navigate among the site’s affiliate magazines.
Additions planned for spring include a message board, a chat room, and a major new feature, Truck Gallery, through which readers will be able to upload photos of their trucks.
D.C. IMPOSES 90-DAY BAN on HAZMAT
On Feb. 1, the Council of the District of Columbia banned certain hazmat items from being transported within 2.2 miles of the U.S. Capitol for 90 days.
Class 1 explosives, Class 2 flammable gases, Class 2 poisonous gases and Class 6 poisonous materials are all affected by the ordinance.
Carriers seeking to transport these materials must obtain a permit from the district’s Department of Transportation. Permits will be granted only if no viable alternate routes exist. Commercial trucks can still use the Capital Beltway to skirt the 2.2-mile limit and avoid being forced to obtain a permit.
The council’s action is aimed less at trucks than at the CSX Corp.’s freight rail line that passes within four blocks of the Capitol. The council was alarmed by the January crash of a freight train carrying chlorine gas through Graniteville, S.C., which killed nine people, injured 250 and forced the evacuation of 5,000.
OVERDRIVE AMONG AWARD FINALISTS
Overdrive is a finalist in the Best How-to Article category of the 51st Annual Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards.
The August 2004 cover story, “Self-Help Toolbox,” addresses ways owner-operators can improve the physical, mental, marital and financial aspects of their lives.
An article about idling, in a sister Randall Publishing Co. publication, Truckers News, is a finalist in the Best Single Article category.
Three finalists are named in each category. The winners will be announced March 16 in New York City.
No other magazines marketed toward truckers are finalists in the awards.
“These recognitions again prove that Randall trucking editors continue to lead their peers with their knowledge of the industry and their skills at presenting valuable information to the readers,” says Jeff Mason, Randall vice president and group publisher.
THE DEADLINE for requiring Free and Secure Trade (FAST) cards of all Border Release Advance Screening and Selectivity (BRASS) drivers has been extended to May 1 because of a backlog in processing thousands of applications, U.S. Customs announced.
SURFACE TRADE among the United States, Canada and Mexico involved $54.9 billion in goods in November, or 12.5 percent more than in November 2003, said the U.S. Department of Transportation.
THE TRUCK TONNAGE INDEX compiled by the American Trucking Associations slipped 1 percent in December, but the 2004 index still was the highest since 1998.
HAYES ATWOOD, general manager of Diamond International in Little Rock, Ark., won a Ford F150 pickup as grand prize winner in the 2004 International Walk-Around Competition, designed to test customer-service skills.
INTERNATIONAL now offers Diamond Advantage parts discounts to TruckersB2B members.
LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS has a new location on I-75 in Tifton, Ga.
MHC has new full-service Kenworth facilities in Atlanta and McDonough, Ga.
ONLINE REGISTRATION for new or updated U.S. DOT numbers or operating authority is easier at the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. Visit this site and click on FMCSA Registration & Updates.
FREE WIRELESS INTERNET will be offered at all 40 of Iowa’s rest areas by July 1, the state’s Transportation Department announced. Michigan and Texas also are in the process of offering free wi-fi at all rest areas.
COLORADO IS REVOKING more than 300 commercial driver’s licenses since two DMV employees were fired and charged with selling fraudulent licenses to illegal immigrants.
TEDDY ABSHIRE, a national truck driving champion who recently celebrated his 13th anniversary with Overnite Transportation, died Jan. 29 after an apparent heart attack when he stopped to change trailers. He was 49.
CONSOLIDATED FREIGHTWAYS has settled for $2.75 million a federal employment discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of 12 black dockworkers who allegedly endured a racially hostile work environment. The actual amount recovered will be set by a bankruptcy court, as CF now is in the process of liquidation.
CHEVRON DELO and Mack Trucks will co-sponsor the American Trucking Associations’ Share the Road highway safety program, which will extend its message to include high-
ALABAMA. Work on I-20 in St. Clair County near Pell City will close various lanes through summer 2006.
HAWAII. The widening of the H-1 freeway to six lanes between Honolulu and Pearl City will close various lanes all year. The project website is www.h1widening.com.
MASSACHUSETTS. This spring, work begins on the westbound I-290 bridge in downtown Worcester. The eastbound bridge will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction for much of the year.
WEST VIRGINIA. Work on the I-77/U.S. 460 interchange north of Bluefield continues through September 2006.
WISCONSIN. Beginning this spring, southbound I-43 will be closed in downtown Milwaukee between North Avenue and I-794. Northbound I-43 will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction. The Marquette Interchange project website is http://mchange.org.