NEW SLEEPER RULE CONFUSES TRUCKERS, AS THE OLD ONE DID
Industry leaders say plenty of truckers have voiced questions over the revised split sleeper berth regulation in the hours-of-service rule that became effective Oct. 1. Under the old rule, drivers using a sleeper berth had to take 10 hours off duty, but could split sleeper-berth time into two periods if neither period was less than two hours. The new sleeper berth provision requires at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper and an additional two consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, off duty, or any combination of the two.
“We’ve had an unbelievable amount of calls and e-mails,” says Rick Craig, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Of course, a lot of it was complaints. A surprising number of drivers, including old-timers, don’t understand the current sleeper berth.”
The eight-and-two split is a dilemma for many callers, says Nancy O’Liddy, public affairs director for the Truckload Carriers Association. Truckers are confused because the eight hours stops clock, but the two does hit, she says. “Mostly the problems are with, ‘When do you restart the clock?'”
The high volume of questions is still less than when the old rule became effective, says Steve Keppler, policy and program director for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. “With the previous rule, the questions were all over the map,” Keppler says.
The new rule is “science-based and laid out well,” says Don Osterberg, a Schneider National vice president who serves on the hours subcommittee of the American Trucking Associations. “At 378 pages, it’s long, but it’s less confusing.”
Under the old rule, Osterberg says, a split was used by only 5 percent to 6 percent of Schneider teams and an even smaller percentage of Schneider solo drivers. The old rule’s split confused too many truckers and resulted in hours violations, Osterberg says.
Under the new rule, Schneider does not advocate split sleeper berth for its drivers because it sees no advantage to splitting time, Osterberg says.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rule, published Aug. 25 and effective Oct. 1, includes a phase-in period through Dec. 31.
“For mistakes made out of ignorance in many cases, there will be no penalty” during the phase-in period, Keppler says.
OOIDA PROPOSING HOURS RULE CHANGES
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is seeking changes to the new hours of service regulations announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
In a petition that focused on mandatory rest hours and driver teams, the OOIDA says two of the hours changes would have a “significant impact” on the trucking industry.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston says he is seeking “two common sense changes” to the proposal, according to the group’s website.
One change would have the on-duty clock stopped by the two-hour portion of the 10-hour off-duty rule for split-sleeper berth drivers. As the rule currently exists, the two-hour period does not halt the 14-hour on-duty portion, whereas the eight-hour period – in which the trucker is supposed to sleep – does.
OOIDA uses the FMCSA’s definition of the two-hour portion in its reasoning to stop the clock. The regulation states that the period allows a driver to sleep, relax or attend to personal matters. “The opportunity to take a nap later in the day is an important benefit” in battling fatigue, FMCSA states.
The second change involves the new regulation that treats team drivers as a single driver who must stop driving for a minimum eight consecutive hours in order to sleep.
OOIDA calls the new provision “impractical” for team drivers.
“We’re asking in our petition that the DOT retain the current sleeper-berth exemption, which allows the drivers to take sleeper berth time in whatever increments they want as long as no period is less than two hours,” Johnston says.
LANDSTAR TO APPEAL CLASS-ACTION STATUS
Landstar says it will appeal a U.S. District Court ruling certifying a class action in a lawsuit over Landstar’s owner-operator contracts.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and four owner-operators have sued Landstar, alleging that the fleet’s contractual agreements with its owner-operators do not meet federal disclosure requirements.
OOIDA claims that Landstar overcharged owner-operators for fuel and fuel-related transaction fees, failed to disclose and deduct amounts related to military shipments, and overcharged for base plates and permits issued by the states.
Certification as a class action opens the door to more plaintiffs joining the suit and allows a single ruling to bind all the parties. U.S. law requires all plaintiffs in a class action to be “similarly situated,” meaning likewise affected by a defendant’s actions.
The District Court ruling itself acknowledged that “the issue of damages will be unique and subject to individualized proof,” says Michael Kneller, Landstar vice president and general counsel. That undercuts the argument for class-action status, Landstar argues.
The appeal was expected, says Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president.
FMCSA MAY ADDRESS CDL DOMICILE ISSUE
During the next year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expects to address the issue of truck driving school graduates who don’t live in the state where they trained.
In May, Congress passed the Real ID Act, which requires more uniform and secure methods for issuing licenses. The FMCSA will investigate the domicile issue as part of these new regulations, says Administrator Annette Sandberg.
Many states issue CDLs to non-residents, which helps graduates attending school outside their home state. Issuing CDLs to students who live outside the state where they trained violates federal CDL requirements because the state of training is not their state of domicile.
“When done for legitimate training purposes, and as long as the driver has only one license, we do not consider this practice to be a safety issue,” Sondberg said. “However, as long the student driver goes outside his or her home state to obtain legitimate driver training and testing and does not have more than one driver’s license, there are still new security issues that need to be considered.”
Any state not complying with the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 CDL domicile-related provision by October 2006 could lose federal highway funds.
This enforcement will increase the driver shortage, says the Truckload Carriers Association, which has asked FMCSA to replace the stipulation with proof of U.S. citizenship.
Still, while the agency agrees that the current rule places a “heavy burden” on out-of-state students, “FMCSA cannot issue a policy letter or regulatory guidance to change an existing regulatory requirement,” Sandberg says.
The Department of Homeland Security will implement the driver licensing provisions of the REAL ID Act, but the FMCSA administers the CDL program and has the authority to penalize states non-compliant with CDL requirements.
U.S., CANADA PUSH FOR LOWER EMISSIONS
The top environmental agencies of the United States and Canada will work together on reducing emissions and fuel consumption by carriers and shippers involved in cross-border trade.
In a memorandum of understanding signed Sept. 14 near the Ambassador Bridge crossing in Michigan, the Environmental Production Agency and Natural Resources Canada agreed to coordinate voluntary cross-border projects focusing on idle reduction, deployment of clean technologies and driver training and awareness.
The collaboration brings together EPA’s Smartway Transport Partnership and Canada’s FleetSmart program.
The two governments believe the joint initiative could annually save 440 million gallons of fuel and prevent 5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. There are 13 million truck border crossings a year.
INTERNATIONAL TRACTOR TO DEBUT AT MID-AMERICA
International Truck and Engine is introducing a Class 8 tractor for 2007 that will replace its 9400i, company officials say.
International will unveil the truck to the public at the March 2006 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. Fleets now testing eight units in North America report “wonderfully successful” results, says Tom Baughman, vice president and general manager of the company’s Heavy Truck Vehicle Center.
The truck will have aerodynamic design and be marketed primarily toward International’s current primary base of small and medium-size fleets.
It will be available with Cummins and Caterpillar engines and, soon after its launch, International’s new big-bore engine.
The truck will be produced as a daycab and a sleeper available in two lengths. Manufactured in Ontario, the truck will begin shipping in early 2007, International says.
Though the truck eventually will replace the 9400i and the 9200i, there will be some product overlap during introduction. The company has no plans to replace its premium tractors, the 9900i and the Eagle 9900ix, officials say.
TCA WINNER TO RECEIVE NEW TRUCK
The Truckload Carriers Association is looking for this year’s best owner-operator and best company driver.
The grand prize in TCA’s 2005 Independent Contractor of the Year contest, co-sponsored by Overdrive and International Truck and Engine, is a new, fully equipped International tractor, powered by a Cummins engine.
That owner-operator also wins thousands of dollars in cash and prizes from industry companies, as does the winner of TCA’s 2005 Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest, co-sponsored by Truckers News.
Owner-operator nominees are judged on their performance and safety record, how they promote trucking’s image and their contributions.
Three finalists will be announced at the TCA Annual Meeting, March 12-15 in Orlando, Fla. The top five finalists will receive cash, equipment and gift certificates.
The Independent Contractor of the Year contest is open to any owner-operator or team who owns a power unit used in a five-axle or more tractor-trailer combination and drives full-time for a TCA member company.
Nominees must have at least five years’ experience as a commercial trucker and must have spent at least the past three years as an independent contractor. Previous grand prize winners are not eligible to enter the contest again, and second- and third-place winners are not eligible to enter the contest for two years afterward.
Applications for both contests must be received by Oct. 21. For an application and a complete prize listing, click the “contest” button at www.truckload.org or call (703) 838-1950. The application form also can be found on page 49 of this issue.
IDLEAIRE, ARROW MAKE TERMINAL DEAL
IdleAire is expanding into the fleet market with its first terminal installation. The idling-alternative company will soon begin building a 50-truck facility at the Arrow Trucking home terminal in Tulsa, Okla.
The companies made the announcement at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.
“This is our first move off the truck stop lot,” says David Everhart, IdleAire’s chief operating officer. “We expect there to be a lot of business at terminal facilities in the next six months.”
Arrow is one of IdleAire’s largest customers, buying more than 112,000 hours of service in the past few years.
IdleAire has installed truck stop electrification facilities at two dozen locations and plans 70 more truck stop installations in the next 12 months. The company provides 110-volt electrical outlets, filtered heat and air, high-speed Internet and other services through systems that fit into a truck window. Drivers pay around $1.60 an hour for service and don’t have to idle their engines to heat or cool their cabs or run appliances.
“This has three gigantic benefits for us,” says Bob Fitzgerald, Arrow’s chief operating officer. “First, there’s business savings in the fuel that we don’t use.” It also helps the company comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, and it’s being used to recruit and retain drivers, Fitzgerald says.
Everhart says more than 1,200 fleets use the system.
CONNECTICUT. Connecticut has become the third state, after New York and New Jersey, to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. The law applies not just to cell phones but to any distracting behind-the-wheel activity, such as reading. Violators face a $100 fine.
ILLINOIS. The Illinois Tollway now has an online toll calculator at
this site. Click on “Toll Info.”
LOUISIANA. All roads into New Orleans, as well as into the Plaquemine and St. Bernard parishes, were closed to regular traffic as of Sept. 9, and certain other parishes had partial closings. For current information, visit this site.
MISSISSIPPI: U.S. Highway 90 from Waveland to Ocean Springs was closed as of Sept. 9 because of hurricane damage. Motorists were re-routed off I-10 eastbound above Moss Point onto detours. I-10 eastbound traffic was being crossed over to one lane of I-10 westbound for several miles in Jackson County as crews repaired the bridge over the Pascagoula River. For current information, visit www.gomdot.com.
VIRGINIA. A widening project on four miles of I-66 in Manassas will detour nighttime traffic through the end of the month, with the exception of Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 7-10. The detour, which will add an hour to travel time, will alternate between westbound and eastbound lanes. A schedule is at this site.
TWO LARGE FLEETS announced they will pay company drivers and owner-operators practical-route miles instead of the industry-standard short-route miles. Crete Carrier started paying practical miles Oct. 1, while Contract Freighters Inc. will make the switch in December.
IDEAS TO IMPROVE commercial vehicle safety inspections, including automation of some or all aspects of the process, are sought by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Comments may be submitted by Oct. 17 to http://dms.dot.gov. Mention docket number FMCSA-2005-22097.
SUPPORT IS LACKING for changing the commercial driver’s license vision standard, concluded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, so it withdrew its 1992 advance notice of proposed rulemaking on that standard. FMCSA plans to review the vision standard when it reviews all commercial driver health standards.
THE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES INDEX for freight fell 0.5 percent in June, the first decline in three months, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported. The June level of 112.6 still was 1.1 percent higher than the level a year before.
CAR-HAUL NETWORK has a new website to match shippers and automobile carriers at www.carhaulnetwork.com. No brokers are involved.
MHC KENWORTH in Denver was named Kenworth Customer Support Dealer of the Year.
THE MIDNIGHT TRUCKING Radio Network in August inducted 10 members into its Million Mile Club, sponsored by Chevron Delo: Jim Burroughs, Mark DiBerardino, Juan Hardin, Randy Jackson, Richard Lee, Raymond Munson, Phillip Odaire, Armando Reyes, James Samuelson and Harold Smith.
VOLVO TRUCKS has a new parts distribution center in Baltimore, the company’s seventh in North America.
SLOAN TRANSPORTATION PRODUCTS awarded $2,000 scholarships to Aaron Rosebrugh and Matthew Dorr, seniors in heavy-duty technology at Northwood University, the “University of the Aftermarket” in Midland, Mich.
TRAVELCENTERS OF AMERICA has a new location in Wapakoneta, Ohio, at Exit 111 from I-75. It’s the former L&G Truck Stop.
LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS has a new location in Baxter, Tenn., at Exit 280 from I-40.
BENDIX Commercial Vehicle Systems, maker of air brakes, was named Paccar North American Supplier of the Year.